EPA chief McCarthy 'very confident' about future of climate, energy goals
- EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy defended the Clean Power Plan and other climate actions taken by the U.S. to a crowd assembled at the National Press Club Monday, nine weeks before she is due to hand over the reigns to an appointee of President-Elect Donald Trump.
- In her speech, McCarthy said that the Clean Power Plan, which was stayed earlier this year and is under threat by the incoming Trump administration, was "designed to follow the clean energy transition that was underway," and that the private sector and market forces would continue to drive that change even if the CPP is thrown out.
- Despite her optimism, McCarthy cautioned against inaction over the impacts of climate change, saying that individual state policies and the private sector are key to tamping down emissions and continuing the clean energy transition.
With Obama's climate and energy legacy up in the air under a pending Trump presidency, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy took a moment to address concerns from the public over the future of environmental and climate regulations in a speech at the National Press Club.
"Clearly there is more going on in our world and the energy sector than the Clean Power Plan can account for," she said. "I truly believe [that] guided by President Obama's vision, that the Clean Power Plan marked a turning point in our climate leadership."
Where that leadership stands under Trump remains in question. Repeatedly throughout his campaign, Trump vowed to scrap the CPP and exit the Paris Climate Accord. But, according to an insider who said he was on Trump's transition team, the president-elect will leave the federal renewable subsidies untouched.
McCarthy also reaffirmed EPA's role in tackling pollution issues in disadvantaged communities. Earlier this year, EPA committed to defending those communities from air, water and other environmental contaminants in its EJ 2020 Action Agenda.
"We don’t have to choose between the environment and clean energy," McCarthy said. "We can and we must choose both. At the same time, this president has understood and said that a lean healthy environment is not a luxury; it's not window dressing folks; it is our right ... Our work to cut pollution must not only focus on what we need as a whole, but also on those that have been disproportionately hurt."
EPA's EJ 2020 plan addressed recent criticism from federal entities like the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights over the agency's attempts in a decades-long span to uphold its civil rights obligation to protect communities of color from pollution.
During the Q&A section, McCarthy said that she is "looking forward to a smooth transition." She said she had not been contacted by Trump's transition team yet, and is in the middle of finishing up the Obama administration's agenda.
McCarthy peppered her speech throughout with praise for the clean energy and climate evolution under President Obama. Her emphasis on science informing EPA decisions, particularly on climate, comes after Trump has pushed notable climate skeptic Myron Ebell to lead the EPA transition.
"We’re in a spectacularly different place today than when President Obama took office," she said. "Now [other nations] are wondering if the U.S. will turn our back on science and be left behind."
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