Politics versus science
The US Senate confirmation of former NJ Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson as US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator brought out sharply conflicting views with respect to the relative roles of science and politics in her leadership style and policy decision-making.
The Washington DC Beltway view – based on Jackson’s own testimony and press remarks – is best illustrated in this headline and story from ENS:
EPA Nominee Jackson Promises Science Will Trump Politics
Today’s NY Times – written by award winning veteran former NJ Star Ledger and Bergen Record reporter Dunstan McNichol and based on interviews with professionals who have worked with Jackson – takes a strongly contradictory view:
A Master Juggler in a Job That Demands One
The confirmation hearing was best covered in some depth here, validating those in NJ who criticized Jackson’s record on several accounts:
After Admitting Faults at Hearing, New EPA Head Starts Work
So, just to put some visual meat on the bones of these conflicting stories, below are photo’s of the Jackson Senate confirmation hearing with captions:
NJ junior Senator Robert Menendez (D) introduced Jackson to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
NJ senior Senator Frank Lautenberg (D) sits on SEPW Committee and speaks in support of Jackson
Jackson’s husband Kenny was recognized by Chairman Boxer as “the good man behind a strong woman”
Jeff Tittel, Director of NJ Chapter of Sierra Club was Jackson’s invited guest and sat in the front row. Tittel worked the press in Jackson’s behalf.
Lisa Jackson cruised through the hearing by responding in general terms to softball questions by the Committee.
Chairman Boxer makes a point about the immediate need to regulate perchlorate, a chemical in rocket fuel now poisoning the drinking water of up to 40 million Americans. Boxer went easy on Jackson’s NJ record, where she failed to regulate perchlorate for over 3 years despite recommendations from scientists and a completed legal and scientific basis to do so.
Senator Max Baucus (D/Montana) was irate about Libby Montana, where the WR Grace Co. asbestos killed over 200 workers and community members. Baucus failed to ask Jackson about the WR Grace plant in Hamilton NJ. DEP certified that WR Grace plant site as clean. Shortly thereafter, as part of the criminal investigation growing out of Libby, the US EPA conducted an emergency removal of 15,000 cubic yards of high level asbestos buried on the site DEP had declared clean.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D/RI) urged Jackson to get an agency Inspector General who would investigate problems with EPA – The EPA IG has issued reports critical of the performance of Jackson’s NJ DEP. Those reports were ignored. /span>
Senator Inhofe (R/Oklahoma)- global warming science denier – supported Jackson
Senator Voinovich (R/Ohio). Ohio is home of many polluting coal power pants defended by Voinovich – he supported Jackson.
NJ Governor Jon Corzine has praised Jackson for a “superb job” at DEP and hired her as Chief of Staff.
Sierra Club’s Jeff Tittel called Corzine “the worst environmental governor ever”
Bob Spiegel, Director of the Edison Wetlands Association (right) is joined by associates who stand in line to enter Jackson hearing.
Spiegel, a Jackson critic, was marginalized.
Below are some of the NJ voices not invited to the hearing – and issues not discussed at the confirmation hearing:
Camden Environmental Justice activists demand that DEP stop allowing construction of schools on toxics waste sites – including Superfund sites – and old landfills
Bob Spiegal at Akzo Chemical site in Edison, NJ, where chemicals flow offsite into the Raritan River. EWA had to file a federal lawsuit due to DEP failure to respond to requests to cleanup the site
Students of Clifton High School – their new school will be a in a converted former industrial building with toxic soil and groundwater contamination
More Clifton HS students – not a lot of opportunities for too many of these kids, who end up in the military
Passaic City school faces this toxic rubble strewn old industrial site. DEP has done nothing to clean it up.
Thousands of contaminated old industrial sites lay fallow due to failed DEP cleanup program caused by mismanagement, lack of enforcement, and no cleanup priority scheme. Jackson promised by failed to deliver all three.
Prominent anti-toxics activist Lois Gibbs, of Love Canal fame, speaks at a Seton Hall University conference on the precautionary principle. Precaution was not embraced by Jackson’s DEP.
NJ Rate Counsel (a public advocate) decries consumer ripoffs as she testifies in opposition to polluter subsidies allowed by Jackson’s negotiated green house gas market based cap and trade legislation known as “RGGI”.
California Air Resource Baord scientist warns the NJ DEP and Clean Air Council about high cancer risks from toxic air pollution at shipping and air ports. Jackson’s DEP failed to crack down on air toxics or regulate highly polluting port operations.
Dozens of homes in working class Pompton Lakes were poisoned by vapor intrusion from Dupont facility. Lax DEP oversight and failure to warn residents of toxic threats spawned lawsuits and community outrage.
Jackson’s DEP relaxed stream buffer protections