EPA defends waiver denial to lawmakers

Today the head of the Environmental Protection Agency defended the agency’s decision to deny a waiver that California and a dozen other states asked for, which would have allowed them to implement tougher greenhouse gas emissions standards.

Testifying before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee panel today, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said: “I am bound by the criteria in the Clean Air Act, not people’s opinions.”

“The Clean Air Act does not require me to rubberstamp waiver decisions,” Johnson said. “It was my conclusion that California didn’t meet the criteria, or at least all of the criteria.”

The Committee is investigating the agency’s decision to deny the waiver, and California filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s waiver denial. Committee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer blasted Johnson during today’s hearing.

“You’re going against your own agency’s mission and you’re fulfilling the mission of some special interests,” she said.

But ranking Republican member Sen. James Inhofe defended the agency. “I think that the Energy bill just passed means that Congress has already spoken to this issue,” he said. “That law represents the will of Congress on fuel economy standards. If California legislators thought otherwise, why did not one of them offer an amendment to address the issue?”

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