EPA Chief Ignored Staff on Calif. Ruling

Auto industry pushed White House to sway him, sources say
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2007 1:58 PM CST
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says that he will challenge the EPA's ruling in court. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The EPA chief—under heavy pressure from the auto industry—rejected his own staff's advice in denying California’s request to set its own fuel economy standards, the Los Angeles Times reports. Stephen Johnson told the state that it’s request was unnecessary in the wake of the new energy bill and didn’t meet legal standards. But sources say his staff reached the opposite conclusion and was overruled.

“This administration ignores the science and ignores the law,” said the chair of California’s Air Resources Board. Sources insist the White House swayed Johnson after Dick Cheney met with automakers—possibly as part of a deal in which they backed the energy bill. California plans to sue, and two federal lawmakers vowed yesterday to investigate the denial, warning Johnson not to destroy any documents.