Ignore It and It Goes Away

A New York Times article discusses the Bush Administration’s intentional disregard of advice from the Environmental Protection Agency. In this case, the White House refused to open an email reporting on whether or not greenhouse gases are dangerous to the environment or health. In response, the EPA watered down the report.

The original idea was that if greenhouse gases were ruled to be a danger, they could be regulated under existing environmental laws like the Clean Air Act. This, said the chairman of the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, could result in a “train wreck” of piecemeal regulation. The EPA’s report apparently did not agree with this policy, so the Administration placed its fingers squarely in its ears, tightly shut its eyes, and waited for the report to dilute itself.

This is not the first time the White House has ignored the advice of the EPA and the EPA has rolled over. A similar situation arose when the EPA decided not to let California set tougher emissions standards for vehicles. In that case, the EPA administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, overturned the unanimous decision of his staff, who wanted to allow the California regulations, and said that global, not regional policies are the best way to resolve the problem. This decision came after Johnson had closed door discussions with White House officials, and documents on what led to this decision have been shielded from oversight efforts by “executive privilege.”

I’ve heard that sometimes if you ignore something it will go away. I guess I never realized how true that is.