WASHINGTON Staff of the Environmental
Protection Agency warned the agency's head that he might have
to resign if he blocked attempts by California to set
first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars,
according to internal agency documents released by Congress on
On December 19, 2007, the EPA rejected California's bid for
a waiver from U.S. law that would allow it to impose emissions
restrictions on heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions from
vehicles, which account for about 30 percent of the U.S. total.
California and 16 other states have sued to reverse the
decision, and career staff had warned agency administrator
Stephen Johnson that he might have to consider stepping down if
he denied the waiver request.
"It is obvious to me that there is no legal or technical
justification for denying this," Margo Oge, director of the
EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality, warned in
talking points prepared for a meeting with Johnson in October
"You have to find a way to get this done," Oge said in the
memo obtained by the Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee chaired by California Sen. Barbara Boxer, which is
investigating the decision.
"If you cannot, you will face a pretty big personal
decision about whether you are able to stay in the job under
those circumstances," Oge said in the talking points, warning
Johnson that "the eyes of the world are on you."
In a summary of another meeting with Johnson on October 30,
2007, an unnamed official in the agency's climate change
division said the administrator "now better appreciates that
there are additional conditions in (California) that make them
vulnerable to climate change."
Those include its dependence on the Pacific Northwest for
much of its water, its long coast line, and a recent spate of
wildfires, where "the recent news I think is helping to push
(Johnson)," the staffer wrote in the e-mail, also released by
Boxer said on Tuesday Johnson had gone against the advice
of career staff in denying the waiver, and has introduced
legislation to reverse it.
"We see more and more evidence of administrator Johnson
ignoring the science and the facts, and discarding the advice
of his professional staff," Boxer told a news conference,
accusing the EPA and White House of "stonewalling" her attempts
to obtain additional documents and data on the decision.
The EPA stood by its decision.
"The administrator made a decision based on the law and he
stands by the decision," an EPA spokesman said.
California needs the waiver from the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency to implement a state law requiring automakers
to cut tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent on 2009
Sixteen other states either have adopted or are considering
In rejecting the waiver, Johnson said that a new national
law, which raises automobile fuel standards by 40 percent by
2020, was a "better approach" than a "patchwork" of state
Auto companies, especially struggling U.S.-based
manufacturers, fiercely opposed the attempt by California to
impose new emissions regulations, which would sharply increase
mileage requirements for their vehicles in that state and any
others that adopted them.
(Reporting by Chris Baltimore, editing by Matthew Lewis)