WASHINGTON — EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said Thursday she is stepping down from the Cabinet-level post after four years, during which she won new federal regulations for carbon dioxide emissions but also sparred often in bitter partisan fights with Republican lawmakers and industry executives.
The first African-American to hold the position, and a chemical engineer by training, Jackson gave no signal on what she plans to do next. But McClatchy Tribune reported that Jackson, 50, may be headed back to her former home in New Jersey, either for a chance to become president of Princeton University or to run for governor.
Reaction was largely muted among industry leaders and Republican lawmakers, as they instead viewed the opening at the Environmental Protection Agency as a rare opportunity to push back on many regulatory policies they see as intrusive and harmful to the stumbling economy.
"Lisa Jackson and I disagreed on many issues and regulations while she headed the EPA," Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., the senior Republican on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said in a statement. "However I have always appreciated her receptivity to my concerns."
Now, he said, her leaving "provides President Obama with an opportunity to appoint an EPA administrator who appreciates the needs of our economy."
Jackson told the president after his November re-election that she no longer wanted to continue running the agency, and suggested she would be gone after his State of the Union address in January.
In speaking to her staff Thursday, Jackson said, "I leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction."
Robert Perciasepe, the deputy administrator, will temporarily run the EPA.