Senators Call For EPA Chief Johnson to Step Down

  • Published on July 30th, 2008

EPA administrator Stephen L. JohnsonOn Tuesday, four Democratic senators called for Stephen Johnson to resign as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey to begin an investigation into whether he lied in testimony to a Senate committee, the AP reports.

The senators, all members of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said Johnson — the first career scientist to head the EPA — had repeatedly succumbed to political pressure on decisions vital to protecting health and the environment.

“We have lost all confidence in Stephen Johnson’s ability to carry out EPA’s mission under the law,” Environment Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told reporters.

Boxer was joined by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., in calling for Johnson’s resignation. They said Johnson should step down because he has ignored the advice of the agency’s own scientists on the regulation of numerous air pollutants and stonewalled congressional oversight.

In a letter the senators sent to Mukasey on Tuesday, they also allege that Johnson made false statements before the committee in January when he said that he alone had decided California should not regulate the gases blamed for global warming from motor vehicles.

Johnson came under investigation for allowing the White House to improperly interfere with the decision to grant California a waiver to limit greenhouse gases. The investigation began when a former top EPA official told the committee earlier this month that the administrator initially decided to grant a partial waiver to the state, but later changed his mind under pressure from the White House.

Johnson has refused to comment on his talks with the White House, ignored subpoenas for relevant documents, and most recently, put a gag order on all EPA staffers to prevent them talking with investigators or the press.

Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, the environment committee’s top Republican, issued a brief rebuttal Tuesday, saying, “This is simply more election year politicking. Nothing more need be said.”

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is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.