Friday, July 25, 2008

Republicans Boycott Senate Endangerment Subpoena Meeting

Jul 24: The Senate Environment and Pubic Works Committee, Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) held a business meeting to consider a resolution to issue a subpoena to the Administrator of the U.S. EPA. The meeting was boycotted by the Republican members. The Committee is attempting to obtain the document which they say contains the "endangerment document" prepared in follow-up to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts. v. EPA. The White House agreed to allow the Committee to view the document, but not release it to the public or copy it. It was delivered to the Committee late in the afternoon of July 23. According to Committee Members the document find endangerment and would allow going forward with regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

According to the Committee, the document says, "The Administrator is proposing that elevated concentrations of the greenhouse gases are reasonably anticipated to endanger public welfare, given the stated vulnerabilities, risks, and impacts from climate change on air quality (and related effects on the environment from changes in air quality), agriculture, forestry, water resources, ecosystems, coastal areas, the energy sector, infrastructure and settlements, and the direct effects of such elevated concentrations on the environment."

Senator Boxer reported that, ". . .the endangerment finding was not brought over by the White House Counsel's office until about 4:30 yesterday, despite our longstanding request. The White House conditioned our review of the document, not allowing us to copy it or to do more than take 'reasonable notes.'

"My staff has read the document in detail and briefed me. I read it, and have more work to do. This proposed endangerment finding, by the Administrator of EPA, concludes that the welfare of the American people is endangered if steps are not taken to avoid the ravages of unchecked global warming. In this document, in EPA's own words, we see that the law is clear, that the scientific evidence is sufficient, and that we must act. I have been informed that the Administrator and his senior staff participated directly in the preparation of this endangerment finding, and at the highest levels, and approved its transmission to the White House. There is no excuse, there is no argument that could possibly support withholding this endangerment finding from the American people, and I will continue to do everything I can to provide the public with as much information as possible. . ."

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member on the Committee issued a statement saying, "I am very disappointed with the actions of this Committee today. It is my view that the calling of this Business Meeting to consider a Committee Resolution to issue a subpoena to EPA Administrator Johnson is unwarranted and not focused on true oversight. Rather, this is a political exercise that is intended to score more political points to help keep this issue of alleged Administration interference alive in the press as long as possible. The document in question today has been offered to the Committee for review, and was in fact reviewed by staff yesterday evening. This same offer was accepted by Congressman Markey and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, but had been rejected by my Democratic colleagues. . .
"It is my view that regardless of Administration, the President acting through the entire executive branch is fully entitled to express his policy judgments to the EPA Administrator, and to expect this subordinate to carry out the judgment of what the law requires and permits. It can be argued that the “unitary Executive concept” promotes more effective rulemaking by bringing a broader perspective to bear on important regulatory decisions. It also enhances democratic accountability for regulatory decision-making by pinning responsibility on the President to answer to the public for the regulatory actions taken by his Administration.
Therefore, I consider this debate over censorship within the Administration to be a non-issue. . . "

Immediately following the conclusion of the business meeting, Senator Boxer held a press conference to brief reporters on the details of EPA's Proposed Endangerment Finding for greenhouse gases. A vote from the Committee was not possible due to lack of Republican members.

Access the statement from Senator Boxer which includes a summary of the endangerment finding excerpts (
click here). Access the statement from Senator Inhofe (click here). Access the meeting website which includes a webcast of the meeting with extensive additional details and statements from Members in attendance (click here). Access the video of the press conference (click here). Access a press statement from Senator Boxer (click here). Access numerous WIMS-eNewsUSA postings on the endangerment issues (click here). [*Climate]