Monday, December 15, 2008

Daily Kos weighs in on Jackson-EPA debate

On the day that President-elect Barack Obama will announce his selection of former NJDEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson as the next EPA Administrator, the popular liberal blog, Daily Kos (519,000 daily visitors), added its two cents to the debate over her qualifications. You can read it here.

By now, we all know that New Jersey's mainline environmental organizations like Environment New Jersey and the Sierra Club have lined up in support of Jackson.

Governor Corzine has extolled Jackson's personal qualifications and her record at the state DEP in a video and his endorsement has been echoed by the state's senior Senator, Frank Lautenberg, by John McKeon, chairman of the state Assembly's Environment and Solid Waste Committee, and others.

The griping over Jackson's possible nomination started out with one outlying organization, The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a platform for government agency whistleblowers or malcontents (based on your point of view).

PEER put out a press release attacking Jackson's "disastrous record" which it compared to the environmental policies of the Bush EPA. In what proved to be a media coup for the relatively obscure organization, the release gained the attention of the national media and major bloggers.

It followed (by one day) highly critical comments in the Star-Ledger, New Jersey's leading daily newspaper, by Bill Wolfe, a former employee at the DEP and PEER's New Jersey director.

In a personal blog post, Wolfe declared that Jackson " has proven ineffective in saying "no" to the Governor, legislators, local officials, and powerful business interests, most specifically developers, energy, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries, who have called the shots behind the scenes on big environmental policy decisions."

Since then, others in New Jersey have chimed in, including Robert Spiegel, executive director of the Edison Wetlands Association, and Zoe Kelman, a former DEP supervising engineer. You'll find their comments here.

Will the criticism spread and will it have any effect when Jackson's confirmation comes before Congress?

Outside of providing Obama critics with some ammunition to make a fuss--and giving the aforementioned organizations a possible chance to testify in Washington--the likely answer is no.

What's more likely is an organized counter-campaign to generate an avalanche of public support for Jackson's confirmation from leading national and New Jersey figures, organizations, editorial writers, columnists and bloggers.

Have an opinion you'd like to share on all this? Please do, below.

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