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Suggested Questions for Lisa P. Jackson

By Ed O'Keefe

Lisa P. Jackson, likely the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency faces several challenges, according to a Government Accountability Office assessment that provides similar analysis of 27 other government agencies and departments.

Among other things, Jackson must consider how to protect the scientific work of the agency, ensure environmental enforcement and compliance, reduce pollution of all kinds and address the agency's workforce issues.

The GAO's set of recommended questions can be viewed in their entirety here and selected questions are posted after the jump. Your suggested queries should go in the comments section below.

• Many agencies, including EPA, often inappropriately appoint members to their Federal Advisory Committee Act committees as representatives rather than as special government employees. Since these members did not go through a screening process, EPA cannot ensure that committee members are free from significant conflicts of interest and that the committee as a whole is appropriately balanced. What steps will you take to ensure that EPA’s federal advisory committee members are free from conflicts of interest and that the committees are appropriately balanced as a whole?

• The National Academy of Sciences has found that children may be more susceptible to adverse health effects from exposure to chemicals than adults. What in your background prepares you to understand and address the risks of chemicals to vulnerable populations? Do you support requiring industry to demonstrate the safety of chemicals they produce when children may be exposed to them?

• Under the Clean Water Act, EPA is responsible for publishing water quality criteria that establish thresholds, including for pathogens, at which contamination may threaten human health. In 2000, the Beach Act required EPA to create new or revised water quality criteria for pathogens by October 2005. However, in 2007, EPA had not yet established a firm timeline for completing the necessary studies or developing new water quality criteria. How would you approach the complex problem of establishing water quality criteria? What expertise do you have that would help you ensure that such criteria are consistent, regularly updated, and protective of human health?

• EPA and the Department of Defense have been in a dispute related to several National Priority List hazardous waste sites for which there is currently no interagency agreement, as required by law. Without an agreement, EPA has not been able to fully oversee some sites to ensure that cleanup is progressing appropriately. To what extent has your experience equipped you with the tools necessary to address interagency conflicts such as this, and how would you position EPA to work to avoid such challenges in the future?

• Meeting our renewable fuel standard’s goal of producing 36 billion gallons of biofuels annually by 2022 will stretch our use of water, arable land, and other resources. How would you approach the biofuels area, and what experiences and expertise have you acquired in your career that would give you the tools for dealing with such a complex problem?

• EPA, the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission share responsibility for encouraging and enabling energy conservation. Can you describe any significant results you have been able to achieve by reaching across organizational boundaries to accomplish a shared goal? What experiences can you cite that demonstrate your ability to work effectively across such distinct agency boundaries to leverage resources and knowledge to get results?

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 13, 2009; 1:26 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Confirmation Hearings, Congress  
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The Environmental Protection Agency seems to have no real power. Where does the EPA take its right to enforce anything from? When the American Citizen questions a wrong. What part of the EPA enters a place of business and questions wrongdoing? City, State, Federal Officers? Is there a badge we as American citizens need to look for? How does this agency work when crossing State Lines? I refer to recycling issues more than anything else.

Crance Watkins Recycling --- Since 2004
Rose Watkins
POB: Potter County, Pennsylvania
31-32 32nd St. NYC, GPO OLD CHELSEA 10011

Posted by: motherschild | January 13, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Do you agree with outgoing EPA Administrator Johnson that it is time Congress reauthorized major environmental legislation?

The Clean Air Act was last overhauled almost 20 years ago; the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972. EPA has been left to interpret and regulate from increasingly outdated Congressional directives, and in some cases is being expected to address environmental issues (like climate change and nonpoint source water pollution) through regulations based on statutes that were never designed for that purpose. Obviously the agency must do the best it can whatever the circumstances, but is it not the responsibility of the people's elected representatives to give regular and timely guidance on such important policy issues?

Posted by: jbritt3 | January 13, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

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