Gina McCarthy confirmed as EPA chief

Gina McCarthy finally confirmed as EPA chief

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Gina McCarthy has been confirmed by a 59-40 Senate vote to serve as the next head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The confirmation followed more than four months of grueling debate between Democrats and Republicans over issues of transparency and data collection at EPA.  With Republicans threatening to filibuster McCarthy's and other nominations, Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened to invoke the controversial "nuclear option" Tuesday, which would have rewritten Senate rules and allowed McCarthy and several other Obama nominations to be confirmed by a simple majority vote.

McCarthy had served as head of the EPA's Air Quality and Radiation department since 2009, tackling key pollution and environmental issues.  She also has a history of working closely with the recycling industry, particularly when she served as commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 to 2009.

One of McCarthy's most important achievements came in 2007, when she led a successful legislative push to pass an e-scrap producer responsibility law in Connecticut that called on manufacturers to handle the collection and safe management of their end-of-life products.  At the time, Connecticut was only the seventh state to pass such legislation. A year earlier, McCarthy showed another instance of working with the recycling industry, adding incentives for the processing, transportation and use of recycled materials in the Constitution State.

McCarthy also helped found the Product Stewardship Institute, a national nonprofit organization that works with industry leaders, government officials and environmental groups to develop stewardship programs.

Mark Carpenter of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries told Resource Recycling that he believes McCarthy’s history on recycling issues bodes well for the industry’s immediate future: “We look forward to working with Ms. McCarthy, and building upon our existing relationship with the EPA, to enhance our nation’s recycling capabilities and further the many environmental benefits of our industry.”

As administrator of the EPA, McCarthy will take on what many expect to be a daunting assignment: turning President Obama’s climate change and environmental goals into effective policy.

A Boston native, McCarthy is known for her common-sense, science-driven approach and a rare ability to work with environmental groups and industry leaders. She served under both Democratic and Republican leadership in Connecticut and in Massachusetts, where she coordinated environmental policy and programming for the Massachusetts Office of Commonwealth Development from 1999 to 2003.

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