Washingtonian magazine has helpfully profiled ten Beltway residents whom "environmentalists say are standing in the way of change," deploying the headline "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels." "Honorees" include Bush administration EPA appointee Bill Wehrum, whom we recently learned was behind the legal argument that ex-boss Stephen Johnson employed to deny California's clean cars waiver:
Henry V. Nickel and Bill Wehrum
Nickel and Wehrum are partners in the law firm Hunton & Williams. Nickel is known as the go-to guy for power companies hoping to avoid EPA regulation. Wehrum, activists say, allowed power plants to continue emitting mercury emissions at harmful levels during his tenure as administrator of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. Says one advocate: “They’re paid to find loopholes.”
Emphasis added to that last quote because frankly, it's way too kind. Wehrum's actions in the California dispute weren't taking advantage of a loophole in the Clean Air Act;,they drove a Mack truck through the statutory text and resulting legal precedents. EPA's critics aren't simply upset that the law was twisted to troubling ends; our complaint is that by literally inventing the notion that California must demonstrate "unique" impacts in order to have its own standards, Wehrum and company have claimed authority to unilaterally rewrite settled law.
It's truly a shame that even sympathetic outlets sometimes don't get that the issue here isn't just an argument over which legal interpretations and policies will allow us to start dealing with global warming; it's that the law, as written, helps get the ball rolling, but has been systematically mocked and ignored by the current administration.