Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson is having a good week in White House politics, as a major obstacle to her regulatory powers resigned as President Obama's chief of staff, and then the president held an EPA pep rally the next day assuring Jackson of his commitment to her agenda.
Bill Daley, Obama's outgoing chief of staff, temporarily canned EPA coal emissions regulations in 2010 because they would damage the economy. "What are the health impacts of unemployment?" he said while arguing against the Utility MACT rule.
Jackson considered resigning when her new regulations were trumped by Daley's concerns about their potential to destroy jobs. A former EPA administrator, Carol Browner, had already resigned as a White House environmental policy adviser before Daley eliminated her position.
Daley apparently lost the internecine conflict over the new regulation in December, when Jackson announced the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) at a children's hospital in December, despite growing opposition from Republicans and reports that the EPA hid the damage that the new rule could inflict on the electric grid.
Three weeks later -- Monday, January 9th -- President Obama announced Daley's resignation, a decision that caught Obama by surprise. The Washington Examiner asked the White House Press Office if Daley's resignation was motivated at all by the EPA regulations, but has not heard back.
"I think this is a case where it’s important and accurate to take at face value what Bill said, Bill Daley said in his letter of resignation to the President, and what the President said yesterday in announcing this transition," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in the press briefing yesterday. Carney said that that Daley is leaving because he wants to return home to Chicago after a stint in such a demanding job as the chief of staff.
Obama announced Daley's resignation, then went the next day to the EPA office to thank the regulators for their work. "I want to first acknowledge your outstanding Administrator, Lisa Jackson," President Obama told the EPA staff. Speaking to the whole office, he added: "I want you to know that you’ve got a President who is grateful for your work and will stand with you every inch of the way as you carry out your mission to make sure that we’ve got a cleaner world."