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Lisa Jackson Talks To Moms Clean Air Force

Lisa Jackson Talks To Moms Clean Air Force

This was written byDiane MacEachern forMoms Clean Air Force:

At theU.S. China Greener Consumption Forum on March 22nd,Lisa Jackson, the just-retired Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), re-affirmed her strong support for laws and regulations that significantly reduce air pollution and reverse climate change.

Speaking as a mom and scientist, as well as a long-time public servant, Jackson reiterated the need to take meaningful actions to reduce air pollution from coal-fired power plants and cars. She emphasized in particular the need to reduce sulfurmercury levels from coal production.

I interviewed Lisa two days before the Forum and asked her about clean air, climate change, her role at EPA, and her plans moving forward. Heres what she had to say:

MCAF: You had a very successful tenure as the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. What accomplishments make you most proud? What do you hope the next Administrator will accomplish?

Lisa Jackson: Im particularly proud of three achievements. The first was in December 2009 when I signed the scientific finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. That was a real moment for scientists at EPA whose voices had been drowned out for many years by climate critics. As a scientist, mom and leader of the agency, that finding was just wonderful.

Second, Im very proud of the clean car standards we submitted. The standards will virtually double gas mileage between now and 2025 and save American taxpayers trillions of dollars. That action also helped make our nation much more secure, and proved that we dont have to choose between the environment and the economy.

The third is my favorite. Im very proud of the fact that I was the first African-American to run the EPA. I believe it is truly important to expand the conversation on the environment to include environmental justice. Addressing pockets of polluted air and water is still the unfinished business of the environmental movement as a whole, and that often needs to be done in low-income communities. Bringing new voices moms, people of color, tribal nations into the conversation felt good. No one ever said,Im willing to sacrifice clean air or water for my kids. It was gratifying to see so many people realize that we dont need to choose between the environment and the economy.

Many people are curious about your potential successor, Gina McCarthy, who currently heads EPAs Office of Air and Radiation. Do you have any thoughts on her potential to lead the agency? Do you have any advice for her?

Gina is a strong, brilliant woman with lots of experience. I know shell keep moving the agency forward. Remember that EPA, for all the sound and fury in D.C., is still a very trusted voice to the American people and internationally on public health. Gina has a great advantage: Even now, even after misplaced attempts to discredit EPA and not follow the science in making decisions, a great cadre of competent people remains at the agency. My only advice is keep moving forward on the issues she cares about.

What issues and constraints, political or otherwise, made your job as Administrator particularly challenging?

EPA is the only federal agency whose only job is to protect the environment so we can protect human health and the natural environment. Air quality, water quality, climate change, toxics all those issues are at play. What makes the job hard is the competing voices that are stuck in a narrative that you have to choose between the economy and the environment. Its important to challenge those notions. Theyre old fashioned! Studies prove that $20 $30 are returned for every $1 spent to clean up the air. We also know that the cost of following rules and regulations is actually much cheaper than EPAs own estimates. In fact, once theres certainty in the regulations, the private sector not only can adapt but do it faster and cheaper than was previously estimated. EPA has the ability to cut through the static and bring people back to that fundamental truth.

Any final thoughts?

I hope the environment stops being a partisan issue. We cant take our environmental watchdog off the beat.

Urge incoming EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to defend the Clean Air Act.

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Photo credit: Jonathan Ernst

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56 comments

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12:35AM PDT on Apr 30, 2013

What a load of political misinformation if she was a true mother she would have done her job better instead of helping corporations escape the courts for polluting the environment. She also knows nothing about global warming which has nothing to do with what is pushed and she is just regurgitating the spiel given to her and the governments around the world with media support the instructions from those who will profit from all this carbon trading.. its just a cover to increase taxes for the banksters through creating another commodity to trade on the stock market called carbon which is the core element of life but is now labeled our enemy.

4:39AM PDT on Apr 13, 2013

Thanks for sharing

7:23PM PDT on Apr 12, 2013

Thank you for the good news! However, 2025 is not soon enough.

4:19AM PDT on Apr 12, 2013

Signed petition, posted to f, g, t.

3:27AM PDT on Apr 11, 2013

Thank you.

11:48PM PDT on Apr 10, 2013

Sharon T. says it all. I add my appreciation to Moms Clean Air Force.

5:15PM PDT on Apr 10, 2013

So sad and sadly it will continue:(

8:19AM PDT on Apr 10, 2013

Once again it's pollution like gas and smoke from industry.

6:43AM PDT on Apr 10, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

12:57PM PDT on Apr 9, 2013

Thanks

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