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Press Conference on White House Interference in Addressing the Dangers of Global Warming
July 8, 2008

Statement of Senator Barbara Boxer
(Remarks as prepared for delivery)

You have heard me say many times that this Administration has downplayed the dangers posed by global warming. They have used every excuse to avoid taking action, even hiding behind China and India.

Now, thanks to a very brave former EPA official, Jason Burnett, who has responded to an inquiry from this committee, who is here today, we know that the Administration's efforts have been about covering up the real dangers of global warming and hiding the facts from the public.

This cover-up is being directed from the White House and the Office of the Vice President.

I have met with Mr. Burnett, who informed me that he resigned from the Agency after concluding that no constructive action on global warming would take place during this Administration. What a sad day it is for the American people that they lost a brilliant professional who wanted to protect us from the ravages of global warming.

In October of 2007, when we held a hearing on the health impacts of global warming, we were stunned to learn that the testimony of CDC Director Julie Gerberding was watered down and heavily redacted.

We now know that this censorship was part of a master plan. The goal of the plan was to ensure that the EPA's response to the Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA would be as weak as possible. As you know, the Supreme Court overruled EPA, finding that greenhouse gas emissions are clearly covered by the Clean Air Act and the EPA had to move forward and address global warming.

What started in October with Dr. Gerberding's censored testimony continued into December, when the EPA had finally decided to begin to tell the truth about the dangers posed by unchecked global warming. The Office of Management and Budget at the White House refused to open the e-mail containing the provisional endangerment finding from the EPA. When EPA refused to retract the e-mail, the finding was left in limbo.

These two things - the CDC censorship and the stonewall on the endangerment finding -- are obviously related.

The CDC wanted to go into detail - about:

• Direct effects of heat [including mortality],
• Health and safety effects related to extreme weather events,
• Air pollution-related health effects,
• Allergic diseases,
• Water- and food-borne infectious diseases,
• Vector-borne diseases,
• Food and water scarcity for some populations,
• Mental health problems, and
• Long-term impacts of chronic diseases and other health effects

But their testimony was altered. CDC's work clearly would lead us to the endangerment finding. Fortunately, thanks to the free press and the work of congressional committees, the CDC's concerns were made known, adding to the pressure on the EPA to make the endangerment finding.

Today, I am announcing a number of actions.

1) I am asking EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to release every document related to the Agency's finding that global warming poses a danger to the public, including bringing the endangerment e-mail back to earth.

2) EPA should also immediately release a strong advance notice of proposed rulemaking on global warming emissions.

If Mr. Johnson refuses to do these two things -- if he does not have the strength to do them -- he should resign. The American people need the head of the EPA to be an independent advocate for their health and their environment.

3) If the information is not released, then I will use every means available to this Committee to obtain it.

4) I am sending Jason Burnett's letter on the Administration's efforts to block action on global warming to the Governor and Attorney General of California so they may be fully informed of the Bush Administration's misconduct relating to global warming, which may directly affect California's efforts to protect the public from this serious threat.

5) I will hold a hearing on July 22 to present the most recent evidence of the serious danger posed by global warming. Mr. Burnett will be a witness.

6) This Committee will also continue its work on how current authorities under the Clean Air Act could be used to address global warming now. We will hold a hearing on that subject in the fall, Mr. Burnett has agreed to give his advice and testimony, and we will issue a Committee report so that the next President can have all of our findings at his disposal at the start of the next Administration.

This is not about me, or about Mr. Johnson, or President Bush, or Vice President Cheney or Mr. Burnett. It is about protecting the public and the planet.

Let me close with an analogy. If I knew that danger was lurking around the corner, and I watched as a group of innocent people walked around that very corner without warning them, I would be guilty of a reckless and unconscionable act.

History will judge this Bush Administration harshly for recklessly covering up a real threat to the people they are supposed to protect.

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July 2008 Press Releases

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phone: 202-224-8832
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phone: 202-224-6176