EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson has responded to President Bush’s directive to waive environmental regulations responsible for recent price spikes and supply shortages. But it turns out that his authority is limited. He can only respond if the governor of a state asks.
Thanks to an alert reader, Neutral Source has obtained a copy of the letter sent April 26 by Johnson to Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell. We have reproduced the letter below. (Presumably, similar letters were sent to other governors as well.)
Johnson’s letter states that he has the legal authority to “grant waivers of motor vehicle fuels standards to alleviate critical fuel supply shortages if specified criteria are met.” However, the Clean Air Act “specifies that any waiver must be temporary and based on a determination that extreme and unusual fuel or fuel additive supply circumstances exist in a State or region.”
As Administrator, my determination regarding fuel waivers must be consistent with the statutory criteria and based on the facts concerning the supply and availability of fuel. Therefore it is essential to this process that EPA receives the most up-to-date information available on fuel supply conditions in a State or region that is requesting relief. If you determine that gasoline supply shortages are occurring in your State and that a waiver of fuel standards may be appropriate, please contact me immediately.
If governors do not ask for waivers, Johnson cannot legally issue them.