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Gina McCarthy testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on her nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on Capitol Hill in Washington April 11, 2013. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts) Gina McCarthy testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on her nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on Capitol Hill in Washington April 11, 2013. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)  

EPA chief’s weekly flights home emit tons of CO2

Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy may be a global warming crusader, but her weekly flights home to Boston are causing her to emit tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The EPA recently released a photo album titled “A Day In The Life of the EPA Administrator” that shows what McCarthy does on a typical day, including the fact that she flies home nearly every weekend to spend time with her family.

“Although she keeps a small apartment near EPA headquarters, almost every weekend McCarthy travels back to Boston, to her home and her husband,” according to the EPA.

But flying on an airplane twice nearly every weekend means she is significantly adding to her carbon footprint by using transportation that emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which the EPA says causes global warming.

The Daily Caller News Foundation calculated that McCarthy’s footprint from simply flying is nearly as much as the average total carbon footprint of one person over the course of an entire year. According to the EPA, “20,750 pounds [10.375 tons] is about average in the United States for a household of one person over a year.”

TheDCNF used several different publicly available carbon footprint calculators to find that McCarthy’s flights would have contributed anywhere from 7.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year to 9.4 tons per year.” TheDCNF assumed she traveled round-trip every weekend by plane home, since the EPA did not clarify how often she went home.

Considering McCarthy has been working at the EPA’s national headquarters since 2009 — more than four full years — her emissions are likely higher. Assuming she flew home every weekend since 2009, her carbon footprint from airline travel alone is likely around 37.5 tons over four years — more than 3.5 times the average American’s yearly carbon footprint.

McCarthy has spearheaded the EPA’s efforts to cap carbon-dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, arguing that such plants emitted huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and drive global warming.

“Addressing the threat from a changing climate is one of the greatest challenges of this and future generations,” McCarthy recently told Congress. “The agency will focus resources on the development of common sense and achievable greenhouse gas standards for power plants — the single largest source of carbon pollution.”

The EPA did not immediately respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment. TheDCNF asked the agency if they kept track of the emissions from McCarthy’s flights and if the EPA chief planned on offsetting her emissions.

Update: The EPA responded to TheDCNF after the article had been published. The agency also noted that McCarthy sometimes drives home to Boston on the weekends, but did not specify how many times or the vehicle she uses.

“Yes, Administrator McCarthy flies home regularly to see her family. And yes she is a leader in fighting to protect our environment and improve public health. While head of the Office of Air and Radiation, she led EPA’s efforts to create mercury and air toxics standards, the fuel economy standards and national air quality standards for particle pollution,” the EPA said. “And as Administrator, McCarthy is listening to all sides as we develop pragmatic and flexible plans to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.”

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