EPA Chief Gina McCarthy Explains the Economic and Health Benefits of Climate Action

Gina McCarthy As the EPA puts the final touches on their Clean Power Plan, some state governors are threating not to comply. But EPA chief Gina McCarthy remains confident that the plan will succeed. In this interview with Salon, she explains that regulating carbon emissions is well within the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act, as well as the EPA’s mandate to protect public health and the environment. She further points out that previous regulations have been broadly beneficial. The new emissions standards on light-duty trucks, for example, have not only provided better air quality, but have also benefitted the auto manufacturers who are selling more vehicles and the consumers who are saving on fuel costs.
 
McCarthy’s focus on benefits is important – it’s a very effective way to build support for climate solutions. Regardless of political leanings or ideology, everyone can appreciate actions that help lower their fuel and power bills, protect the health of their loved ones, and create jobs.
 

“It’s Talking About Saving Money”: EPA Head Gina McCarthy Sounds Off on the Benefits of Climate Action

Lindsay Abrams, contributor to Salon
 
EPA chief talks to Salon about the Clean Power Plan and why action makes environmental & economic sense
 
Gina McCarthy just wants you to let her do her job.
 
As the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there’s a lot to do: the EPA is charged with protecting public health and the environment at a time when both — not to mention our economy, our national security and the planet as a whole — is facing the unprecedented threat of global climate change. Our Republican-led Congress has made it clear that it’s not going to cooperate in any efforts to address this crisis, leaving the agency central to President Obama’s ability to implement his Climate Action Plan. When the U.S. enters the global climate talks taking place at the end of this year in Paris, we’ll need to be able to point to those regulations to show we’re serious about fighting climate change.
 
McCarthy, for her part, has made sure that we’ll have plenty to talk about. In a manner of weeks, the EPA will be releasing the finalized version of its rule for existing coal-fired power plants, a major, hard-won regulation that, in its proposed version, aims to cut emissions from the power sector 30 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2030. Aside from taking on the country’s largest source of climate change-causing emissions, the agency, under McCarthy, has introduced a proposal to limit the climate impact of heavy-duty trucks, and is taking steps to reduce carbon emissions from airplanes and methane pollution from fracking.
 
All of this is happening, McCarthy is careful to assert, because it’s what the EPA is required to be doing. The EPA was created by Congress to write and enforce environmental regulations; the Supreme Court mandated that, under the Clean Air Act, the agency regulate greenhouse gases as an air pollutant. Yet the agency constantly faces accusations of overreach, legal challenges to its rules and attempts, from Congress, to diminish its authority.
 
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Image credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron/Jim Urquhart/Photo montage by Salon

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