New EPA chief promises to listen to science

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Senator Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which is considering Ms. Jackson’s nomination, has regularly complained about alleged political interference in scientific and technical decisions on environmental matters.

“Science must be the backbone of what E.P.A. does,” Ms. Jackson said in her prepared opening statement. “If I am confirmed, I will administer with science as my guide. I understand the laws leave room for policy-makers to make policy judgments. But if I am confirmed, political appointees will not compromise the integrity of E.P.A.’s technical experts to advance particular regulatory outcomes.”

Ms. Jackson holds degrees in chemical engineering from Tulane University and Princeton University.

Senator Boxer, in her opening statement, said she had waited a long time for new leadership at the environmental agency. “E.P.A. works for the American people and in my view we have seen it hurt the American people these past eight years.” She said that the agency “needs to be awakened from a deep and nightmarish sleep.”

Ms. Jackson, who worked as a career employee at E.P.A. 15 years and most recently served as head of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, said that President-elect Barack Obama believes that sound stewardship of the economy can co-exist with economic growth. “Done properly,” she said, “these goals can and should reinforce each other.”

She said that the administration’s environmental priorities were curbing global warming, reducing air pollution, cleaning up hazardous waste sites, regulating toxic chemicals and protecting water quality.

Her confirmation appears on track. The ranking Republican on the committee, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, a skeptic on global warming, called her “accessible and reasonable” and said he planned to vote to confirm her.

Later on Wednesday, the committee was scheduled to consider the appointment of Nancy Sutley, currently deputy mayor of Los Angeles for energy and environment, to chair the White House Council on Environmental Quality.