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Washington Watch

California’s Request to Set Its Own Emissions Regs Turns Into a Soap Opera

The Bush Administration is Being Accused of Quietly Lobbying Congressmen to Undermine the State’s Efforts

What Next? Maybe Governor Schwarzenegger’s Evil Twin Brother Will Take Over the State After Arnie Wrecks his Car, Gets Amnesia, and Becomes a Lobbyist for the Auto Industry, Ultimately Fighting Against the Very Emissions Standards Law that He Helped Champion?

Don't Steal This! Driving Change Editor Is Working on the Screenplay

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is the latest guest star in California's ongoing and seemingly never-ending struggle to set its own auto emissions standards. Waxman, head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has accused the Bush administration of leaning on Congressmen to generate negative buzz from government officials (not unlike that time on 'The Young and the Restless' when Victor tried to force Phyllis to testify against Jack in return for her own freedom).

"It is not an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars to organize a lobbying campaign to politicize this vital regulatory decision," Waxman said in a letter to James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

The letter cited numerous e-mails and other communications among officials of the Department of Transportation, the Council on Environmental Quality and the EPA that he said showed the clear intent of the administration to lobby against California's waiver request.

Waxman also said the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the trade group that includes GM, Ford, Toyota, and Chrysler, gave a list of plants to the DOT to help them target lawmakers and governors.

Isn't the executive branch constantly lobbying to win its goals? Of course, but not when the decision maker is an independent agency. Agencies like the EPA are supposed to make decisions based on the law and, depending on the agency, may be quasi-judicial. They are not supposed to be politicized.

Ultimately, using the DOT and other federal offices to secretly lobby lawmakers and governors was inappropriate (but not as inappropriate as that time on 'One Life To Live' when Todd asked Jessica to be the best man at his wedding in a convoluted scheme to get his son back).