A former U.S. congressman told me today that Barack Obama's pick to be the next EPA administrator is Lisa Jackson, currently the head of the Department of Environmental Protection in New Jersey. "You can take that to the bank," he said. "It's a lock." Since Congress enjoys the full trust of the American people, there's no reason to doubt the man.
Lisa Jackson: Environmental friend or foe?
Jackson seems to have a lot of friends in the Garden State. She had just been tapped by Democratic Governor Jon Corzine as his next chief of staff. "The governor picked someone who is probably the brightest and most knowledgeable person on government in his administration," Jeff Tittel of the state's Sierra Club chapter said. "Hopefully it will help the administration focus more on the environment."
Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts (D-Camden) also liked her [for chief of staff], calling Jackson "a superb pick," describing her as "a talented mind and a steady hand."
Jackson had been DEP Commissioner since 2006, and served in the EPA from 1987 to 2002. She wrote New Jersey's global warming law and was heavily involved in Superfund administration for the tri-state area including New York and Connecticut.
Plenty Magazine reports that Jackson "looks increasingly likely to take over the Environmental Protection Agency when the president-elect takes office....Jackson had reportedly been running neck-and-neck with California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols for the EPA gig, but according to unnamed sources moved to the top of the heap when California Democrat Henry Waxman won the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. With San Franciscan Nancy Pelosi overseeing the House climate battle and California Senator Barbara Boxer on point in the Senate, the Obama transition team apparently feared that Nichols would be a Californian too far."
But not everybody likes her. According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), she "embraced policies at DEP echoing the very practices at the Bush EPA....DEP employees describe Ms. Jackson as employing a highly politicized approach to decision-making that resulted in suppression of scientific information, issuance of gag orders and threats against professional staff members who dared to voice concerns. These reports raise troubling questions about her fitness to run an agency of much greater size and complexity."
A blog poster here commented, "Lisa Jackson caused a lot of senior staff from the New Jersey DEP to quit. To be kind, she lacks leadership skills, an imagination, and an ability to inspire her staff."
I don't know Lisa Jackson, but a lot of people describe her as energetic and dedicated. Personally, for EPA I like Dan Reicher, a former assistant energy secretary in the Clinton years and also a onetime Natural Resources Defense Council attorney. Most recently he's been a director of climate change and energy issues at Google. Mary Nichols looks strong, too, and I saw her give an impressive speech as head of the California Air Resources Board. But maybe Obama knows best...
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