No Action on Auto Fuel Economy Despite EPA's Urging

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Congressional investigators said yesterday that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson recommended raising automobile fuel economy standards three months ago based on a staff assessment that carbon dioxide emissions threaten the public's health and welfare, but the Bush administration has taken no action.

Administration officials told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that after the Supreme Court ruled last spring that the government has the right to regulate carbon dioxide to combat global warming, Johnson convened at least 60 EPA officials to respond to the court's instructions.

In a letter to Johnson, panel chairman Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) questioned why the administrator had not pressed harder to raise the fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2018. That proposal is tighter than the measure President Bush signed into law in December, which calls for a fleetwide average of 35 mpg two years later.

"It appears that EPA's efforts to regulate CO2emissions have been effectively halted, which would appear to be a violation of the Supreme Court's directive and an abdication of your responsibility to protect health and the environment from dangerous emissions of CO2," Waxman wrote.

EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar said the EPA proposal is "a draft document" and Johnson "wants to build a framework for dealing with climate as a whole."

-- Juliet Eilperin

© 2008 The Washington Post Company