Salt Lake City Drinking Liberally

Promoting democracy in Utah one pint at a time.

January 23, 2009

A Letter from Obama’s new EPA Administrator to EPA employees

This, my friends, is an indication of the change we’ve been hearing about. Lisa P. Jackson sounds like she’s going to do a great job as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. I was starting to think that EPA stood for Environmental Pillaging Agency.


DATE: January 23, 2009.

TO:         All EPA Employees

FROM: Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator-designate

I can think of no higher calling or privilege than rejoining EPA as your
Administrator. I am grateful and humbled that President Obama has given
me this honor. With his election and with my appointment, President
Obama has dramatically changed the face of American environmentalism.
With your help, we can now change the face of the environment as well.

During my 21 years in public service, I have witnessed firsthand the
dedication and professionalism of EPA’s workforce. Thousands of
committed, hard-working and talented employees for whom protecting the
environment is a calling, not just a job, have made EPA a driving force
in environmental protection since 1970.

EPA can meet the nation’s environmental challenges only if our employees
are fully engaged partners in our shared mission. That’s why I will make
respect for the EPA workforce a bedrock principle of my tenure. I will
look to you every day for ideas, advice and expertise. EPA should once
again be the workplace of choice for veteran public servants and also
talented young people beginning careers in environmental protection –
just as it was for me when I first joined EPA shortly after graduate

In outlining his agenda for the environment, President Obama has
articulated three values that he expects EPA to uphold. These values
will shape everything I do.

Science must be the backbone for EPA programs. The public health and
environmental laws that Congress has enacted depend on rigorous
adherence to the best available science. The President believes that
when EPA addresses scientific issues, it should rely on the expert
judgment of the Agency’s career scientists and independent advisors.
When scientific judgments are suppressed, misrepresented or distorted by
political agendas, Americans can lose faith in their government to
provide strong public health and environmental protection.

The laws that Congress has written and directed EPA to implement leave
room for policy judgments. However, policy decisions should not be
disguised as scientific findings. I pledge that I will not compromise
the integrity of EPA’s experts in order to advance a preference for a
particular regulatory outcome.

EPA must follow the rule of law. The President recognizes that respect
for Congressional mandates and judicial decisions is the hallmark of a
principled regulatory agency. Under our environmental laws, EPA has room
to exercise discretion, and Congress has often looked to EPA to fill in
the details of general policies. However, EPA needs to exercise policy
discretion in good faith and in keeping with the directives of Congress
and the courts. When Congress has been explicit, EPA cannot misinterpret
or ignore the language Congress has used. When a court has determined
EPA’s responsibilities under our governing statutes, EPA cannot turn a
blind eye to the court’s decision or procrastinate in complying.

EPA’s actions must be transparent. 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. Public trust in the Agency demands that we
reach out to all stakeholders fairly and impartially, that we consider
the views and data presented carefully and objectively, and that we
fully disclose the information that forms the bases for our decisions. I
pledge that we will carry out the work of the Agency in public view so
that the door is open to all interested parties and that there is no
doubt why we are acting and how we arrived at our decisions.

We must take special pains to connect with those who have been
historically underrepresented in EPA decision making, including the
disenfranchised in our cities and rural areas, communities of color,
native Americans, people disproportionately impacted by pollution, and
small businesses, cities and towns working to meet their environmental
responsibilities.  Like all Americans, they deserve an EPA with an open
mind, a big heart and a willingness to listen.

As your Administrator, I will uphold the values of scientific integrity,
rule of law and transparency every day. If ever you feel I am not
meeting this commitment, I expect you to let me know.

Many vital tasks lie before us in every aspect of EPA’s programs. As I
develop my agenda, I will be seeking your guidance on the tasks that are
most urgent in protecting public health and the environment and on the
strategies that EPA can adopt to maximize our effectiveness and the
expertise of our talented employees. At the outset, I would like to
highlight five priorities that will receive my personal attention:

  Reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The President has pledged to make
  responding to the threat of climate change a high priority of his
  administration. He is confident that we can transition to a
  low-carbon economy while creating jobs and making the investment we
  need to emerge from the current recession and create a strong
  foundation for future growth. I share this vision. EPA will stand
  ready to help Congress craft strong, science-based climate
  legislation that fulfills the vision of the President. As Congress
  does its work, we will move ahead to comply with the Supreme Court’s
  decision recognizing EPA’s obligation to address climate change under
  the Clean Air Act.

  Improving air quality. The nation continues to face serious air
  pollution challenges, with large areas of the country out of
  attainment with air-quality standards and many communities facing the
  threat of toxic air pollution. Science shows that people’s health is
  at stake. We will plug the gaps in our regulatory system as science
  and the law demand.

  Managing chemical risks. More than 30 years after Congress enacted
  the Toxic Substances Control Act, it is clear that we are not doing
  an adequate job of assessing and managing the risks of chemicals in
  consumer products, the workplace and the environment. It is now time
  to revise and strengthen EPA’s chemicals management and risk
  assessment programs.

  Cleaning up hazardous-waste sites. EPA will strive to accelerate the
  pace of cleanup at the hundreds of contaminated sites across the
  country. Turning these blighted properties into productive parcels
  and reducing threats to human health and the environment means jobs
  and an investment in our land, our communities and our people.

  Protecting America’s water. EPA will intensify our work to restore
  and protect the quality of the nation’s streams, rivers, lakes, bays,
  oceans and aquifers. The Agency will make robust use of our authority
  to restore threatened treasures such as the Great Lakes and the
  Chesapeake Bay, to address our neglected urban rivers, to strengthen
  drinking-water safety programs, and to reduce pollution from
  non-point and industrial dischargers.

As we meet these challenges, we must be sensitive to the burdens
pollution has placed on vulnerable subpopulations, including children,
the elderly, the poor and all others who are at particular risk to
threats to health and the environment. We must seek their full
partnership in the greater aim of identifying and eliminating the
sources of pollution in their neighborhoods, schools and homes.

EPA’s strength has always been our ability to adapt to the constantly
changing face of environmental protection as our economy and society
evolve and science teaches us more about how humans interact with and
affect the natural world. Now, more than ever, EPA must be innovative
and forward looking because the environmental challenges faced by
Americans all across our country are unprecedented.

These challenges are indeed immense in scale and urgency. But, as
President Obama said Tuesday, they will be met. I look forward to
joining you at work on Monday to begin tackling these challenges

by @ 5:57 pm. Filed under National Issues

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