Jun 12, 2013
08:29 PM
Connecticut Politics

Vote on Connecticut's Former Environment Chief Held up by Politics

Vote on Connecticut's Former Environment Chief Held up by Politics

New Haven Register

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

In the four months since the president tapped Gina McCarthy to serve as head of his own environmental powerhouse, Connecticut’s former environmental protection commissioner has been tied up in the red and blue bruising of presidential appointments.
The two local senators who would vote for her confirmation once it gets to the Senate, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. and Chris Murphy, D-Conn. don’t want to see any more delays.  
McCarthy, who has served as assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency since she left Connecticut in 2009, was nominated to head the EPA by President Barack Obama in March. She was approved by the committee handling such appointments, but her confirmation up until this point has been rocky, where she now waits for the full Senate vote to be scheduled. 
McCarthy served as the DEP commissioner, now known as the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection from 2004-2009. 
Blumenthal, who served as attorney general while McCarthy was at DEP, said he backs McCarthy’s confirmation “110 percent.” 
“She has an extraordinary aptitude and ability, based on her experience and expertise for finding balanced solutions to the most difficult environmental challenges,” Blumenthal said. “She combines aggressive environmental protection with a sensitivity to economic and business needs and interests that would make her a great EPA commissioner.”
Though McCarthy’s nomination eventually made it through the Environment and Public Works Committee, it was after Republicans boycotted a previous meeting. The vote finally went along party lines, 10-8. This has been an ongoing practice with the minority Republicans delaying votes in whatever ways they can. If Democrats try to push a vote before Republicans are satisfied, those in Washington predict the vote could be fillibustered. 
Blumenthal said the confirmation delays are the result of “sheer, raw partisan politics and part of a gridlock that Americans have come to detest,” but he is hopeful Republicans will “come to their senses.” He pointed to McCarthy’s experience in working with both parties in previous executive roles.
“There’s no better person for that job than Gina McCarthy, regardless of ideology or political predilection,” he said.
After McCarthy’s nomination by the president, U.S. Sen. Murphy also put his support behind her and said he is “thrilled to work with her” in the future.
“Here in New England, protecting the environment isn’t a partisan issue, and Gina’s work embodies the best of that long tradition — one that she has ably continued in Washington,” he said in a statement. “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.”
McCarthy’s case is unfortunately not unique, Blumenthal said. Confirmations are sometimes held up in a political tug-of-war. 
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Environmental and Public Works Committee, and other Democrats have blamed the ranking Republican on the committee, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and his party for the holdup. Press releases for both Boxer and Vitter go back and forth regarding both McCarthy’s nomination as well as others.
While Democrats have said McCarthy has answered more than 1,000 questions regarding the EPA, Republicans have used her nomination as a vehicle to tout transparency concerns at the EPA, especially considering her role in the agency.
First the boycott, and then a vote in committee which adhered strictly to party lines may spell more turbulent times up ahead for McCarthy’s confirmation, neither Murphy nor Blumenthal want to see it delayed any further.
While a deputy in charge of the EPA is in place, Blumenthal said for effective leadership and accountability a permanent leader needs to be approved. 
Vote on Connecticut's Former Environment Chief Held up by Politics

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