WASHINGTON—EPA officials told agency Administrator Stephen Johnson that California had "compelling and extraordinary conditions" to justify a federal waiver to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, according to excerpts of agency documents made available Wednesday.
The staff report was given to Johnson in a Power Point presentation dated late October. The Environmental Protection Agency has refused to release unredacted versions of that presentation or other documents in response to congressional requests, citing an executive branch confidentiality.
However, Boxer's aides were allowed to review and transcribe several versions of the 46-page presentation on Tuesday, spending 5 1/2 hours doing so under supervision of EPA staff, Boxer said.
EPA aides asked Boxer's staff to keep the information they viewed private, but Boxer's staff told EPA they wouldn't agree to that condition. They released the excerpts to reporters Wednesday.
Boxer's release, which noted that she now looks forward to the "reversal of the decision as soon as possible," excerpted several slides regarding the "compelling and extraordinary circumstances" California could argue. These included vulnerability to wildfires, the greatest climactic variations and variety of ecosystems species in the United States, and the state's historic problems with ozone. Our favorite, which demonstrates just how badly the waiver decision departs from established precedent and the intent of the Clean Air Act:
"California continues to have compelling and extraordinary conditions in general (geography, climatic, human and motor vehicle populations - many such conditions are vulnerable to climate change conditions) as confirmed by several recent EPA decisions..."
Boxer's staff also found that EPA officials were directed to soften the presentation on a potential lawsuit in its later versions, shying away from the initial flat-out declaration of "EPA likely to lose suit." Tomorrow morning's hearing should certainly have additional fireworks in wake of this disclosure, and we'll be sure to report back after attending in person.
We're particularly eager to see what Administrator Johnson can come up with in terms of justifying his actions. (We'd give the guy a slight break and suggest that perhaps industry pressure had something to do with such a sudden decision, except that according to EPW staff's notes, EPA staff determined that the agency was "almost certain to win" any industry lawsuit challenging a ruling in California's favor).