‘If we don’t open it, maybe it will go away’

A draft report by the Environmental Protection Agency last December concluded that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, and that it would be cost effective to require the nation’s motor vehicle fleet to average 37.7 miles per gallon by 2018.

That’s not what the White House wanted to hear.

Anonymous sources within the EPA told the New York Times this month that the White House refused to open the e-mail containing the draft report. The EPA has released a diluted form of the report, but, according to the sources, the White House pressured the EPA to take out major sections that supported regulating greenhouse gases.

Both documents “showed that the Clean Air Act can work for certain sectors of the economy to reduce greenhouse gases,” said a senior EPA official. “That’s not what the administration wants to show. They want to show that the Clean Air Act can’t work.”

The original report said that strict regulation of motor vehicle emissions could reap $500 billion to $2 trillion in economic benefits over the next 32 years. Jason Burnett, former EPA associate deputy administrator, resigned this month over White House pressure/neglect regarding the agency’s climate change findings. He told the New York Times that “no more constructive work could be done” and that “the next administration will have to face what this one did not.”