EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson gave a satirical interview with Stephen Colbert on Thursday night about her agency’s mission and fired back at critics who claim the EPA is killing jobs with regulations.
Colbert, who said he gets most of his information about the EPA from Fox News, asked why Jackson hated jobs and whether she was getting paid a commission based on the number of jobs she eliminates.
“No, Steven, we are not killing jobs,” Jackson responded. “We are protecting the air and the water.”
Colbert pointed out that the United States shouldn’t be protecting the air and the water because those resources have been attacking us.
“Haven’t you heard of hurricanes and tornadoes?” he asked.
Jackson, who at times barely could control her laughter, outlined that the agency’s history, noting that it was started by Richard Nixon after Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969.
“We had rivers that burned 40 years ago,” Colbert said. “That’s alternative energy. We could have powered Cleveland on the Cuyahoga River.”
Jackson said people often forget about the changes that the EPA has prompted. She noted the changes made to gasoline, air quality and chemicals found on food as just a few examples.
“It’s been 41 years of saying that we can build our economy and of course we want jobs, but we also want to do it to ensure our kids are going to be healthy,” she said.
Easing up a bit, Colbert said the EPA has made changes in the environment, but the agency had become obsolete — like child labor laws and unions.
“We worry about backsliding,” Jackson countered. “We aren’t done. It wasn’t until this past year that we set a national standard to deal with mercury.”
Colbert didn’t miss out an opportunity to ask whether Jackson thought President Barack Obama was still in her corner after postponing smog standards until after the 2012 elections.
And he also asked whether she might vote for Republican Mitt Romney this year.
“President said we needed to wait until we got the latest on smog standards, which we expect early next year,” she said.
“When Romney is president?” Colbert answered.
Jackson didn’t even bother responding. She just gave Colbert a cowering look before bursting into laughter.