Make strong EPA leadership a top priority

2, 4-d sprayRight now, President Obama is considering who will step into Lisa Jackson's shoes as head of EPA. This choice is a big one, as the quality of leadership at EPA very much matters to all of us who want a healthier future.

We’re sending a letter to Mr. Obama urging him to keep in mind how important this position is, and outlining the qualities we’d like to see in the next person at the EPA helm.

EPA’s next leader will make decisions directly affecting the health and well-being of families across the country. From tackling pesticides in our air, water and food to what we do about today’s energy and climate change challenges, the President’s choice will matter. Hugely. Please sign on today.

Dear President Obama,

As you consider the candidates for the next EPA Administrator, we urge you to keep the tremendous importance of this position top of mind. Departing Administrator Lisa Jackson made admirable progress toward righting a ship that had been heading resolutely away from its mandated mission to protect public health and the environment. The next leader of the agency must keep us moving in the right direction.

As you know, government actions to protect environmental health have a long history of bi-partisan support and collaboration. Sadly, this truth seems to have been forgotten in recent years, and as a result all of us — and especially our children — are less healthy today.

We urge you to keep the following qualities of strong, effective leadership in mind as you make this important choice:

Clear-eyed purpose: Administrator Jackson called the agency's fundamental job of protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink a "vital, almost sacred" trust. We think she's right, and EPA's next leader must also be driven by this core purpose.

Firm-spined, resilient diplomacy: EPA will continue to be a lightening rod for larger political debates. A successful leader will energetically remind skeptical lawmakers — again and again — that a healthier future benefits us all.

Deep commitment to scientific integrity: Whether it's pesticides' impact on children, declining bee populations or climate change, independent science keeps highlighting the urgent need for both short-term protections and long-term change. EPA’s leader must be committed to following the science.

Respect for community voices: Administrator Jackson understood that some communities are more affected by pollutants than others, and that learning from these communities helped her make smarter, more reality-based policy decisions. This kind of humility makes for especially strong leadership.

There's a lot of important work to be done, and the stakes are very high. We urge you to choose a strong, energetic EPA leader who has both the vision to point us in the right direction and the backbone to get us there.

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