EPA leader announces she is stepping down
Her four-year tenure was rife with opposition from industry and GOP.
Lisa P. Jackson is stepping down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency after a four-year tenure that began with high hopes of sweeping action to address climate change and other environmental ills but ended with a series of rear-guard actions to defend the agency against challenges from industry, Republicans in Congress and, at times, the Obama White House.
Jackson, 50, told President Barack Obama shortly after his re-election in November that she wanted to leave the administration early next year. She informed the EPA staff of her decision Thursday morning and issued a brief statement saying that she was confident “the ship is sailing in the right direction.”
She has not said what she intends to do after leaving government, and no successor was immediately named, although it is expected that Robert Perciasepe, the EPA deputy administrator, will take over at least temporarily.
Jackson’s departure comes as many in the environmental movement are questioning Obama’s commitment to dealing with climate change and other environmental problems. After his reelection, and a campaign in which global warming was barely mentioned by either candidate, Obama said his first priority would be jobs and the economy and that he intended to foster only a “conversation” on climate change in the coming months.
That ambivalence is a far cry from the hopes that accompanied his early months in office, when he identified climate change as one of humanity’s defining challenges. Obama put the White House’s full lobbying power behind a House cap-and-trade bill that would have limited climate-altering emissions and brought profound changes in how the nation produces and consumes energy.
But after the effort stalled in the Senate, the administration abandoned broad-scale climate change efforts, instead focusing on smaller regulatory actions.
White House and EPA officials said Jackson’s decision to leave the government was her own and the timing had been negotiated with the White House.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson testified before hostile House committees dozens of times.