Stephen Lee Johnson (born March 21, 1951) was the Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President George W. Bush
during the second term of his administration. He has received the
Presidential Rank Award, the highest award that can be given to a
civilian federal employee.
1 Education and career in industry
2 EPA career prior to becoming administrator
3 EPA Administrator
4 Post EPA
6 External links
Education and career in industry
Johnson attended Taylor University, receiving a B.A. in biology
followed by a master's degree in pathology from George Washington
University. Before working for the U.S. Government, he held a number
of positions in laboratory and bio-technology companies. He was also
the director of Hazelton Laboratories, now Covance. He has been
awarded honorary Doctor of Science degrees by
Taylor University and
Virginia Wesleyan College.
EPA career prior to becoming administrator
Johnson began working at the EPA in 1979. He had been working at a
private lab, Litton Bionetics Inc., in Washington. Johnson said that a
mentor suggested he get a job at the EPA, learn about regulations from
inside government, and then return to industry. "Regulations were
really frustrating," Johnson told
The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2008,
recalling his decision to join the EPA. "I wondered if they really
understood what it was like to work in a laboratory."
Johnson's rise from career scientist to EPA chief began in 2001, when
he made the jump from civil service bureaucrat to political appointee.
In January 2001, Johnson was the lead staff toxics official at EPA.
His selection as assistant administrator for the Office of Prevention,
Pesticides and Toxic Substances was set in motion by a Kentucky
lobbyist, Charles Grizzle, whose clients have included power
companies, hospitals, shopping centers, and a formaldehyde industry
association. After the 2000 election, Grizzle called then-senior White
Karl Rove and suggested that Rove should take a look at
When EPA administrator
Christine Todd Whitman
Christine Todd Whitman resigned in 2003,
Johnson became the acting deputy administrator, the number two
position at EPA, and remained in that position when former Utah
Michael O. Leavitt
Michael O. Leavitt was named administrator.
On January 26, 2005, when Leavitt became secretary of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, Johnson became acting
administrator of EPA. On March 4, 2005, President George W. Bush
nominated him formally for the permanent position. He became the first
career employee to hold the position of Administrator and the first
scientist to head the Agency.
During his April 6, 2005 Senate confirmation hearing, EPA was
criticized for support of using human subjects in pesticide
testing. Johnson "did not have the opportunity to fully address the
committee's criticisms before the hearing was recessed." In April
2005, a secret hold was placed on his confirmation vote while he
evaluated the Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study, which
advocated recording the effects of pesticides on children from infancy
to age 3. In a letter that reached
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Barbara Boxer several hours
after she raised her concerns, Johnson said, "No additional work will
be conducted on this study subject to the outcome of external
scientific and ethical review." On April 8, Johnson canceled the
study. His nomination was confirmed by the
United States Senate on
April 29. On February 6, 2006, he issued a final regulation
"prohibiting new research involving intentional exposure of pregnant
women or children intended for submission to the EPA under the
pesticide laws" and other protections.
Johnson tried to block the efforts of 17 states to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions and improve fuel economy. He defended his position by
arguing that “The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear
national solution, not a confusing patchwork of state rules. I believe
this is a better approach than if individual states were to act
alone.” The state rules he was blocking were more stringent than the
Bush administration's proposed national solution. Johnson came
under investigation for allowing the White House to improperly
interfere with the decision to grant
California a waiver to limit
greenhouse gases. On May 20, 2008, Johnson was questioned for three
hours by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. On July
29, 2008, four Senators called for Johnson's resignation, alleging he
made false statements to Congress.
On December 9, 2008, the Office of Inspector General, US EPA concluded
California waiver decision on greenhouse gas automobile
emissions met statutory procedural requirements."  On May 19, 2009,
President Obama also concluded: "a clear and uniform national policy
is also good news for the auto industry which will no longer be
subjected to a costly patchwork of differing rules and regulations."
Johnson's stance on this and other issues was criticized in an
editorial by the scientific journal Nature, which claimed he acted
with "reckless disregard for law, science or the agency's own rules
— or, it seems, the anguished protests of his own subordinates."
In spite of this external criticism and over the objections of the
Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation, Energy, Council
on Environmental Quality, Office of Science and Technology Policy,
Council of Economic Advisors, and Small Business Administration,
Johnson issued the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, "Regulating
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Under the Clean Air Act."  On February
29, 2008, four labor unions representing 10.000 of the EPA's 17.000
employees (ca. 60%) published an open letter to Johnson, complaining
that he had ignored the EPA's official Principles of Scientific
Integrity in advancing Bush Administration positions on water
fluoridation, pesticide regulation, mercury emissions, and greenhouse
As Administrator, he managed more than 17,000 Agency employees
nationwide and oversaw an annual budget of $7.7 billion. His tenure
expired on January 20, 2009.
On June 29, 2010, clean technology company FlexEnergy announced that
Johnson had joined its Board of Directors. According to Johnson,
the company's technology can minimize air pollutants in congested
cities and industrial sites, as well as provide energy in remote areas
around the world.
On November 11, 2010, The
Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
Scotts Miracle-Gro Company announced that
Johnson had been named to its Board of Directors.
Johnson also sits on the Board of Trustees at his alma mater, Taylor
^ a b c Shiffman, John; John Sullivan (2008-12-07). "An Eroding
Mission at EPA; The Bush administration has weakened the agency
charged with safeguarding health and the environment". The
Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
^ Janofsky, Michael (2005-04-06). "E.P.A. Nominee Gets an Earful From
Committee Democrats". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
^ Shawl, Jeannie (2005-04-26). "EPA nominee faces tough Senate
confirmation hearing". Jurist Legal News & Research, University of
Pittsburgh School of Law. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
^ Janofsky, Michael (2005-04-07). "Nominee Is Grilled Over Program on
Pesticides". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
^ "EPA Issues Final Human Studies Rule/Schedules Stakeholder
Research". Pollution Engineering. 2006-02-15. Archived from the
original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
^ Broder, John; Felicity Barringer (2007-12-20). "E.P.A. Says 17
States Can't Set Emission Rules". The New York Times. Retrieved
^ Coile, Zachary (2008-07-29). "Democrats call for EPA chief to
resign, citing congressional testimony". San Francisco Chronicle.
California Waiver Decision on Greenhouse Gas Automobile
Emissions Met Statutory Procedural Requirements" (PDF). U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Inspector General, Office
of Counsel Legal Review. 2008-12-09. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
^ "President Obama Announces National Fuel Efficiency Policy". The
White House, Office of the Press Secretary. 2009-05-19. Retrieved
^ "The EPA's tailspin". Nature. 452 (7183): 2. 2008.
doi:10.1038/452002a. PMID 18322480.
^ "Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, "Regulating Greenhouse Gas
Emissions under the Clean Air Act"" (PDF). U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency. 2008-07-11. Retrieved 2013-01-30.
^ Lee, Christopher (March 11, 2008). "At EPA, Unions Break From
Management". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
^ "Former Head of the EPA, the Honorable Stephen L. Johnson, Joins
Board of FlexEnergy". FlexEnergy. 2010-06-29. Archived from the
original on 2011-03-17. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
^ Casacchia, Chris (2011-01-09). "Startup FlexEnergy Aims To Generate
Power From Landfills". Orange County Business Journal. Retrieved
Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
Scotts Miracle-Gro Company Announces Appointment of Former U.S.
Stephen L. Johnson
Stephen L. Johnson to Its Board of Directors". The
Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. 2010-11-11. Archived from the original on
2013-01-28. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
^ "Board of Trustees - Taylor University" (PDF). Taylor University.
2011. Retrieved 2011-01-30. [permanent dead link]
Congressional Testimony (Video), 2008
"EPA Chief Silent on White House Involvement in Key Decisions",
Environment News Service, 5-21-2008
"Smoke and Mirrors: the Subversion of the EPA", four-part series at
The Philadelphia Inquirer, 2008
Appearances on C-SPAN
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency
Cabinet of President
George W. Bush
George W. Bush (2001–09)
Secretary of State
Colin Powell (2001–05)
Condoleezza Rice (2005–09)
Secretary of the Treasury
Paul H. O'Neill
Paul H. O'Neill (2001–02)
John W. Snow
John W. Snow (2003–06)
Henry Paulson (2006–09)
Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld (2001–06)
Robert Gates (2006–09)
John Ashcroft (2001–05)
Alberto Gonzales (2005–07)
Michael Mukasey (2007–09)
Secretary of the Interior
Gale Norton (2001–06)
Dirk Kempthorne (2006–09)
Secretary of Agriculture
Ann Veneman (2001–05)
Mike Johanns (2005–07)
Ed Schafer (2008–09)
Secretary of Commerce
Donald Evans (2001–05)
Carlos Gutierrez (2005–09)
Secretary of Labor
Elaine Chao (2001–09)
Secretary of Health and
Tommy Thompson (2001–05)
Mike Leavitt (2005–09)
Secretary of Housing and
Mel Martinez (2001–03)
Alphonso Jackson (2003–08)
Steve Preston (2008–09)
Secretary of Transportation
Norman Mineta (2001–06)
Mary E. Peters
Mary E. Peters (2006–09)
Secretary of Energy
Spencer Abraham (2001–05)
Samuel Bodman (2005–09)
Secretary of Education
Rod Paige (2001–05)
Margaret Spellings (2005–09)
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Anthony Principi (2001–05)
Jim Nicholson (2005–07)
James Peake (2007–09)
Secretary of Homeland Security
Tom Ridge (2003–05)
Michael Chertoff (2005–09)
Dick Cheney (2001–09)
White House Chief of Staff
Andrew Card (2001–06)
Joshua Bolten (2006–09)
Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency
Christine Todd Whitman
Christine Todd Whitman (2001–03)
Mike Leavitt (2003–05)
Stephen L. Johnson
Stephen L. Johnson (2005–09)
Director of the Office of
Management and Budget
Mitch Daniels (2001–03)
Joshua Bolten (2003–06)
Rob Portman (2006–07)
Jim Nussle (2007–09)
Director of National Drug
John P. Walters
John P. Walters (2001–09)
Robert Zoellick (2001–05)
Rob Portman (2005–06)
Susan Schwab (2006–09)