Web Date: July 30, 2008
Senators Want Johnson To Step Down
On July 29, four Democratic Senators called for the resignation of EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson and asked the U.S. attorney general to investigate whether Johnson lied to Congress.
"We have lost all confidence in Johnson's ability to carry out EPA's mission in accordance with the law," said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee. "He has become a secretive and dangerous ally of polluters, and we cannot stand by and allow more damage to be done."
The senators' concern focuses on Johnson's December 2007 decision forbidding California to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and trucks sold in the state. Earlier this year, Johnson told the Environment & Public Works Committee that he made the determination independently, as required by the Clean Air Act (C&EN, March 3, page 9).
Johnson's decision marked the first time an EPA administrator outright rejected a request from California to combat air pollution by setting state standards that are tougher than national ones. Until now, EPA administrators had granted—either fully or partially—more than 50 of this type of request from California.
Earlier this month, former EPA official Jason Burnett told Boxer's committee that Johnson initially had decided to follow this pattern by granting California's request on greenhouse gases. After consulting with the White House, however, Johnson changed the determination to line up with the policy preferences of President George W. Bush, Burnett said.
In addition to calling for Johnson to resign, Boxer and Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) want the Justice Department to investigate the issue. They asked Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to determine whether Johnson made false or misleading statements to Congress about his denial of the California request.
A statement from EPA says, "The administrator's comments to Congress are honest and he will continue to lead the agency."
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