EPA has broad support outside the Beltway, agency's chief says

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Lisa Jackson is firing back at Capitol Hill critics by casting their attacks as Beltway talking points at odds with public views about the environment.

Jackson, in a Thursday night appearance on “The Daily Show,” responded to largely GOP claims that EPA is overzealously pursuing regulations that will throttle the economy.

“It is definitely an inside-the-Beltway line of reasoning,” Jackson said. She said Washington is a place where industry interests peddle a narrative that transforms the Beltway into a “fact-free zone.”

“Outside Washington, 95 percent of the American people say they want government — they see one of the roles of government is protecting their air and their water,” she said in the interview, posted on the show’s website.

Jackson noted that environmental improvements have for decades coincided with economic growth. She also said environmental protections produce large savings in healthcare costs.

Jackson’s comments come at a time when top Capitol Hill Republicans are pushing to delay or scuttle EPA rules or policies on climate change, air toxins, mountaintop-removal mining and other areas.

“Time and time again we are having to go onto the Hill, oftentimes with people who privately tell me, ‘Hey, I am for the environment,’ and then they say ‘but,’ and the ‘but’ is a set of talking points from industry that really is shortsighted, that really isn’t about our children and our future,” Jackson said.

But EPA is also facing criticism from the left, most recently over its decision this week to delay new air toxics standards for industrial boilers.

Jackson said the standards — which had come under attack from an array of industry groups and Capitol Hill Republicans — would be delayed for a “very limited period of time” and that a schedule would be announced soon.

“We are committed to the rule. I know people are worried,” Jackson said. “We will finalize that rule.”

Jackson said the decision to put the wide-ranging industrial boiler rules on hold was not political, but rather to ensure it’s done right to withstand legal challenges.

“No one in that White House is saying to me, ‘Don’t do a boiler rule,’ ” she said. Jackson more broadly defended President Obama’s environmental commitment.

She credited him for the six-month spending deal with Republicans last month that omitted GOP proposals to thwart various EPA rules, noting the negotiations “knocked out every one of those riders that would have stopped EPA.”