Madame Chairman, I would like to clarify something, there have been a number of press reports that Administrator Johnson refused to appear at a “hearing” in California on January 10th. There was no formal hearing on January 10th. Senator Boxer held a public briefing, not a hearing, and from what I understand, that public briefing was basically a political event. In declining to participate Administrator Johnson said he would appear at this Committee hearing. I would point out that Administrator Johnson has never declined to participate or send a representative to a Committee Hearing.
In fact, I would have to say I was surprised that Senator Boxer would invite a Bush Cabinet official to participate in a political event, and to be honest Mr. Johnson, if you had agreed to attend a political event like that I would have been unhappy with you.
This political event set a very negative tone for the Committee’s handling of this issue. I am a strong proponent of vigorous oversight to ensure that the nation’s laws are carried out in the manner intended by Congress, and to ensure the executive branch is faithfully discharging its mission. But today’s hearing is not that kind of hearing. Rather, it is theater.
There have been charges the Administration has been tardy with documents, but EPA has been asked to collect and turn over large amounts of material, all of which needs to go through the normal process of review by agency lawyers. The initial request gave only two weeks bracketing the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in which to respond. Where was the outrage or the rhetoric when the Clinton Administration was repeatedly late in producing documents for the Committee? And as I recall, the Clinton EPA was typically given far more time than the constraints placed on this EPA.
When we focus on the substance of the debate, it seems clear to me that the waiver petition should be denied, and I encourage Administrator Johnson to formally make a final decision to do so.
Over and over it has been said that EPA has never denied a waiver before. While that is untrue – as even Vermont concedes in its litigation – it would be irrelevant even if it were true.
In every instance when California was granted a waiver in the past, it was to address “compelling and extraordinary conditions” in the State. And that is the standard, as clearly spelled out in 209(b) of the Clean air Act. Tell me how California differs from other States when it comes to global warming? Carbon is a global issue, not a local one. In that regard, California is ordinary, not extraordinary.
In fact, I think it is certainly relevant that California cannot show harm from global warming over the last two decades because temperatures there have been declining, not increasing, as this chart shows.
California also will not bear the burden of implementing it. That would be born by other States. My own State of Oklahoma has 27,000 auto related jobs. Of course, that is dwarfed by states like Michigan. In comparison, in addition to Michigan, States represented on this Committee such as Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee have two six times as many.
The fact is that California politicians are trying to achieve through this waiver provision something they cannot achieve through federal legislation – even tighter fuel economy standards than what Congress passed in the Energy bill just last month.
I think that the Energy bill just passed means that Congress has already spoken to this issue. That law represents the will of Congress on fuel economy standards. If California legislators thought otherwise, why did not one of them offer an amendment to address the issue?
Mr. Administrator, I look forward to hearing your testimony.