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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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Lee Ross

Supreme Court

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EPA’s Jackson “Prays” For Gulf Success

May 25, 2010 - 9:11 PM | by: Lee Ross

The nation’s top environmental regulator says she’s as anxious as everyone else to see if Wednesday’s planned operation by BP to plug its damaged Gulf of Mexico pipeline will stop the flow of oil into the sea.

“Like so many people down there, I am praying that it is successful,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told Fox News late Tuesday. “Because we cannot get in front of this thing until BP stops that leak.”

Jackson spoke shortly after her return to the Washington-area following her third trip to the Gulf region since last month’s explosion of a BP oil rig that led to the calamitous spill. Jackson said she was unaware of a controversy about the video transmission of the oil company’s “top kill” plan. BP has since decided to broadcast that live feed.

The EPA’s involvement in the oil spill is just one part of the overall federal response and is the agency that may ultimately have the imprimatur to punish BP. A recent report by ProPublica says the EPA is reconsidering its position on BP over other outstanding environmental disputes. The article highlights the EPA’s authority to enact sanctions–known as debarment–against BP including the suspension of all federal contracts and leases.

Debarment is an administrative measure that in its most severe application would essentially declare BP institutionally incapable of complying with federal environmental laws. An EPA official didn’t immediately respond to a request from Fox News about the agency’s current position on BP and the debarment process.

Jackson was asked if she felt BP was on the whole, a responsible economic steward. “I don’t see how I can make that judgment about a company that’s having what could well be the biggest environmental disaster this country has ever seen. I mean it is too soon to write what it was but certainly as it unfolds, I don’t think anybody could call them a steward that’s responsible when oil is leaking into the Gulf the way it is right now.”

Several days ago, Jackson issued a directive calling on BP to reduce the amount of chemical dispersants it was using to contain oil that had already leaked into the water. Jackson said the company has complied with her order and reduced its use of chemicals from nearly 70 thousand gallons each day to less than 15 thousand.

“I think that is entirely a result of us making it clear that the time for using dispersants freely was over,” Jackson said.

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