EPA Chief is Finally Confronted, With No Results

Yesterday, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency went before the House Oversight Committee to answer tough questions from Congressman Waxman's powerful panel about the EPA's habit of putting political loyalties ahead of science in recent regulatory decisions.

I have blogged in the past about the political climate within the EPA and how it has lead to decisions that are not consistent with the way decisions have always been made at the agency.

In THIS post, I highlighted a recent poll of EPA scientists that showed political pressure was influencing their work. In THIS post, I wrote about the fulfillment of a last minute request by President Bush to have proposed ozone limits set much lower than EPA scientists recommended. Finally, I posted HERE that the EPA is currently being sued by states across the country for not fulfilling a Supreme Court request to measure the impact of greenhouse gases on citizens' health.

With all this bad news coming out of the agency, what kind of information did Waxman get out of EPA Secretary Stephen Johnson at the hearing? Not much. Secretary Johnson stonewalled the committee's requests for facts on several of the recent controversies at the EPA. He would not provide details of the conversations he has had with the White House. He did not even produce documents subpoened by the committee.

MSNBC described the hearing this way..."Johnson declined repeated requests by Democrats on the panel to provide any details about conversations he had with the White House, refusing at one point to even acknowledge whether he did or did not discuss the smog, California waiver or carbon dioxide rulemaking with the president. 'I don't think it's appropriate for me to discuss the conversations,' said Johnson."

The real problem with all of this political intervention in EPA rulemaking is that it reduces the independence and scientific objectivity of the agency. When dealing with the quality of our air and water, its essential that pure scientific fact takes precedence over the campaign contributions or lobbyists of big corporations.

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