07/30/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

White House Nixed California's Tougher Air Quality Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency told the Bush administration that by law California should be able to set air-quality standards that were tougher than federal law, but President Bush rejected the advice and made clear that he wanted a single national standard, a former EPA official said Tuesday.

The testimony from whistleblower Jason Burnett came as the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee's chairwoman, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., is investigating what she charges is an effort by the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's office to cover up the threat from global warming.

Burnett told the committee that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson went to the White House last year with a plan to grant California a waiver that would allow it to set tougher standards, at least for several years. Bush made it clear that he preferred a single national standard, Burnett said, and in the end Johnson denied California's request

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