Facing assaults from all sides on her agency’s plans to limit carbon dioxide, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson on Monday renewed her support for both her duty to regulate planet-warming gases, and the need for Congress to act meaningfully.
Jackson has plenty of reason to be frustrated. The Senate climate bill has been moving forward at a glacial pace. She’s maintained that she prefers new legislation on climate, but the Senate has yet to produce that. Meanwhile, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has undertaken an effort to block the agency’s scientific conclusion that greenhouse gases are a threat to human health, and a number of industry groups have also filed lawsuits to that end. And last week Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and a trio of coal-state House members introduced measures to delay EPA regulations for one year, which they said would give Congress more time to act. But Jackson maintained that the EPA has a legal obligation to move forward–and rather than spending time undermining her agency, perhaps the Senate should get to work on a new climate bill.
“I am not in a position where I am going to stand here and support the idea of EPA not being able to use the Clean Air Act,” she told reporters on Monday. “The energy of the Senate on this issue would be wonderful if it would be put towards new legislation to do something.”
She also argued that Congress should keep its focus on an economy-wide cap on carbon emissions, as senators are reportedly considering a scaled-back option that caps only electric utilities. “The more you move away from an economy wide approach, you lose some opportunities to really harness that private sector investment,” she said.