For Immediate Release
Luke Eshleman (202) 265-7337
Lisa Jackson Should Fulfill EPA Confirmation Promises Now
Concrete, Enforceable Policies Needed to Back Scientific and Legal Reform Pledges
WASHINGTON - The new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
should immediately adopt agency rules implementing her confirmation vows to
promote "scientific integrity", "rule of law" and "transparency",
urges a letter sent today to Lisa Jackson on her first day of office by Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As President Obama has done
in issuing a series of directives on openness and ethics, PEER suggests Jackson
declare specific policies that outlaw gag orders, forbid political rewrites
of scientific findings and hold managers accountable for actions found to be
"The Bush people also pledged to respect science and obey the law and
look what happened," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose
organization criticized Jackson for ignoring science, shirking public health
responsibilities and relying upon excessive secrecy - precisely the three
areas she has pledged to reform at EPA - while serving as Commissioner
for New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection. "The question
is whether there will be real teeth behind the lip service."
In a news interview last week, Jackson said "The most important thing
right now is to find a way to empower the agency workforce again to make them
know that they're really important." PEER contends that the best way
to accomplish that is to adopt policies that directly protect EPA specialists
and put managers on notice that violations will not be tolerated. Among the
PEER suggestions are -
- Scientific Integrity. EPA lacks rules forbidding alteration of documents
for non-technical reasons unless the basis is included as a part of the
document. Similarly, EPA does not prohibit adverse personnel actions or other
discrimination in retaliation for voicing a reasonable scientific disagreement.
PEER advises that honesty should be an EPA policy;
- Transparency. EPA has been plagued by gag orders, including one
issued this year that staff could not speak to investigators. A January 13,
2009 survey by the EPA Inspector General found that more than half of the
staff did not know or did not think they could provide information to the
IG without permission. EPA has no policy barring such restraints on providing
- Rule of Law. As with most agencies, EPA does not provide that officials
responsible for making decisions that violate federal law should be disciplined
and/or removed. In many instances, miscreant mangers are rewarded or promoted.
Following her confirmation, Jackson issued a statement to all EPA employees
reiterating her pledges. For example, she states that -
"In 1983, EPA Administrator Ruckelshaus promised that EPA would operate ‘in
a fishbowl' and ‘will attempt to communicate with everyone from
the environmentalists to those we regulate, and we will do so as openly as
possible.' I embrace this philosophy."
Yet, she does not commit to officially re-adopt the "fishbowl" policy.
PEER advocates that Administrator Jackson take that next step and move beyond
the purely philosophical plane during her first days in office.
"In New Jersey, Lisa Jackson invoked executive privilege to block our records
request for a copy of her calendar," Ruch added. "At EPA if she wants
to promote transparency, Ms. Jackson should post her daily calendar on the agency
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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.