Jackson's Resignation Represents a Loss for the Biofuels Industry

By Erin Voegele | December 27, 2012

U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has announced that she will step down following the State of the Union in January. Jackson didn’t give a specific reason for her resignation in the brief statement she issued through the EPA, but did say she would “leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference.”

There has been a lot of speculation as to the reason for Jackson’s departure. Some point to a controversy that erupted last month over a second email address that EPA assigned to her under the name “Richard Windsor.” Others have pointed to the burn-out Jackson must be experiencing after four years of serving as the head of an agency that is often under political fire. Thanks to her plans to combat climate change, Jackson was often targeted for questioning at congressional hearings.  

The truth is that it’s not uncommon for high-ranking officials to resign after a single term.

Rather than focus on why Jackson is stepping down from her post, I’d like to highlight a few examples of the EPA’s positive impact on the biomass industry under Jackson’s leadership. Perhaps most notably to our industry, the EPA, under Jackson’s leadership, has successfully overcome countless attacks on the RFS waged by the oil, food and livestock industries. With regard to ethanol, the agency has also helped the biofuel industry overcome the blend wall through the approval of E15. In addition, the EPA established the first greenhouse gas regulations, which should benefit the biomass industry in the long-run.

Jackson is not alone in her resignation. Leaders of several other federal departments have also announced their departure in recent weeks, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Jane Lubchenco, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  

Some are speculating that Energy Secretary Steven Chu or Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack could be next. I sincerely hope not. They have both been invaluable advocates for renewable energy. It would be a big loss to our industry to see them go.