The Bush administration engaged in a broad, multi-agency effort to lobby congressmen and governors to urge them to oppose a California plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a recent investigation.
In December 2005, California petitioned EPA to let the state develop its own program and standards for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. Under the Clean Air Act, the federal government holds the express right to regulate emissions but may grant waivers to states, which it often does. If EPA grants California's waiver request, 11 other states could follow suit.
In June, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson wrote California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stating EPA would make its decision by the end of 2007. That's two full years after the initial request.
Why so long? Since the Supreme Court decided in April greenhouse gases may be subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act, there is no basis for denying California's petition. Therefore, for an administration which holds environmental regulation in contempt, the only remaining choice is endless delay.
But apparently Johnson's obstinacy was not enough for the Bush administration. An investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has revealed a coordinated effort to prevent California from pursuing its state regulations. The effort includes Johnson, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, and James Connaughton, the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) has written to Connaughton. The letter explains the full details of the campaign.
OMB Watch has been covering this carefully...the ramifications of all the issues at stake are, as they say, "mind-boggling".