Coffman UnionâÄôs theater was near capacity during TuesdayâÄôs visit from Lisa Jackson âÄî U.S. Environmental Agency Administrator.
She was brought in by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs to connect with students in a public-style forum, Anne Mason, HumphreyâÄôs spokeswoman said.
JacksonâÄôs visit to the University of Minnesota preceded her meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton at the state Capitol to sign the nationâÄôs first agreement concerning farmers restricting agricultural pollutants running into rivers and lakes. Many of the students attended the event for this reason alone.
âÄúNonpoint source pollution from agriculture is one of the biggest issues we have with water quality,âÄù sophomore Michelle Angelroth said. âÄúI was curious to see what she had to say.âÄù
Christina Newell, a senior sustainability and art student, came out because of her sheer enthusiasm over the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards âÄî new EPA regulations that limit toxic emissions from power plants, including heavy metals such as mercury.
âÄúI heard about the new mercury rule,âÄù she said, âÄúand IâÄôm pretty excited about that.âÄù
But JacksonâÄôs discussion at the University focused mostly on the role of science and technology in the âÄúvitalâÄù work of the EPA.
âÄúScience is the backbone of everything we do at the EPA,âÄù Jackson said. âÄúWe use science to set the standards.âÄù
The EPA, she said, is commonly misrepresented in news as an agency dealing only in climate change and endangered species.
âÄúMost of what we do, day in, day out, is actually about the protection of one species: people,âÄù Jackson said.
She boasted of jobs created by EPAâÄôs efforts to transform polluted industrial areas into usable, clean commercial areas.
âÄúThe work happening [at the University] is going to be even more essential to the EPAâÄôs mission: to protect the American people,âÄù Jackson said.
After her monologue, Jackson took questions from the audience, which revolved around the UniversityâÄôs and the stateâÄôs ability to contribute to the EPAâÄôs mission.
Jackson said the answer is continued community involvement after graduation. College life promotes community living, and community living exposes people to greener living, she said.
âÄúThere is a little amnesia that happens,âÄù she said.
âÄúWhen you walk out the [University] doors, or through the gates or with a diploma âÄ¦ donâÄôt forget these things.âÄù