Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson will step down from her post early next year, the agency announced this morning. The New York Times:
Ms. Jackson, 50, told President Obama shortly after his re-election in November that she wanted to leave the administration early next year. She informed the E.P.A. staff of her decision on Thursday morning and issued a brief statement saying that she was confident "the ship is sailing in the right direction."
The move is expected to come shortly after the State of the Union. There's been no word yet on who the president has in mind to replace Jackson atop the EPA in the long term, but deputy administrator Robert Perciasepe is seen as most likely to take over in a temporary capacity. Along with Perciasepe, EPA air pollution official Gina McCarthy and former Clinton White House aide Ian Bowles have also been floated as possibilities to run the environmental agency during Obama's second term.
The EPA chief is not a formal Cabinet-level position, but is normally afforded Cabinet-level rank.
Jackson's tenure as the nation's top environmental official began with high hopes of a sweeping federal cap-and-trade program, but that effort ultimately ground to a halt in the Senate, where Democratic leaders didn't have the numbers to accomplish what Nancy Pelosi was able to in the House. Still, Jackson's EPA didn't sit on the sidelines, instead using its executive branch powers to enact sweeping air pollution regulations that included the first-ever greenhouse gas standards for vehicles, restrictions on toxic pollution from power plants and a more stringent limit on soot, along with a slew of others.
Her departure is sure to prompt plenty of hand-wringing in the environmental community, which is already fretting aloud that the need to address global warming will again take a backseat to other administration priorities.