Friday, January 23, 2009

Senate Confirms Lisa Jackson As EPA Administrator

Jan 22: Lisa P. Jackson has been confirmed as the next administrator of the U.S. EPA. Jackson, the former Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, was in line to be New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's next chief of staff starting December 1, 2008, just prior to her nomination by President Obama on December 11, 2008 [See WIMS 12/3/08]. Prior to going to New Jersey, Jackson worked for 16 years with U.S. EPA initially at the headquarters in Washington and more recently at its regional office in New York City.

The Senate also confirmed Nancy Sutley as Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality [See WIMS 12/11/08]. Sutley, was the Deputy Mayor for Energy and Environment for the City of Los Angeles, and the Mayor's representative to the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Governor Corzine issued a statement on the confirmation saying, "The American people have gained a tireless public servant and a tenacious guardian of the environment with the confirmation of Lisa Jackson as our nation's EPA administrator. During her tenure as commissioner of New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection, Lisa set the highest professional standards in tackling issues both local and global in scope. Her record of implementing strong floodplain and land-use rules; sewer infrastructure reform and planning; as well as swift response when contaminated sites were discovered will have a positive impact on the quality of life of New Jerseyans for generations. Her work on the reduction of greenhouse gasses and combating global warming will serve as a national model. Lisa's counsel and expertise will be missed in New Jersey, but we are proud to share with the nation her vision for a cleaner, sustainable environment."

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, issued a statement saying, "I am really pleased that the Senate has taken the first steps toward restoring the EPA and CEQ to their proper role as organizations that fight to protect the health of our families and the safety of our air, our water and our planet. Lisa Jackson and Nancy Sutley are well qualified to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and the Council on Environmental Quality, and they respect and understand that their organizations' mission is to protect public health and the environment."

In her first statement posted on the U.S. EPA website, Jackson said, “I am honored by the confidence and faith President Obama and the Senate have reposed in me to lead the EPA in confronting the environmental challenges currently before us. As Administrator, I will ensure EPA’s efforts to address the environmental crises of today are rooted in three fundamental values: science-based policies and programs, adherence to the rule of law, and overwhelming transparency. By keeping faith with these values and unleashing innovative, forward-thinking approaches -- we can further protect neighborhoods and communities throughout the country.”

In a lengthy memo to EPA staff, Jackson said, "EPA can meet the nation’s environmental challenges only if our employees are fully engaged partners in our shared mission. That’s why I will make respect for the EPA workforce a bedrock principle of my tenure. I will look to you every day for ideas, advice and expertise. EPA should once again be the workplace of choice for veteran public servants and also talented young people beginning careers in environmental protection -- just as it was for me when I first joined EPA shortly after graduate school."

Signaling possible actions related to the California waiver and other controversial issues which she has inherited, Jackson said, "EPA must follow the rule of law. The President recognizes that respect for Congressional mandates and judicial decisions is the hallmark of a principled regulatory agency. Under our environmental laws, EPA has room to exercise discretion, and Congress has often looked to EPA to fill in the details of general policies. However, EPA needs to exercise policy discretion in good faith and in keeping with the directives of Congress and the courts. When Congress has been explicit, EPA cannot misinterpret or ignore the language Congress has used. When a court has determined EPA’s responsibilities under our governing statutes, EPA cannot turn a blind eye to the court’s decision or procrastinate in complying."

Access a statement from Governor Corzine (click here). Access the statement from Senator Boxer (click here). Access the statement from Jackson and link to the Memo to EPA Employees (click here). [*All]