Interview Transcript: EPA Administrator outlines agency goals, priorities (February 27, 2009)

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson fielded questions today from E&E News and two other media organizations on her priorities for the Obama administration, including global warming legislation and regulations, air pollution, toxics, Superfund cleanups and more.

Lisa Jackson: A couple of things to talk about. You've all seen I'm sure by now the first day memo. That memo is very much sort of, it is very much our thinking and has probably only become more solid in our minds in terms of the importance of the pillar issues of science, adherence to the rule of law and the principal of transparency. Much of the last few weeks have been spent reaching out to staff on all kinds of issues, administrative, lots of time on personnel issues, but also on substance. Some of that, the need to do that was solidified by the Rahm Emanuel memo, which required a very hands-on review, and an administrator-level review of specific rules and regs. And what's come out time and time again in those meetings is it's extremely important to hear from the scientists, the folks who are responsible for the rule, the lawyers, and especially in cases where you are dealing with cases that are subject to lawsuit or the court may have recently of spoken on.

And the issue of transparency is one that I'm really committed to. If there's any one complaint or concern that is almost common to every problematic scenario, it's this mysterious, the idea that the walls of this office in particular were somewhat impenetrable. We've very much here about restoring the work force, the idea that this office is not meant to be a mystery to it. And in fact that their work is the foundation of what I say and what comes out of this office. In response, I'm very much about the idea that EPA is on the job. What we, if there's one thing I'm trying to equally impress on everyone, and it's not a hard sell, is that the, oh wait, you do have a camera, I do have on my Friday clothes, you can take it from here on up. (laughter)

EPA spokesman Allyn Brooks-LaSure: This will be your last interview, Darren, if that picture doesn't turn out well. (laughter)

Lisa Jackson: This shirt is big.

E&E's Darren Samuelsohn: I'll take a bunch, just to be on the safe side.

Lisa Jackson: Thank you. But seriously, there's awesome responsibility in being in charge of protecting human health and the environment. And we have to make sure we are not put in a place, again, as an agency, where for whatever reason political or whatever, ideological, this agency and its mission and its employees are silenced. Because when we are not doing our jobs, there are real implications for health. People can get sick, children can be ill, water is not clean, air is not clean, sites don't get cleaned up. So I'm putting that ball right back, squarely in their court, to step up and take that responsibility and shoulder it and earn trust. It's obviously helpful when you have a president and an administration that's focused on and appreciates and understands the work of the Environmental Protection Agency. I'm sure you've already written about the budget. I think that, quite frankly, echoing right after the first lady's visit, which was truly rock star territory yesterday, I think its as concrete a sign as any that this agency is not only back but will have a recognition of the importance of its mission and the idea that if you want us here, you have to have funding to do the job.

Lastly when it comes to priorities we have many obviously. But I feel. We certainly have climate. I try always to say climate and energy. And I actually try always to say when I talk about climate and air pollution in general. Because we certainly find ourselves, if climate weren't such a threat, we'd be spending a lot of time I think talking in this agency about the Clean Air Act and sort of the fundamental pollutants it's meant to address. There's lots of question marks, be that, toxics like mercury, be that the primary air pollutants like particulate matter, NOx, SO2. And so we are certainly, and I'm sure your questions will be on CO2 regulations. So I'll leave that to you to hone in on. Most of you know these issues well. But we're certainly looking at those issues as separate and together. And that's not meant to say we'll address them altogether. But they cannot be separate. So many of the controls that address one address the other. So we might as well realize we have work to do.

Equally important is toxics. If there's one place that, there are many places, but one place that's particularly poignant, lack of focus on science, is what's it done to this agency's pre-eminent role on assessment of chemicals, messaging and communicating about that, as well as risk assessment, which is a broader, which builds upon chemical assessments, but is a broader issue as well. And risk assessment and toxics are certainly one of our priorities. Cleaning up hazardous waste sites. The president's budget yesterday once again emphasized the importance of that program. And the key there is the funding. So we're certainly gratified to see a commitment to the reinstatement of the tax that's fundamental to getting those sites cleaned up. And of course water. Certainly and not least, we have an agenda on water that first and foremost deals with jurisdiction. Here it is after the 1972 Clean Water Act and we're still trying to figure out what the jurisdiction is and it's having the practical affect of tying up quite a few resources in the department. And certainly is the beginning and end of a lot of discussions that may be a lot more specific, but if you don't know what the jurisdiction is, we need to clarify that. Excuse me. So I guess, in closing, we'll go to Q&A. It's 30 days. It's a little bit beyond 30 days. I feel very fortunate in a couple of ways. I've been here before. Not here. But at this agency for almost 20 years. So the acronyms aren't new. The organization is not new. That's an incredible advantage. As you stand up a new administration here at the EPA. There are extraordinary career professionals here. And having them all to rely on has not at all been a disadvantage. In some ways it's been an advantage, especially when we're talking about the scientists. Because the scientists are more than willing to stand up and be counted and then certainly have their voices and work put forward. And so we spent the last month being very deliberative and thoughtful and cooperative with staff in trying to review all the things before us, but we also know they're not going to stop coming. So we are prepared for the next 30 days. Did I leave anything out? Alright. Have at me.

BNA's Steve Cook: Why don't we start with climate. A lot of people expect you to come out with a finding of endangerment on April 2. And you can comment on that if you like. Do you have a schedule and an order in which you're going to be making decisions, you have the California waiver and the Johnson memo?

Lisa Jackson: On endangerment in particular, I think it's important that we not focus on any individual date. Somehow, I think in one interview I mentioned that I'm very mindful that we're approaching two years on April 2 and suddenly that's become carved in stone. I don't think that's helpful and probably was certainly not my intention in saying that. That being said, I also want people to know that it's very much something that people are waiting for this agency to speak on, one way or another. And quite clearly the Supreme Court has an expectation that we will. They told us that we should. And so we owe that information and that finding, or finding that it doesn't endanger to the American people. A couple of important points when you peel back endangerment a little bit. Certainly, there is, you all know this better than I, there's work that's been done in this agency before, so we start with that. We start with hearing and pulling back, taking that work, dusting it off, and looking at where it is. The one thing I can tell you is that right now is that we are careful and we fully explore and analyze public health impacts. And in particular, and I think it's timely, because groups are calling for it, and in particular the impact on communities that are already disproportionately impacted by other types of pollution. You all know that environmental justice groups are looking at the climate debate and that's one of the concerns they have. And I think having an endangerment finding and assessment that fully analyzes that issue as part of making our preliminary determination because it certainly will go out for public comment is very important. So I have tasked the scientific staff, the technical staff, to go back and give us more analysis on that issue.

Darren Samuelsohn: Are you using the endangerment document that the Bush administration had prepared and never was released?

Lisa Jackson: It is a jumping off point. But one of the places where I believe we need more information. That that document didn't address is on disproportionately impacted communities and the impact on populations on the public health side, because you remember it's public health and welfare. And so we're looking at both of those. And what the document said. And we're also looking at the pollutants, because it also says greenhouse gas, I think it says greenhouse gas pollutants and greenhouse gases. So it's a class.

Darren Samuelsohn: Will you release that document publicly? Senator Boxer and Markey had tried to open it up. I filed a FOIA trying to get it.

Lisa Jackson: The thinking right now on my part is it needs work. And I just explained to you one of the places that I think it remains very much a deliberative document. I do know there's incredibly eagerness to see it. But in the initial review of it, I think we'd be better served beefing it up, looking at it, and then making our determination. That will be subject to interagency review. So we'll put it out for public comment when the time is right.

Steve Cook: The Congress in the last administration sought very eagerly to get documents that the Bush administration had created on endangerment, on the California waiver and on greenhouse gas regulations. Do you see releasing those documents to Congress?

Lisa Jackson: I don't want to speak as a class because I don't know each and every case. In general, I'm much aware through confirmation and beyond that Congress is eager for this agency to play it's advisory role. This agency advises Congress as part of its mission. That was drummed into my head as part of the confirmation process. And we have already on a range of issues, not only climate, have had technical support back to the Hill, offering advice, offering information, in some cases it seems like my staff briefed their staff so they can call me. (laughter) And I get it, that's fine, that's part of the process as well. It's a testament to the caliber of folks we have here and the information that resides within EPA's purview. In answer to your question, I'm hopeful that as a general class we are providing the kind of information and openness to Congress that they were hoping to see from us. We're very careful about documents we release because we want to make sure that they, if we are going to provide them, that they're not deliberative and they represent an agency position, not the former agency's position, but the agency's position as it stands, because we have to stand behind anything that we put out there.

Darren Samuelsohn: Is the nationwide standard that Carol Browner talked about the other day what you're planning to use as part of the original petition that started the whole Massachusetts v. EPA case, the one from the ICTA that prompted the petition to the Clinton administration, that kept on getting kicked down the road, leading to Massachusetts v. EPA, and Browner is now talking about this nationwide auto standard, is that your response?

Lisa Jackson: Wow. I need Lisa Heinzerling. Can I make it a little less fine grain than your question. A couple of clarifications. A nationwide standard. Or a nationwide auto, they are two different. Or a way. Let me try that again. Scratch that. A nationwide auto standard does not necessarily mean one rule. We have rules that if there's a finding of endangerment, as you all know, that will empower, require that this agency then move to rulemaking on mobile sources. That would be the natural outgrowth of that, if you make it. And NHTSA has rules to do as well. And the presidential memorandum that was issued to NHTSA was clear about giving them direction about how they should approach their CAFE rulemakings for 2011 and 2012 through 2016. What the auto industry has said they need, and what the White House is certainly interested in working toward, is a road map that makes some clear consistency between where we'd go with our standard and where NHTSA has to go with their statutory authority. But they are very different statutes that require very different things. So we believe, and we have spent lots of time working, this is not an intractable problem, that you can come up with two sets of rulemakings that are actually consistent, that would give automakers a clear path forward. And that is what we are committed to working toward. Obviously, the one additional layer on that is the California waiver, which we are in the process of taking public comment on, so I will say no more on that except to say that California's waiver request is something that the president asked us to relook at and we will indeed look at that and make a determination as well.

BNA's Bill Pritchard: If I can ask you just a little about TRI, there's been a lot said about the 2006 rule changes that the Bush administration made and calls for changing them back to the previous reporting levels, including petitions from organizations and Representative Pallone's introduced his bill and Senator Lautenberg said he's going to do it later this year. Is that something you're going to tackle in the next X days?

Lisa Jackson: Well, it's already something I've been briefed on by staff internally, I'll first repeat what I said in confirmation, which is I really think that the power of the TRI, of the releasing of emissions and chemicals management information by facilities is one of the most powerful and effective statutes that EPA has. It's fundamental to transparency and community right-to-know, and with right-to-know comes community right-to-act, you know, need-to-act, and all that's, you know, it is unfortunate that something as fundamental and bedrock to environmental protection as the information we all use you know has come under such controversy. Now there's a couple of moving pieces there. Right now, the appropriations markup I think makes pretty clear that there would be no funding to implement the new rules. I'm not clear, I'm not a lawyer, we'd have to seek legal guidance on what that means for the status of the rules, you know, whether that means they're automatically repealed or whether there's additional rulemaking work to do in general -- to change a rule you have to make a rule so I'd certainly be committed to embarking on that process if that's what's necessary to do. I think one of the things we've learned in the internal briefings is that in not nearly the number of facilities that were thought to take advantage of what was built as a burden reduction have taken advantage of it and there's been some indication that many facilities inappropriately used the shorter forms. So if the purpose of the rule was to reduce burden and make it easier it hasn't necessarily accomplished that and in fact we may have people who are incorrectly filing the wrong forms.

Bill Pritchard: It sounds like you wouldn't object to a change?

Lisa Jackson: I think that if it's not done legislatively it would certainly be something that I would be interested in pursuing.

Inside EPA's Anthony Lacey: You've filed for settlement talks with the states that have sued over the rulemaking; what can we read into that? Where do you hope those talks go?

Lisa Jackson: Well, obviously I don't want to prejudge settlement negotiations and I'm not doing them personally but I think you can read into that what I hope is an opportunity to move forward in an efficient manner to again get back to I what one of what I view as a bedrock principle here, which is more information about the chemicals that are released or circulated in commerce ...

Steve Cook: The budget you're proposing has a substantial increase in particular in water, and does this ... portend a permanent increase for EPA, is that the direction you're going in, and what are the priorities you would have, would they continue to be water?

Lisa Jackson: Well, as far as I understand the budget process, I can't tell you what EPA's budget will be from year to year. What I think it portends are a couple of really extraordinary points and recognition by this administration, by the president and his administration, of the importance of the revolving funds. That's something that many people on the Hill, certainly at EPA, but clearly the president is putting a big exclamation point behind many folks who have been real fighters for those funds and the value of them. The other big exclamation points are obviously an increase in funding for state and local and tribal grants. States have been very vocal on the fact that they do, and this is certainly something I wouldn't disagree with, a large bulk of the day-to-day enforcement work. And they have seen their grants often cut but at best stay flatlined in a time of increasing expenses so that's a strong and powerful message for state programs that are fundamental. There's a strong message in there on site cleanups, again the reinstatement of the tax, mindful of the fact that when you start a cleanup, then communities begin advocating to have the funding completed, continued, because they see the shovels in the ground and the contamination finally being moved and the blight finally being lifted and the stigma gone and they can start to envision a future where that land is put back to productive use. So, they become very concerned about seeing those programs continue. And the Great Lakes money is extraordinary, there's a couple of strong messages there. First, that it flows, it is meant to be an inter-agency effort, and we are committed to working very hard with our sister agencies to come up with the most effective use of those funds and to come up with projects that will show real results for the health of the Great Lakes and the ecosystems there. But, you know, it comes through EPA, and I think that's a resounding endorsement of the fact that clean water is this agency's purview and something that we should be answerable to the American people on. And so, I've been saying to staff that we cannot blow this opportunity when the spotlight is put on us, it's just like the recovery act. We want to use this as an opportunity to show what this engine can do.

Anthony Lacey: What's the status of the recovery act funding? You put out a draft guidance to the states. Just wondering what the delay is, because the president made a big push about how he wants the funding out there as quickly as possible.

Lisa Jackson: There's a couple of pots, right, you all know this, so the easiest pot is sort of the SRF pot, the state revolving funds pot, because that goes by formula to the states. But now we're putting on that a couple of layers under the recovery act that are new, the 20 percent for projects that have to do with energy efficiency and renewable energy, sustainability, I think projects are in there. And the fact that this money comes with an expiration date. If you're not shoveling the ground, if we can't see projects that are actually happening, then the money can be swept back. And so, it puts an incredible sense of urgency not only on our staff but on state staff, who are used to basically taking these funds and doing great things with them, but using them to capitalize revolving funds where the money may move slower. Now, because of the need that's out there, and I'm sure every Cabinet member, me included, has gotten letters from all kinds of folks, saying, 'Here's, you know, 50 good projects in my community that'll eat up all the money. Don't look any further.' I don't think that we're going to have a problem getting those shovel-ready projects. But the message is really clear, the president intends to hold all accountable, and I have the same message for my staff. I met with them yesterday, the folks internally, and they're going to be working with the state as well. That message has to go all the way down. I'm going to be personally involved in looking at all this. So the SRF money, to answer your question, will move out by formula. I think the guidance is out there now on those grants.

Anthony Lacey: Final guidance, is it?

Lisa Jackson: Yeah, I don't think we were doing draft. It did go out, I think, in the last, in this week.

Anthony Lacey: OK.

Lisa Jackson: And that money we may be able to get the first pack of applications in by mid-March, which means we could be looking to start moving that money out very shortly after that. The diesel money, some of it goes directly to states for projects and some of it is competitive. So, the competitive portion will probably need to move a bit slower, but we'll see some of the diesel money -- I think it's a third -- move quickly to the states. And the Superfund money is contracts money. We certainly know the sites that are ready for RA, but remedial actions couldn't be done. The brownfields money is competitive, and the only delay there has been, I think, some worthwhile thinking on how to make sure we pick brownfields sites that may actually be capable of sending a couple of messages, energy fuels are really big right now, especially in urban areas, so there's some interest in making sure we look at that pot of brownfields money as an opportunity to do cleanups that then enable energy generation, solar power or other things. So, we yesterday were batting around ideas about looking at projects on a scale of energy positive, meaning they generate energy, to energy neutral, energy users, that's another way of sort of magnifying the energy efficiency message that is so, and the renewable energy message that the president has been sending so strongly.

Darren Samuelsohn: Can I bring it back to climate change?

Lisa Jackson: It all comes back to climate change.

Darren Samuelsohn: It does. The budget yesterday obviously assumes revenue for cap and trade. I'm wondering, does that put an end to the debate on cap and trade versus a carbon tax from the administration's perspective?

Lisa Jackson: Well, the budget, I don't know the administration is capable of putting an end to a debate. It usually takes two people to make a debate. But I think there was a strong statement in the budget message about climate, and it wasn't just that it shows revenue, but if you look at the EPA budget in general, the verbiage that went along with it had some fairly significant language I thought on climate and I don't know, principles may be too strong a word, but some fairly strong statements on climate. One of them was "market based." And I believe "cap and trade" was in there as well. You know, the president has been clear he believes that's the way to go. I don't think that if there was a supermajority that thought a tax was the way to go, we would, that would mean it's dead on arrival. But I think that would be a subject of discussion. I'm not sure how realistic that is.

Darren Samuelsohn: Will the administration write a [climate] bill and send it to Congress?

Lisa Jackson: I don't know that. I don't know an answer to that.

Steve Cook: How will your regulations mesh and relate with the effort going on in Congress to pass legislation?

Lisa Jackson: First, I don't think it's one or the other. Not now. As we sit here today, that there is no legislation that either pre-empts or makes moot any regulatory efforts on the part of this agency. And as long as that's the case, we're going to be deliberate. We're going to be thoughtful. We're going to have one eye at all times on the Hill so we're not doing that to say, "Other efforts be damned." In fact, we're doing it to say the work we're doing probably has a lot to do with informing these issues. So the short answer is that for at least the time being, I see the two efforts happening concurrently. I strongly believe that legislation is better. It will be cleaner and will resolve a lot of potential legal fights down the road. But I also believe that, whether it be mobile sources or depending on a finding of endangerment down the road, eventually turning toward stationary sources, EPA has quite a bit of running room on the regulatory front before we run into a wall where we say nothing more can be done.

Bill Pritchard: I want to get into a couple of details, a couple of detailed questions, on coal ash, combustible waste. Are you in favor of making that a hazardous, classifying that as a hazardous waste, continuing as a non or somewhere in between the two, and what about the wet storage, as some people would say, wet storage of coal ash? Is it a threat to groundwater?

Lisa Jackson: It's a little too soon for EPA to have a position on how and when it should, well, how it should regulate coal ash. This is a question that has been asked before with other answers. I do think there's been a lining of the stars; people are quite aware because of the Tennessee Valley Authority spill of the, you know, massive potential for not only public safety being endangered, but over time that cleanup, the price tag, I don't think, every day it sounds a little higher than it did the last time. Um, so I don't have an answer yet on how and if EPA will regulate. I do believe it is likely that we will make a decision fairly soon. We've, the briefings I've had so far on coal ash have actually focused on our response to the spill and the promise I made in confirmation to be proactive as an agency at looking at where, at ensuring that we were at least doing some amount of diligence to make sure other facilities are managing their impoundments better than this one was apparently managed. So that means a lot of time working on response, on immediate response, looking at our authorities, looking at our enforcement authorities, especially with respect to that site and others. But I do intend to turn to the issue of sending a strong signal with respect to whether there'll be regulation fairly soon.

Inside EPA's Maria Hegstad: If I could go back to the legislative versus regulatory issue that you were talking about on a different subject, and that's TSCA reform. I think everyone's sort of waiting for the impending arrival of Senator Lautenberg's Kid Safe Chemical Act, but where's the agency's role in that? What's your opinion on that? Is that a good bill to start from?

Lisa Jackson: I think, you know, one day last week I spoke to the American Chemistry Council, then NRDC, might have been the farm, the ag folks, all on the same day, and what kind of struck me was all of them asked about the same thing, which is toxics. The good news is that there is a congealing of beliefs on all those fronts, the chemical industry front, on the agriculture front, the enviro front, that more is needed, that the American people have lost faith in our system for assessing, communicating, managing toxics and much of that responsibility lies within this agency, I think. Not all of it, but much of it. And so that is a firm basis on which to start to have discussions about two things. The one briefing I've gotten so far is about what we do right now. I have to admit, I've worked in a lot of programs, but I've never managed to work in TSCA or FIFRA. So it's one of the areas that I know the least about. So it's fascinating to see what we do already. And obviously, you all know this, but I learned existing chemicals are different than new chemicals, and I do think there is extraordinary expertise to be tapped if you look at how this agency looks at new chemicals, and it does it in an effective way, and an efficient way, it's timely. I'm not saying it's perfect, but there's good science there. So I do believe that we will begin slowly to look first at our own, almost like climate, in a way, the analogy does continue, we're going to look at our own regulations and what we do first and then we are happy to be first informally helpful to folks on the Hill, including Senator Lautenberg, my home state senator, as they move forward, but we're obviously going to have to work with the White House and other agencies to develop an administration position on any individual bill.

Bill Pritchard: Do you think there'll be endocrine disruptor screening tests going on at the end of this year? It's an issue that a lot of people said has been delayed over a long time by EPA.

Lisa Jackson: Yes, I think you should look forward to movement on that issue in the short term, sooner rather than later.

Bill Pritchard: Are you talking first quarter, first half, third quarter?

Lisa Jackson: The only reason I'm hesitating is because in my old age, I don't remember the calendar. But as I recall, there are several deliverables that we need to get out there in order to start that process along, and how about I leave you with I think we're going to move in the next months on getting those out the door, so how that plays out the calendar.

Bill Pritchard: Have you begun looking at the rule that came back from OMB?

Lisa Jackson: Yes, yes.

Darren Samuelsohn: To pull you back to climate change again really quick.

Allyn Brooks-LaSure: You're obsessed, Darren.

Darren Samuelsohn: It's an important issue. Where are you on a safety valve? Should a climate bill have unlimited offsets?

Lisa Jackson: (laughter) What other questions do you have?

Darren Samuelsohn: I've got a number. What do you do about state pre-emption?

Lisa Jackson: All of those issues, safety valves, offsets, state role and responsibility are extremely important pieces of any legislative program that may go forward. And I think by your questions, you're indicating that which everyone at this table would acknowledge, which is that the administration position on those would be very informative to the Hill. And I think that the design of cap-and-trade legislation is something that will be of interest to me. (laughter) I happen to think EPA has lots of good, relevant experience on that, but it will be different than any cap and trade, than the cap and trade we do, and in fact, there's relevant experience internationally. So, leave it to say that the articulation of those principles, I think it's very important that the administration get right, and certainly I think that the president and the White House are aware of that, so more to come.

Steve Cook: Are you concerned about PSD possibly applying to millions of doughnut shops, schools and so on, and what do you do about that?

Lisa Jackson: (laughter) No, I'm not concerned about it, but I am concerned that we haven't been able to put people's minds at ease, so clearly we still have a communication problem out there. ... That is, you know that is the way that, that is one way that people take the debate to a place that makes it very critically seem like an intractable problem without an answer. When it comes to climate, it's extraordinarily important that we communicate to people and to their elected representatives what the problem is, what we're trying to solve and how to go about it in a way that doesn't make it feel like either it will be extraordinarily expensive and a wreck to our economy or so big and so far-reaching that it's hard to figure out how to take the first step. My assurance to all is that I believe we can embark on addressing, moving to a low-carbon future, in a way that wouldn't start with tiny sources and likely not need to ever deal with them, because if you look at the emissions -- and an inventory is something else that we certainly need to move on and I think we'll be moving on shortly -- but when you look at it, you can get an awful lot of return when you look at the big, the big wedges, and of course, those are transportation and stationary sources. It does not mean that there aren't other things that need to be done, but whether or not they're included in cap and trade is certainly, whether or not -- how about I take that one back? That doesn't mean they don't need to be looked at, but there's certainly other ways to potentially look at them, and we at EPA are not interested in looking at them at all right now.

Anthony Lacey: You mentioned it's not about regulating doughnut shops and getting down there, and in your answers to senators' questions, you talked about you believe EPA has discretion as well when it comes to PSD thresholds. I'm just wondering if you could speak a little about any concerns you might have about EPA's discretion these days, especially following rulings which I'm sure you're aware of during the Bush era where the court essentially said you don't have discretion to go off and be creative like you've tried to.

Lisa Jackson: The concern I have is exactly that, that we have to be very careful to make sure that we are within the rule of law. And I am not an attorney, but there are some phenomenal ones out there on all sides of this issue. And so while I, I don't think we can assure ourselves that as we move forward there won't be litigation. That has certainly never been EPA's history on anything. I think what we need to do is make sure that our movements and our actions are very well thought out and have been looked at by folks who will certainly be charged with defending them. So, I don't, I don't have more than that, but I do believe there is work to be done, but there is also a field that will be harvested at some point -- I don't have an analogy for you. There's work to be done.

Darren Samuelsohn: On air pollution, what's next on the Clean Air Interstate Rule?

Lisa Jackson: Well, we need to relook at it. I mean the rule has been sent back to EPA by the court. We, I think, have been given a window of -- some breathing room -- bad pun. (laughter) Strike that.

Lisa Jackson: We have been given some -- we've been given a window of opportunity -- that's also close; everything has to do with air. (laughter) You know, we've been given some time. I think one of the ways this agency can really grow some credibility is to look at that rule very thoughtfully and in its next proposal of it to be able to say with real clarity to the American people, to Congress, "Here's what the rule is, here's why it will be protective, here's why it will protect you from interstate transport of pollutants that are contributing to non-attainment." That's really where we need to go and I think that's -- and that is what we're charging staff to do.

Lisa Jackson: You're next.

Anthony Lacey: I'm cutting off my own colleague. Do you see a need for any kind of restructuring of the agency and the agency offices?

Lisa Jackson: In general, I'm not a big fan of reorganizations. They take a lot of time, they're very disruptive when we have so much to do. Two concepts: First, the idea of cross media and looking across all of our regulatory programs to constantly be sure that we're integrating our work and that we're not stovepipe -- everything about our laws tends to make the stovepipe, and so it takes a concerted and conscious effort to manage this agency in a way that doesn't revert to that. And we've got, and EPA has gotten better and better at that over the years, but that's one thing that we'll be searching for ways to do. The second thing is that this agency has a tendency to make one extremely reactive because of people like you and all of the wonderful environmental and industry and other groups that have sprung up that, if you're not careful, you spend just about all your time answering questions. And I don't mind doing it, but I think that's a lost opportunity. You know, EPA is -- on Earth Day we'll be 39 years old. But I like to say on Earth Day we will be entering our 40th year. America has changed a lot since 1970. And by the year 2010, we should be asking ourselves some really important questions. First, what are the environmental challenges we face? How do we make sure we're in front of the environmental challenges of the next 40 years? By 2050, it's kind of interesting that most of the climate debate talks about where we'll be in 2050; well, EPA will be, we're exactly halfway to that point in our evolution as an agency, so what should we be looking at long-term? How do we respond and make sure we're not always reacting? But the second thing, and this is really important to me as an African-American woman, is that the country's changed a lot since 1970. And the people who own the issue of the environment have to be a broad coalition that represent what the country is like today and tomorrow so that it, I'd like to see the environment return to a populist issue. Certainly, it is in popular culture right now. But for it to be that, which is what it was when EPA was formed in 1970, for it to be that again and for the people to constantly be demanding that EPA be strong and healthy, we have to make sure that this agency reflects, hears from all stakeholders that they feel comfortable here, that they see themselves in our issues, that we're not the purview of people who are wealthy enough to afford the time to work on it, and I'm looking forward to that, as well.

Maria Hegstad: I was just wanting to go back to one of the other priorities that you mentioned, and that's risk assessment. We've heard a lot about the IRIS program -- I think GAO put it on its priority list for 2009 of programs that need work -- and I was wondering what you think needs done, is there an increase in the budget request that you might expect to see? There's been a lot of question sort of about the new rules that were put into the process late in the last administration.

Lisa Jackson: What needs to be done in general is a return to science being at the front, and forefront, of the risk assessment process, and I think there's been lots of discussion and talk, I'm not here to validate it, that those new processes, on purpose or inadvertently, seem to push science too far downstream in the process. So I think the answer's easy in general. I have not yet had a chance to focus on those memos and those processes, but I think I'm getting a briefing on that in the next few weeks, so yet another thing. I think first and foremost we have to return science to the front of any process of risk assessment and depoliticize it to the extent people say it was politicized.

Steve Cook: You filed a New Source Review lawsuit soon after the new administration took office. Are you changing direction on New Source Review from the enforcement from the previous administration, and what are your enforcement priorities in general?

Lisa Jackson: My enforcement priorities are to get ahead of enforcement. DOJ filed the lawsuit, I want to be real clear on that, just because I don't want to steal their thunder, and we're mindful of the fact that we refer cases over there and then they do what they do. I'm looking forward to working with them; I worked as an enforcer for many years at the state and federal level, and I believe that enforcement is key to leveling the playing field and acting as a deterrent to people who might believe that the easiest way out is to just violate the regulations that everybody else chooses to follow. So what I'd like to do is get ahead of enforcement and also to -- and I think that will happen sooner rather than later, I'm not carping about that -- but then we'll sit down and do what enforcement does best, which is strategic targeting to concentrate on those places where we believe it's important to send a message and to level the playing field with respect to environmental protection.

Bill Pritchard: Changes in Superfund, anything you see coming down the road with the slug of money?

Lisa Jackson: The biggest change to see .. for me would be to see the construction complete number go back up. Superfund, at the end of the day, you can do lots of wonderful, innovative things, but if you don't see projects coming out of the pipeline, then I think people have a legitimate reason to complain. And when you see funding, you better see an increase.

Bill Pritchard: It's about 20 and 30 the past couple years.

Lisa Jackson: It was up to 70, right?

Bill Pritchard: It was up to 80 in the 1990s.

Lisa Jackson: Yeah. So we have quite a bit of work to do.

Bill Pritchard: Do you have a target, that you'd like to, an annual target?

Lisa Jackson: In any targeting, I like to do better than anybody's ever done before, but that takes money, so my own commitment is that I would certainly like to get it back up to where it was before. That will take money.

Darren Samuelsohn: Can I ask a housekeeping question? What's your policy on 5 p.m. Friday announcements that are bad news? And will you make your daily schedules, where you are, what time you're going places, who you're meeting with, public?

Lisa Jackson: I don't have any particular policy on timing of announcements. I don't think we're going to be looking at New Year's Eve or Christmas Eve to put out major regulatory statements. Or any holiday eve. Not to be Christian-focused. (laughter) Oh my God! Or Kwanzaa. Please go through the list. Mothers' Day. Actually, we won't be able to ever make an announcement because we're going to respect all people and their beliefs. That said, the answer to your second question is yes. I think they're meeting as we speak; we will put the calendar up every day on the Internet. It will be a public calendar. I do not anticipate that we will put the gory detail of every internal meeting. But when I'm meeting with someone outside the agency, and with respect for those who want to make sure a speech or announcement is close to press, we will give information so people will know where the administrator is.

Anthony Lacey: Can I just ask one more question?

Allyn Brooks-LaSure: Time's up.

Lisa Jackson: He's the man. Thank you all.