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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks at the Women's Caucus Legislative Dinner, As Prepared

03/03/2009
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As prepared for delivery.

I want to thank you for inviting me to be with you tonight. I’d like to begin by expressing my gratitude to all of you for carrying on the legacy of the Women’s Caucus and more than three decades of progress that it has brought to all of us.

It has played an important role in my own life. Some of you may know that I started at the EPA a little over twenty years ago, working as a staff engineer. It was a time when you didn’t see very many women going to school in those fields and working in those roles.

But I kept striving, because I knew that the path ahead of me had been cleared by the work that women like you were doing.

I worked my way up the ranks. And in the time it took me to get from there to here, I saw a lot of the changes that took place and the doors that opened to all women.

Today, looking around the room we can see what the members of this caucus, past and present, have made possible:

That I have the opportunity share the stage tonight with Secretary Napolitano and to join her as one of many women cabinet members in this administration.

That we all have the opportunity to work with our nation’s very first woman speaker of the house, and that women have taken leadership of crucial committees like Intelligence and Environment and Public Works.

Or that as you roll out your agenda for the year ahead, you’ve already made history, winning a tremendous victory for equality and opportunity with the Lilly Ledbetter Bill for fair pay – the very first bill signed into law by President Obama.

I hope that in the years to come, I get to watch this caucus grow and strengthen, and continue this important work.

Because we have work to do. You all know better than most that our work is about more than just making history. It’s about making a future. That is, in many ways, how I like to think of what we do at the EPA: we are making a future.

We are creating a sustainable path for new jobs and clean energy. We are ensuring that tomorrow’s school kids have even greater opportunities than today’s. We are protecting the environment and the public health for generations to come.

And right now we have extraordinary opportunities to make that future. We’ve moved beyond the false choice between having a strong economy or having a clean environment. And we have risen above the partisan divides that slowed down environmental protection for decades.

The quality and safety of the environment is an issue – much like women’s health or equality of opportunity – that affects all of us, no matter what party we’re in.

In the congress and throughout the nation, there is tremendous, bi-partisan support for green jobs, smart growth, clean energy, and the long list of ideas and innovations that will grow the economy and improve our planet.

So, I’m here to tell you that the EPA is back on the job. And we will do what works, guided by scientific integrity, rule of law, and unparalleled transparency.

I’m also here to ask for your partnership. Not just because you write the laws and make the appropriations, but because you see these issues first-hand.

You hear directly from the people in your districts, and know when they are concerned about the safety of their drinking water, when they seek to protect a vital ecosystem, or when they want to make sure their children can breathe easy.

I’m sure that any one of you could tell me about a constituent you’ve met, or someone who called your office and told you their story about the health of their community and their environment. How it touched their lives and the lives of the people you serve.

Your partnership – and your leadership – is absolutely essential to making sure we do all we can to protect the public health and preserve our environment.

I’m eager to work with all of you. Thank you again for inviting me. Congratulations on your 2009 agenda.