After almost four years of guiding controversial decisions on fracking, the Keystone XL pipeline, and coal, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is stepping down. Now, the hunt is on for a new director who won't be able to please anyone.
Jackson—the EPA's first African American chief and a chemical engineer by training—wrote in a statement, "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." President Obama said in a separate statement:
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.
Congressional Republicans, however, won't be sad to see her go. Nor will the lobbyists who thought she was a "job killer." Caught between their hostility toward regulation and the Obama administration's lack of emphasis on climate change, Jackson was unable to nix the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a planned route for bringing tar sand oil from Canada down to Texas. When confronted on the issue, Jackson simply said that holding conversations about the project is "awesome." She also wasn't able to get the EPA to take meaningful action on hydraulic fracturing, even after the agency found evidence that the practice contributes to groundwater pollution.
Among her successes, Jackson can count a rule limiting mercury emissions in coal and oil-fired plants and the doubling of fuel efficiency standards. It remains to be seen whether the EPA's deputy administrator Robert Perciasepe—who looks prepped to take the reigns in the interim and potentially as full-time Administrator later on—can do any better.