Bush Administration Witnesses A No-Show at Senate Hearing

As we speak, California Senator Barbara Boxer is presiding over a hearing on the "Bush Administration Environmental Record at Department of Interior and Environmental Protection Agency." Scheduled to speak were Robert Meyers, the Principal Deputy Assistant of the EPA, and Lyle Laverty, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife at the Department of the Interior.

So I tuned in, curious to see what Mr. Laverty, in particular, would say about the Bush Administration's proposal to roll-back Endangered Species Act protections.  But they didn't show up.  Apparently, each agency sent Sen. Boxer's staff a last-minute note saying that they wouldn't testify after all (Senator Boxer said that Laverty's excuse was he couldn't get his "testimony cleared").

It's highly unusual for Administration officials to snub a Senate Committee like this and reflects what I would say is a well-deserved defensiveness on their atrocious environmental record.

(You can see the hearing live here)

UPDATE: Greenwire is reporting (subscription required) that the Administration boycotted the hearing in concert with Senator Inhofe, who also failed to attend and actually tried to block the hearing from taking place:

Inhofe said he objected to the meeting because Democrats had not granted his requests for other hearings this year, particularly one on ethanol. It was the first time he has formally protested a committee hearing, according to his staff.

Inhofe also attempted to derail the hearing this afternoon by using an obscure Senate rule about hearings while the Senate is session that is routinely waived. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) temporarily recessed the Senate to allow the hearing to proceed.

"We are honoring Senator Inhofe's request not to attend the hearing," said Interior spokesman Chris Paolino. "We look forward to discussing the scheduled subject of today's hearing at a future, bipartisan hearing."

What exactly are these guys afraid of?