January 2008


Rigid Johnson refuses to waiverBetter World Club's Federal Bureaucrat of the Year: EPA Chief Stephen L. Johnson

Continues to Block States' Decision to Set Higher Emissions Standards...And To Refuse to Tell Congress Why

He Whites Out EPA Docs Given To Congress

Hmm...Do You Prefer "White Out" or "Redacted"?

As we've been reporting since 2002, California has been trying to strengthen regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions from light trucks and passenger vehicles. The proposed limits would have phased in gradually, resulting in a 30% cut in new vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions by 2016. Sixteen other states joined California and adopted the same standards.

After five years of stalling, EPA Administrator Stephan L. Johnson has finally deigned to respond to the states' waiver request with a "NO" in December of 2007.

Since then, all hell has broken loose. The states and several environmental groups are suing the EPA, and Congress has subpoenaed the agency demanding documents showing why they denied the waiver request.

The EPA has provided Congress with some documentation, though much of what was provided was whited out and heavily edited. Johnson cited several reasons for not fully complying with the congressional subpoenas, noting that some of the documents could jeopardize the agency's fight against multiple lawsuits, some of the documents could confuse the public, the "chilling effect" that would result from disclosing internal deliberations "in a broad setting", and our personal favorite: "Executive Privilege" (aka "Because I don't want to").

The EPA's staff reportedly unanimously recommended approving California's waiver. However, Johnson - a Bush appointee and former executive in the drug development and animal testing industries - overruled his staff and personally nixed the waiver request.

Now Johnson is trying to stonewall Congress as to the real reasons why the waiver was denied. We urge you to Drive Change and contact EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson and let him know that he needs to come clean and tell the American people why he denied California's waiver by fully complying with congressional requests for documents.

But the waiver is hardly Johnson's only contribution to public policy over the past year:
- EPA considers delisting lead as a pollutant
- EPA considers doing nothing regarding ozone
- EPA Is Encouraging Farmers To Pollute To Study The Effects Of Animal Feces On The Environment
- EPA Chief: Bush Climate Policy Is Working!

Quite a track record. For all of his hard work, Stephen L. Johnson is Better World Club's Federal Bureaucrat of 2007. Perhaps the petition above is a proper reward.

Related Article:

U.S. Railway Funding Needs an Overhaul

Driving Change Readers Encouraged the Senate to Pass a Bill - Now it's Time for the House to Step Up

The Senate approved S. 294, the Rail Passenger Investment and Improvement Act, by a veto-proof margin of 70-22.

A companion bill in the House is still needed. This bill is important because it would, for the first time in US history, establish a federal funding formula for intercity passenger rail that is on par with other modes of transportation. Currently the federal government pays for 80-90% of the capital cost of road projects, 80% for airport projects, 30-50% for transit projects, but nothing for intercity passenger rail infrastructure outside of the money that goes to Amtrak to maintain the Northeast Corridor. States have been left to pick up the tab to pay for infrastructure upgrades for rail corridors like the Pacific Northwest corridor between Eugene, OR and Seattle, WA.

Driving Change readers have already helped convince the Senate to pass S. 294. We encourage our readers to Drive Change yet again and let the House know that you support the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act. Emails are great, but we also encourage readers to call and send letters as well.

Click here to contact the House of Representatives.

Haiku Activism!

The true spirit of Bushido calls for a balance between the art of war and just plain old art. Once you've contacted Stephen L. Johnson about his waiver denial, why not show your sensitive, artistic side by sending him a haiku? It's the honorable thing to do.

Energy bill stinks!
Corn? No change in C footprint
Spineless Democrats!

- Mark G.
Boston, MA

Click here to read more BWC member haikus.

From! The United States Beat Botswana, Syria, and Haiti in This Year's Environmental Performance Index!

US Ranked 39th In The World

With Hard Work and Sound Environmental Policies, We Could Potentially Surpass Panama (32nd) and Albania (25th) Next Year

Of course, this year's results are worse than our 2006 ranking (28th), when we actually ranked ahead of Panama, but let's not dwell on the negative.

Bush administration environmental initiatives like voluntary carbon emissions reductions, huge subsidies for corn-based ethanol, and forbidding states to set their own auto emissions standards are apparently starting to pay off.

The 2008 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranked 149 countries in six categories: Environmental Health, Air Pollution, Water Resources, Biodiversity and Habitat, Productive Natural Resources, and Climate Change. The index is compiled by Yale University's Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

Click here to see the 2008 rankings.

More 'Washington Watch' in 'Kicking Asphalt'

- How's Your EPA Lawsuit Going?


Nissan exec: Car culture is fading

Worldwide, people are losing interest in automobiles, one executive says.

By Alex Taylor
Fortune senior editor

DETROIT (Fortune) -- If you are looking for some insight into what the automobile of the future will look like you could do worse than talk with Tom Lane. An American, he runs all of Nissan's Product Strategy and Product Planning from his office in Tokyo. Complete Story

Additional Ways to Get Where You're Going:

More than meets the eye: Robot cars of the near future. They don't transform into anything, but they're still pretty cool.

It turns out that termites are good for more than 2-1 odds when pitted against a fire ant in a death match in your homemade insect Thunderdome ("Two insects enter. One insect leaves."): Termite enzymes are a potential key to better biofuels..

Gosh, guess we don't have to change our lifestyles after all:
A big drop in emissions is possible with today's technology.

Israel is investing heavily in electric cars. "It would have been nice to have them at the Red Sea, but what's 5,000 years? We're a patient people." Can autos effectively use the cell phone model? What? I can't hear you! Click here for the answer.

If you would like to contribute your opinion to Driving Change's Giving Directions please email it to us at


Would you like paper or plastic?Saving The Planet One Truckload of Red Baron Frozen Pizzas at a Time

Safeway Announces Biodiesel Switch

Soon, Safeway's 1,000-plus fleet of trucks will be running on a biodiesel blend. The grocery chain estimates that the move will reduce its annual carbon dioxide emissions by 75 million pounds, the equivalent of taking nearly 7,500 cars off the road each year.

Powering their fleet with biodiesel is part of Safeway's "Greenhouse Gas Reduction Initiative", which is designed to manage their carbon footprint, address climate change and reduce air pollution.

This initiative has generated several other green projects, including the purchase of wind energy, converting a couple dozen Safeway stores to solar power, and a recycling program that recycles roughly 500,000 tons of materials annually.


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