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The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming addressed our nation's energy, economic and national security challenges during the 110th and 111th Congresses.

This is an archived version of the committee's website, where the public, students and the media can continue to access and learn from our work.

Bush Admin. Denies Congressional Access to More Global Warming Documents


Contact: Jeff Sharp, Select Committee, 202.225.4079

Jessica Schafer, Congressman Markey, 202.225.2836

Bush Admin. Denies Congressional Access to More Global Warming Documents

NHTSA Holding Back Information on California Clean Cars, Fuel Economy Regulations

WASHINGTON (August 8, 2008) – The Bush administration is again denying Congressional access to documents pertaining to important global warming and fuel economy decisions. Chairman Edward Markey (D-Mass.) of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, the committee seeking the documents, responded today, again asking for documents related to the Department of Transportation’s assertion that California’s rights to issue regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles using Clean Air Act authority are preempted by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, even though two Federal courts have ruled otherwise. The chairman again asked for copies of drafts and about which individuals within the administration were involved in the decision to include the assertions in recent proposed fuel economy rules.

This action follows a long process by the Select Committee to gain access to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents on national global warming emissions regulations from vehicles, which revealed significant political influence on a scientific decision and a complete reversal on the part of many within the administration.

"We have seen how EPA’s national vehicle emissions regulations were twisted by political forces from deep within the White House," said Chairman Markey. "It’s imperative that we now discover if there were similar machinations within the Department of Transportation trying to shoot down California’s right to reduce global warming pollution from vehicles."

Chairman Markey asked in June for documents and information pertaining to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on fuel economy standards. The NPRM was responding to the energy bill passed in December that raised fuel economy standards to at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Chairman Markey asked about the gas price estimates used for creating fuel economy targets, and whether those estimates were high enough to reflect the current and future prices of gas, given the estimates used in the NPRM were below $3 per gallon.

Chairman Markey also asked for information pertaining to California’s rights to proceed with its clean car regulations. The NPRM contained the administration’s view that state regulations to reduce heat-trapping pollution from motor vehicles were preempted by national policy. In subsequent exchanges, when asked for more information on how this decision was reached, and by whom, NHTSA responded that they would not provide any of the documents to the Select Committee because the documents were "pre-decisional." In today's response letter, Chairman Markey notes: "I am not aware of any court that has recognized ‘pre-decisional’ as an adequate basis to withhold documents from a valid Congressional request." The letter further stated that if the agency is relying on a claim of executive privilege to withhold the documents, then that claim should be formally asserted.

Along with a request for the documents themselves, in all forms, Chairman Markey also asks whether any White House or other executive branch officials assisted in drafting NHTSA’s NPRM, and lists of any names, dates of any meetings, conversations, correspondence or any other interactions between NHTSA and other administration officials.

The letters can be found on the Select Committee website and below:

Chairman Markey’s letter calling on NHTSA to stop stonewalling on its views on the California regulations (8.7.08):

Response from NHITSA General Council (7.28.08):

Response from Department of Transportation General Counsel (7.28.08):

Chairman Markey’s original request for information (6.17.08):

PLEASE NOTE: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was created to explore American clean energy solutions that end our reliance on foreign oil and reduce carbon pollution.

The Select Committee was active during the 110th and 111th Congresses. This is an archived version of the website, to ensure that the public has ongoing access to the Select Committee record. This website, including external links, will not be updated after Jan. 3rd, 2010.

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