President Obama’s pick for EPA Administrator is receiving praise from a range of groups including state governments, environmentalists, and industry representatives.
Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s choice to be Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after the resignation of former Administrator Lisa Jackson, is expected to face a tough confirmation hearing in the coming days.
But those who worked with her in her past careers throughout New England are praising her as a strong leader and for her ability to find common ground on contentious issues.
In Massachusetts, McCarthy served as an environmental advisor for five governors including Mitt Romney. She held senior positions in both the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and the state office of Commonwealth Development.
Andre Mayer, Vice President of Research at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, praised McCarthy for her ability to work with industry in developing environmental policy.
“Gina McCarthy is in our view one of the outstanding people we’ve worked with in state government here in Massachusetts,” said Mayer. “She’s obviously very committed to environmental issues which sometimes have put her at odds with our position, but she’s a very serious person who weighs issues very carefully, understands both sides of the questions, and understands the decisions the government makes are complex and have to be considered in other aspects.”
McCarthy also served as Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 to 2009. In a statement, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said that McCarthy “was a fierce advocate of the state’s natural resources—her legacy of environmental protection continues to this day in the programs spearheaded by DEEP.”
Clean Water Action, a group that advocates for clean air and water throughout New England, also praised the work and vision of McCarthy. New England Regional Director Cindy Luppi said that while her organization was advocating with community groups for stricter air pollution requirements for Massachusetts power plants – a campaign referred to as the “Filthy Five” – McCarthy was able to hear both sides with a goal of protecting public health and reducing pollution.
“There was a real focus on feasibility,” said Luppi, “and at the end of the day we could actually get to cleaner air. And after months and sometimes years of these discussions, she really helped to make sure the tougher cleanup standards moved forward.”
Tim Gray, leader of the Housatonic River Initiative, a group of concerned citizens in the Berkshires advocating for the swift cleanup of PCBs from the Housatonic River, said that he hopes that a new EPA administrator will stick with the group’s mission to remove the believed-to-be cancer causing chemicals released by General Electric into the Housatonic River.
“Definitely more attention, and also to do the best cleanup we can. This is our one chance to do it right,” said Gray.
An aide for New York U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, said that the Senator is “looking forward” to meeting McCarthy, and the confirmation hearing that could approve her as the next EPA Administrator.