THE VINE APRIL 18, 2008
Following in the proud traditions of former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, EPA administrator Stephen Johnson has decided to blow off a subpoena from Rep. Ed Markey's Special Select Committee on Energy Independence and Climate Change. The committee is seeking papers verifying the EPA's compliance with a Supreme Court finding that the agency had no choice but to regulate greenhouse gases. Unsurprisingly, team Bush didn't like that ruling, and, unsurprisingly, they seem to be pretending it never happened.
This could in theory trigger a criminal process or even (potentially) a punitive action via the House's inherent contempt authority, but if the much-more-high-profile U.S. Attorney scandal is any indication, the Congress will eschew inherent contempt altogether, and any criminal complaint it files will be tossed on to the growing "ignore" pile by the Department of Justice. So if this matter isn't settled out of court, look for it to be dealt with civilly (or not at all).
On the bright side, if the presidency goes to a Democratic pro-environment candidate in the fall, the EPA will find itself ground zero for a shake-up that leaves it unrecognizable from its former self. And with any luck it will signal a new regime of responsible and effective regulation.