The Manufacturing Law Blog provides timely commentary on issues of importance to manufacturers and distributors.  Contributors from the law firm of Robinson & Cole LLP are corporate compliance and litigation attorney, Jeff White; environmental, health and safety attorney, Pam Elkow;  and labor and employment attorney, Nicole Bernabo.

Here’s a (pretty) short summary on the new EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, and what we might expect from EPA under her watch. 

She was a controversial pick, and got caught up the Senate confirmation tussle, waiting almost five months for a vote on her nomination.  McCarthy was confirmed by a vote of 59 to 40, with six Republicans voting for her confirmation, and only one Democrat (Joe Manchin, D-W.Va) voting against.

McCarthy joined EPA in 2009, as assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation during President Obama’s first term. She was responsible for a number of new air regulations, including those focused on reducing greenhouse gases and mercury.

Those of us in Connecticut and Massachusetts knew Gina before EPA –  she was Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, from 2004 to 2009, appointed by Governor Jodi Rell.  Prior to that, she served as deputy secretary of operations for the Massachusetts Office of Commonwealth Development and from 1999 to 2003 she served as the assistant secretary of pollution prevention, environmental business and technology for the state of Massachusetts. All in, McCarthy worked under five Massachusetts Governors, including Mitt Romney.  

McCarthy’s appointment is one more, clear sign that the President sees climate change as the biggest challenge of his second term, and that he intends to focus on climate change, despite the stalemate in Congress.    

A quick Google search got me these widely varying statements:

  • “She now has the unenviable task of leading President Obama’s charge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — one to which she is committed but also one to which her opponents are equally determined.” Forbes, 7/24/2013.
  • From the National Resources Defense Council: “The Senate has, finally, confirmed one of the most qualified, capable and collaborative leaders ever to head the Environmental Protection Agency.”
  • From Sen. Joe Manchin – he does “not believe she is the leader who we are looking for” given the fact that “she has been responsible for overseeing some of EPA’s most unreasonable and restrictive proposals” in her current role at EPA. (Washington Post, July 18, 2013)
  • From the American Gas Association, President Dave McCurdy: “Gina McCarthy and I have a constructive working relationship based on an open and honest dialogue that will continue as we work towards the shared goal of improving the data available on the environmental impact of natural gas.”
  • And then there’s McCarthy herself, in an interview with the New York Times from this Sunday’s edition: “We need this agency to reinvent itself, to the extent an agency of 17,000 people can…  I spend a lot of time protecting what we are doing rather than thinking about what we should be doing. The challenges of today are very different from the challenges of 40 years ago. Not every environmental problem deserves a rule.”

 The next few years should show us whether she can live up to the challenge, and the hypberbole.