EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced on Dec. 27 that she will step down from the agency’s top post after President Obama’s state of the union speech in January.

Under Jackson’s leadership, EPA established fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks and implemented several air-related regulations to reduce emissions of soot, mercury, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants, including carbon dioxide.


Although environmental groups praised Jackson for her leadership, Republicans in Congress and industry often criticized the EPA as being too heavy-handed in its approach. Some of the regulations that came out of EPA were legally challenged by industry groups, including the cross-state air pollution rule (CSAPR), which a panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down in August. EPA has since appealed to the full court for review of the case.

Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council and a partner at the Washington, D.C. office of law firm Bracewell Giuliani, said, “From an energy and consumer perspective, it had to be said that the Jackson EPA presided over some of the most expensive and controversial rules in the agency’s history.” Some of those rules “marginalized” coal and other solid fossil fuels at the expense of industrial jobs, energy security and economic recovery, he said.

But environmental groups praised her legacy. “Hooray for Lisa Jackson!” said William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. “Notwithstanding the difficult and political challenges EPA faced, her agency was directly responsible for saving the lives of tens of thousands of Americans and improving the health of millions throughout the country. She will be sorely missed.”

In a statement, President Obama said, “Under her leadership, the EPA has taken sensible and important steps to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink” including taking “important action to combat climate change under the Clean Air Act.”