Report links Cheney office, oil giant to global warming policy shift


A congressional investigation has produced new details on the degree to which senior Bush administration officials favored using the Clean Air Act to limit greenhouse gas emissions — until pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney's office, ExxonMobil and others in the oil industry led the Bush administration to change course.

A report by the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, issued today, supports the disclosure by a former Environmental Protection Agency official last week that someone in Cheney's office had a hand in the shift in policy.

Among the findings of the congressional investigation: There was wide senior-level support at the EPA for concluding that greenhouse gases are a danger to the public and that the EPA should regulate emissions — from vehicles, power plants, refineries and other sources.

That would have been a dramatic shift in federal policy, and it would have given the EPA a powerful hand in trying to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases widely blamed for causing global warming.

Among those supporting this view, the report said, were Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and three senior White House officials: Deputy Chief of Staff Joel D. Kaplan; Susan E. Dudley, regulatory chief at the Office of Management and Budget; and James L. Connaughton, chief of the Council on Environmental Quality.

According to the House committee report, representatives of ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute and the National Petrochemicals and Refiners Assn. argued ...

... that the move would undercut President Bush's reputation as an opponent of government regulation. And, it said, F. Chase Hutto III, Cheney's energy advisor, supported their opposition.

The committee had been investigating the work of EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson for several months, including his role in stopping California from regulating vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions, according to report on CNN's website. Eventually, the investigation led to Cheney's office. "I don't accept their premise," Cheney spokeswoman Megan Mitchell said. As for the report that the oil industry had the support of Cheney's office in fighting new regulatory action, she said: "Frankly, that's ridiculous."

Committee Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said in a news release: "This is the dysfunctions and motivations of the Bush administration laid bare. The fact that they can, with near unanimity, completely switch positions on global warming to please the oil industry is shocking, and yet disappointingly predictable."