Senate Committee Holds Hearing on California EPA Decision

By Berndt, Carolyn | Nation's Cities Weekly, February 4, 2008 | Go to article overview

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on California EPA Decision


Berndt, Carolyn, Nation's Cities Weekly


Appearing before the Senate Environment and Publics Works Committee, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen Johnson vigorously defended his rejection of California's effort to regulate vehicle emissions and maintained that politics did not play a role in the decision.

Johnson repeatedly told the committee that he rejected the California waiver request because he did not believe the state faced extraordinary circumstances in relation to climate change.

"My job is to make the right decision, not the easy decision," Johnson said. "Greenhouse gas emissions harm the environment in California and elsewhere regardless of where the emissions occur. Therefore, this challenge is not exclusive or unique to California."

He added, "While many urged me to approve or deny the California clean air waiver request, I am bound by the criteria in the Clean Air Act, not other people's opinions."

Johnson's comments did little to assuage the overwhelmingly Democratic group of lawmakers who appeared at the hearing and repeatedly charged that the decision appeared to have little basis in existing law.

"Many of us believe that with this decision you are going against your own agency's mission and you're fulfilling the mission of some special interests," said committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif. …

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