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EPA Chief Jackson Steps Down

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson announced Thursday she would step down from the post after a four-year tenure marked by battles with industry groups opposed to her proposed environmental regulations.

Jackson didn’t explain she was resigning, except to say she was ready for new challenges and time with family.

The EPA has made historic progress in the past four years protecting the environment, maintaining clean water and air, ensuring food safety and moving toward energy independence, Jackson said. “I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction,” she said.

The agency, under Jackson’s leadership, has made a number of controversial decisions criticized by industry groups representing power plants, refineries and manufacturing companies, which said her proposals would hurt the economy and lead to job losses.

For example, a special interest-funded analysis released in October found seven EPA regulations would negatively impact the coal-based electricity industry and reduce US employment by 1.5 million jobs over the next four years.

One of the EPA’s most controversial decisions came early on in Jackson’s stint as chief of the federal agency. In 2009, the EPA ruled that greenhouse gases pose a danger to human health and the environment, a decision that cleared the way for regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, refineries, factories and vehicles.

The auto industry later agreed to strict new emissions standards for light cars and trucks.

In the months leading up to the presidential election, the EPA was criticized by environmentalists for softening or delaying proposed standards that affect the industrial sector.

The EPA deferred requirements for industrial waste landfills to report the methane correction factor used in their emissions and for underground coal mines to report the moisture content and gaseous organic concentration factor used in their emissions calculations, until March 31, 2013.

The agency also delayed the requirement for petroleum and natural gas systems, underground coal mines and industrial waste landfills to report certain data they use to determine their greenhouse gas emissions. In July, the EPA postponed finalizing standards for cooling water intake structures at industrial facilities.

Since the re-election of President Barack Obama, the EPA has issued a number of decisions, including final Clean Air Act standards for industrial boilers and incinerators, rules that the agency says will apply to less than 1 percent of those machines.

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