Stephen Johnson

Stephen Johnson.

Lordy. Not only did Stephen Johnson’s staff at the EPA oppose his decision to deny California’s waiver, but they warned him that if he denied the waiver he might have to resign in shame.

Boxer’s EPW committee has gotten ahold of some internal memos and briefings from the EPA. To pick just one example, check out this extraordinary list of talking points from staff at the Office of Transportation and Air Quality:

• I know you are under extraordinary pressure to make the California waiver decision, and I don’t mean to add to it

• But this likely to be among the two biggest decisions you get to make in the job (along with the greenhouse gas rule you are working on)

• The eyes of the world are on you and the marvelous institution you and I have had the privilege of leading; clearly the stakes are huge, especially with respect to future climate work

• I understand the history and the legal standards for this decision-I made a number of them myself while I was there, including the waiver for the LEV program, which these standards would be a part of.

• From what I have read and the people I have talked to, it is obvious to me that there is no legal or technical justification for denying this. The law is very specific about what you are allowed to consider, and even if you adopt the alternative interpretations that have been suggested by the automakers, you still wind up in the same place

• But I think there must be a win-win here, and you should find it and seize it … for the sake of the environment and the integrity of the agency

• Word is out about the option to grant the waiver for the first three years and then defer the subsequent years. I don’t have the details, but this sounds like the seed for a "grand bargain", and would put and the agency in the driver’s seat to craft a national solution: something that my automaker contacts and California both say they want.

You have to find a way to get this done. If you cannot, you will face a pretty big personal decision about whether you are able to stay in the job under those circumstances. This is a choice only you can make, but I ask you to think about the history and the future of the agency in making it. If you are asked to deny this waiver, I fear the credibility of the agency that we both love will be irreparably damaged.

(my emphasis)

The ability of this administration to make hacks of people and permanently soil their reputations never ceases to astonish.