Some members of Congress feel they’re being coerced into approving a Climate Change bill that would force industry to reduce greenhouse gases. Republicans and some Democrats feel the Obama Administration is telling Congress to either approve legislation or the Environmental Protection Agency will use its authority to restrict greenhouse gases. Lester Graham spoke with the Administrator of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, about that perception:
Some members of Congress feel they’re being coerced into approving a Climate Change bill that would force industry to reduce greenhouse gases. Republicans and some Democrats feel the Obama administration is telling Congress to either approve legislation or the Environmental Protection Agency will use its authority to restrict greenhouse gases. Lester Graham spoke with the Administrator of the EPA, Lisa Jackson about that perception.
Administrator Lisa Jackson: They want to say that it’s EPA’s action that’s compelling them to be forced to address energy and climate change legislation. I certainly hope that’s not the case. We are actually in a race here to move to a greener energy economy. And the rest of the world is certainly doing it. And I always tell people that if you don’t want to do it for the environmental reasons, you need to look at the economics and where the world is going, and realize we need to break our dependence on fossil fuels that come from out of our country. We need to move to clean energy. That should be the imperative. I hope it becomes the imperative.
Lester Graham: There’s a new treaty coming up to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the UN Climate Change Conference will meet in Copenhagen in December for a new climate change agreement – if Congress does not pass climate change legislation by that point, how will it affect the standing of the United States in those talks?
Administrator Jackson: Well, certainly it’s fair to say the eyes of the world are upon us, to some degree. Each country is dealing individually with their own situation on energy and climate, and then obviously those are big multi-lateral talks. But I do think people are watching to see if the United States is in this game of clean energy and addressing carbon.
Graham: If Congress does not pass a measure this year before that conference, but there’s a likelihood of it passing next year, will that change – I’m just trying to figure out how we enter into those negotiations if we don’t have a solid plan for reducing greenhouse gasses.
Administrator Jackson: I know lots of people are trying to figure out whether or not the United States will be at the table and in a big way. It certainly is the most important thing to be able to say to the rest of the world, is that not only President Obama is clearly behind this, but the Congress representing the people of the United States has moved to embrace new energy policy, and clean energy, and low-carbon. We’re not there yet, obviously. I’m still optimistic, despite all the other discussions going on, because I know that there’s been real progress made to date.
Graham: You’re just a few months into the job, and already seeing a little heat from Congress and big, big challenge – how do you feel about the job and what do you hope to accomplish in the first year?
Administrator Jackson: I already know that it’s the best job I’ll ever have. I understand that the push and pull of the system is that we’re going to have some dialogue on issues that are of great concern to members of Congress, to the American people, to various stakeholders, and I’m eager to have those conversations. And I think as long as we keep in mind that we’re going to follow the best science we can, we’re going to follow the law, we’re going to be honest, we’re going to be transparent, we’re not going to hold information back. You know, I think that was the most damning criticism of EPA – that there was information out there that might have protected the environment or the American people that was held back. And that time and trust, we have to now re-earn. So that’s what we’re about.
Graham: Administrator Jackson, thanks for your time.
Administrator Jackson: Thank you so much, Lester. Nice talking to you.
Lisa Jackson is the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. She spoke with The Environment Report’s Lester Graham.