[JURIST] The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday refused to say whether the White House had pressured the agency to reject California's request for a waiver that would have allowed the state to impose stricter greenhouse gas emissions standards on cars and light trucks. During testimony [statement, PDF] before the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works [official website], EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson [official profile] said that he had held routine discussions with White House officials about the waiver, but would not say whether the White House had influenced his decision. Johnson's testimony comes one day after internal documents [press release and excerpts; JURIST report] released by committee chairman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) [official website] revealed that EPA agents had urged Johnson to approve the waiver, saying that a denial could compromise the agency's integrity. AP has more.
In December 2007, the EPA denied [rejection letter, PDF; JURIST report] California's request for a waiver, with Johnson saying that a unified national standard for greenhouse gas regulation was preferable to a state-by-state network of regulations and pointing to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 [HR 6 materials; WH fact sheet], signed into law that month by President George W. Bush. After the EPA decision, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee [official website] said they would hold hearings on the issue, and EPA General Counsel Roger Martella, Jr. issued a memo instructing EPA employees to produce all communications between the EPA and the White House [JURIST report] in response to the inquiries. Boxer said Tuesday that the EPA had not yet released these communications.