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[greenyes] Communists Obviously
NEW YORK TIMES



February 27, 2005
Air Quality Officials' Group Protests Senator's Actions
By MICHAEL JANOFSKY

ASHINGTON, Feb. 26 - At the end of his testimony on the Clear Skies Act of 
2005 last month, an Ohio official representing two national groups of state 
and local air quality regulators told a Senate subcommittee on the 
environment that he would be happy to respond in writing to any additional 
questions.
Three days later, the questions arrived, eight from Senator James M. Inhofe, 
Republican of Oklahoma, the chairman of the full committee and a co-sponsor 
of the bill.
But only one of Mr. Inhofe's written questions to the witness, John A. Paul, 
had anything to do with Clear Skies, the first major change to the Clean Air 
Act in 15 years, which the committee is scheduled to finalize on Wednesday. 
The rest of Mr. Inhofe's interest focused on how the two groups conducted 
their business, including a request for the groups' tax filings for the last 
six years.
While Mr. Inhofe was within his right to seek financial information from 
groups that receive grants from the Environmental Protection Agency, as Mr. 
Paul's organizations do, the groups' executive director said he viewed the 
requests as a bullying tactic because the groups oppose the bill.
"I thought it was intimidation," said S. William Becker, who leads the 
groups, the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators and 
its sister organization, the Association of Local Air Pollution Control 
Officials. "They said they have been investigating us since last May. So 
perhaps this is a continuation of a pattern of intimidation."
Nothing could be further from the truth, say aides to Mr. Inhofe, who said 
that his request for tax information was part of a broader review of 
organizations that received grant money from the environmental agency. Will 
Hart, a spokesman for the committee, said Mr. Inhofe was examining records 
from 200 such groups, though he declined to name any of them.
"This is an ongoing investigation," Mr. Hart said. "With grant oversight 
capacity, the committee is authorized to look into questions raised over the 
years."
Mr. Inhofe appears to be the only member of the 18-member committee raising 
the questions during the difficult negotiations over Clear Skies. An aide to 
another Republican member of the committee, who insisted on anonymity 
because of uncertainties over prospects for the bill's passage, said no 
other senator felt as strongly about grant oversight as did Mr. Inhofe.
But Senator James M. Jeffords, a Vermont independent and the ranking member 
of the committee, who has battled Mr. Inhofe on a number of issues including 
Clear Skies, expressed strong misgivings over the request for tax filings, 
saying he was deeply concerned over its timing and appropriateness.
"This organization has testified numerous times before Congress on Clean Air 
Act matters; their expertise, who they are, and who they represent is well 
known," Mr. Jeffords said. "I am troubled by this precedent for the Senate."
Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat and the ranking member 
of the Government Reform Committee, also had harsh words for Mr. Inhofe, 
calling his request for tax information "a blatant attempt at intimidation 
and bullying" to scare off opponents of a bill that has strong White House 
support.
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_________________________
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