Lisa Jackson defends Obama’s environmental record on the Daily Show

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson thinks President Barack Obama deserves more credit for his environmental record.

That’s the opening of the Politico’s piece, “Lisa Jackson defends Obama’s green cred on ‘Daily Show’.”  Given the L.A. Times’ slamming of Obama on enviro issues I just ran, it seems only fair to post her extended interview with Stewart:

And Part 2

Here’s more from the Politico:

This is a president in his State of the Union who said, amongst all the other big issues, ‘But we’re not gonna sacrifice the clean air and healthy water that is part of being American.’ It’s a president whose continuing resolution negotiations knocked out every one of those riders that would have stopped EPA.”The embattled EPA chief also lamented how controversial her agency has become in Washington.

“I sometimes call it the fact-free zone,” Jackson said of Washington. “Outside Washington, 95 percent of the American people say they want government “” they see one of the roles of government as protecting their air and their water.

“And yet, time and time again, we’re having to go onto the Hill, oftentimes with people who privately tell me, ‘Hey I’m for the environment.’ And then they say, ‘But”¦,’ and the ‘but’ is a set of talking points from industry that really is short-sighted.”

Obama has taken heat from the left after his administration failed to shepherd a cap-and-trade bill through a Democrat-controlled Congress and after the EPA delayed several major environmental regulations that were fiercely opposed by industry.

But Jackson insisted that the EPA’s latest rule delay “” a decision Monday to stall a controversial air toxics rule for boilers “” didn’t come at the direction of the White House.

“And I can say unequivocally that no one in that White House is saying to me, ‘Don’t do a boiler rule,'” Jackson said. “EPA pulled the boiler rule because when we do it, it’s going to be right. It’s going to withstand court challenges because we also know they’re coming.”

Jackson is a “glass is half full” person, as any EPA Administrator must be.


Related Post:

17 Responses to Lisa Jackson defends Obama’s environmental record on the Daily Show

  1. Ed Hummel says:

    The trouble with Lisa Jackson’s thinking as well as that of her boss, the president, is that we don’t have the luxury of playing political games with anything that has to do with the environment. All environmental issues have reached such a point where they are all emergencies that need to be dealt with immediately. Because of this fact, only a “full court press” (to use a well worn metaphor that official Washington likes to use in such situations) by all parts of the administration to deal with these life-threatening emergencies can be the order of the day. To repeat something that many have referred to over and over again, the president must treat the climate crisis as well as all the other dangerous environmental crises as the mortal dangers that they are and declare a state of emergency with all the consequences for social and economic restructuring that such a declaration implies. Jimmy Carter tried something similar during his administration because of the oil crisis of that era and was ridiculed until his efforts quickly drifted into oblivion. Barack Obama would also receive fierce and powerful opposition, but he must put any notions of politics or re-election calculations aside and fight the opposition with every means at his disposal. Such is the burden of a president during a national emergency. Lincoln and Roosevelt had similar challanges during their times of national emergency and their performance ultimately led to their re-election without any real campaigning. I feel strongly that if Obama were to do what was necessary and get the majority behind him as Lincoln and Roosevelt did with their strong and ultimately effective performances, he wouldn’t have to worry about re-election; it would just come to him. If he were to fail in his fight against the opposition or in convincing the majority of Americans to follow his lead, then it wouldn’t make any difference who won next year since we’re all screwed anyway. Only the details would remain to be sorted out. That’s my humble opinion.

  2. MarkF says:

    LA Times:

    “In a statement, the EPA said it was acting in accordance with a January executive order Obama signed that sought to weed out burdensome regulation. Many environmentalists saw the policy as a peace offering to industry and congressional Republicans.

    Since December, the administration has slowed review and implementation of several closely watched regulations, including two affecting the powerful coal industry: ash disposal and mountaintop-removal mining. Late last week, the agency said it would reconsider parts of a September 2010 rule to limit toxic emissions from cement plants that has been targeted by industry and members of Congress.

    The on-site power plant rule was delayed more than a decade until court decisions pushed the EPA to develop a regulation. The Obama administration proposed its rule in April 2010, saying that as many as 4,800 premature deaths a year from respiratory ailments could be avoided by 2013 if such pollutants as mercury, dioxins and lead were cut from the country’s 13,600 industrial power plants.”,0,4831405.story

  3. paulm says:

    @1 Ed, you mean in your Hummel opinion. :)

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    Ed Hummel, you’re right. Obama would gain politically by sticking out his chin and fighting for clean air and water. There’s something else going on here.

    MarkF, Thanks for those details. Obama needs to be called on this, since he’s taking environmentalists for granted. We need to spank him when he misbehaves.

  5. Sunshine says:

    Jon Stewart will be on Startalkradio this evening (5/22) with Neil deGrasse Tyson at

    Stewart has a helluva platform to reach young viewers each M-Th night at 11pm on Comedy Central. He’s had outstanding guest interviews, many of which are still available online at Use the website search box for guest listings.

    And then on other occasions, he’s pissed away amazing opportunities to address conservation issues. E. g. his Thanksgiving interview with Harrison Ford. Ford had just returned from a goodwill trip to Japan
    ( ) AND had just participated in California’s Global Climate Summit co-hosted with UNEP Nov. 15-16.

    And what was The Daily Show interview about? Mostly about kids’ happy meals. Not a word about conservation. ARRGHHH!

  6. Mark says:

    I do not believe the EPA administrators statement that the primary reason for pulling the boiler rule was to tune it up to withstand court challenges. If they perceived a legal problem with the draft rule, they would have issued a revised draft rule to cure the technical legal glitch. Instead they just pulled the issue altogether. Until and unless they offer a convincing reason as to why they killed it instead of the usual practice of issuing a revision, I’m taking that remark as a lie intended to mollify Obama’s eco-minded supporters.

    Don’t be fooled, people!

  7. Jeff Huggins says:

    Edward John Smith Deserves More Credit Too

    Edward John Smith — the Captain of the Titanic — is criticized far too much, according to people who were appointed by him. He really did try hard and only “missed” on a few small details. His heart was in the right place — although now it’s at the bottom of the sea, along with hundreds of others who trusted him with their lives.

    “If we had to do it again”, some wonder, “would we appoint Smith to Captain the ship again — for a second term, so to speak?” Would we give him another big ship? Might we want to see some demonstrated evidence, FIRST, that he has changed his approach and will do MUCH, MUCH BETTER the second time around?

    I haven’t even read the post, yet, but these are the thoughts that came to mind when I saw the headline and initial quote.

    Be Well,


  8. Mike Roddy says:

    Important news from the LA Times: There is a battle going on about whether to shutter or retrofit the giant 40 year old coal power plant in Page, Arizona:

    Let’s see where Jackson and Obama stand on this one. It should be an easy decision, since the Page plant is filthy, causing thousands of asthma cases every year, and untold deaths. It costs a little over $1 billion to retrofit. Better to close it altogether, since the smoke and pollution drift right into Grand Canyon National Park.

    Oh, and there’s the plant’s CO2 problem, too- roughly 21 million tons a year, a giant contribution. This is more than the countries of The Dominican Republic or Jordan spew out from all sources. The world is taking note, and will hold us responsible when things get much worse.

  9. Zetetic says:

    The only way environmental policy will be taken seriously in the USA is if politicians are kept in fear of losing their jobs if they don’t. As long as they think the public doesn’t really care they will listen to the corporations that give them money instead, but in the end votes matter more than campaign funding (which is ultimately just one means of trying to get votes). The disruption and chaos in the Republican party over the public’s response to Medicare cuts demonstrates that politicians will turn their backs on their corporate donors if they think it will cost them the next election, and the Republicans get much more money from such groups than the Democrats typically do.

    As I stated in the earlier L.A. Times thread, at this point I’ve become convinced that the best solution if for environmental groups (and the public in general) to start challenging both parites (even Obama) whenever they go in public with carefully worded questions that leave them little wriggle room to rationalize their actions and which puts the issues in terms that the rest of the public can relate to. They need to be challenged on the environment publicly the way the Republicans have been confronted on their changes to Medicare.

    Such actions wouldn’t require much funding, nor would they require the public to travel the country, just local constituents confronting their “representatives”. Publicly challenging politicians everywhere they go in public will provide a more lingering message than a big demonstration that is forgotten the next day. Also it will has more “drama” to capture the media’s attention, the media loves watching politicians being confronted in public (especially watching Democrats being confronted, apparently). Environmental groups have the people-power and more than enough resources to promote and coordinate such actions. The question is will we?

  10. Jeff Huggins says:

    I agree, for the most part, with Ed Hummel’s Comment 1.

    Given what science tells us about global warming, we have to act NOW. Read the recent and previous reports — from the NAS, the IPCC, the Royal Society, the ACS, the Geological Society of London, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the recent statement from the Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability, and many others.

    We face real problems that require serious action. Meanwhile, the President is playing political games and is allowing himself to be drawn into them, shaped by them, and diminished by them. The OTHER SIDE has defined the game — and by defining it they are winning.

    The President must show LEADERSHIP. He must define the context, and the strongest and most credible context to convey is the REAL ONE, backed by fact.

    Unfortunately, the more I listen to, and watch, President Obama and his Administration, the less I think that they actually “get it”. Of course they “get” the science, or at least a few of them do. But they don’t seem to “get” much else about the situation. They don’t seem to get the fact that the opposition is setting the context, and defining the game, and that THEY (President Obama and his Administration) are allowing themselves to be pulled into, and limited by, that game. What President Obama is doing is so far from what could be called ‘leadership’ that the gaping gap should be obvious to all of us.

    I agree with Ed Hummel (Comment 1) that if President Obama actually DID what he should be doing, that would strike the majority of the American people as a breath of fresh air: finally (!) someone who will take a serious matter seriously, talk to us like adults, tell us the truth, name and spank the misbehavers, and get the damn job done! I repeat: Treat us like adults, tell the truth, give us the facts, point out the problems, tell us what needs doing, and get it done! Step above — and move beyond — the obviously silly, counterproductive, unwise, and downright unethical (given the stakes) political politicking in Washington. Full court press! Tell it like it is. Get the damn job done!

    By compromising on climate change, and even on his efforts regarding climate change, and by “taking it slow”, and by shying away from naming the problem and from talking to the public with verve, and by basically being absent from leadership (when it comes to climate change), and by letting his opponents set the context and define the “game”, President Obama is compromising and demeaning himself, his credibility, the trust that people once had in him, and the whole ball of wax. It’s shocking. WHO is advising him? Fire them, please!

    But we — people interested in addressing climate change — face a very real and concrete question. And ‘we’ includes us as individuals, and it includes CP, and CAP, and, and the other climate and environmental organizations. Not only is it a concrete question, but it’s a question with a time-line. And it’s a question that can’t be avoided, because ultimately our actions will tell how we answered it. (This goes for the organizations too, such as CAP and

    The question is something like this:

    Do I …

    A) Accept President Obama unconditionally as the candidate who will receive my vote in the November 2012 election on the basis that “the alternative (Republican) would be a disaster”? In other words, do I follow the passive, unconditional, “lesser-of-two-evils” approach to voting?


    B) Make my vote CONDITIONAL on what President Obama does starting now and between now and the election season? In other words: “Dear President Obama, I voted for you last time. But hear this: IF (and only if) you dramatically improve your focus and strategy regarding climate change — and actually DEMONSTRATE that new focus and strategy starting now and in the coming months — then I’ll vote for you again. If you don’t, I won’t. Period. I’m not joking. I’d rather vote for a different Democratic candidate, vote Green, or simply stay home on election night than grant you my vote for a second time if you don’t demonstrate a change in strategy during THIS term. I don’t want to have to vote based on mere promises or appeals to ‘hope’ again.”

    What will it be, “A” or “B”? That’s a question for each one of us, as individuals. But it’s more interesting than that, because it’s also a question for the organizations, and it’s a question that they can’t avoid. In other words, CAP will have to adopt — either explicitly, or as a default of some sort — an approach that is either “A” (or like “A”) or “B” (or like “B”). Similarly, will have to ask itself, and answer, this question.

    The messages, blog posts, events, comments, activism strategies, and so forth will all “reflect” an approach like “A” or, on the other hand, one like “B”. And trying to avoid that question, or trying to avoid answering it, will speak for itself.

    Indeed, all things considered, THIS is probably THE PIVOTAL QUESTION at this point in time for each of us, for the climate blogs (e.g., CP), for the climate organizations (e.g.,, for outspoken climate champions (e.g., Gore, Hansen, etc.), and for environmental organizations. Why? Because the actual words, tactics, and behaviors associated with Approach A and Approach B are very different. (They are similar in some ways but very different in others.) And the question is NOT one that can be left until November of 2012 to answer: An important part of the point of Approach B is to make it clear to President Obama, now, that a vote for him will be dependent on a demonstrated change in strategy (on his part) NOW and in the coming twelve months. So anyone choosing Approach B will need to make it clear soon. And anyone not choosing any approach at all will, in effect, be choosing Approach A (if they ultimately vote for President Obama) or will be leaving mixed signals or no signals at all.

    Indeed, it will be interesting to see whether blog hosts, climate organizations, and environmental organizations even acknowledge the existence and importance of this question — it’ll take courage to do so! — and then actually clarify their own stance.

    But the sooner this question is posed, the better. That’s the whole point. Approach B calls for clarity, verve, communication, and so forth. No dilly-dallying. No putting off the question. No calling for action — and then not taking it.

    Joe, will Climate Progress raise this question, and what is your own view on whether Approach B is more likely to be fruitful than Approach A? (Or perhaps the question of ‘likelihood’ is not the right one: The matter may well be one of NECESSITY at this point, and the best shot may, by definition, be the one that would be most “compelling” when it comes to “making” President Obama adopt a better strategy ASAP.)

    Be Well,


  11. Mike Roddy says:

    Good suggestion, Zetetic. The Republicans have perfected this- they jam GOP Congressmen’s public meetings with noisy zealots who oppose cap and trade etc. And, of course, they send deniers out to every newspaper and blog to show outrage anytime legitimate science is posted.

    We’ve got truth on our side, and maybe it will prevail. Stranger things have happened.

  12. Jay Alt says:

    7. Nice post Jeff. Concise and on target.

  13. Dan MB says:

    Ed Hummel @1. Your statement is spot on. What also jumped out at me is Jon Stewart is trying to teach Ms. Jackson how to communicate to his audience.

    Right from the beginning. Approximate quote Jackson, “We wonder where some of that line of reasoning is coming from.” Stewart, approximately,”I can tell you where that’s coming from. I can see them on CSPAN. It’s called the Republican Party.” He’s just told her that she’s gotta spell it out straight, no fake “niceyness” or “beating around the bushiness”.

    Stewart uses the word “kill” or “killing” repeatedly. Did anyone count how many times? Finally Jackson says something about saving lives… How many of us here in the CP audience believe that Global Warming and Climate Change are about the survival of humanity? I’d hazard a guess that, because we know how to “translate” the science, it’s the vast majority.

    GOP talking point, “EPA kills jobs.”

    At 2:22 Jackson says roughly, “Air is 60% cleaner and relative GDP has grown 207%.” Stewart says, “Are these scientific figures? I don’t find them persuasive.” Jackson at 2:47, “What would persuade you?” Stewart, “A feeling.” then pauses a few seconds to let it sink in. The look on his face says it all – Statements of facts like you just said are worse than useless, they’re contemptible. Jackson starts to speak haltingly. He cuts her short, “A feeling that it wasn’t right or working.”

    I could go on. In the second segment he states that he doesn’t give the president credit for supporting regulation of pollution. It starts at 2:29. Stewart clearly sees the administration’s political posturing. In the first segment shortly after 1:55 his riff is (again, approximately – transcript would make it easier), “To keep dioxin from killing us we must kill the factory or kill jobs. Can we not die but they live?”

    He’s clearly aware that Dem’s are afraid to spell out the choices: A. Factories win, some people die. B. EPA wins, people live, jobs are killed. C. EPA wins, some factories die, other factories change, jobs are created, pollution goes away, people live.

    First rule of communication when you have a core issue of life or death is you must, repeat: Must, must, must, bring up a limbic hot-button issue: life or death issue. Or, if you’re very adept, you can reach the limbic brain with humor. Until you take these steps you have wasted your words and your time. Your viewpoint will not penetrate the shield the limbic brain places between your higher brain and the parts of the brain that control belief or action.

    Go Jon!

  14. Mimikatz says:

    If predictions from climate scientists are correct, over the next 18 months we are going to see more drought, heatwaves, little sea ice,hurricanes, more harsh winter weather, more rain, then more floods, heat waves, less sea ice and hurricanes again. If we and other activists can’t inject climate into the Presidential race, there will be no progress. We need people with signs at the rallies, and especially the debates demanding that the issue be addressed. these are all situations where there will be media and crowds. I am looking forward to the question of the GOP candidate, “Do you
    accept the scientific consensus and observational evidence that climate change is already happening and will accelerate? Either way, what do you plan to do about it?”

  15. Fred Teal, Jr says:

    Very good post Jeff, #10.
    It all does boil down to a couple of simple questions. This is an emergency. Our home is on fire. If we don’t act forcefully to save it, nothing else will matter. Not jobs, not taxes, not economic growth. They will become meaningless in a few short years without action on climate change. There is no other issue of equal significance!

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Well, to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, ‘She would say that, wouldn’t she?’-or be unemployed. The Obama pattern is impressive, because invariable. Really, just how many insults does it take for people to wake up to the true nature of the Obama Project? This is psychological manipulation masterfully accomplished. Please, for all our sakes, snap out soon, and run a candidate against Obama in the primaries, but one intending to win. Any promises made by Obama, to ‘listen’ and ‘learn his lesson’ will be writ in water, and four more years of the same will ensue, or a Republican victory when Obama ‘mysteriously and mystifyingly’ runs a really crook re-election campaign.

  17. madcity smitty says:

    Probably too late today (Mon. 5/23) but Jeff @10, many of us addressed this in our initial response to the LA editorial CP story. And, at least when I posted my comment all the others were variations on the following.

    Sit out 2012? Vote Republican? Green? Are you crazy? Did we learn nothing from Nader in Florida in 2000. Al Gore would have been president. It makes me sick to speculate how the world might have turned out differently in so many ways had Gore been president.

    Sure, Obama is a cowardly disappointment on GW leadership, but that’s a long ways from being a climate zombie.