Recently, Senator Barbara Boxer(D-CA) got wind of EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson's plans to bring a "substantial number of EPA staffers" on a work-related to Australia next month-- and in the process leave a whole lot of worries behind, which Boxer euphemistically refers to as "certain important matters" that he'll be unavailable to testify before Congress about. TPM Muckraker's Paul Kiel provides a useful summary of the matters (which should be familiar to Warming Law readers) on which Johnson might want to avoid Congress, adding that he was unable to get EPA to comment and that Boxer's office understands that the trip is scheduled to last at least two weeks. Boxer is clearly exasperated in the letter she wrote to Johnson yesterday, placing it in the context of EPA's already-scarce budget and noting that he ought to be looking a bit closer to home:
If your goal is to learn about actions to address global warming, I suggest that you visit California, which has moved ahead aggressively with greenhouse gas controls. I invited you to testify in January in California on global warming pollution from vehicles, but you declined.
Still, even though no one should envy Johnson's task of spinning the administration's indefensible delaying tactics during a month that will include Earth Day, the anniversary of Massachusetts v. EPA, answering Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-CA) subpoena, and other political and legal landmines, it seemed a bit too predictable that Johnson would leave the country to avoid these kinds of predictable issues alone. Something else, in other words, had to be up his sleeve.
Enter today's letter to Reps. Ed Markey (D-MA) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. Johnson, following up on his most recent testimony about the aftermath of Mass. v. EPA-- and repeating its greatest-hits list of the bogus excuses it provided for refusing to issue the necessary endangerment finding for CO2 emissions-- announced that he'll be issuing an "Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" (ANPR) later this spring to study
industry's concerns the issue, and will follow up with a public comment period. Rep. Markey was not pleased, to say the least:
“The ‘A’ in this document should stand for ‘absurd,’” said Rep. Markey. “This is the latest quack from a lame-duck EPA intent on running out the clock on the entire Bush Presidency without doing a thing to combat global warming. The planet is sick, and instead of rushing to provide emergency medical attention, the Bush Administration has said ‘take 2 aspirin and call me after I leave office’.”
Basically, we've just gone from not having any sort of timetable for an endangerment finding, and thus speculating that EPA will run out the clock or act at the last very minute, to having a rough timetable that confirms exactly that. The more things change, the more they remain the same...unless the courts step in quickly and recognize that this charade is an unreasonable delay, and/or that EPA's incompetent defense of California's waiver denial has actually found endangerment.
But at least next time he faces hard questions about it, Administrator Johnson will be sporting a nice new tan to hide his red face...