Bush administration lobbying against
One official, Heideh Shahmoradi, a special assistant to Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, left a voicemail recently with a House staffer warning that if California gets the authority from the Environmental Protection Agency to enact those controls, "this would greatly impact the auto facilities in your district."
Shahmoradi asked if the staffer's House member would ask his state's governor to weigh in with the EPA to oppose
The Department of Transportation's contacts were revealed Tuesday when Rep. Henry Waxman, the Los Angeles Democrat who chairs the top investigative committee in the House, released a copy of Shahmoradi's voicemail. It came from a House member who did not want to be identified. Waxman criticized the lobbying effort as "highly inappropriate" and possibly illegal. In a letter to Peters, he said Shahmoradi's call "at the very least suggests the presence of an improper hidden agenda."
Waxman asked for an explanation from Peters and any documents involving her department, EPA and communications with Congress on
Department of Transportation officials defended the voicemail and said officials contacted members of Congress after receiving advice from acting general counsel Rosalind Knapp. In a letter to Waxman, Knapp said the calls did not violate anti-lobbying restrictions on executive branch officials.
Those restrictions apply to "grass-roots" lobbying of interest groups or the public by federal officials, not contacts with members of Congress, Knapp said.
Asked if it was appropriate for Shahmoradi to cite the impact on the auto industry, Transportation spokesman Brian Turmail said the department wanted to let members of Congress know "the potential implications that a waiver might have on the current fuel-economy standards program."
Turmail did not say how many Transportation officials were involved, how many members or congressional staffers were contacted or whether Peters approved the calls.
Shahmoradi's voicemail uses some of the same language the auto industry has used in suing
The term "patchwork" is frequently used by the industry to complain that they would have to comply with a wide array of state regulations. But under the Clean Air Act,
The Supreme Court, over the objections of the Bush administration, decided in April that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions, bolstering
Shahmoradi knows her way around Congress. She worked four years in the Senate as a Transportation staffer, and won high praise from Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., last month for her work on transportation funding bills.
Her voicemail seemed to deviate from the administration's official "no position" on how, or whether, the EPA will enforce regulations on carbon-dioxide emissions, and whether it will allow
Last week, EPA administrator Stephen Johnson said he would not decide how his agency will interpret or enforce the Supreme Court ruling until late next year, and he would not say when he will decide on
Under sharp questioning from Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who chairs a special committee on global warming, Johnson said he had "no position" on one proposal in Congress that would remove the EPA's authority, and that of the states, to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions.
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nu`ñez said the contacts "expose the president's recent attempts to appear reasonable on global warming." He said the phone calls are "a whispering campaign to try to derail one of the most important tools out there to fight global warming."
In Congress, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she would contact the Transportation Department to question officials about their involvement. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, a member of the Energy Committee, said, "It's outrageous for the DOT to be lobbying this way when the states are taking the lead on energy policy."
The Department of Transportation's effort to sound a warning over
In the House, two veteran Democrats - John Dingell of