Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy gave her first address since her confirmation two weeks ago, and claimed that climate change is an economic problem, not an environmental one. McCarthy spoke at Harvard Law School on Tuesday, emphasizing President Obama’s call for broad climate change measures.
According to Politico, McCarthy stressed that more environmental regulations won’t necessarily be detrimental to job creation. Only hours later in Tennessee, Obama called for the strengthening of the manufacturing industry, expanding investments in energy research, and supporting a booming natural gas industry to create more jobs.
“Climate change isn’t an environmental issue. It is a fundamental economic challenge for us,” McCarthy said. “It is a fundamental economic challenge internationally.”
McCarthy stated that the limits on natural resources and the threats posed by climate change are real, and that the reduction of carbon emissions is a way to deal with these problems. She also discussed the 69 percent drop in air pollution during EPA’s 43-year existence. She noted that during the same era health benefits outweighed the costs of air regulations 30 to 1, according to an EPA report on the Clean Air Act’s economic benefits. At present, almost a dozen states have established greenhouse gas reduction programs, and over 1,000 mayors have signed agreements to cut carbon emissions.
In addition, McCarthy lavished praise on the president for supporting her in her work at the EPA before nominating her as administrator, and standing by her throughout her long confirmation fight.
“The president not only supported me at EPA, but he sent a signal to the people that work at EPA… that their mission matters, that it’s important to protect public health and the environment,” McCarthy said.
Throughout the speech, McCarthy kept hitting back at the Republican argument that more environmental regulation will mean the loss of jobs.
“Can we stop talking about environmental regulations killing jobs, please? Just at least for today,” McCarthy said.
For today? Fine, but tomorrow isn’t far away, and until we actually see any of the proposed regulations, we don’t know how they will affect the economy. It’s best to remain skeptical, given that Obama made similar promises at the beginning of his first term and job growth of any sort has been pitiful.
The EPA continues to face challenges in setting greenhouse gas regulations at power plants, which McCarthy says “range from substances to failure to communicate” with the public about the need for cutting carbon dioxide emissions.