Saturday, January 19, 2008

WHITEOUT: a full-blown Bush cover-up over California greenhouse gas rejection

We have been accustomed to the Bush EPA releasing bad information on a Friday, and now they’ve done it again – on a holiday weekend, no less.

In this case, they’ve gone into full cover-up mode over the agency’s political decision to reject California’s attempt to enforce its greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles.

Yes, they’ve whited out key portions of critical documents sought by a Senate committee, and invoked “executive privilege” as an excuse.

Yes, the same excuse used by President Nixon in the Watergate scandal, more recently by the Bush administration over Vice President Cheney’s secret meetings with energy executives, and even more recently in the U.S. attorney firing scandal.

“EPA is concerned about the chilling effect that would occur if agency employees believed their frank and honest opinions and analysis expressed as part of assessing California's waiver request were to be disclosed in a broad setting," EPA's associate administrator Christopher P. Bliley wrote.

This is, of course, absolute baloney. Chilling effect!

EPA chief Steve Johnson has taken on the role of Batman villain “Mr. Freeze” in this ugly saga: he froze his own experts out of the decision process. (I hope you appreciate the irony that Mr. Freeze was portrayed in the movie “Batman and Robin” by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who really got the cold shoulder by Johnson in this case.)

Senator Barbara Boxer was not amused:

It should be quite a show when Johnson appears before Boxer on January 24.

The long witness list also includes Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, indefatigable legal expert David Doniger of NRDC, and former EPA air chief Jeffrey Holmstead.

Will Johnson continue lying about things like the phony “patchwork” line he borrowed from the car companies? Will he continue trying to pretend that the California standards somehow would require the car companies to do less than the new federal fuel economy standards? Or will he perhaps take the Fifth Amendment when not following his usual practice of repeating prepared remarks and evading questions?

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