Obama Picks Air Quality Expert to Lead U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
President Obama has nominated EPA assistant administrator Gina McCarthy to lead the agency.
Pending Senate confirmation, McCarthy, the top administrator of the EPA Office of Air and Radiation, would replace Lisa Jackson, who announced her departure at the end of 2012. Obama said during a news conference Monday that during her time at EPA, McCarthy “has focused on practical, cost-effective ways to keep our air clean and our economy growing.”
Although some Republican leaders said Monday that McCarthy will face tough questions at her confirmation hearing, she is known as an experienced regulator who listens to all sides and diffuses conflict with blunt talk and a sense of humor.
“She’s earned a reputation as straight shooter, she welcomes different points of views – I’m confident that she’s going to do an outstanding job leading the EPA,” Obama said.
It’s expected McCarthy will be tasked with enacting and enforcing regulations that combat climate change, an issue Obama has repeatedly pledged to work on during the next four years. Since 2009, it’s been McCarthy who has been writing rules for coal-fired power plants and other energy producers that emit greenhouse gases.
In all, the Massachusetts native has 30 years of experience working on environmental regulations at the state and federal levels. McCarthy led the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (2004-’09) and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (1999-2003). During those two stops, Obama said McCarthy helped design programs to expand energy efficiency and promote renewable energy.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in social anthropology from UMass, and a joint master’s in environmental health engineering and planning and policy from Tufts University.
Republicans and Democrats appear to have differing views about Obama’s selection. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she is withholding judgment about McCarthy, adding that the EPA must restore missing balance between the nation’s energy and environmental policies. Meanwhile, several Democrats in the Senate reportedly lauded McCarthy’s appointment as assistant administrator of EPA back in 2009.
On Monday, Obama also nominated MIT scientist Ernest Moniz as Energy Secretary, replacing Steven Chu. Sylvia Mathews Burwell is Obama’s choice for director of the Office of Management and Budget
Obama was scheduled to hold the first Cabinet meeting of his second term on Monday.