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Washington Watch

Here’s a Great Way to Save Government Money:

Fire All of the EPA’s Scientists!

Nobody’s Listening to Them, Anyway

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson has got to be the hardest working guy in government these days. Think about it. Johnson perpetually ignores the (oftentimes unanimous) advice of his agency’s scientists and regularly makes major policy decisions based on his own whims. In effect, he's running the EPA all by himself. And, he never complains about it. What a trooper.

His latest opus as the EPA's one-man band was to limit the allowable amount of smog-forming ozone in the air to 75 parts per billion. He did this, of course, contrary to the unanimous recommendation of the EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, which advocated setting the standard between 70 parts per billion and 60 parts per billion. Another EPA committee, the Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee, pushed for the 60 parts per billion limit because children are more vulnerable to air pollution, and killing children is a bad thing.

When considering the new standards, Johnson also left the door open to not changing the regulations at all, and keeping them at 84 parts per billion. Thankfully, Johnson at least raised the standards somewhat. Better World Club members lobbied Johnson on this point in the September 2007 issue of 'Driving Change'.

Not content with running his entire agency solo, the tireless administrator is now looking to run Congress. He stated that he would push lawmakers to rewrite the Clean Air Act to allow regulators to take into consideration the cost and feasibility of controlling pollution when making decisions about air quality, something that is currently prohibited by the law.

Yes, Stephen L. Johnson has worked very hard over the last three years. He'll certainly have earned a break when he leaves office in January 2009 - and the American people will certainly have earned a break from him.