Tuesday, November 20, 2007

EPA head sounds like one of the Nixon Watergate conspirators

In case you missed it, there was a remarkable exchange the other day, as the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee put EPA Administrator Steve Johnson under oath.

The main purpose of the hearing was to examine EPA’s failure to consider the need to limit carbon dioxide from electric power plants.

But it veered into the California car question – and the efforts by the federal Transportation Department to lobby against California’s effort to enforce its greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles.

A key question at the Nov. 8 hearing was – to paraphrase the Watergate story (sorry, I am dating myself, but I did help with a book on that topic many moons ago) who in the administration know about this lobbying effort, and when did they know it. (It became widely known after Rep. Henry Waxman blew the whistle.)

The exchange starts on page 51 of the transcript http://oversight.house.gov/documents/20071115145634.pdf as Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA) asks Johnson if he discussed the issue directly with Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.

“…I do not recall any specific discussion,” said Johnson.

“…I don’t recall any discussion of lobbying,” Johnson added when Waxman noted the EPA chief appeared to be dodging the question.

…”I don’t recall having any discussion on that topic with anyone at the White House,” Johnson insisted.

A few moments later (page 64 of the transcript), Waxman noted that Johnson appeared to be reading a canned answer in response to the barrage of questions.

“Were you briefed by your lawyer how to say things so that you wouldn’t be committing perjury?” asked Waxman.

Johnson dodged that one also. Not even a modified limited hangout.

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