EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson has finally gone over the top. Not only has he ignored the scientific findings of his official Science Advisory Council that to protect the public health he needed to set an air-quality standard for ozone of no greater than 70 parts per million, he has also ignored the clear language of the Clean Air Act and instead followed the political advice of the White House by refusing at all to set a new standard to protect crops and forests.
The Washington Post reported that although Johnson was already recommending -- on his own -- a standard less protective than the science required, even his watered-down proposal was overturned on direct intervention from the White House. The Post reported that Bush's intervention left EPA lawyers scrambling to figure out how to give Johnson's decision a veneer of legality:
"Solicitor General Paul D. Clement warned administration officials late Tuesday night that the rules contradicted the EPA's past submissions to the Supreme Court, according to sources familiar with the conversation. As a consequence, administration lawyers hustled to craft new legal justifications for the weakened standard."
Now it's important to remember that this is the same Steve Johnson who is claiming that his decision not to allow California to implement its clean car standards was not influenced by the White House -- but is simultaneously refusing to release documents on those conversations.
Time and time again, Steve Johnson has showed that, whatever his personal views, and regardless of his oath of office to uphold "the law," he is entirely a creature of the whim of the President, the vice president, and other White House officials. The EPA was deliberately created by Richard Nixon with substantial autonomy as an "independent" agency. Steve Johnson has so fundamentally violated his duty that he simply needs to resign -- now.
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