U.S. EPA administrator says he's not resigning

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said he will not resign despite calls by four Democratic senators for him to step down claiming he sided with polluters instead of fighting global warming.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, the head of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, and the other senators called on July 29 for EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to resign.

They also asked the U.S. attorney general to investigate whether Johnson had made false or misleading statements in sworn testimony before Boxer’s environment committee.

Boxer has said Johnson has made decisions on global warming lead, mercury and drinking water standards, that were “harmful to the American people.”

Johnson quickly sidestepped on Thursday a question on his reaction to the calls in a teleconference with reporters.

“If you want to talk about that you’re more than happy to talk to ... our press officer. But no, I’m not,” he said. Then the teleconference ended immediately.

Johnson’s spokesman explained later the administrator meant he was not resigning. On the call to investigate Johnson’s sworn testimony before Congress, the spokesman said, “Once the Department of Justice finishes their process, we’ll find there’s no issue.”

In her call for him to resign, Boxer noted that last year, Johnson denied California’s request for federal permission to impose tough new limits on climate warming carbon dioxide emissions from cars and light trucks. The decision effectively blocked as many as 18 states from doing the same.

In July, Johnson said the EPA would not take steps to regulate planet-warming emissions saying it was “at the feet of Congress” to craft legislation on global warming.

The move effectively killed major U.S. action on global warming during the remaining months of the Bush administration as the main climate bill died in the Senate earlier this year.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner, editing by David Wiessler