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— Lisa Jackson said she will step down as head of the Environmental Protection Agency after four years during which she oversaw the first efforts to curb carbon- dioxide emissions to combat global-warming risks.

“I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction,” Jackson, 50, said Thursday in a statement released by the agency.

Her plan is to leave after the president’s State of the Union speech next month.

Under Jackson the EPA negotiated fuel-efficiency standards with automakers and set the first-ever rules for mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants.

“Over the last four years, Lisa Jackson has shown an unwavering commitment to the health of our families and our children,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “Under her leadership, the EPA has taken sensible and important steps to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.”

Health and environmental groups have praised Jackson for taking up rules that were delayed or weakened under the previous administration, while Republicans in Congress complained that the EPA’s efforts were choking off the still-struggling U.S. economy.

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