The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that she is stepping down after four years at the helm of the controversial regulator, which has been embroiled in major legal battles over issues such as limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases.
Lisa Jackson said in a statement that she will depart after President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address next month.
Jackson said she was leaving the EPA "confident the ship is sailing in the right direction." Still, Jackson also noted that when she took office four years ago, "I spoke about the need to address climate change"—an area where the EPA has made limited progress.
Jackson did not specify her future plans and no successor was announced. Environmental lawyers have mentioned EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, as well as Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, and Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, as possible replacements.
Prior to her appointment as EPA administrator, Jackson headed the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. She has an honorary law degree from Pace Law School.
"Lisa leaves giant shoes to fill," said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement. "Her successor will inherit an unfinished agenda that begins with the issuance of new health protections against carbon pollution from existing power plants—the largest remaining driver of climate change that needs to be controlled."