In a Town Hall meeting at the UW Fisheries building Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 25, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson told a packed auditorium that President Barack Obamas push for green jobs and protecting the environment can also help rebuild the economy.
“There are plenty of win-win-win solutions — good ones for our planet, our country, our economy,” said Jackson, who holds an undergraduate degree from Tulane and a masters in chemical engineering from Princeton.
Jackson reiterated the Obama administrations commitment to reviving the economy, saying American energy sources such as natural gas are crucial. “Natural gas is here now, while alternative energy sources are still developing,” Jackson said. She added that the two are complementary, but that in developing them, no sacrifices of human health should be made.
Repeating what Obama said in his State of the Union speech Tuesday evening, Jackson said America “cant create an economy built to last by putting our nation in a race to the bottom, a race for the weakest health protections and the most loopholes in our environmental policies.”
Protecting the environment does not need to come at the expense of jobs either, Jackson said. “Theres not one credible economic study that says environmental protection is somehow responsible for the recession or lack of jobs.”
But what happens depends on serious and sustained pushing for good laws. If there is smart policy, she said, the nation could look forward to true energy sustainability in 15 to 20 years.
In a question-and-answer session after her opening statement, Jackson reminded students that at the UW, they continually learn what it means to be green, and that they should take what they learn into the world beyond, making their voices heard. Even if youre working in a non-green company, Jackson said, theres no need to comply with old-school attitudes.