For Immediate Release
Luke Eshleman (202) 265-7337
Ten Questions the Senate Should Ask Lisa Jackson
Committee Urged to Scrutinize Jackson’s Actions and Decisions in New Jersey
WASHINGTON - Scientists, engineers and inspectors who worked under
Lisa Jackson in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
raise troubling questions about her tenure, according to Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The Senate Committee
on Environment and Public Works is slated to consider the confirmation
of Jackson, tabbed by President-elect Obama to head the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, next week, reportedly on January 14th.
PEER is asking committee members to critically examine actions,
decisions and statements that Jackson made at New Jersey DEP which if
repeated at EPA would undercut the Obama "change" agenda. Among the
issues PEER highlights are her treatment of DEP employees, including -
- Reassignment of whistleblowers, including the agency's top nuclear safety engineer;
- Issuance of gag orders to silence scientists; and
- The six-fold growth in top salaried employees even as DEP was losing hundreds of line positions to attrition.
"While serving as the top environmental official in a Democratic
administration, Lisa Jackson exhibited a pattern of highly questionable
calls," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that current
and former DEP specialists, as well as community activists, remain
available to speak with Senate staff. "We hope the Committee soberly
advises before rushing to consent."
On a policy level, PEER points to instances where Jackson criticized
Bush administration EPA proposals on issues where New Jersey was even
more culpable, for example -
- New Jersey DEP slammed proposed EPA standards for the
chemical perchlorate, widely used by the military, yet DEP had taken no
action to set its own "good public health policy" standards, despite
completing its scientific basis for action back in 2005. Setting
perchlorate standards will be one of the early decisions Jackson will
face if confirmed as EPA Administrator;
- Attempts by New
Jersey to collect "hundreds of millions of dollars" in "natural
resources damages (NRD)" from polluters have been crippled by
regulatory incompetence and neglect at DEP under Jackson; and
water quality standards and toxic clean-up efforts that were faulted by
the Bush EPA as violating minimum federal standards.
"How can Lisa Jackson be expected to exercise oversight of states
that are doing what she has until recently been doing herself?" asked
Ruch. "Our concern is that national efforts to combat pollution will be
limited to the low bar set in New Jersey."
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.