PETER RAFLE (202) 302-7086

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and six other Democratic members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works today sent the following letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen Johnson:

December 21, 2006


The Honorable Stephen L. Johnson, Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20460


Dear Administrator Johnson:


We write to express our strong opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent changes in the approach to setting the health-based standards under the Clean Air Act. We ask that you abandon these changes and provide us with a detailed explanation prior to making any alterations to the longstanding process.


Since 1970, when Congress passed the Clean Air Act, EPA has set standards to protect public health from air pollution based upon the best available science. This was the case under Democratic and Republican presidents. For decades, the cornerstone of this process was that EPA solicited expert advice from leading independent scientists, and developed scientific analyses in consultation with independent experts on the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee (CASAC). EPA staff scientists then issued a staff paper recommending a range of possible standards to the Administrator, based upon the best available science and the CASAC review.


Now, apparently relying upon recommendations from the American Petroleum Institute, the agency has taken a dangerous turn. Instead of objectively basing standards on the CASAC review, EPA scientists’ staff paper, and the best available science, EPA’s new approach will inject politics into the entire decision-making process. Rather than using the previous science-based process, EPA political appointees and, potentially White House staff, will play a crucial early role in shaping the scientific record and technical review. CASAC’s expert scientific analysis will now be put on a par with that of special interest advocates.


Administrator Johnson, while individual members may differ in regards to the regulations EPA sets, it is important to maintain the scientific integrity of the process. Injecting politics from the start to finish of the scientific process for determining the safe levels of air pollution is deeply troubling to us all, and to the experts who are concerned about public health. This can have very serious consequences, particularly for children and the elderly.


We urge you to reverse this dangerous decision, and inform you that when the 110th Congress begins, we will scrutinize this issue thoroughly. We will carefully examine the upcoming decisions on ozone, lead, and other pollutants to ensure that science, not politics, drives the process. Abandoning the new flawed process would be an important move in the right direction.




Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Tom Carper
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
Senator Barack Obama
Senator Joseph Lieberman
Senator Frank Lautenberg
Senator Max Baucus