Friday, December 21, 2007

EPA vs. States: Round 2

A followup to yesterday's post on the EPA:

Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington, and other states have announced that they will join California in the lawsuit against the EPA.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Attorney General Doug Gansler, in a joint statement, said the Bush administration's decision is "thwarting the will" of more than a dozen states.

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, said the EPA "is out of touch with the reality of climate change." New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, called the decision "horrendous," while Maine Democratic Gov. John Baldacci called the administration "obstructionist." Officials in New York, Connecticut, Arizona and Pennsylvania made similar comments.

The current investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee indicates that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson disregarded staff recommendations that the EPA would lose a lawsuit should California file one.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson overruled the unanimous opinion of his legal and technical staff in blocking California's effort to cut greenhouse gases from cars and trucks - a new revelation that California officials say shows his decision was based on politics, not the law.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, launched a probe Thursday into why Johnson made his decision even though EPA staffers reportedly warned him he would lose in court if he denied California's request.

…The EPA's legal staff reportedly prepared a PowerPoint presentation advising Johnson that if he denied California's waiver request and the state sued, the EPA was likely to lose, agency staffers told the Washington Post. If he granted the waiver and automakers sued, the staff wrote, "EPA is almost certain to win."

This issue has clearly left the environmental sector to stake out a spot in Constitutional Law. Stand by for a big rumble.

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