Gina McCarthy, who has headed up the EPA's clean air regulatory shop the last 4 years, has been named by President Obama to be the new EPA director.
As head of EPA's air office, McCarthy has been at the forefront of the agency's fight to enact greenhouse gas regulations on sources like vehicle tailpipes and power plants. Those efforts are expected to kick up as the agency attempts to carry out the pledges for serious action on climate change that Obama hinted at in last month's Inauguration speech.
While McCarthy has often sparred with Republican lawmakers at hearings, she also brings a bipartisan background, including stints working for past GOP governors like Mitt Romney.
Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told POLITICO earlier this year that McCarthy would make a "great" EPA administrator. "She is strong. She's knowledgeable. She, there would be no transition required, and I just like Gina because she's straight from the shoulder - good person."
McCarthy was long seen as the favorite for the job, over other potential candidates like acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe or former Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire.
You will hear a lot about how she worked for Mitt Romney so she's bi-partisan. Baloney. In those days, before the flip flops, Romney was one of the most liberal Republicans in the country and subscribed wholeheartedly to the global warming theory.
Wall Street Journal has more:
She has already been a central player in developing greenhouse-gas rules proposed last year that would effectively rule out new coal-fired power plants using existing commercially viable technology.
The agency in the next year or two is likely to decide what to do about existing coal-fired plants, the largest stationary source of greenhouse-gas emissions. Critics say such rules could threaten the reliability of the power grid and raise consumer electricity prices.
Last year, Ms. McCarthy said the risks from climate change were "substantial and far-reaching," a message that has been amplified by the president in his second inaugural and State of the Union addresses. Mr. Obama said at the State of the Union that he would direct his administration to tackle climate change through executive action if, as expected, Congress fails to pass legislation cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.
The National Journal:
- She's a tough-talking and enthusiastic Bostonian. McCarthy, who hails from Dorchester, Mass., is Irish Catholic and speaks with a pronounced Boston accent. The approach she's taken to her work at EPA earned her the nickname "Obama's green quarterback" from some environmentalists.
McCarthy once described in a speech getting to yell "Play ball!" at a Red Sox game. "Now, there's nothing cooler than that," she said. "I did it with real gusto. Should I do it again? Play balllll!" (McCarthy is also is known for her sense of humor.)
- She's an anthropologist. McCarthy studied social anthropology as an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts (Boston) before going on to receive a joint M.S. degree in environmental health engineering and planning and policy from Tufts University.
The former degree may seem less relevant to her current post than the latter. "People ask me why did social anthropology prepare you for the work that you're doing in government? Well, everyone who asked me that, I wondered if they had ever been in the Massachusetts Legislature, whether they had ever been in the Connecticut Legislature, and whether they had ever visited Congress recently, because it is a primitive society into itself," McCarthy joked. But really, she said, it taught her to "relish diversity."
- She's a longtime government official -- and even worked for Mitt Romney. All told, McCarthy has been working for federal and state governments for more than 25 years. Her career has spanned five Massachusetts governors, including former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, one Connecticut governor, Jodi Rell, under whom she ran the state's Environmental Protection Department. She was confirmed to EPA and came to Washington in 2009.
- Her confirmation won't be a picnic. Obama, who vowed to make tackling the threat of climate change a second-term priority, is likely to rely heavily on EPA to carry out that agenda, at least initially, which is likely to thrust the agency into the political spotlight. McCarthy will have to answer for her agency, which isn't the most popular among congressional Republicans, who have criticized the regulations it has rolled out in recent years as job-killers. The Washington Post reports that the coal industry could raise some opposition to her nomination, as may Senate Republicans, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The only question I have is how radical will she be? She's already a hit with radical environmentalists who want to shut down all coal fired plants that don't meet the new standards (yes, my lefty friends. That is radical.). If that were to occur, the president would get his wish and electricity blls would "skyrocket." Rest assured, this Congress will not pass any carbon trading schemes, so it may be up to the EPA to implement Obama's warming agenda.