Last Friday, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson appeared on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," discussing her work and the Obama administration's environmental policies. Jackson defended the EPA's mission and criticized lawmakers who have pushed against EPA regulations in recent years.
She stressed the primacy of environmental regulations to ensure public health and maintain lower healthcare costs. She told Maher, "The Clean Air Act alone has saved Americans trillions of dollars in healthcare costs. What kind of healthcare costs? This isn't theoretical. You know, air pollution is deadly. It is a main cause of premature death in this country."
In the recent, and mostly Republican, attacks on EPA regulations, job protection has been cited as a reason to ease current regulations or delay new ones.
Jackson doesn't believe that argument. She said on "Real Time," "There is no choice between a clean environment and a healthy economy. There is no one economist out there who blames our current crisis or any economic crisis on environmental protection."
Jackson argued, "Their jobs plan is to protect old, dirty power plants, or old, polluting sludge facilities. Rather than say, 'Let's create jobs and invest in our energy infrastructure at the same time.'"
As Jackson pointed out, some poll numbers suggest that Americans agree with Obama and the EPA. A national poll of over 1,200 voters this month found that 69 percent of Americans "agree with health experts who support the reduction of air pollution from industrial sources, rather than those who advocate overruling the EPA to protect jobs."
Even some Republicans disagree with the congressional push against environmental protections. Rob Sisson is the president of Republicans for Environmental Protection, a group that hopes to "restore what it calls the 'great conservation tradition' of the GOP." Citing the Republican legacy of conservation and environmentalism inherited from presidents like Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, among others, Sisson told HuffPost he thinks the "Republican Party has lost its way the last couple of decades."
On "Real Time," Jackson also criticized the politicization of environmental issues. In Maher's "Overtime" segment she said, "My hope is still that the environment will come out of the political realm and we'll really talk about jobs."
Last week in the Los Angeles Times, Jackson wrote a piece entitled "Too dirty to fail?" in which she attacked congressional Republicans for their near-daily votes to roll back EPA legislation.She wrote:
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.
Click here for a partial clip of Bill Maher's interview with Lisa Jackson.
WATCH Jackson on the "Overtime" segment of "Real Time with Bill Maher":