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Senate Acts On EPA Chief Nomination

Government: Senate confirms McCarthy as next head of the Environmental Protection Agency

by Cheryl Hogue
July 18, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 29

McCarthy testified before the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee in April.
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, in this April 11, 2013.
McCarthy testified before the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee in April.

After months of delays because of Republican maneuvering, the Environmental Protection Agency has a new administrator—Regina A. (Gina) McCarthy.

The Senate this week confirmed McCarthy, President Barack Obama’s pick for EPA’s top job, in a 59-40 vote. Lisa P. Jackson left that post in February after serving four years. McCarthy worked under Jackson, leading EPA’s air pollution control program since 2009. Previously, McCarthy was commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and held several regulatory positions in Massachusetts that included work for then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R).

McCarthy’s nomination had broad support across industry, environmental groups, and state regulators. A key reason is her history of working with business and industry in a constructive, bipartisan manner, says Lawrence D. Sloan, president and chief executive officer of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates (SOCMA).

“EPA now has a leader who is not afraid to engage those over which her agency regulates,” Sloan says. “Though we may not always agree on policy issues, we believe Ms. McCarthy has an understanding of issues impacting specialty chemical manufacturers and SOCMA members.”

The American Chemistry Council, an association of chemical manufacturers, says it looks forward to working with McCarthy on EPA issues critical to the competitiveness and strength of the U.S. chemical industry.

“As her strong record demonstrates, she is a thoughtful leader known for advancing environmental protections that bolster the nation’s health and economy,” says Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, an activist group.

But Republicans, who oppose the industry and power plant air pollution regulations she helped implement at EPA, delayed votes on McCarthy’s confirmation through procedural moves (C&EN, May 27, page 11). First, they successfully held back a committee vote for two weeks. Then Republicans threatened to block a full Senate vote on McCarthy and several other of the President’s nominees. Last week, they struck a deal with Democrats to let the votes proceed.



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