The EPA and Lisa Jackson versus the polluters who want dirtier air and water for your family

I met with Lisa Jackson last week, and I was once again struck by how forcefully she fights to protect the health of American families. As the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, she is helping make our air safer to breathe and getting toxins out of everyday products.

That’s Peter Lehner, NRDC’s Executive Director, writing in Huffington Post.

The anti-science, pro-pollution crowd has said the EPA will their primary target in the next Congress.  Since the EPA is tasked with using science preserves clean air and clean water — and now a livable climate — for our children, EPA will be a major focus of Climate Progress over the next two years.

Here’s more from Lehner:

Still, it has become commonplace these days to bash the government and to question the service of public officials–particularly Jackson.

Yet attacking Jackson is like attacking our doctors and pediatricians. Congress charged the EPA with protecting our health, and like medical professionals, Jackson and her colleagues study the science and determine affordable ways to keep people healthy–instead of treating them after they get sick.

And let’s face it: If the EPA doesn’t stand up for our health and set limits on the pollution that causes asthma, heart disease, and cancer, who will? Do you think BP is protecting you? Do you think the American Petroleum Institute is protecting you?

Oil companies are looking out for their own interests–that’s fine, that’s what businesses do. But our interests need to be represented as well.

Imagine if an oil refinery or a power plant was pumping toxic pollutants into your body–and you are left paying the medical bills and taking your child to the ER when she has an asthma attack.

It is extremely difficult for an individual to demand that a major polluter clean up its act. But Congress gave the EPA the authority to do just that. And Jackson uses this authority on behalf of you and me and our children.

Jackson first got into environmental protection because she saw it as a form of people protection. She grew up in New Orleans, the daughter of a postman, and studied chemical engineering at Tulane. During her graduate work, she realized that her training as an engineer could be used to clean up hazardous waste–or better yet, stop it from occurring in the first place.

But Jackson isn’t only an engineer or a public official; she is also the mother of two sons. She wants to keep her children safe from illness just like I do and just like every other parent does.

That’s why Jackson tells industry: you can conduct your business, but you have to do it without giving our kids asthma or giving our parents respiratory disease.

Some lawmakers think that makes Jackson an example of government overreach. I think that means she is doing the job Congress gave her. And the job we need her to do – because no one else can or will do it.

Peter Lehner is the Executive Director of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

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13 Responses to The EPA and Lisa Jackson versus the polluters who want dirtier air and water for your family

  1. Mimikatz says:

    They want profits over public health. It’s as simple as that. The only thing that will trump “jobs” is “your kids’ health.” Particularly with women. Everytime they scream “job killer” the retort should be “child killer.” I know the fiore depe=artment doesn’t usually fight fire with fore, but it does with wildfires, and this is a firestorm of ignorance a.

  2. Mimikatz says:

    Sorry, that last sentence should be “I know the fire department doesn’t usually fight fire with fire, but it does with wildfires and this is a firestorm of ignorance and obfuscation.” Cold fingers, cold keyboard.

  3. Deborah Stark says:

    “…..EPA will be a major focus of Climate Progress over the next two years…..”


    Thank you.

    Those who remain entrenched in positions from which to obstruct progress on the decarbonization of our energy infrastructure are holding out in order to make as much money as possible (i.e. clean up) for as long as they can get away with it. It’s that simple.

    I would love to say more but that would involve some hardcore profanity at this point and I don’t want to jeopardize my posting privileges.

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    Obama is absolutely going to have to rally the troops here. The Democrats have been handed the perfect issue, since EPA is a popular agency. If Republicans and Blue Dogs go after it with focus group tested phrases like “out of control agency” and “creeping socialism”, Obama can’t just respond with his usual haughty language. At times like this, I wish we’d elected Howard Dean.

    Those who attack EPA regulations are cheap whores who would poison our children for a twenty dollar bill. If the Democrats can’t frame their counterattack in passionate language, they don’t deserve to be in office themselves.

  5. Sasparilla says:

    #1 Mimikatz, #3 D Stark & #4 M Roddy you all have said it so well. With the Republicans fighting efforts to extend unemployment benefits in the worst recession since the great depression (while trying to extend tax cuts for the Rich), I’ll add the following:

    The Republican Party – the Party of Scrooge.

    The battle for the EPA’s CO2 regulating authority will be very hard, I’d guess it will come down to whether the President will allow the EPA’s authority to be stripped (Veto / Not Veto associated bills) and he’s not sounding real strong on that topic at this point (already talking about compromising) – I hope we’re pleasantly surprised, but I wouldn’t want to bet money on it.

  6. Wit's End says:

    It’s worth remembering that the ad campaign that defeated prop 23 featured a little girl wearing an oxygen mask, lying on a hospital bed with her teddy bear, and the words “WHAT’S taking her breath away?” – not shrinking ice caps far away, or sea level rise in 2100.

    What moves people is the safety of their children, and immediate issues, like food on the table. The EPA’s own website reports that ozone causes billions of dollars of crop damage in the form of reduced yields annually in the US – and that the background levels are inexorably rising.

    I wish Lisa Jackson would make that connection between burning dirty fuel and the availability of food for the American public. I also wish EPA would muster its resources to investigate the effects of the emissions of ozone precursors emitted from burning ethanol, (a subject about which their silence is deafening) since acetaldehyde enhances the production of peroxyacetyl nitrates – making an even worse toxin for vegetation than ozone from gasoline and coal.

  7. Andy says:

    I want to state again that the difference between Obama’s EPA (Jackson’s) and Bush’s was abrupt and profound. Living in the middle of petrochemical land as I do, I’ve seen first hand how the industries went from getting everything they wanted to now having to abide by the Clean Air Act. Jackson’s local staff are certainly not over reaching, and are not being punitive to industry, but they have caused new permits to be issued that cut the amount of toxins and ozone creating chemicals being released and are enforceable.

    That may sound wishy washy, but under Bush the EPA helped industry get around the law.

  8. anon says:

    This will be settled by raw political power. The EPA will be smashed and the environmental movement exiled from all positions of power. Watch it happen, it’s time for you to take it.

  9. ToddInNorway says:

    Let the battle begin, the sooner the better. It is time to expose the tea baggers for the complete self-serving, heartless, hate-mongering greed-porn illiterate apes they are.

  10. William T says:

    The EPA has a real case to regulate, which is why the repubs are gunning so hard.

    CO2 pollution is very clearly a situation where the polluters (ie fossil fuel production and burning industries) gain enormous benefits (and profits) because the cost to them of emitting the CO2 is zero. However the cost to everybody else (both individuals and communities that will be affected) is potentially very large. Those costs will be borne by the individuals who are forced to move and the taxpayers who will have to stump up for protection against sea level / drought / etc.

    So the EPA has a clear mandate to regulate.

    Ironically, a more “market-oriented” solution to balancing this situation would be to simply impose a fee on the polluters and pay it to the affected parties (ie everyone) as compensation for the damage the polluters are causing… Far better for the polluters to pay the costs of adaptation than to charge it to the taxpayers.

  11. riverat says:

    This will be settled by raw political power…

    You may win the political battles for the time being but we if we don’t get a handle on our carbon emissions we all lose in the end when mother nature slaps us hard for our profligacy.

  12. Mike says:

    Post “For EPA regulations, benefits consistently exceed costs” linked to at the end is very good. Really explains the economic benefits of many EPA regulations. To many it is a truism that regulations cost jobs. It is a fallacy.

  13. Government should step in and do something to protect our water!