When President Obama stepped into office, there was already a lot of buzz about who he planned to name as the new EPA Administrator. On Jan. 23, Obama announced that Lisa Jackson would become the twelfth Administrator and the first African American woman to run the organization.
“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,” Jackson said in response to being chosen. “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.”
According to Obama, Jackson “helped make her state a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions” and shared his goals for the nation.
Before the EPA
Born in Pennsylvania and raised in New Orleans, Jackson graduated from Tulane University’s School of Chemical Engineering in 1983. She then went on to Princeton University where she obtained a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering.
Jackson’s employment history includes working with the EPA for 16 years before joining the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in New Jersey. While at the DEP, she served in many positions, her last role being commissioner.
In November 2008, she stepped down from her role as commissioner to become Gov. Jon Corzine’s chief of staff.
Known for her tenacity at protecting the environment, Jackson’s main goals for the EPA include:
- Reducing green house gas emissions
- Improving air quality
- Managing chemical risks
- Cleaning up hazardous waste sites
- Protecting America’s water
Jackson’s vision is clear, but there are some obvious lines of division in the scientific community regarding her position on global warming. Thus far, she has expressed that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions should be encompassed in the Clean Air Act that was instituted in 1970 (recently amended in 1990). Her goal at this time it to have scientific proof that CO2 emissions are a danger to human health and welfare in hopes of a carbon restrained future.
“If EPA is going to talk and speak in this game, the first thing it should speak about is whether carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare,” said Jackson. She has received opposition on the other side of the spectrum that strongly disagrees that global warming exists.
More recently, the EPA has awarded $800,000 in grants (40 grants of $20,000) to community-based organizations to help address environmental and public issues on a community level.
Jackson also supports the cap-and-trade policy against emissions. The policy states that if a company goes over its allotted emission credits, they are forced to either buy credits from another company that has not used all of theirs, or pay a penalty.
In March, the EPA announced that a $2.25 million program would launch that would start testing roughly 50 to 100 schools around near large industrial companies with high concentrations of pollution for air quality.
“Questions have been raised about air quality around some U.S. schools, and those questions merit investigation,” said Jackson.
What is to come?
Jackson makes it very clear that she is not afraid to say how she feels. She receives both support and opposition in regards to her position on several topics. However, it is very clear that she has a strong passion for the environment.
Jackson states that her vision is to protect the environment and help clean up the damage that has already been done. Many are watching and waiting as Jackson settles into her term and begins take the reigns of the EPA.