Today, EPA Administrator-designate Lisa P. Jackson distributed a memo to all employees of EPA. The memo outlines her and President Obama’s philosophy of environmental protection. The memo is an interesting demarcation of the major changes that are coming in the realm of environmental protection.
Some priorities Ms. Jackson is very upfront about, such as addressing Climate Change (which notably was identified as the number 1 priority in her memo). Other policy perspectives are a little less straightforward, but inferences can be made. Here are my take aways from the memo.
- Climate Change is a major priority- The President made reference to it in his inaugural speech. It is no mistake that its the first bullet on EPA-designate Jackson’s list of priorities. Notably, she includes the following statement: "As Congress does its work, we will move ahead to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision recognizing Pea’s obligation to address climate change under the Clean Air Act" STAY TUNED ON THIS ONE>>>
- Science will be at the forefront- Many environmental groups felt that the Bush Administration put science secondary to their end regulatory goals. The memo is a clear statement that this will change. What could be the impact? For one, look for even stronger federal air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone and fine particles.
- Resurgence in Environmental Justice- A very thorny issue and one difficult to address through regulation. However, the memo mentions making "people disproportionately impacted by pollution" a priority. Perhaps they will try to tackle this more aggressively.
- CAIR- I may be out on a limb on this one. In the "improving air quality" priority, Jackson states "we will plug the gaps in our regulatory system as science and the law demand." I think this is a vague reference to a much stronger CAIR program.
- Brownfield Redevelopment- U.S. EPA may put even more emphasis on brownfield programs as a means to accelerate clean up of contaminated sites. Jackson was criticized in New Jersey for the slow clean ups. I think the statement -"turning these blighted properties into productive parcels and reducing threats to human health and the environment means jobs and investment in our land" -can’t be anything other than a reference to a strong brownfield program.
- Money for the Great Lakes?- In the memo, Jackson says the "Agency will make robust use of our authority to restore threatened treasures such as the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay." I am intrigued at the term "robust use of our authority" in connection with the Great Lakes. Is this a reference to enforcement rather than the Great Lakes Restoration Plan?
- Don’t underestimate the amount of change coming- President Obama’s buzz word was change. I don’t think there is any area that is about to see more change than environmental regulation in the next four years. Fasten your seat belts…