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EPA Administrator on the Hot Seat

The Senate today released documents showing how EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson bucked the scientific and legal experts on his staff when he denied California’s request for tighter auto emissions standards.

Some quick background: Under the Clean Air Act, California has the right to set tougher rules than the feds for auto emissions (which other states can then sign onto). To do so, California needs a waiver from the EPA, which the agency has always granted. Now, however, California wants to regulate the emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which can only be reduced by boosting fuel economy. To the White House, that’s a backdoor way of mandating reductions in greenhouse gases, which it adamantly opposes. And late last year, EPA Administrator denied California’s request for the waiver.