Lisa Jackson's top five priorities

After some delay since her January 14 confirmation hearings, on January 22, the U.S. Senate finally confirmed Lisa Jackson as the new head Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Many environmentals and scientists were pleased to hear her that "political appointees will not compromise the integrity of EPA's technical experts to advance particular regulatory outcomes."

In her January 23 memo to EPA employees, Jackson identified five priorities:

1. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
2. Improving air quality.
3. Managing chemical risks.
4. Cleaning up hazardous-waste sites.
5. Protecting America's water.

One of the main questions many have is how Jackson will proceed towards addressing reducing greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama has already pointed towards a cap-and-trade plan in contrast to a carbon tax. In general the honeymoon period will involve a lot of reevaluating.

As to her position on coal, Jackson replied:

"Coal is a vital resource in this country. It is right now the source of generation of about 50 percent of our power. And I think that it is also important for us to say in the same sentence that it is -- the emissions from coal-fired power plants are -- the largest contributor to global warming emissions. So we have to face square-shouldered the future and the issues of coal and then move American ingenuity towards addressing them." We will have to see how "square-shouldered" EPA will face this issue and exactly what kind of "American ingenuity" will prevail.

Jackson also has her critics (see Jeers for Jackson in Gristmill, December 15, 2008), some of whom claim she "has been too close to industry, withheld information from the public and fallen well short of the pledge she made when taking office in February 2006 to fix [New Jersey's] beleaguered toxic waste program." Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) used some sharp words describing, for example, Jackson "letting Superfund clean-ups go unfinished."

Sources:

A new Lisa on life, Kate Sheppard, Gristmill (January 14, 2009)
The same coal story, Kate Sheppard, Gristmill (January 17, 2009)
Why some enviros hate Obama's EPA pick, Jonathan Stein, Mother Jones (January 13, 2009)
www.epa.gov

 

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