President Barack Obama officially nominated Gina McCarthy to serve as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday. McCarthy, if confirmed, would replace Lisa Jackson, who announced at the end of December that she would be stepping down.
During the press briefing, Obama lauded his new nominee saying, "There is nobody who can do a better job in filling Lisa [Jackson]’s shoes" than McCarthy. Along with Energy Secretary nominee Ernest Moniz, the president said that the new EPA head will "be making sure we’re investing in American energy, that we’re doing everything we can to combat the threat of climate change.”
"The president could not have picked a more qualified person to lead EPA at this critical time," declared Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in a press statement.
McCarthy's "strong record of protecting the health and safety of millions of Americans by limiting dangerous pollution in our air," was lauded in a statement by Sierra Club's executive director, Michael Brune.
Although Center for American Progress' Carol Browner expressed in a statement her support for McCarthy working "with both sides of the aisle to forge common-sense and science-based solutions," Obama's nominee is likely to face resistance from congressional Republicans, who have openly opposed EPA regulations in recent years. The Washington Post previously reported that among industries regulated by the EPA, coal may be the only one to object to McCarthy's nomination.
If confirmed, McCarthy also shoulders the task of regulating America's burgeoning natural gas industry and the controversial extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
While Obama has expressed his support for domestic natural gas development, he has also suggested there is a moral imperative to combat climate change.
The Obama administration also faces the task of approving or rejecting the permit for the international Keystone XL pipeline. The Canada to Texas pipeline has drawn sharp criticism from environmental groups, who fear that major development of Alberta's oil sands reserves will exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions and further climate change.
"McCarthy has demonstrated that economic prosperity is not at odds with environmental protection," American Sustainable Business Council's David Levine suggested on a press call.
Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, described on the call dozens of meetings he has attended with McCarthy: "She's smart, she's funny -- in fact, she uses her humor to diffuse many difficult problems -- she's brutally honest, and she makes things happen."
League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski added that McCarthy's nomination is "a slam dunk for public health and the environment."