WASHINGTON, July 18, 2013 – The Senate confirmed today, on a mostly partisan 59-40 vote, the nomination of Gina McCarthy to serve as EPA administrator.
Six Republican senators joined 51 Democratic senators and two Independent senators in confirming McCarthy. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., joined 39 Republican senators in opposing the confirmation. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., did not vote.
During a rather drawn-out confirmation process, most Democrats said that McCarthy’s experience in EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation and concern for air quality makes her a qualified candidate.
McCarthy replaces former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.
Republican senators argued McCarthy has been responsible for “over-reaching” in regards to EPA regulations on emissions standards and air toxins. They also questioned the transparency of the agency.
Some senators from both parties have cited a rocky relationship with EPA.
After the confirmation, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said she will continue to have “serious concerns” with the EPA, but said President Obama needs to have his team in place.
“An agency with such far reaching regulatory authority should not be allowed to be a rudderless ship,” Heitkamp said. “We won’t agree all of the time – we will probably not see eye to eye very often – but I feel Gina is someone who will provide all stakeholders a seat at the table.”
Heitkamp said she has urged McCarthy to work on keeping coal a part of the nation’s current and future energy mix.
Biofuel industry groups applauded the confirmation.
Tom Buis, chief executive officer of Growth Energy, described McCarthy as “an excellent and well-qualified individual to lead the EPA.”
“Ms. McCarthy is extremely qualified and is known for her willingness to always examine issues with a fair and open-minded approach—I know that she will continue to serve as a leader and advocate for advancing the Renewable Fuel Standard and other important domestic energy policies,” Buis said.
Bob Dinneen, president and chief executive officer of the Renewable Fuels Association, said his organization has found McCarthy “to be approachable and open to dialogue.
“There is no question that she is a thoughtful, solution-oriented professional who will handle the tough job ahead of her with grace,” Dinneen said. “As a first order of business, the U.S. ethanol industry would like to extend an invitation to visit any of our bio-refineries for an up-close, hands-on explanation of our resource-efficient production process as well as a chance to hear first-hand the pride ethanol plant workers take in their product.”
Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board, called McCarthy a “strong, dynamic leader who knows the intersection of environment and energy issues as well as anyone in the nation.”
“She understands that we must move beyond fossil fuels to meet our objectives on these issues and has demonstrated a practical, balanced approach for doing so, including strong support for the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Steckel said.
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