Leahy, Boxer Solicit Testimony From EPA Administrator Senate Judiciary Committee To Hold Hearing On White House Interference In EPA Decision Making

The chairs of two Senate Committees today requested sworn testimony from the administrator of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) at a hearing scheduled in the Senate Judiciary Committee for July 30. 


In a letter sent Wednesday, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) invited EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to testify before the Judiciary panel about the EPA’s refusal to provide Congress with documents related to the public health risks associated with global warming.  President Bush has claimed executive privilege over many of the documents, which has stymied an investigation by the Senate EPW Committee into why the EPA denied a request by California officials for a Clean Air Act waiver to allow the state to enforce tougher emissions standards.


“This hearing will provide an opportunity for you to testify as to whether EPA’s decisions were made in accordance with the technical and legal conclusions of EPA’s own staff and whether the White House improperly interfered with EPA decision making or the information provided to Congress,” Leahy and Boxer wrote.


A former EPA official, Jason Burnett, blew the whistle earlier this month on the administration’s efforts to edit and redact the October 2007 testimony of the director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which was to be given before the EPW Committee, about the real dangers of global warning.  The Bush administration has opposed regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.  According to Burnett, Vice President Cheney’s office sought to delete facts about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on public health from the CDC’s prepared testimony.  Burnett is scheduled to testify at an EPW Committee hearing on July 22.


President Bush has propounded claims of executive privilege through his administration related to the warrantless wiretapping of innocent Americans, the use of coercive interrogation techniques against detainees, and in the questionable firing of U.S. Attorneys at the Justice Department.


Leahy said, “Time and again, this administration has exerted claims of executive privilege to escape Congressional oversight and limit the right of the American people to know what their government is doing.  I look forward to Mr. Johnson’s testimony on this important issue, and hope the administration will lift its unsupported claim of executive privilege so that Congress and the American people can understand fully what the Bush White House is doing to combat one of the most serious concerns of our time – global warming.”


Boxer said, “The Bush administration has been hiding behind claims of privilege instead of telling the truth about the dangers of global warming.  It is time for Stephen Johnson to answer questions about EPA’s failure to give Congress and the public the honest information they deserve.” 


The hearing, “Is the White House Interfering with EPA and Impeding Congressional Oversight?,” is scheduled for July 30, 2008, at 10:00 a.m. in room 224 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.  Non-credentialed members of the press should contact the Senate Press Galleries for information on how to attend the hearing.  The hearing will also be webcast live online.


The text of the Leahy-Boxer letter follows.  A PDF is also here.


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