Courtesy, Appalachian News Express
Officials throughout the region this week were hailing the decision of the oft-vilified Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to step down following a four-year term fraught with controversy, particularly in the Central Appalachia coal mining regions.
Jackson announced her decision in a statement on Thursday, saying she will step down after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address next month.
“I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference,” Jackson said in the statement.
However, in this area, where Jackson has often served as a foil for officials’ anger over regulation on the coal industry, the decision was celebrated, with U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers referring to the announcement as a “late Christmas gift.”
“Under her charge, the war on coal raged as the EPA overstepped Congress year after year, and her refusal to approve mining permits has cost our region thousands of jobs and further disrupted America’s economy,” Rogers said in a statement. “I hope her successor at EPA will understand the importance of coal and preserving our jobs with sensible environmental regulations. It’s time to get our coal miners back to work by embracing domestic energy solutions that will shore up our country’s economy for the long term.”
However, Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association, said that while his organization is glad to see Jackson leave, there is still cause for caution.
“It is good to see her stepping down and the hope is that the next administrator of the EPA will be more of a balanced person who understands the connection between the environment and the economy, rather than an anti-coal idealogue like Lisa Jackson,” Bissett said.
Jackson’s actions during her term, Bissett said, represent an attempt by an appointed bureaucrat to legislate and set her own rules, and that’s something the organization hopes will not be true of the next administrator.
“I’m very cautious on any kind of celebration at this time,” Bissett said, pointing out that President Obama’s statement about Jackson’s resignation indicated a great deal of support for the actions she has taken during her tenure. “There have been times in politics where the successor can be even worse — that’s the concern.”
Pike Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford also expressed pleasure with Jackson’s resignation.