WASHINGTON — In the next weeks and months, Lisa P. Jackson, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, is scheduled to establish regulations on smog, mercury, carbon dioxide, mining waste and vehicle emissions that will affect every corner of the economy.
She is working under intense pressure from opponents in Congress, from powerful industries, from impatient environmentalists and from the Supreme Court, which just affirmed the agency’s duty to address global warming emissions, a project that carries profound economic implications.
The new rules will roll out just as President Obama’s re-election campaign is getting under way, with a White House highly sensitive to the probability of political damage from a flood of government mandates that will strike particularly hard at the manufacturing sector in states crucial to the 2012 election.
No other cabinet officer is in as lonely or uncomfortable a position as Ms. Jackson, who has been left, as one adviser put it, behind enemy lines with only science, the law and a small band of loyal lieutenants to support her.
Ms. Jackson describes the job as draining but says there are certain principles she will not compromise, including rapid and vigorous enforcement of some of the most far-reaching health-related rules ever considered by the agency.
“The only thing worse than no E.P.A. is an E.P.A. that exists and doesn’t do its job — it becomes just a placebo,” she said last week in an hourlong interview in Houston. “We are doing our job.”
Although she has not met with the president privately since February, Ms. Jackson said she was confident that he would back her on the tough decisions she had to make. “All of us are mindful that he has a lot of things to do,” she said.
Attacks on her and her agency have become a central part of the Republican playbook, but she said she wanted no sympathy.
“Any E.P.A. director sits at the intersection of some very important issues — air pollution, clean water, and whether businesses can survive,” said Ms. Jackson, a chemical engineer trained at Tulane and Princeton Universities and a former director of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. “No one knows this job unless they’ve sat in the seat.”
Ms. Jackson said she intended to go forward with new, tougher air- and water-quality rules, including those that address climate change, despite Congressional efforts to override her authority and even a White House initiative to weed out overly burdensome regulations.
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