Johnson, Staff Disagree and Johnson Wins
Recently, the EPA denied California's request to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide in the state and, unsurprisingly, critics are calling that move "politically motivated." This, time, though, they might actually be able to prove it because EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson (don't forget the L!) pissed enough EPA staff off that they're talking to everyone
First, a little background: because California's air was so shitty in the seventies, they are treated differently than the rest of the states and have the power to regulate air quality more strictly than the EPA as long as they're granted a waiver to do so. Because of the slow speed of government regulation and, in some cases, the recalcitrance of a given Administration to, say, actually issue regulations, the state of California has become a de facto federal regulatory authority by virtue of that waiver authority, the size of its market and the fact that other, like-minded states can choose to follow either the federal or California standard when formulating their own laws.
Last year, the various factions of the California government agreed to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and asked the EPA for a waiver to be able to do so. This week, the EPA refused and Johnson said that it wasn't necessary because of the new CAFE standards for autos that was in the energy bill Bush signed this week. His staff, who had worked on paperwork approving the waiver for months disagreed. Unfortunately for Big Johnson, there's hardly anyone more chatty than a bureaucrat scorned.
EPA staffers are saying Johnson that stopped consulting with agency scientists on the issue more than a month ago and instead just made a decision and told the agency lawyers to write it up. Although Johnson announced the decision in a letter to Schwarzenegger Wednesday, he didn't actually have any documents ready to do so and simply wrote Ah-nuld: "I have instructed my staff to draft the appropriate documents setting forth the rationale for this decision." Um, right, that's totally how decision-making works at government agencies!
EPA staff told the LA Times "California met every criteria . . . on the merits. The same criteria we have used for the last 40 years on all the other waivers. We told him that. All the briefings we have given him laid out the facts." Silly scientist staffer! Facts are for other people. Senior political appointees get to have and implement their opinions!
EPA chief is said to have ignored staff [LA Times]