GinaMcCarthy-thOn March 4, President Obama named Gina McCarthy as his nominee for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, replacing former Administrator Lisa Jackson. McCarthy has been the assistant administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation at EPA since 2009. Observers predict McCarthy will be confirmed but will likely face questions from Senators about the administration’s environmental policies, particularly on climate change.

Water Environment Federation (WEF) members who have worked with McCarthy describe her as a dedicated environmental professional and a solid administrator. Her selection appears to support the President’s planned priority on climate issues, as McCarthy focused on the regulation of greenhouse gases during her tenure as assistant administrator. Climate change impacts will be manifested first and most directly in changes to the water cycle, including significant impacts to water infrastructure.

Before joining EPA, McCarthy led the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 to 2009.  She served as undersecretary for policy with the Massachusetts Office of Commonwealth Development from 2003 to 2004 and undersecretary for policy with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs from 1999 to 2003.

According to WEF, McCarthy’s experience as an environmental official in two states provides her broad familiarity with Clean Water Act issues and the challenges older communities in particular are facing due to the cost of new regulations and replacing aging infrastructure. Her role in overseeing the Long Island Sound nutrient trading program provides an example of McCarthy’s approach to addressing complex environmental issues.  Familiarity with these issues makes McCarthy a strong nominee for the water sector.

Bob Perciasepe will continue to serve as acting administrator until McCarthy is confirmed, but whether he will stay on as deputy administrator after that time is unknown. Nancy Stoner remains acting assistant administrator for the Office of Water, and it has yet to be announced whether Obama will renominate former congressional aide Ken Kopocis for that post. Kopocis was nominated last year but never confirmed.