The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency announced she will step down from that role in the coming weeks, but a new report suggests her resignation may in fact be motivated by a 180 to be expected from President Obama.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson tells reporters that her decision to walk away as the top environmental regulator in the country after nearly four years comes at a time when she is “ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family, and new opportunities to make a difference.” According to the New York Post, though, politics may indeed play a role in her pending resignation.
The paper reports that Jackson, a chemical engineer who has rallied to bring down greenhouse gas emissions under the Obama administration, is relinquishing her role because she believes US Pres. Barack Obama will put his weight behind the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline at any moment.
Last January, Pres. Obama put a hold on the Keystone project, essentially stalling progress on plans to install a system that would route Canadian tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico over the course of 1,700 miles of pipeline. At the time, Pres. Obama said, “Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline's impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment," and asked for the application that would have allowed international construction to be denied.
Environmental advocates who have expressed grave concerns over the damage the pipeline could cause lauded Pres. Obama for stopping the construction in 2011. The Post says that insiders with knowledge close to the project expect the commander-in-chief to change his mind, however, and perhaps at a moment’s notice.
“Obama early this year rejected the Keystone project, but the pipeline’s operators have refiled their applications. And Jackson has told insiders that the president will approve the project this time — perhaps as soon as March or April,” The Post claims.
Speaking anonymously, the Post’s so-called “Jackson insider” claims that the administrator’s announcement is in response to Pres. Obama’s rumored intentions to give the pipeline his stamp of approval.
“She was going to stay on until November or December,” the source says. “But this changed it. She will not be the EPA head when Obama supports it [Keystone] getting built.”
Critics of the Keystone project say laying the extensive pipework will involve colossal efforts to clear land, environmentally devastating a large chunk of the American Midwest. Actually extracting and burning oil sands in Alberta, Canada raises whole other concerns, however, since opponents of the pipeline say the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released in the process will be hazardous not just to the land, but for the people of North America.
In 2011, Jackson opened up about the Keystone project, saying, "This isn't a little tiny pipeline, this is a pipeline that cuts our country literally in half.”
In a statement released last week, Jackson said she would step down from the EPA after Pres. Obama’s upcoming State of the Union address. She was appointed to that role by President-elect Obama in December 2008 and has in all spent around two decades with the agency.