Energy & Environment

Jackson’s departure from EPA ‘no accident’

Jackson's departure from EPA 'no accident'

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced her resignation Thursday as head of one of the most contentious agencies in the Obama administration and leader of the president’s battles to regulate climate change, coal-fired power plants and block the Keystone XL pipeline.

Jackson’s departure is expected to take effect as the president is sworn into a second term in January. President Barack Obama has not announced whom he will nominate to fill the post, however her deputy, Robert Perciasepe, is expected to fill the position until her replacement is confirmed by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

“I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference,” Jackson said in a written statement.

She has not indicated whether she has accepted another job, however the New Jersey Star-Ledger speculated she might run return to her home state and run for governor.

Obama praised Jackson’s four-year tenure and said her work was marked by “an unwavering commitment to the health of our families and our children.”

“Under her leadership, the EPA has taken sensible and important steps to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink, including implementing the first national standard for harmful mercury pollution, taking important action to combat climate change under the Clean Air Act, and 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,” Obama said.

Those actions sparked high-profile disputes with Republicans on Capitol Hill. Most recently two House panels and the inspector general of her agency launched investigations into Jackson’s use of a secret email account using a government-endorsed alias, and whether official business was conducted using the private account.

The secret account was discovered by Christopher Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who wrote of the alias “Richard Windsor” in his recent book, “The Liberal War on Transparency.”

The institute said in a statement released after Jackson’s announcement that “the timing was no accident.”

“She claims to have told President Obama shortly after his re-election she planned to leave in early 2013, but her announcement went public just days after the Justice Department agreed – as a result of a lawsuit filed by CEI – to begin producing 12,000 emails from her “Richard Windsor” alias account,” CEI said. “The emails relate to the war on coal Jackson was orchestrating on behalf of President Obama outside the appropriate democratic process.”

Her use of an alias email account to conduct official business if left unchecked could set a dangerous precedent in which those who administer massive public agencies attempt to do the people’s business using secret names, CEI said.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and a leading critic of EPA decisions under the Obama administration, praised Jackson for her honesty.

In particular, Inhofe praised her assessment that passing climate change legislation would not lower worldwide CO2 emissions.

“While so many other Obama administration appointees don’t tell the truth, she did, and I hope that is not the reason for her departure,” Inhofe said.

“I truly wish her the best and thank her for her service in state and federal government.  This provides President Obama with an opportunity to appoint an EPA administrator who appreciates the needs of our economy.  I have recently highlighted the regulatory cliff, which has been delayed, but which would further slow our nation’s economic growth.  Although I take a skeptical view, this appointment would provide this administration an opportunity to change its regulatory course,” Inhofe said.

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