Jul 18, 2013
12:28 PM
Connecticut Politics

Connecticut's Former Environment Chief Voted Head of the EPA

Connecticut's Former Environment Chief Voted Head of the EPA

New Haven Register

File photo of former Connecticut DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy in 2009.

Connecticut's former environmental protection commisioner was made head of the nation's Environmental Protection Agency Thursday, after months of political wrangling and hold-ups.

Gina McCarthy's 136-day wait to be confirmed as head of the EPA is the longest of any EPA nominee in history.

Her confirmation is a "victory for common-sense environmental policy" a tweet from the President said.

U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy chimed in on social media, and said McCarthy is going to "kick butt" as head of EPA. "She will fight for clean air and common sense," he said.

The Senate cleared the way for a vote Thursday after taking a procedural vote to invoke cloture, essentially ending a filibuster that had stopped a vote on McCarthy's actual confirmation from taking place. The vote to confirm her as the nominee had the support of 59 senators, with 40 voting against.

Hordes of environmental groups took to Twitter to celebrate the appointment of an EPA chief, many using a hashtag to support her: #StandWithGina. (See Storify below.) Members of the Connecticut delegation to the U.S. Senate and House also passed around statements of support and congratulations.

McCarthy has been the assistant administrator of the EPA since 2009. She previously worked for state agencies in both Connecticut and Massachusetts. 

In her now role as head of the agency, McCarthy is expected to play an integral role in implementing the president's plan to deal with climate change

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who was the state's attorney general when McCarthy also worked for the state, applauded her confirmation in a statement Thursday, and said he was glad her nomination "broke through the crippling gridlock of the United States Senate." 

"She is an environmental protector for all seasons who knows how to inspire people on both sides of the aisle to work together toward a common goal. She will strike the proper balance between environmental protection and economic growth because she knows the two goals are mutually supportive – not exclusive," Blumenthal said in the statement. "At a time when superstorms are ravaging Connecticut and other states every few years as a result of global warming and other issues negatively impacting the environment, our nation needs an EPA leader who will be smart, strong, and fair on environmental issues. Ms. McCarthy is such a leader." 

Sen. David Vitter, R-LA, spoke up against McCarthy's nomination. Republicans disagree with the president's plan, and Vitter said Thursday the entire agency is overreaching.

Both of Connecticut's senators in favor of McCarthy's confirmation. 

Sen. Murphy, D-Conn., also released a statement, adding he was proud to cast his vote to confirm her as head of the EPA.

"Gina McCarthy understands that protecting the environment isn’t a partisan issue. Her work both in Connecticut and Washington embodies New England’s long tradition of environmental stewardship, and I know she’ll continue that great tradition as head of the EPA. She’s a tough, principled fighter who’s always been willing to do the sometimes difficult work of building consensus and working with industry and non-profit communities alike," Murphy said in a statement.

Hours after the vote took place, the White House's photographer tweeted a photo showing McCarthy and newly-confirmed Labor Secretary Thomas Perez meeting with the president and vice president in the oval office.

The White House released this statement on behalf of the president on McCarthy's nomination:

I am pleased that today the Senate took bipartisan action to confirm Gina McCarthy as the next Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.  With years of experience at the state and local level, Gina is a proven leader who knows how to build bipartisan support for commonsense environmental solutions that protect the health and safety of our kids while promoting economic growth.  Over the past four years, I have valued Gina’s counsel and I look forward to having her in my Cabinet as we work to slow the effects of climate change and leave a cleaner environment for future generations. 


Connecticut's Former Environment Chief Voted Head of the EPA

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