WASHINGTON (CN) - The Environmental Protection Agency has "lost the messaging war" against business lobbyists, administrator Lisa Jackson said Monday. But the nation should push forward with climate legislation, she said, because of its economic benefits. "Poison in the ground means poison in the economy," Jackson said.
In a speech at the National Press Club, Jackson said the nation should press ahead despite a lack of cooperation from emerging nations. "There's no reason to wait for China or India to act," she said during her address to the National Press Club.
Arguing that climate protection cannot be put off, she said, "Leaving this problem for our children to solve is an act of breathtaking negligence."
Jackson used traditional pollution control in the U.S. to support her economic argument, pointing to a 54 percent drop in emissions of six pollutants causing smog, acid rain and lead poisoning over the last 30 years. During which time the economy grew by 126 percent.
"That means we made huge reductions in air pollution at the same time that more cars went on the road, more power plants went on line and more buildings went up," Jackson said.
She said environmental policies are profitable in the private market, because 74 percent of consumers think companies should do more to protect the planet and more than half will look for environmentally friendly products in their next purchase.
"Industry can try to resist and ignore E.P.A., but I know, and they know, that they resist the forces of the green marketplace at their own peril," she said.
She also pointed to the Oscars. While she acknowledged that Avatar did not win best picture, as many had expected, she reminded the audience, "that the movie with the environmental message made a lot of money."
She said new regulations foster innovation, pointing to new batteries and new ways to harvest renewable energy. "New environmental protection, new innovation, means new jobs," Jackson said.
And conservative estimates in 2007 showed American environmental firms generated 1.6 million jobs and $282 billion in revenues, of which $40 billion was derived from exports, she said.
But she also approached climate change and pollution from a different perspective, saying environmental protection could not be left for future generations. "I find it hard to believe that any parent could say to their child, 'We're going to wait to act.'"
She noted that pollution carries increases health care costs for millions of families, mentioning asthma, which her son has, as one example.
"Good environmental protection is critical to our health, and because of that it's critical to our economy," she said. Despite her promotion of increased regulation, Jackson did not say whether the environmental agency would be willing to step forward with a policy
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