Statement on Nomination of Lisa Jackson as EPA Administrator

Washington, D.C., January 13, 2008—President-elect Obama’s choice for EPA Administrator drew criticism from CEI experts for her record on hazardous waste clean up and global warming, respectively.  The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a confirmation hearing on Wednesday, January 14, on Lisa P. Jackson’s nomination. She is currently chief of staff to the New Jersey governor.

Statement by Marlo Lewis, CEI Senior Fellow

The most critical decision Lisa Jackson will have to make if she is confirmed as EPA Administrator is whether to affirm or reject a finding that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new motor vehicles endanger public health or welfare. A positive finding of endangerment would require EPA to regulate GHG emissions from new motor vehicles under Section 202 of the Clean Air Act (CAA).

In Massachusetts v. EPA (April 2007), New Jersey and the other plaintiffs demanded that EPA find endangerment and establish first-ever GHG emission standards for new motor vehicles. As CEI and numerous other analysts have documented in, (see hereherehere, and here), EPA is not obligated to make an endangerment finding or establish GHG emission standards. If EPA does so, however, it will trigger a regulatory cascade throughout the Act.

The agency could then be compelled to regulate GHG emissions not only from new mobile sources under Section 202 but also from millions of previously unregulated buildings and facilities under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) pre-construction permitting program and the Title V operating permits program. In addition, EPA could be compelled to regulate GHG emissions from the economy as a whole under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) program.

The compliance and administrative burdens of GHG regulation under the CAA could vastly exceed in cost, scope, and intrusiveness any of the climate bills the U.S. Senate has so far rejected or declined to pass. Senators need to know Ms. Jackson’s views on the following questions:

  • Plaintiffs in Massachusetts claimed that an endangerment finding would affect only new motor vehicles. Were they correct, or would GHG regulation under Section 202 compel EPA to regulate GHG emissions from stationary sources and the economy as a whole?

  • When Congress enacted and amended Section 202 in 1970 and 1977, did it authorize EPA to adopt global warming regulations far more extensive and costly than any so far proposed in legislation introduced before Congress?
  • Should climate policy be determined by the people’s elected representatives or by litigators and courts?

Statement by Jonathan Tolman, CEI Senior Fellow in Risk and Environmental Policy

New Jersey has more superfund sites than any other state. Jackson’s record as head of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection on this issue is less than stellar.  One of the biggest issues in the cleanup of these sites in New Jersey  For example, July the Justice Department obtained several guilty pleas for conspiracy, fraud, and bid rigging that resulted in the 1.3 million dollars in kickbacks. is the cleanup of hazardous waste sites. has been charges of corruption and incompetence.

The EPA’s inspector general issued a report this summer that criticized New Jersey’s failure to clean up several toxic waste sites in a timely manner.  The report accused NJDEP of going easy on polluters and failure to enforce agreements on cleanup milestones. The report even recommended that the Bush EPA take over as the lead cleanup agency at seven sites.

One of the initiatives to accelerate site cleanups pushed by Jackson was a plan to let private environmental experts oversee cleanup work at hazardous waste.

When it comes to using science to make environmental decisions, it should be pointed out that Jackson about the NJDEP Division of Science and Research after it produced reports about continuing contamination following cleanups that the DEP had overseen.

In addition to having the most superfund sites, New Jersey  Consequently open space and development are major environmental issues.  Jackson’s solution to that problem was to appoint the lobbyist for the New Jersey Builders Association as her Assistant Commissioner for water quality and land use. also has the highest population density of any state.

If a Republican president had nominated a former republican State DEP head with the exact same environmental record as Lisa Jackson, environmental groups in Washington would be howling.  But all one seems to be hearing from the major environmental groups is the sound of one hand clapping.