[JURIST] The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website] has indicated that the agency will comply with congressional requests to produce documents related to the EPA's decision to deny California's request for a waiver [JURIST reports] that would have allowed it and 16 other states following its lead to impose stricter greenhouse gas emissions standards on cars and light trucks. After the EPA decision last week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee [official websites] said they would hold hearings on the issue, and EPA General Counsel Roger Martella, Jr. [official profile] issued a memo Thursday instructing EPA employees to preserve and produce all documents and communications between the EPA and the White House in response to the inquiries. There have been reports that agency staffers advised that the decision to deny the waiver would not survive a court challenge, but EPA administrator Stephen L. Johnson [official profile] has defended the decision, saying the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 [HR 6 materials; WH fact sheet], signed into law earlier this month by President Bush, satisfies what California was seeking to accomplish.
Johnson said last week that the White House prefers a single unified national standard to a state-by-state network of regulations. The Energy Independence and Security Act will require automakers to reach an industry-wide average fuel efficiency for cars, SUVs and small trucks of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. This is the first time that the EPA has denied California a waiver since Congress established the state's right to seek Clean Air Act waivers in 1967 and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said California will appeal the decision [statement text]. The Baltimore Sun has more.