Four Democratic Senators are calling for the resignation of Stephen Johnson, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Their main argument is that Johnson, a career EPA official whose promotion bolstered hopes he would respect the independent opinion of staff scientists, has instead repeatedly bowed to political pressure from the White House, particularly when it comes to regulating greenhouse gases to curb global warming.
The Senators allege Johnson mislead Congress, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
California Sen. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and three other Democrats on the panel - Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey - also announced they are urging Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate whether Johnson made false statements to Congress.
The basic facts are pretty well-established: EPA scientists determined that global warming poses a serious environmental and human health threat to the United States, and found that the Clean Air Act gives the agency the authority to set regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. But Johnson overrode those determinations after talks with the White House.
The EPA and the White House accuse Democrats of playing politics. That's been the consistent charge against the EPA, not only under Johnson's leadership, but during the Bush Administration's tenure in the White House. A Union of Concerned Scientists survey of Environmental Protection Agency staff scientists, for instance, found that 60% reported political interference in their work during the last five years.
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