EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to Step Down

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According to the Los Angeles Times, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced at an agency staff meeting Thursday that she will be stepping down from the position next month. Jackson had spoken to President Barack Obama shortly after his re-election this past November about the possibility of her leaving the agency. Her single term under President Obama was marked with criticism from both GOP members and environmental advocates on some of the nation's most important and controversial environmental issues.

Here are some facts and details about Jackson's departure as head of the EPA and what it will mean for the future of the agency:

* The New York Times reported that Jackson told her staff that she was confident that "the ship is sailing in the right direction."

* Jackson, who is a chemical engineer and the agency's first African-American administrator, gave no indication of her future plans and so far the Obama administration has not announced who will replace her as the head of the EPA.

* Robert Perciasepe currently serves as the EPA deputy administrator and is expected to serve as the interim administrator until he or another individual is officially appointed.

* Jackson faced some tough issues during her four-year term that included the BP oil spill in the Gulf, the Keystone XL oil pipeline, pollution standards, and climate change, noted the Associated Press.

* During her term, she set historic fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles, which will be phased in and eventually require all new vehicles to average 54.5 mpg.

* She also help officially finalize clean air standards for mercury pollution from power plants.

* Whomever replaces Jackson will have to serve Obama through his second term as president and will ultimately face an unfinished agenda that includes issuing new health protections against carbon emissions from power plants.

* Other upcoming issues are regulations on toxic chemicals and water quality. The EPA is also in the middle of compiling a long-term and collective study on how fracking is impacting drinking water supplies and other aspects of the environment, according to an article from the Washington Post.

* Aside from Perciasepe, Gina McCarthy, who is in charge of the EPA's air and radiation office, is considered another leading candidate for the position.

* In speaking about Jackson's tenure and four years of service, President Obama offered praise for her "unwavering commitment to the health of our families and our children" and added "Lisa has been an important part of my team."

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

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