One of the most strident defenders of the environment in President Obama’s administration, Lisa Jackson, announced yesterday that she will be resigning from her post as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Her tenure was marked by great successes in enacting stricter standards on mercury pollution, coal-fired power plants and fuel efficiency for cars. But these victories were secured through fierce battles with Republicans in Congress who opposed tighter environmental regulations and, no doubt, will be happy to see her go.

Jackson played a pivotal role in the Obama administration’s doubling of car efficiency standards to 54.5 mpg by 2025. She also helped put in place the first regulations for mercury pollution at power plants and brought stricter pollution controls on new coal-fire power plants. She was able to do this by reframing the environmental argument as a public health issue, building broader support for stricter controls on soot and other forms of air pollution.

Because she pushed for more meaningful protection of the environment through regulations, Jackson was plagued by litigious industry groups who challenged the EPA’s authority. The chief was such a strong advocate for combating climate change that even the Obama administration pressured her not to push the more controversial environmental measures for fear that it would hurt the President’s chances in the elections. Despite these challenges during her tenure, she’s still considered one of the most effective leaders the EPA has seen. The Natural Resources Defense Council says of Jackson, “there has been no fiercer champion of our health and our environment.”

Jackson will be leaving after Obama’s State of the Union address in January. Though she has not indicated what she will be doing next, the speculation is that she might have political ambitions and may challenge Chris Christy or she may go after the Princeton presidency. As for who will replace her, the prevailing thought is that it may be someone internal to the EPA, such as Gina McCarthy who is in charge of EPA’s air regulation or Bob Perciasepe, Jackson’s second in command.

Via The Guardian