When EPA tried to tell the White House that climate change could endanger public health, the Office of Management and Budget refused to open the e-mail. OMB officials seemed to know that if they could say they didn't know, then they would not be legally obligated to act, as the Supreme Court had told them in 2007 they were.
Eventually, EPA punted the decision to the next administration, in a July 11, 2008, rulemaking proposal that merely sought comment on how EPA might regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Making it no longer necessary for them not to know what EPA had been trying to tell them.
The document OMB did not want to read, according to a story by Felicity Barringer in the New York Times, was a finding that warming from greenhouse gases endangered public health, a finding that would trigger EPA regulation under the Clean Air Act.
That document was eventually censored and watered down under White House orders — with the White House seeming to know what was in it despite taking extraordinary pains to appear not to have read it.
A "sixth order draft" of the finding was released very quietly July 14 as part of a large and obscure regulatory docket. The version released was missing vast sections, according to sources.
- "EPA Document Ties Public Health Problems to Global Warming; White House Tried To Bury Analysis," Associated Press, July 14, 2008, by Dina Cappiello.
- "US EPA Says Greenhouse Emissions Endanger Health," Reuters, July 16, 2008, by Deborah Zabarenko.
- "White House Refused to Open Pollutants E-Mail," New York Times, June 25, 2008, by Felicity Barringer.
- "White House Puts Warming Threats on Back Burner," Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2008, by James Gerstenzang and Janet Wilson.