Thursday, December 27, 2012

EPA's Lisa Jackson Announces Resignation

President Obama's environmental watchdog to depart next month...

By Jerry Hagstrom
Founding Editor, The Hagstrom Report
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, who made several pro-ethanol decisions key to the economy in rural America, but who ran into conflict with some farm leaders and Republicans over regulations, announced on Thursday that she is resigning her post.  Jackson said she will leave her position after President Obama delivers his State of the Union message on January 24, three days after he is inaugurated for a second term.

In a statement today, President Obama praised Jackson for “playing a key role in establishing historic fuel economy standards that will save the average American family thousands of dollars at the pump, while also slashing carbon pollution.”

Jackson made the decision to approve the fuel known as E15 and rejected petitions to relax the federal mandate requiring the use of corn-based ethanol in the nation’s gasoline supply.

The President also said that under Jackson’s leadership EPA had made key decisions on air, water and mercury, and had taken “important action to combat climate change.”

"Lisa has been an important part of my team, and I want to thank her for her service in my Administration and her tireless efforts to benefit the American people," President Obama said.  "I wish her all the best wherever her future takes her."

No replacement has been named for Jackson. 

Bob Perciasepe, the current EPA deputy administrator, is expected to manage EPA at least temporarily. Perciasepe and Kathleen McGinty, a former head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection and a protege of former Vice President Al Gore, are considered leading candidates to succeed Jackson, Reuters reported today.

Some farm leaders and many Republican senators and members of Congress criticized Jackson for being overzealous on regulation, particularly for the agency’s consideration of changing the level of dust that would be allowed on country roads. The agency decided not to make that change, but Republicans continued to raise the issue months after that announcement.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who recently criticized rural leaders for focusing too much on the dust regulation after they knew it would not be changed, today praised Jackson’s tenure.

“Lisa Jackson has served our country well as she balanced improving the environment and the health of the American people — while ensuring our country's economic competitiveness — because they are intrinsically linked," Vilsack said in a news release.

“Throughout her tenure, she listened to stakeholders, including farmers and ranchers, and took their concerns into account while considering policies that impacted rural America. She was a friend to me and to those who live and work in rural America and her leadership will be missed.”

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, also praised Jackson’s work putting the administration’s commitment to ethanol and other biofuels into action.

“During her tenure, she cleared the way for E15, giving consumers more choice and savings at the gas pump, and she protected the progress that has been made in reducing our dependence of foreign oil by recognizing the importance and inherent flexibility of the RFS,” Dinneen said. “The ethanol industry thanks her for her service and looks forward to working with her successor to continue the growth of America’s domestic renewable fuels industry.”

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, which represents the builders and makers of ethanol plants, said Jackson “has been a dedicated advocate for the renewable fuels industry and her work to reduce our nation's addiction to foreign oil, while providing cleaner air and a better environment, should be commended.”

“As administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, she should be applauded for all she has done to advance biofuels and a cleaner, better environment,” Buis aid. “Growth Energy wishes her well and thanks her for her tireless work during her time at the EPA.”

*Jackson's full resignation statement.

Jerry Hagstrom, founder and editor of the best online, subscription-only agriculture and policy newspaper The Hagstrom Report, cross-posts at Obama Foodorama.  If you're not a subscriber to The Hagstrom Report, you're missing crucial coverage.