Oversight Committee Initiates Investigation into EPA Decision

In a letter to EPA today, Chairman Henry Waxman of the Oversight Committee requests that the agency preserve and produce all documents relating to Administrator Johnson's decision to block California's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles. The investigation follows prior committee inquiries on highly questionable attempts by the Department of Transportation to lobby Congress regarding California's efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Full text of the letter:

Dear Administrator Johnson:

Yesterday, you announced a decision to reject California's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles. Prior to making this decision you assured the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, as well as the state of California and many others, that you would make this decision on the merits.

It does not appear that you fulfilled that commitment. Your decision appears to have ignored the evidence before the agency and the requirements of the Clean Air Act. In fact, reports indicate that you overruled the unanimous recommendations of EPA's legal and technical staffs in rejecting California's petition.

Your decision not only has important consequences to our nation, but it raises serious questions about the integrity of the decision-making process. Accordingly, the Committee has begun an investigation into this matter. To assist our Committee in this inquiry, I request that you provide us with all documents relating to the California waiver request, other than those that are available on the public record. This request includes all communications within the agency and all communications between the agency and persons outside the agency, including persons in the White House, related to the California waiver request. And all agency staff should be notified immediately to preserve all documents relating to the California waiver request.

You should produce to the Committee all responsive documents from your office by January 10, 2008. All responsive documents from the Office of Transportation and Air Quality and the Office of General Counsel should be produced by January 17, 2008, and all other responsive documents should be produced by January 23, 2008.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee in the House of Representatives and has broad oversight jurisdiction as set forth in House Rule X. An attachment to this letter provides additional information about how to respond to the Committee's request.

If you have any questions concerning this request, please have your staff contact Greg Dotson of the Committee staff at (202) 225-4407.


Henry A. Waxman

Speaker Pelosi commented on the Administration’s decision last night:

“After 32 years of inaction, Congress has taken the historic step of increasing fuel efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. But just a few short hours after the President signed this landmark legislation, the Administration seized on the new CAFÉ standard as an excuse to deny California and 14 other states a waiver to implement laws to reduce greenhouse gas pollutions form vehicles.

“What is clear is that the Administration's announcement undermines the ability of the states to protect their citizens from the dangers of global warming.

“The Bush Administration has repeatedly blocked federal and international action on global warming. When the states took action, the Administration chose to stifle true progress on preventing global warming and protecting our children's heritage.

“The threat of climate change to California's communities, coastline, ecosystems, water supply and health of its citizens is clear and compelling. Two federal courts have ruled that California has the legal right to set its own greenhouse gas standards for vehicles, and other states have the right to follow.

“We will examine this decision closely as part of our broader efforts to ensure America's energy security.”

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