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EPA head: Environmentalism isn't a spectator sport

May 20, 2011 |  1:37 pm

Lisa jackson In case you missed it, Lisa P. Jackson, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, appeared on the Jon Stewart show Thursday night, defending her agency and pushing back at congressional Republicans who want to bridle her regulatory authority.

"We have to remind the American people that environmentalism isn't a spectator sport," she told "The Daily Show" host known for his acerbic wit and liberal views.

Stewart took her to task for the agency's decision to slow down the decade-long process of tightening emissions of mercury and other pollutants at industrial sites that operate boilers. The boiler rule was postponed indefinitely last week. Environmentalists point to that decision and others as a sign of retreat by the Obama administration on environmental protection.

Stewart pitched a few softballs, though, asking Jackson if the Republican assertion that EPA regulation kills jobs was true, or whether there was a "happy medium."

"Can we not die but also they live?" he asked, referring to polluting factories.

"We can have a strong economy and a strong and healthy environment," Jackson said, noting that in the 40 years since the EPA was founded, the air is 60% cleaner while the nation's gross domestic product is up 207%

Stewart pressed her about stalled regulation, including the boiler rule. "We are committed to the rule; I know people are worried," Jackson said. "We will finalize the rule."

Watch more of the interview with the EPA administrator.

Related:

EPA chief criticizes GOP assault on greenhouse gas regulation

L.A. air pollution may endanger babies

-- Geoff Mohan

Photo: Lisa P. Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, during a 2009 appearance at Princeton University. Credit: Mel Evans/Associated Press

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