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Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 11:52 am PT (02:52 pm ET)

Greenpeace praises Apple's hiring of former EPA chief

Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace, a longtime critic of Apple's corporate policies, has come out in favor of the hiring of former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson.

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In a statement issued on Wednesday, Greenpeace senior IT analyst Gary Cook called Apple's hiring of Jackson a "bold move," and praised her as a "proven advocate." In particular, the organization highlighted her track record in combating toxic waste and dirty energy.

"Jackson can make Apple the top environmental leader in the tech sector by helping the company use its influence to push electric utilities and governments to provide the clean energy that both Apple and America need right now," Cook said.

The comments are rare praise from Greenpeace, which took Apple to task last year for the energy consumed by its iCloud service. The organization accused Apple of lagging behind other technology companies, such as Facebook and Google, in utilizing environmentally friendly power.

Apple has countered by noting that its North Carolina data center is powered by the largest solar farm and largest fuel cell installation of any non-energy company in the nation. Greenpeace still staged protests at Apple's California headquarters and Ireland operations before the group said that Apple's environmental policies have been "significantly improved."

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook announced the hiring of Jackson this week in an interview at the D11 conference. She served as administrator of the EPA under President Barack Obama from 2009 until February of this year.

In her new position, she will oversee Apple's green initiatives, including projects like the massive solar farm accompanying its Maiden, N.C., iCloud data center.