Russell Train defends EPA
By Juliet Eilperin
As lawmakers try to take away the Environmental Protection Agency's power to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, one of the agency's first administrators has a clear opinion on which side is in the right.
Russell E. Train -- who headed EPA under both Presidents Nixon and Ford, and is now 89 years old -- bluntly told EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson last month that she and President Obama needed to defend this authority or risk losing a potent weapon in the battle over climate change.
"I said it was outrageous," Train recalled in an interview. "EPA should not be interfered in its capacity to move ahead on this issue. That's why it was created."
Train, who had dinner with Jackson and a handful of prominent environmentalists, said if the administration gives up the right to regulate carbon dioxide, it will have a hard time ever getting it back. He noted that policymakers made the Clean Air Act's reach intentionally broad back in 1970 when they crafted the law.
"It might well not happen today, but we had the wisdom back in my time to create this institution," he said. "For Congress to try to legislate on as complex an issue as this and try to remove it from an executive agency in the first instance, it's not only outrageous, but ridiculous. Congress is incapable of doing it. They don't have the staff. They might have the lobbyists, but they don't have the staff."
Juliet Eilperin| January 22, 2010; 12:23 PM ET Save & Share:
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