Wednesday :: Apr 2, 2008

Reckless Disregard

by Turkana

Last week, Kevin Drum explained the latest outrage by Bush's Environmental Protection Infection Agency:

Last year the Supreme Court ruled, contrary to the Bush administration's wishes, that greenhouse gases were a pollutant that came under the jurisdiction of the EPA. So the EPA's scientists took a look, and they concluded that, yes, greenhouse gases contributed to global warming and ought to be regulated under the Clean Air Act. The White House, of course, was not happy about this, so on Thursday EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson deep-sixed the scientific findings and opened up a "lengthy public comment period" to give corporate contributors the public a chance to weigh in on this. Reaction was swift:
"This is a transparent delaying tactic and a major reversal of EPA's position," said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills). "The Bush administration is recklessly abandoning its responsibility to address the global warming crisis."

"It's outrageous," said Sierra Club attorney David Bookbinder, one of the lead attorneys on the case, who said he would ask the Supreme Court next week to order the EPA to act within 60 days.

Drum thinks it's pointless to work the Supreme Court, and that there will be no solution until we have a new administration. He's probably right. Because it's not only about greenhouse gases and the Clean Air Act. As the international science journal Nature editorialized, in their March 6 issue:

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is fast losing the few shreds of credibility it has left. The Bush administration has always shown more zeal in protecting business interests than the environment (see Nature 447, 892–893; 2007). But the agency's current administrator, Stephen Johnson, a veteran EPA toxicologist who was promoted to the top slot in 2005, has done so with reckless disregard for law, science or the agency's own rules — or, it seems, the anguished protests of his own subordinates.

And they offered two recent examples: Johnson's refusal to grant California the necessary waiver that would allow the state to regulate vehicle exhaust- despite the recommendation from top-level EPA staffers that the waiver be granted; and "a joint letter to Johnson from the four labour unions representing most of the EPA's professional staff," alleging bad faith by Johnson, including his repeatedly ignoring the "the EPA's official Principles of Scientific Integrity, citing "fluoride drinking water standards, organophosphate pesticide registration, control of mercury emissions from power plants" — and the waiver refusal."

And Nature agrees with Drum:

In a rational world, Johnson would resign in favour of someone who could at least feign an interest in the environment. Alas, it seems that he will probably stay on until January 2009, refusing waivers, fighting lawsuits and further depressing employees' morale. In the meantime, we can only offer those employees a fantasy: the White House doesn't want the agency to do anything, so shut it down until next January. Take some fully paid sabbatical time to relax, and prepare for a return to the old-fashioned protecting of the environment that so many of you joined the agency for.

A rational world? It would be nice to live in one. Perhaps next year.

Turkana :: 3:05 PM :: Comments (2) :: Digg It!