President-elect Barack Obama is set to nominate New Jersey's Lisa P. Jackson, Gov. Corzine's chief-of-staff and for three years his top environmental official, to lead the federal government's environmental protection efforts, according to published reports.

Jackson, who holds a master's degree in chemical engineering from Princeton, would bring to the job more than 20 years of experience as an environmental officer at federal, regional and state levels. She will be the first African-American to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

She was New Jersey's environmental protection commissioner for nearly three years, winning praise as a consensus-builder from business groups and some environmentalists.

While critics denounced her record in New Jersey as abysmal, others praised her achievements, her technical expertise and her candor.

"She's just real. She'll always give you the straight deal. Whether it's something you want to hear or not," said Dena Mottola, executive director of Environment New Jersey.

But other envirionmentalists said Jackson too often bent to the will of industry groups and failed to follow through on some of her biggest environmental initiatives.

"Under her watch, New Jersey's environment only got dirtier, incredible as that may seem," Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said in a statement.