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EPA administrator fires back at critics in op-ed

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson penned a new op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, criticizing House Republicans desperately seeking to undermine the authority of the agency they have dubbed a “job killer.” Arguing that the environment affects red states and blue states alike, Jackson writes that “it is time for House Republicans to stop politicizing our air and water.” As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson has faced harsh criticism from House Republicans and GOP presidential candidates who say the agency’s regulations are an undue burden on businesses that have to cut jobs simply to comply with clean water and air rules. Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann has pledged to end the EPA if she takes office.

“Since the beginning of this year, Republicans in the House have averaged roughly a vote every day the chamber has been in session to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and our nation’s environmental laws,” writes Jackson. “They have picked up the pace recently – just last week they voted to stop the EPA’s efforts to limit mercury and other hazardous pollutants from cement plants, boilers and incinerators – and it appears their campaign will continue for the foreseeable future.”

In Florida, attacks on Jackson and the agency she represents have been especially harsh.

The agency has mandated a set of Florida-specific water pollution standards that are being decried as “unfair” and “burdensome” by lawmakers and industry alike. Companies that would be forced to comply with the rules have been especially hard on the agency and have fiercely campaigned against their implementation. In his criticism of the rules, Associated Industries of Florida CEO Barney Bishop even went so far as to say Jackson “thinks she talks to God and she’s the only one who knows exactly what is the right thing to do about our environment.”

From Jackson’s op-ed:

Using the economy as cover, and repeating unfounded claims that “regulations kill jobs,” they have pushed through an unprecedented rollback of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and our nation’s waste-disposal laws, all of which have successfully protected our families for decades. We all remember “too big to fail”; this pseudo jobs plan to protect polluters might well be called “too dirty to fail.”

The House has voted on provisions that, if they became law, would give big polluters a pass in complying with the standards that more than half of the power plants across the country already meet. The measures would indefinitely delay sensible upgrades to reduce air pollution from industrial boilers located in highly populated areas. And they would remove vital federal water protections, exposing treasured resources such as the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Erie, the Chesapeake Bay and the Los Angeles River to pollution.

How we respond to this assault on our environmental and public health protections will mean the difference between sickness and health – in some cases, life and death – for hundreds of thousands of citizens.

This is not hyperbole. The link between health issues and pollution is irrefutable. Mercury is a neurotoxin that affects brain development in unborn children and young people. Lead has similar effects in our bodies. Soot, composed of particles smaller across than a human hair, is formed when fuels are burned and is a direct cause of premature death. Nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds contribute to the ozone alert days when seniors, asthmatics and others with respiratory problems are at serious risk if they do nothing more dangerous than step outside and breathe the air.

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