I was saddened to learn this week of the announcement regarding Bob Perciasepe’s resignation from the EPA. Since 2009, Bob has ably served as the agency’s No. 2, serving as the faithful deputy to two Administrators, Lisa Jackson and Gina McCarthy. The No. 2 spot isn’t glamorous and, in fact, it can be downright unpleasant (or as Mike Rowe would say, a really dirty job). The No. 2 is often assigned those tasks that no one else wants to do and answer lots of questions that no one dares answer. As a former EPA official I can assure you the job isn’t easy and many times during my three years in the Bush Administration, I would have rather hit my toe with a hammer than deal with the ugly politics and barrage of criticism that tends to accompany the topic of environmental protection these days. There are leaders and then there are leaders, and Bob is one of those very able leaders with the unique capacity to bring together diverse viewpoints in a respectful and thoughtful manner to solve problems in a reasonable, commonsense way. Smart, humble, effective are three good descriptors.
When Lisa Jackson departed the No. 1 post last year, it was believed by many that Bob would succeed her. Well, that didn’t happen, and despite his personal disappointment, Bob stayed on longer than many of us expected. He did so, because of his care for the agency and its important mission and his strong commitment to forge a better future for our children. The last few months haven’t been easy for EPA nor for Bob, who has been called up to testify before Congress more times than he would care to admit, to address the various controversies that have plagued the agency.
Bob will soon leave to join the Pew Center to head up the Global Climate Change and Energy Solutions, no doubt with a few more gray hairs than he started with. And I can also say without reservation that the agency, the public, and the environment are better off having had someone of Bob’s caliber guiding and leading the agency. We, the public, owe Bob a debt of gratitude for his service to country. As he begins this new chapter in his life, I and those of my colleagues here at Conservefewell wish him all the best.