Lisa Jackson, President-elect Barack Obama’s co-chair of his energy and natural resources transition team, has emerged as the top candidate to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Jackson, a 46-year-old African American engineer, left her job as administrator of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to become Gov. Jon Corzine’s chief of staff on December 1. Jackson has a mixed record at the New Jersey DEP, earning praise for her work ethic but criticism for difficulties achieving the department’s mission.
In an exclusive interview with ThinkProgress, Gov. Corzine says Jackson has been “remarkably successful” despite a limited budget and competing state priorities:
Lisa Jackson is, without question in my mind, someone who has overwhelmingly been successful as an environmentalist, but also she has also been a person who understands that we have to move in a disciplined thoughtful manner. We can’t do everything at once. . . I think Lisa has done a remarkable job of trying to move the environmental agenda forward within a constrained world.
Corzine’s view is shared by local environmentalists like the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions’ Sandy Batty, and Environment New Jersey’s Dena Mottola Jaborska, who told Environment and Energy News that Jackson is “a skilled administrator who’s willing to listen” and the “best DEP commissioner that New Jersey had for a long time.” Jackson’s agency “has suffered from a slate of budget cuts by Democratic and Republican governors alike, and thousands of staff positions have been lost over the years.” Struggling to reduce a multi-billion-dollar state debt, Corzine himself has slashed the DEP budget even as the department’s responsibilities have expanded to handle global warming. Read more