While yesterday's hearing of Rep. Henry Waxman's committee was ostensibly focused on EPA's regulation of coal-fired power plants, the convergence with California's filing of a "Complaint for Unreason" (yes, that is a legal term!) seeking EPA action on its waiver application was not lost on lawmakers.
As Ryan Grim reports and our previous post noted briefly, EPA's obfuscation in that case loomed large in members' skepticism of EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson's reasoning-- Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) being a notable exception. And when Rep. Waxman decided to ask one of the questions we tried posing (with an assist from Desmogblog) to Johnson during his online chat last Thursday, the response wasn't exactly illuminating:
Waxman isn’t quite so convinced of the agency’s independence. He quizzes Johnson about his knowledge of an administrative lobbying effort involving the Department of Transportation to battle a California attempt to regulate greenhouse gases on its own.
“Did you know, at the time you called [the Department of Transportation secretary], that she was engaged in a lobbying effort against the California waiver?” Waxman asked.
“I did not know,” Johnson said, as Waxman’s eyes nearly popped out of his head.
“You did not?”
“To the best of my recollection, I did not know,” he qualifies.
“I’m glad you threw in ‘to the best of my recollection,’” Waxman says, before asking, “Were you briefed by your lawyer how to say things so you wouldn’t be committing perjury?"
Johnson should be relieved somewhat though-- at least no one thought to ask whether EPA has discussed this matter with the Office of the Vice President...