Bush's EPA Told Him CO2 Should be Regulated, Was Overruled by Cheney


Photo: Cherie A. Thurlby, DOD

And I thought I'd never have to write another post about Bush again. Alas, here's yet another revelation perfectly befitting the post-office portrait emerging of our last president -- a man with perhaps the best intentions, but easily influenced by the men around him. It turns out that Steven Johnson, the EPA Administrator in the Bush administration, sent a letter to the president's office in 2008 insisting that carbon emissions be listed as a harmful pollutant, and regulated accordingly. Guess who didn't like that idea? To be fair, it wasn't just Dick Cheney. It was Exxon, the DOT, and other parties who fought the idea as well.

This certainly is a major revelation, revealed at the Congressional hearings focusing on the EPA's ability to enforce the Clean Air Act today. Ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Henry Waxman (D-CA) released Johnson's letter as part of those hearings. The starkness of Johnson's language is striking:

The Supreme Court's Massachusetts v EPA decision still requires a response. That case combined with the latest science of climate change requires the Agency to propose a positive endangerment finding.... the state of the latest climate change science does not permit a negative finding, nor does it permit a credible finding that we need to wait for more research.

Within the next several months, EPA must face regulating greenhouse gases from power plants, some industrial sources, petroleum refineries and cement kilns.

These are the words of George W. Bush's appointed EPA Administrator, and they were written nearly three years ago. Johnson also outlined a plan for how the president could tackle curbing emissions. This is what happened to it, according to Politico: "Johnson was ready to advance on greenhouse gas pollution limits but Bush overruled him after hearing counter-arguments from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, the Office of Management and Budget, the Transportation Department and Exxon Mobil Corp."

And so an outline of how to address climate change, drafted from the findings of our nation's best scientists, was ignored at the behest of the interests that found those findings inconvenient. Wow, the world was a different place in 2008, hm?

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Tags: Congress | EPA | Global Climate Change