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NJ Sierra Club - Lisa Jackson Great Choice to Lead EPA

Date : Mon, 15 Dec 2008 13:10:02 -0500

Today at 5pm EST, President-elect Barack Obama will announce Lisa Jackson as his nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency. The following is the statement of the New Jersey Sierra Club on her nomination and a rebuttal to the false accusations made by her detractors.

                                                                                    For Immediate Release Contact: Jeff Tittel
December 15, 2008 (609) 558-9100

NJ Sierra Club: Lisa Jackson Great Choice to Lead EPA

                                               Trenton - The New Jersey Sierra Club strongly supports Lisa Jackson to be head of the Environmental Protection Agency. We believe Jackson will make an outstanding administrator and is a great addition to President-elect Barack Obama's green team.

"It is very rare in government to find someone who has strong technical and scientific background, a clear understanding of policy, a long regulatory history, the ability to work with different types of people and interest groups and very strong environmental principals," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "We believe Lisa Jackson is clearly going to be a major part of President-elect Obama's green team and that together they will tackle the problems of climate change, toxic site cleanups and protecting the environment for the people of the United States."

Jackson has 19 years experience working up the ranks as an EPA staff person and six years of experience with New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). During her tenure as commissioner of the DEP she worked closely with the Sierra Club and other organizations to push the state's environmental agenda forward. In addition, as a native of New Orleans lower 9th ward, Jackson's family suffered through Hurricane Katrina. She brings a clear understanding of environmental justice and the failure of government to act on climate change.

"The EPA under the Bush Administration is broken, Lisa Jackson is the right person to bring that agency back to the forefront of environmental protection," Tittel said. "Lisa Jackson is part of the change that we need."

Lisa Jackson Has No Peers - A Rebuttal to False Accusations

Lisa Jackson has worked closely with the Sierra Club and other organizations to push New Jersey's environmental agenda forward. These achievements have been made in difficult times, with a governor more concerned with economic growth than environmental protection.

"We believe Lisa Jackson has been our one true friend in this administration and has worked diligently to protect the environment for all of New Jersey," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "On numerous occasions Jackson openly disagreed with Governor Jon Corzine, fought to stop environmental weakening by the state legislature, and promoted new environmental initiatives."

Widespread reporting of Jackson's likely nomination has prompted false and derogatory statements from naysayers, primarily outside of New Jersey. She has worked closely with more than 120 environmental and community groups in the state and only one organization has criticized her.

"There has been a lot of misinformation, false and even malicious statements regarding Lisa Jackson and her tenure at the Department of Environmental Protection," said Tittel. "These attacks are based on half truths and faulty information."

In addition to factual errors, Tittel explained the attacks are based on a double standard. Eight years ago the nomination of Governor Christine Todd Whitman to the same position prompted criticism of her environmental policies. The blame was not put on then DEP Commissioner Bob Shinn. Now, we see an attack on Commissioner Jackson for the policies of Governor Jon Corzine.

Many of the attacks on Lisa Jackson are based on decisions made by Governor Corzine, Commissioners Campbell and Shinn, and Governors McGreevy and Whitman. These are situations she has inherited from previous administrations.

The following list debunks the claims and accusations:

Site Remediation Program - The most significant issue of concern is Jackson's involvement with the Site Remediation Program. However, the program was already under duress when Jackson took control of the DEP. In 1994 Governor Whitman eliminated more than 1/3 of DEP staff and reduced total work hours by an additional 16%. The Site Remediation Program was severely impacted. In 1994 there were 270 case managers and 12,000 contaminated sites, currently there are 150 case managers and 20,000 sites. In addition, Governor Corzine has issued a hiring freeze for state personnel, causing the DEP staff to drop by an additional 15%.

Claim: Jackson has let cases sit untouched for too long. Fact: Former DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell eliminated the priority system for ranking contaminated sites, and unilaterally removed 1,800 contaminated sites from list, including the Kiddie Kollege Site. Under Campbell's leadership the program focused on developing sites and allowed polluters to pave and wave. Lisa Jackson has tried to re-enact a priority system and fix the broken program.

Claim: DEP mismanaged the Kiddie Kollege site. Fact: It was a DEP staff person under Lisa Jackson who uncovered Kiddie Kollege. Prior to notifying families it was necessary for the DEP to complete investigation and testing of the site. Testing may have taken longer than it should have but sometimes government doesn't work as quickly as we would like.

Claim: Jackson didn't go after polluters. Fact: The Attorney General has eliminated environmental crimes making it difficult for DEP to go after polluters. Jackson has done sweeps in Camden, Paterson and Newark going after polluters.

Claim: Jackson supports privatizing cleanup. Fact: Gov. Corzine has called for privatizing the Site Remediation Program, not Jackson. Jackson fought to increase personnel, but was stymied by the governor and legislature.

Claim: The EPA had to step in on sites where the DEP wasn't acting. Fact: Gov. Whitman changed the law to allow a voluntary cleanup program under which the polluters to select their cleanup plans. This regulatory change, combined with a lack of staffing and an Attorney General that won't sue has left Jackson's hands tied.

Global Warming - Gov. Corzine did not initially support New Jersey's Global Warming Response Act. Commissioner Jackson convinced the governor to support this important legislation. New Jersey is now praised for its strong emission reduction targets and high renewable portfolio standard. Jackson also took a weak Energy Master Plan that supported fossil fuels and nuclear power and worked to change it so that it now promotes renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Claim: New Jersey is behind on Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative because of DEP. Fact: New Jersey has missed numerous deadlines (one on RGGI). It took the legislature longer than it should have to pass the necessary legislation so that New Jersey could participate in RGGI; it was not the fault of DEP. New Jersey will be in December auction.

Claim: DEP delays have slowed the Greenhouse Gas Report. Fact: The Greenhouse Gas report has been delayed because of the time it takes to get governor to sign off. It is scheduled to be released this week. Also, it was necessary to complete the Energy master plan before the Greenhouse Gas plan.

Additional Concerns

Claim: Lisa Jackson has not developed wildlife criteria for certain toxic chemicals. Fact: In fact there was a rule proposal that was pulled down by her predecessor commissioner Campbell. The fault lies on Campbell.

Claim: Jackson did not give out sign in logs of her meetings as Commissioner. Fact: The practice of not maintaining sign in logs was started by Commissioner Campbell. The Sierra Club opposes this practice, but regrettably it is still in place.

Claim: Jackson took down streams that were nominated for upgrade classification. Fact: Jackson nominated more than 900 miles for Category 1, the state's highest level of protection. Her support is inherent in the nomination. Of the 900 miles proposed, 600 miles were adopted. The remaining 300 were not adopted because of incomplete data and pressure from the governor's office that had the final say.

Claim: Jackson eliminated 300 foot buffer. Fact: Commissioner Jackson signed an Administrative Order for 300 foot buffers. She removed the order when the new flood hazard rules were adopted, which codified 300 buffers on high quality streams. These flood hazard rules are now some of strongest in the nation allowing for no net fill in flood prone areas.

Jackson should be credited with regulating development on septic systems, which is the biggest problem for groundwater pollution in private wells in New Jersey. These water quality planning rules removed 300,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land from sewer service areas which severely restricts the amount of development that can go into these areas. This has been the largest protection of private land through regulation in New Jersey since the passage of the highlands act.

Claim: Jackson's big outgoing action was to convene an industry-dominated task force that recommended rewriting the rules for building permits. Fact: The much-maligned permit efficiency task force was Jackson's way of curtailing Corzine's pro-builder tendencies and slowing attacks for the DEP by the legislature. The task force was made up of former government officials, attorneys, environmentalists, and representatives from the business community. The process was transparent; all the minutes and draft papers were posted on web. The final report was very critical of Governor Corzine's hiring freeze and the need for technical updates within DEP. In addition it blamed private consultants for most of the delays in DEP and wanted to give the agency more authority for environmental impact.

Claim: Jackson did not adopt endangered species rules. Fact: Jackson wrote and proposed rules, but Governor Corzine has not signed off on them.

Claim: Jackson did not act on Permit Extension Act Fact: Jackson forced the governor to revise the notorious Permits Extension Act, which would've extended building permits into environmentally sensitive areas. (That bill was such a galling giveaway that even Bush's EPA protested.) Jackson stood up to her boss and took out 75% of what was bad in that law.

Claim: Lisa Jackson pulled back groundwater standards. Fact: Jackson proposed very strict standards for protection of groundwater from contamination. Under pressure from the business community the governor would not allow those rules to be adopted.

Claim: Since she was slated to be Chief of Staff Jackson must be in line with Corzine. Fact: Jeff Ruch, from PEER's Washington DC office is quoted in numerous newspapers saying, Lisa Jackson must be in lockstep with Jon Corzine on policy otherwise he would not have made her Chief of Staff. This statement shows Ruch's inexperience with New Jersey politics. Jon Corzine likes to create conflict; he hired Lisa Jackson to be the antagonist, and made Gerry Zaro head of economic development to be protagonist

"Her critics are the naderite nabobs of negativity," said Tittel. "They are part of the loony lemming fringe of the environmental movement."

###

Grace Sica, Outreach Coordinator NJ Sierra Club 145 W. Hanover St. Trenton, NJ 08618 p: 609-656-7612 f: 609-656-7618

Received on 2008-12-15 10:20:03

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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