President-elect Barack Obama has named Lisa P. Jackson, chief of staff to New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and former head of the state’s environmental protection agency, as administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If confirmed by the Senate, Jackson will be the first Black to serve in that capacity.
The 46 year-old Jackson was born in Philadelphia, adopted and moved with her family New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. She graduated with high honors from Tulane University and then received her master’s degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University.
Jackson returns to the E.P.A. where she spent 16 years before her stint in New Jersey. During her earlier tenure with the E.P.A. she regulated the cleanup of hazardous waste sites that were listed on the Superfund list and ran other enforcement programs. From 2006 to 2008 Jackson served as assistant commissioner for land use management and prior to that assistant commissioner for compliance and enforcement at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. This year she was appointed the governor’s chief of staff.
Her appointment comes at a time when environmental issues are taking center stage. President-elect Obama has made “green jobs” a priority in his initial economic recovery program and the auto industry is now tasked with developing fuel efficient and environmentally sensitive automobiles to survive. In addition, many of the nation’s cities are still grappling with industrial waste sites that need to be reclaimed for redevelopment purposes. In her role as E.P.A. chief, Jackson will immediately have to confront issues that have frustrated the federal government for decades as it coped with the after effects of the nation’s industrial age.