The Truth Is Chilling

Want a fun read?  Check out EPA’s January 18 letter to Senator Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, explaining why Administrator Stephen Johnson doesn’t want the public to see documents showing why his professional and legal staff thought he shouldn’t block California’s clean car standards.

My favorite parts:

 “EPA is concerned about the chilling effect that would occur if Agency employees believed that their frank and honest opinions and analysis expressed as part of assessing California’s waiver request were to be disclosed in a broad setting.” 


Oh.  Making it public that the staff thinks the Administrator is breaking the law would chill the staff from telling him.  Funny, I thought it might chill the Administrator from breaking the law.

 “[F]urther disclosure could result in needless public confusion about the Administrator’s decision that EPA will be denying California’s request.  That is, many of the documents are pre-decisional and thus do not reflect the Agency’s full and complete thinking on the matter.  Indeed, final decision documents have not yet been completed and made available to the public through publication in the Federal Register, so the public, if given access to the pre-decisional documents, would be effectively denied access to the full, complete rationale by the Agency.” 


Oh.  So, if the public knew more, it would know less.  We can’t let you have these documents because we want you to have our “full and complete thinking” and our “full, complete rationale.”

  “Finally, the Agency is currently engaged in ongoing litigation over this matter, and future litigation is expected. . . . Further disclosure of this type of confidential information could jeopardize the Agency’s ability to effectively litigate claims related to California’s waiver request.” 


Oh.  So it might hurt the Administrator’s chances in court if the judges could see his lawyers’ candid reasons why his actions were illegal.  I hate it when that happens. 

* * *

When someone’s trying to hide something, it’s always satisfying to find out they really had something to hide.  Here is what some of the documents say, reproduced right from Senator Boxer’s committee website:

 The following are excerpts from the uncensored EPA briefing documents shown to the EPW Committee Staff. EPA has not released these documents to the Committee or to the public, despite ongoing requests.


· "California continues to have compelling and extraordinary conditions in general (geography, climatic, human and motor vehicle populations - many such conditions are vulnerable to climate change conditions) as confirmed by several recent EPA decisions..."

· "Though GHG once emitted become well mixed in the global atmosphere, the climate change that results from increased concentrations of GHG is not uniform, either spatially or temporally. Resultant impacts on health, society, and the environment can further vary by region."

· "Wildfires are increasing. Wildfires generate particulates that can exacerbate the health impacts from increased smog projected from higher temperatures."

· "California has the greatest variety of ecosystems in the U.S.; and the most threatened and endangered species in the continental U.S."

· "California exhibits the greatest climatic variation in the U.S."

· "IPCC's key conclusions: many of the IPCC's key conclusions about impacts elevated to the executive summary for North America are specific issues in California, and thus California exhibits a greater number of key impact concerns than other regions," including:            

     o Coastal communities and habitat impacts            

     o Over-allocated water resources            

     o Ageing infrastructure, heat islands and air pollution (i.e., ozone) impacts            

     o Wildfires and insects outbursts

· "Ozone conditions."            

     o “Legislative history, case law, and past waiver practice acknowledge that California’s ozone problem is ‘compelling and extraordinary’”

SLIDE - "If We Grant . . ."

· "Likely suit by manufacturers"

· "EPA is almost certain to win such a suit"

· "Grant will likely allow CA standards to go into effect . . . "

· "Grant would be generally consistent with federal GHG rule"

SLIDE - "If We Deny . . ."

· "Almost certain lawsuit by California"

· "EPA likely to lose suit" (In a revised version of the presentation, the point about losing the lawsuit was changed to read: "EPA's litigation risks are significantly higher than if a waiver is granted.")

· "A decision to deny may have some consequences for justifying federal GHG rule," including "require[ing] downplaying benefits of GHG rule - we would need to say that expected reduction in ozone precursors and temperature doesn't appreciably help CA problems including ozone."