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Jackson resignation prompts speculation on WV future

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The resignation of top Environmental Protection Agency official Lisa Jackson has prompted the response of a number of elected officials and industry representatives in West Virginia.

Jackson announced she would step down on Thursday. Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito thanked Jackson for her service, but said now the Obama administration had a chance to install a more coal-friendly member in its top environmental leadership position.

"We need an all-of-the-above approach that utilizes our powerful homegrown natural resources, including coal and natural gas," Capito said. "The EPA should be a working partner in our shared goal of energy independence, job creation and environmental protection, not a punitive imperialistic hammer driven by ideological agenda."

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he looks forward to working with the next, as-of-yet unnamed official to take Jackson's place.

"There is no question that Lisa Jackson and I definitely have our differences, but we were always able to have a respectful dialogue. I wish her well in her next endeavor," Manchin said. "I will continue to fight for a balanced energy policy for the United States – which is exactly what we have in West Virginia – and I look forward to working with anyone willing to help bring this commonsense West Virginia approach to the 113thCongress."

The EPA, under Jackson, has passed mercury pollution standards and sulfur dioxide and soot limits, all of which weigh heavily on coal utilities. Additional protections against mountaintop removal effects were also established under administration.

Michael Brune, director of the Sierra Club, issued a statement that mirrored many in the environmental community who praised Jackson's work on the environment and climate change issues.

"In her four years as EPA Administrator, Lisa has been a steadfast advocate for clean air, clean water, a stable climate and public health - often in the face of very vocal and forceful detractors," Brune said. "With her leadership, our country has made a big down payment on its goals to reduce carbon pollution. Millions of Americans will breathe easier and have access to safe, clean water.  We thank Lisa for her work and wish her the very best."

Jackson's action since she has led the EPA attracted detractors as well. West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney told the Charleston Gazette that he thinks Jackson's departure would be good for West Virginia.

Many officials over Jackson's tenure have criticized her leadership, which has generated and implemented a number of significant rules and regulations not directly installed by Congress.

Jackson will step down officially in January.