Shakespeare, of course, famously advocated that killing the lawyers be done first, but the Bush administration realized that lawyers could actually be quite helpful in killing (ok, silencing) scientists, the first obstacle to their efforts to prevent aggressive action to combat global warming. It was EPA General Counsel Robert Fabricant, after all who penned the famously convoluted and unpersuasive justification for EPA's refusal to make the endangerment decision, which was challenged and overturned in Mass. v. EPA. It was only after those pesky Justices on the Supreme Court made it clear that they would have the audacity to enforce the terms of the Clean Air Act that lawyers became a problem.
In a devastating front-page story by the Post's Juliet Eilperin, we learn that EPA denied California's request for a waiver last night over the "unanimous recommendation of the agency's legal and technical staffs." We already raised some preliminary questions about EPA's legal analysis here, but the Post's story makes it clear that the EPA itself doesn't think it's decision holds water.
Congress tried to give the Environmental Protection Agency a modicum of independence so that environmental decisions, as much as possible, would be reached based on science and the law, not political considerations. This decision appears to represent the ultimate triumph of oil-industry politics over science and the law.