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  • Allison Stalker

Fee and Dividend Climate Bill

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

President Obama announced his pick to replace Lisa Jackson as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) chief on Monday. His choice? Gina McCarthy, a Bostonite who currently serves as assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.

McCarthy has been recognized for her work fighting climate change and played a large role in recent auto emission standards. She also worked on legislation in Massachusetts that helped lead to giving the EPA authority to regulate greenhouses gases under the Clean Air Act. Many environmentalists applaud her work on climate action.

However, McCarthy also has a history of supporting natural gas and oil drilling. She has also worked as the top state environmental official under Governor Mitt Romney and Governor Jodi Rell, both Republicans. This ability to reach both sides should be a positive quality. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) stated that “she recognizes that sometimes there’s a balance that has to be struck between environmental emphasis and economic growth, but she’s convinced the two are often mutually supportive”.

The flip side of this balance is that some environmentalists are uncomfortable with her relationship with industry and some of industry is uncomfortable with her relationship with environmental causes. According to the National Journal, “McCarthy comes with built-in enemies. If nominated, she’ll face a fiery confirmation hearing from Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The panel’s ranking Republican, Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, and senior Republican member John Barrasso of Wyoming hail from states where oil and coal production are big parts of the economy—and EPA regulations are viewed as straight-up job-killers”.

Obama’s pick was supported by Al Gore’s climate change group, the Climate Reality Project. CEO Maggie Fox stated that “EPA is on the frontlines of climate action. It is more important than ever that President Obama and the new EPA administrator continue to enforce laws cutting climate pollution. Ms. McCarthy is an ideal candidate to continue the crucial work of promoting regulatory and market-based solutions to solve the climate crisis”.

This announcement also included Obama’s pick for Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz. Moniz is a nuclear physicist and is currently the director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Energy Initiative. This nomination was not as supported in the environmental community. Courtney Abrams of Environment America said “Ernest Moniz … has a history of supporting dirty and dangerous energy sources like gas and nuclear power with polluting partners including BP, Shell, Chevron and Saudi Aramco”.

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