During a Senate Environment and Public Works hearing today, Jason Burnett, a former EPA official turned whistleblower testified on some of the White House's recent attempts to suppress various climate reports drawn up by the agency's staff—including a "public endangerment finding" that would have compelled the EPA to start regulating CO2 immediately. As was reported recently, after Burnett had e-mailed the endangerment finding to the Office of Management and Budget, officials at the OMB were told not to open it. But the White House wasn't merely being childish, Burnett explained today—the administration did this specifically to avoid triggering transparency rules that would've required any drafts read by the OMB to be made public.

Burnett also made clear that while the current administration has prevented the EPA from acting on CO2 emissions for now, this delay is only likely to last until the next president. There's at least one upside to the White House's recent meddling—while we undoubtedly need to act quickly to start reducing emissions, if the Bush administration had decided to apply the Clean Air Act to carbon, it would've been in a position to influence regulations for years to come. From an environmental standpoint, the country might be better off if those decisions are made by a President Obama—or even President McCain—than by the current bunch.

--Patrick Caldwell