EPA administrator spars with Senate over climate action

Senate Democrats badgered EPA administrator Stephen Johnson yesterday about the agency’s greenhouse-gas foot-dragging. They unleashed a barrage of questions at an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, focusing on the recent Supreme Court ruling that said EPA has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide vehicle emissions. Faced with Johnson’s repeated assurance that the agency will “move expeditiously, but we are going to be moving responsibly” and his refusal to commit to a specific timeframe, Dems got twitchy. “There is no excuse for delay,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the committee, while Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) instructed Johnson to “stop denying the impact of global warming.” Aaaaaand speaking of denial, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) rose to Johnson’s defense, urging him to resist the pressure. Call it a partisan squabble if you will, or heed William Reilly, EPA head under Bush the First: “If I were EPA administrator, I would welcome that authority.”