White House Cover Up of Global Warming Dangers Must End Now

Sen. Barbara Boxer

Sen. Barbara Boxer

Posted July 9, 2008 | 01:52 PM (EST)

You have heard me say many times that this administration has downplayed the dangers posed by global warming. They have used every excuse to avoid taking action, even hiding behind China and India.

Now, thanks to a very brave former EPA official, Jason Burnett, we know that the administration’s efforts have been about covering up the real threats of global warming and hiding the facts from the public.

Back in October of 2007, when the Senate Environment Committee held a hearing on the health impacts of global warming, we were stunned to learn that the testimony of CDC Director Julie Gerberding had been watered down and heavily redacted. Entire pages on global warming and public health — from air pollution to disease to food and water shortages — had been deleted.

Jason Burnett’s letter provides new evidence of what we have long suspected — that this cover-up is part of a master plan being directed from the White House and the Office of the Vice President.

In April 2007, the Supreme Court overruled the EPA and established that greenhouse gas emissions are clearly covered by the Clean Air Act. A first step to regulation is a finding that global warming pollution “endangers public health or welfare.”

CDC’s original testimony clearly would have supported an endangerment finding — and that’s why the White House tried to suppress it. Fortunately, thanks to the free press and the work of congressional committees, the CDC’s concerns were made known.

By last December, the EPA had finally decided to begin to tell the truth about the dangers posed by unchecked global warming. But the White House Office of Management and Budget wouldn’t even open Jason Burnett’s e-mail containing the endangerment finding.

When Jason refused a request from the White House to retract the e-mail, the finding was left in limbo.

Jason resigned from the EPA last month after concluding that no constructive action on global warming would take place during this administration.

This cover-up has got to end.

Yesterday, I called on EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to release every document related to the threat global warming poses to the public — including the endangerment e-mail left in cyberspace. EPA should also immediately move forward with strong regulations on global warming emissions.

If Mr. Johnson does not have the strength to stand up to the White House and take these steps, he should resign. The American people need the head of the EPA to be an independent advocate for their health and their environment.

In the end, this is about protecting the public and the planet.

Let me close with an analogy. If I knew that danger was lurking around the corner, and I watched as a group of innocent people walked around that very corner without warning them, I would be guilty of a reckless and unconscionable act.

History will judge this Bush administration harshly for recklessly covering up a real threat to the people they are supposed to protect.


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