Goodbye, Lisa Jackson
Having woven her expensive web, the EPA’s director exits stage left.

Lisa Jackson


Jackson’s EPA has a long history of putting politics before science. But Jackson also has a consistent record of pursuing her extremist environmental agenda without much consideration for the U.S. political system.

The carbon dioxide ruling is the perfect example. By classifying CO2 as a pollutant (even though it’s naturally a part of the atmosphere), Jackson was able to regulate emissions under the Clean Air Act, cutting Congress out of the regulatory process. Notably, Democratic representative John Dingell, who had a hand in drafting both the 1970 Clean Air Act and its later revision, has publicly and repeatedly stated that the legislation was never intended for such a purpose. But the emissions measures Jackson sought were draconian, affecting even small schools, hospitals, and restaurants. Such policies would stand little chance in Congress — so Jackson decided to leave pesky elected officials out of the equation altogether.


And when Jackson had her way with the Clean Air Act, she also tried to usurp state power. Ignoring the implementation deadlines in the Clean Air Act, she decided to impose her own arbitrary ones on state governments, despite vociferous complaints.

The Clean Air Act is only one instance of Jackson’s willful disregard for American democracy. She began an unprecedented effort to clamp down on six traditionally defined “pollutants,” imposing new measuring methods that wholly ignored decades of precedent derived from federal court rulings. If she’s willing to ignore the legislative branch, why not the judicial one, too?

Jackson didn’t neglect abuse of the executive branch, either, completing a trifecta of disrespect toward the American system of government. Her fuel-economy standards were drafted in the language of the Meades and the Persians, enduring long after not only her tenure but also the president’s. Furthermore, her bureaucratic regulations on the electrical industry ignored the usual process, giving the public less than half the usual time for comment on the proposed rules.

The real problem lies in Jackson’s environmental goals, which have been radical from the start. She isn’t quite unprincipled — on the contrary, her commitment to greenness at all costs seems fervently devout. But her pursuit of these ideals ignores all other considerations — economic, scientific, and political

If Lisa Jackson had done her work as an elected official, she would have had one term in office. The policies she sought simply harm too many people and yield too few benefits. Unfortunately for the U.S. economy, she is instead an unelected bureaucrat, and a tremendously energetic one at that. Her record speaks for itself — since the American people weren’t given much of a chance to.

Jillian Kay Melchior is a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.