Adjust Text Size
Media Center

Media Center

Rep. Edward J. Markey, Chairman - Stay Connected with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and RSS Feeds
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This is an archived version of the committee's website, where the public, students and the media can continue to access and learn from our work.

Anniversary Gift: Markey, Select Committee to Issue Subpoena to EPA for Global Warming Docs Today


Contact: Select Committee, 202-225-4081

Anniversary Gift: Markey, Select Committee to Issue Subpoena to EPA for Global Warming Docs Today

One Year After Supreme Court Decision, EPA Still Avoiding Action on Warming

UPDATE: The subpoena was approved by a bi-partisan, 12-0 vote. The deadline for the documents is 12:00 noon, Saturday, April 12th.

WASHINGTON (April 2, 2008) – One year ago today, the Supreme Court handed down its decision on the landmark global warming case Massachusetts v. EPA, saying the Bush administration’s Environmental Protection Agency must address whether heat-trapping emissions from motor vehicles endanger public health or welfare. After a year of stalling and avoidance by EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will vote to issue a subpoena for EPA documents showing the Agency's progress in making the "endangerment" finding and proposing national emissions standards.

“Paper is the traditional one year anniversary gift. On this anniversary of Massachusetts v. EPA, we’re sending a piece of paper—a subpoena—to Stephen Johnson and the EPA,” said Markey. “The modern one year anniversary gift is a clock, and we’re trying to make sure this administration doesn’t run out the clock on their term without taking action to protect the climate.”

The vote, which is expected to succeed on a bipartisan basis, will precede a Select Committee hearing on aviation’s role in the causes and solutions to global warming. A simple majority of the committee’s 15 members is required to approve the subpoena, and the committee expects to serve the subpoena on the EPA shortly.

If the EPA does not turn over the requested documents following the subpoena within 10 days, the committee will then work with the House leadership to enforce the subpoena.  

In conversations and in letters dating back to January, Chairman Markey and Johnson have discussed his agency turning over documents pertaining to EPA’s required ruling on whether or not heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution is a danger to human health or welfare; and draft regulations for controlling global warming emissions from vehicles. Johnson had personally committed to turning over the documents, but has since refused to do so, most recently when he testified before the Select Committee in a March 13, 2008 hearing. More information on the exchanges between Markey and Johnson is available on the Select Committee website HERE.

Johnson will not be in Washington, DC today to witness the committee vote, as he is currently traveling in Australia.

“Stephen Johnson is going to the other side of the Earth to avoid giving the American people any information on his agency’s global warming work,” said Markey. “But he can’t avoid the people’s right to know, he can’t avoid the courts, and he can’t avoid the fact that our planet is endangered by global warming.”

In April of 2007, the Supreme Court directed EPA to determine whether greenhouse gas emissions cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare. If EPA makes this so-called "endangerment finding," the Supreme Court said, then it must regulate these emissions from motor vehicles. In its response to the Supreme Court decision, EPA spent about six months conducting intensive analysis and, according to EPA staff disclosures to Congress, Johnson signed off on his agency's positive endangerment finding as well as on a regulatory proposal to reduce these emissions from motor vehicles (to levels that correspond to a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2018). These documents were forwarded to other White House and federal agencies for review in December.



Below is the Opening Statment of Chairman Edward J. Markey from the subpoena proceeding:

Opening Statement
Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Ma), Chairman
Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming
Subpoena of documents related to the Massachusetts v. EPA Supreme Court decision

Exactly one year ago today, the landmark Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA made it clear that the EPA had to address climate change issues.  The Court held that:

•    Greenhouse gases are pollutants that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act;
•    Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA Administrator must judge whether these emissions cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare; and
•    If the EPA Administrator does make a positive endangerment finding, it must regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.  

In May of last year, the President directed EPA and other agencies to prepare a regulatory response to the Massachusetts v. EPA case.  In June of last year, Administrator Johnson told the Select Committee his response would be made public by the end of 2007.  The response was to consist of an “endangerment finding” and a regulatory proposal to regulate these emissions from motor vehicles.

Although depositions by Congressional staff and media reports indicate that EPA completed its work and submitted its proposals to OMB and other federal agencies for review, EPA did not release its work as planned.

In January, when I requested that Administrator Johnson appear before the Select Committee to update us on EPA’s efforts, I also requested these documents, which the Administrator initially agreed to provide.  However, shortly before last month’s hearing and again during his appearance before the Select Committee, Administrator Johnson made it clear, both in writing and verbally, that EPA would not provide the documents after all.

The EPA reasons for not providing the requested documents are flimsy and lack merit.  Indeed, the EPA’s purported reasons have been recognized by no committee of Congress as a basis to withhold documents, regardless of which party or Member was sitting in the chair.  The excuse of not providing documents because they would be “confusing to the public” is invalid and borderlines on insulting. And it simply is no answer to say that the documents are “pre-decisional” – that provides no lawful basis for a refusal to supply documents relevant to a lawful Congressional inquiry.   

I had expected to resolve this dispute with the Administrator without having to resort to this action, but I’m disappointed to report that EPA has made no effort to accommodate the Committee’s request and has done nothing but repeated excuses that are empty of legal meaning.  

The Members of the Committee should know that I do not take the issuance of a subpoena lightly. In my 32 years as a member of Congress and my many years chairing subcommittees in both the Energy and Commerce and the Resources Committees, this is the first time that I have ever found it necessary to issue a subpoena.  

But the EPA has placed us in that position and so we must go forward.  The Select Committee has both the right and the responsibility to obtain these documents so that we can understand exactly how EPA planned on responding to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision.  I urge my Colleagues to vote to uphold the rights of the Committee and the House by supporting this motion.




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.

Return to Press Releases »

Add to your   Digg this story Digg this   Reddit Reddit   Stumble it Stumbleupon  

 Print This Page