Blogs and news outlets are widely reporting today that President Obama is very close to nominating Gina McCarthy to be the new EPA administrator, replacing Lisa Jackson (WaPo post here). Since 2009, McCarthy has been the head of EPA’s division handling air pollution, a division that’s taken tremendous fire in recent years for issuing rules to limit climate emissions under the Clean Air Act. She knows the politics and pitfalls of making federal climate policy likely as well as anyone in the executive branch these days.
For California in particular, it’s probably all to the good that McCarthy also has a long history working in state government, including making groundbreaking state climate policy. She worked under four governors in Massachusetts before being tapped to run Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection from 2004-2009, during which time she played a lead role in developing and launching RGGI, the northeast’s state-based cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. As California moves forward with its own state climate work, including our home grown cap-and-trade program, and if President Obama’s recent tough talk on climate change results in stronger federal policies, it will be important to have someone in this post who understands the interserctions between these spheres.