Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, the agency’s first black administrator, is stepping down after nearly four years, effective sometime after President Obama’s State of the Union address later this month. She did not specify a particular reason for her departure. However, Cabinet members looking to depart historically leave at the beginning of a president's second term.

“I want to thank President Obama for the honor he bestowed on me and the confidence he placed in me four years ago this month when he announced my nomination as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,” Jackson said in a statement released late last month. “At the time I spoke about the need to address climate change, but also said: ‘There is much more on the agenda: air pollution, toxic chemicals and children’s health issues, redevelopment and waste-site cleanup issues, and justice for the communities who bear disproportionate risk.’”

Jackson continues, “As the President said earlier this year when he addressed EPA’s employees, ‘You help make sure the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat are safe. You help protect the environment not just for our children but their children. And you keep us moving toward energy independence … We have made historic progress on all these fronts.’ So, I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference.”

In a separate statement, President Obama thanked Jackson for her service and praised her “unwavering commitment” to the public’s health. “Under her leadership, the EPA has taken sensible and important steps to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink, including implementing the first national standard for harmful mercury pollution, taking important action to combat climate change under the Clean Air Act and playing a key role in establishing historic fuel economy standards that will save the average American family thousands of dollars at the pump, while also slashing carbon pollution," President Obama said.

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