Jackson says EPA is losing a public relations war over climate regulations
March 9, 2010
Posted by: David Lungren David_Lungren@epw.senate.gov
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LOBBYING: Jackson says EPA is losing a public relations war over climate regulations
Jessica Leber, E&E reporter
Amid a pitched battle over her agency's planned climate regulations, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said environmental regulators are losing a public relations war to industry lobbyists.
"The people in my line of work have not done the best job in communicating our side of the debate. We've lost the messaging war," Jackson said yesterday at the National Press Club.
The statement comes as Jackson faces bipartisan efforts in both chambers of Congress to either curtail or eliminate her agency's authority to tackle climate change. Industry groups and several states have also lined up legal challenges to EPA's ruling that greenhouse gases should be regulated pollutants.
Jackson said that alarmists are reviving a frequently debunked argument that EPA regulations kill economic growth. The theory that less regulation is good for the economy was thoroughly disproved during the George W. Bush administration, she noted. Instead, she insisted that environmental protections spur the economy by leading to innovation and jobs.
But some of that innovation opportunity could be lost as discussions in the Senate move away from an economywide carbon cap, she said. Right now, the Senate climate bill's architects are considering at first setting only electric utility-sector limits.
"The more you move away from an economywide approach, although you can make some progress, you lose some opportunities to harness that private-sector investment," Jackson said.
And in the wake of recent scandals involving prominent scientists, Jackson acknowledged invigorated efforts to shake the underpinnings of EPA's global warming work. "There is certainly an organized effort to sow doubt in people's mind, and there's some indication that it may be working on some level," she said.
Still, Jackson said improving the public perception of EPA is high on her list of priorities.
Last April, Jackson gathered a small band of managers to watch "The Simpsons Movie," which in 2007 portrayed the EPA head as its main villain. In the movie, the agency head disastrously builds a dome over the fictional town of Springfield to contain its lake pollution and its residents.
The hurtful portrayal, Jackson said, highlights that citizens are nearing a point where they don't trust the agency. Under her watch, the agency would never dome off a town. "No, we're not going to do it to you, Springfield, wherever you might be," she said.