Looks like Rep. Waxman wasn't bluffing when he hinted at a subpoena for the EPA's missing California waiver documents, including communications with the White House and Department of Justice (h/t to Jesse Lee at The Gavel):
“Despite several requests for these documents, EPA has refused to provide them to the Committee. These documents must be provided to the Committee because they are relevant to the examination of the Administration’s decision to reject California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles. The desire to conceal embarrassing facts is not a valid legal basis for withholding these documents from the Committee.”
Congress adjourns for two weeks as of tomorrow, but when they get back, expect more oversight fireworks to complement legal pressure on the EPA on multiple fronts. At this morning's Mass. v. EPA hearing-- which we'll have more detail on tomorrow, though we note for now that our main prediction bore fruit, courtesy of Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and others-- Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) got into a bit of a tussle with EPA Adminsitrator Stephen Johnson over...withholding documents! The statement he later released tells the tale:
At a hearing before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson refused to turn over documents pertaining to global warming decisions within his agency, even though Congress has a right to the documents. Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) made it clear that this refusal would force his committee to explore the full range of options available to compel the EPA to hand over the documents.
In the hearing, Johnson did not claim executive privilege, but instead relied on an inapplicable argument that only applies to outside parties seeking information under the Freedom of Information Act. Congress has a right to documents without any FOIA request, and has a right to these documents.
"Administrator Johnson specifically did not claim executive privilege as a basis for refusing to turn over the documents, because he knows that it doesn't apply. Consequently, his stonewalling this committee cannot be accepted," Chairman Markey said.
It bears repeating that Rep. Waxman demanded the same exact documents by Friday in a letter yesterday, as well as an EPA technical analysis on the endangerment finding (which Johnson claimed today, nearly a year after the Supreme Court ruled, cannot be issued yet because it would be "rushed"). Additional documents are due by Friday March 28-- the last day of recess. As we said, the plot will thicken at that point. In the meanwhile, stay tuned for more dissection of what this all means...