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Our view: EPA chief selection is important

THE FIRST AMENDMENT

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Updated: February 7, 2013 6:16AM



The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, has announced her resignation. We are sorry to see her go.

She has led EPA through four tough years and, although she has backed down on some issues more than we would have liked, she has put the agency back on track of taking care of the environment after it was given short shrift in the previous eight years.

Ever since former President Richard Nixon created the EPA, it has had a rough row to hoe. Environmentalists never have been convinced it has done all it can; businesses are aghast that it has done as much as it has. Under Jackson, the nation’s air and water unarguably are cleaner, which is healthier for our children.

The EPA under her tenure has had three solid successes: much tougher fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, tougher regulation on sulfur dioxide and soot, and greater protection against toxic mercury levels.

Unfortunately, the White House knocked down Jackson’s attempt to tighten national smog standards. She was also foiled in her efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, a serious contributor to climate change.

In choosing Jackson’s successor, President Obama will signal what he wants as his environmental legacy. If he chooses a stand-firm-but-fair regulator, it will mean he is serious about capping greenhouse gases affecting power plants and boilers, and curbs on drilling for oil and gas in environmentally sensitive areas.

There is great interest in what the EPA does on fracking, a method of cracking fissures in rock with pressurized liquid to reach gas and oil. Proponents note its economic benefits in the drive toward more energy independence; critics say it contaminates ground water.

We hope Obama nominates an experienced, nonpolitical regulator who knows the agency, but who can work with industry to implement regulations on the books and make a good case for sensible future regulation. Let’s end the argument that good stewardship of the environment kills jobs and restricts economic growth.

Scripps Howard News Service



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