Photo Credit: Yahoo News (Reuters/Reuters – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, speaks during a news conference in Rio de Janeiro June 20, 2012. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)

Last Thursday, Lisa P. Jackson announced her resignation as the administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, staking a revolutionary role in environmental history. She also proved, regretfully, that the number one obstacle to successful environmental protection is opposition from an industry-backed, bipartisan government. Despite opposition from Republicans in Congress, and at times the Obama Administration, Lisa was an E.P.A. Administrator of many significant firsts, such as:

–         The first E.P.A. administrator to tackle global warming issues outright, beginning her tenure with sweeping action to address unbridled greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants and inadequate fuel efficiency standards.

–         Her “endangerment finding” showed that carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases met the definition of pollutants prohibited by the Clean Air Act. This finally gave greenhouse gasses the political clout they needed to push the Cap-and-Trade bill through the House (though ultimately it failed to pass the Senate).

–         For the first time in history, she forced power plants to control mercury and other toxic pollutants, contributing the $9.6 billion worth of annual savings (in health care, energy, environmental degradation, and so forth) projected for the U.S. under tighter environmental standards.

–         She was integral in convincing the administration not to pass expansion litigation for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have destroyed hundreds of miles of natural habitat by transporting tar sands from Canada to Texas.

Lisa was also the first African-American to head the E.P.A. She graduated summa cum laude from Tulane University’s School of Chemical Engineering and earned a master’s in chemical engineering from Princeton University, and had over 20 years of environmental political regulation experience. Lisa finally began tackling the behemoth of climate change regulation and contributed revolutionary impact with Cap-and-Trade, Keystone XL, fuel efficiency and toxic chemical regulation.

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