Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why is the White House asking Congress to take away EPA authority on greenhouse gas emissions?

A shocking letter was sent this week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by Allan B. Hubbard, director of the White House Economic Policy Council.

In that letter, Hubbard threatened a White House veto of pending energy legislation, unless Congress made various changes.

One change sought by Hubbard was asking that Congress "clarify" the relationship between the US EPA (which has been charged by the President under an executive order to set new greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles) and the Department of Transportation (which traditionally sets fuel economy standards and which is greatly influenced by the car companies).

Hubbard, in effect, was asking Congress to limit the EPA's ability not only to do its job -- but to follow President Bush's own executive order!

Given that the head of EPA serves at the pleasure of the President, why the need for this request? The Bush administration is being pushed by the car companies, which fear not only that the EPA might set tough greenhouse gas standards, but also that it would like to approve California's request to enforce its own greenhouse gas standards.

The Bush political crowd obviously would like to shift the blame to Congress for tampering with EPA. It would also like to tie the hands of the EPA in a future (and likely more progressive) administration.

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