In an address to staff, the newly confirmed Environmental Protection Agency chief stated that regulators had the “responsibility” to take on global warming, per the president’s call to action.
“We have a clear responsibility to act now on climate change,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “That’s what President Obama has called on us and the American people, so that we protect future generations.”
“This agency has the courage to act,” McCarthy added. “We can make it happen, but we need all hands on deck.”
McCarthy’s confirmation was controversial, as Republicans held up a vote for months until she and the agency adequately answered five transparency questions. Republicans let up and McCarthy was confirmed in a 59 to 40 vote last week.
“I voted against Gina McCarthy to be the next Administrator of the EPA, but my fight is not with her,” West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said following the vote. “My fight is with President Obama and the EPA, the regulatory agency that has consistently placed unreasonable regulations and unobtainable standards on energy production, rather than focus on efforts to develop a domestic all-of-the-above energy strategy for the future.”
McCarthy’s confirmation also comes after President Obama unveiled his strategy to tackle global warming largely through executive power, including directing the EPA to implement carbon dioxide emissions standards for new and existing power plants.
Critics have said this could lead to many more coal-fired power plant closings.
“By confirming Gina McCarthy to head EPA, senators are endorsing President Obama’s war on affordable energy and ensuring that there is much more to come,” said Myron Ebell, energy and environment director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
McCarthy’s previous post as head of the EPA’s air and radiation office had her oversee the implementation and development of some of the agency’s strictest clean air policies which have harmed the coal country.
“Doubtlessly, Gina McCarthy will continue to execute the president’s war on affordable energy, and the administration has announced plans to arm her with a new arsenal of regulatory authorities,” said Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research.
During the prolonged confirmation battle, Democrats touted McCarthy’s credentials as a leader who knows how to build bipartisan consensus around environmental issues. McCarthy even served in Massachusetts under former Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican.
“Gina is a proven leader who knows how to build bipartisan support for common-sense environmental solutions that protect the health and safety of our kids while promoting economic growth,” Obama said.
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