Former U.S. EPA head says a million emails made her desperate for relief

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 10, 2013 3:45 PM

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When she was the top U.S. environmental regulator, a new email dropped into Lisa Jackson's inbox every 30 seconds around the clock on average. On Tuesday she told Congress that she didn't create a second email using her dog's name to subvert regulations but to survive the extreme overload.

Jackson, who now leads Apple Inc's environmental efforts from the company's Cupertino, California, headquarters, was in Washington to field questions about the way she used email accounts as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, a post she left in February.

Some Republicans accuse her of violating open records rules with the second email account under a name not her own. She denies that charge and at Tuesday's hearing said the maneuver was an act of desperation.

"The EPA has estimated that the Administrator receives well over a million e-mails every year. That's a new email message almost every 30 seconds, around the clock, 365 days a year," Jackson said in prepared remarks.

"Managing an inbox that big is more than one person can handle and still do their job effectively, to say the least."

Jackson used a second address created from her family dog's name and New Jersey residence - - to correspond with senior staff and the White House.

She said the account was subject to the Freedom of Information Act but less easy to deduce than an address that contained elements of her name or title would have been.

"It's about time management and efficiency," Jackson said, adding that many members of Congress do the same thing.

Tuesday's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing heard from current and former members of the Obama administration about preventing violations of federal transparency law.

Republican lawmakers have targeted Jackson and others over the use of email aliases, accusing them of using the accounts to conceal their actions and policy intentions.

"The individuals who are here today stand as individuals who have not complied with the Federal Records Act," said committee chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican.

New technologies, such as smart phones, have made the use of multiple email accounts easy, Issa said, adding that the goal of the hearing was to determine how to "change the behavior, change the law, or both."

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici, editing by Ros Krasny and Cynthia Osterman)