From WKRN Nashville: NOAA chief says she will leave in February
NEW YORK (AP) - The woman who was a key figure in the federal
government's response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010
said Wednesday she will leave her post at the end of February.
"I have decided to return to my family and
academia," Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, wrote to NOAA employees.
No successor was immediately announced for
Lubchenco, who has held the job since 2009. She became well-known to the
public for her role in response to the BP oil spill off the coast of
Louisiana in April 2010.
Her agency was accused of accepting for too long
the oil company's low estimates for the amount of oil leaking. It also
was criticized for a report saying that by August of that year most of
the spilled oil was gone, or at least not visible. The agency said much
of it had dispersed naturally, had burned or was removed.
A few weeks later, a study by independent
scientists reported an invisible, 22-mile underwater plume of oil
ingredients. And NOAA acknowledged the deepwater oil was not degrading
as fast as they initially thought.
Still, Lubchenco was praised Wednesday by the Ocean
Conservancy. "Dr. Lubchenco and NOAA were quick to respond to the BP
Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and continue to play a pivotal role in
ensuring that the Gulf region, including the marine ecosystem, is
restored," said interim president and CEO Janis Searles Jones.
Lubchenco also oversaw in 2010 the controversial
transition to a new fishery management system in New England that allots
fishermen individual shares of the catch, which they pool and manage in
The system aimed to give fishermen flexibility to
fish when the market and conditions were good, and free them from being
restricted to an ever-dwindling number of days they were allowed to
fish. And it pleased environmentalists because it established hard,
enforceable catch limits to better prevent overfishing.
A marine ecologist and environmental scientist by
training, and a former president of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, Lubchenco is one of several prominent scientists
hired by the Obama administration.
She was a professor at Oregon State University when
the president appointed her in 2009. She said in her email Wednesday
that "as many of you know, my home and family are on the West Coast."