We pieced together this story. Here’s what happened: in the wake of 9/11, there was tremendous concern about the vulnerability of chemical plants, including plants that stored fertilizer. The EPA knew that these chemical plants posed a legitimate risk to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The vulnerability of chemical plants made headlines across the country.

Two Bush administration officials, Christine Todd Whitman, who was head of the Environmental Protection Agency at the time and Tom Ridge, who was head of Secretary of Homeland Security, came up with a plan to deal with the vulnerability. Whitman believed that the EPA was already empowered to expand her agency’s oversight of chemical plants under a section of the Clean Air Act and she and Ridge worked out a deal to do so.

That’s until the son-in-law of former Vice President Dick Cheney walked into the room, a guy by the name Phillip Perry, who was at the time the general counsel of the White House Office of Management and Budget. And he made it clear that the Bush administration was not going to support granting regulatory authority over chemical security to the EPA. According to reports, Perry claimed that their proposal was tantamount to overreach, and that they would need Congress to specifically authorize it.