EPA Head Contemplates Quitting, Decides to Stay

September 19, 2011  |  

By Charlotte Young

When Lisa Jackson, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator learned that President Barack Obama had rejected her major proposal for stricter air-pollution regulations, she was very upset. So upset, the New York Post reports, that she almost quit her job.

According to the Post, Jackson had been confident that Obama planned to support her proposal, regardless of the persistent Republican lobbyists and business interests that rallied against it. Turns out she was wrong. On Sept. 1, after meeting with Chief of Staff Bill Daley and then with Obama, she realized her plan would have to wait.

Obama firmly rejected her proposal, which would have limited the amount of ozone that is released into the air. An administrative source disclosed that Obama informed Jackson that “we just don’t need this fight right now.”

With the US in the midst of a weak economy and incessantly low employment numbers, Obama believed that making her changes to the Clean Air Act would be too troublesome and costly for businesses and local governments who would have to monitor and contain air pollution.

Longtime friend of Jackson and senior Sierra Club official, Jeff Tittel, told the Post that Jackson, “felt like she got hit with a hot poker between the eyes.”

“Lisa was blindsided,” he said. “She was pretty pissed off.”

Jackson reportedly then spent two days contemplating whether or not to quit her job. But after traveling with Obama to view hurricane damage on Sept. 4, she had calmed down and decided to stay on board the Obama administration.

“She’s not the kind of person who goes home and takes her marbles.” Tittel said. “She’s the kind who would stay and fight even if she is frustrated.”

Jackson is the first African American to serve as the head of the EPA. Not only has she pushed for added ozone regulations, in her role she has made sure to reach out to communities that have been historically under-represented in environmental issues. Under her leadership the EPA has increased its protection of vulnerable groups, which include children, the elderly and low-income residents, that are often faced with environmental and health concerns that go unnoticed.

The White House plans to review the proposal on emissions again in 2012. Brendon Gilfillan, a spokesman from the EPA told the Post that Jackson isn’t going anywhere.  “This administration has a tremendous record on the environment and a lot more work left to do,” he said.

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