Jackson, the agency’s first black administrator, constantly found herself caught between administration pledges to solve controversial environmental problems and steady resistance from Republicans and industrial groups who complained that the agency’s rules destroyed jobs and made it harder for American companies to compete internationally.
The GOP chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Fred Upton, said last year that Jackson would need her own parking spot at the Capitol because he planned to bring her in so frequently for questioning. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called for her firing, a stance that had little downside during the GOP primary.
Jackson, 50, a chemical engineer by training, did not point to any particular reason for her departure. Historically, Cabinet members looking to move on will leave at the beginning of a president’s second term.
“I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference,” she said in a statement. Jackson gave no exact date for her departure, but will leave after Obama’s State of the Union address in late January.