McCarthy sees climate change
as both economic, environmental issue
Addressing global climate change is as much an economic as environmental challenge, and future strategies and
policies will need to recognize this, US Environmental
Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said in
her first public address since her US Senate confirmation.
“We need to feed the economic agenda of this country,” she told an audience at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass., on July 30. “We have to move beyond those
old discussions about how there’s no inherent conflict between the environment and the economy.
“It’s time to move beyond that dichotomy issue and
recognize that threats to the environment are real, and
we need a strong economy to embrace these issues and
use what we know about science, the economy, and public
health to handle them,” McCarthy maintained.
She noted EPA was created 43 years ago by then-Pres-ident Richard M. Nixon, and the agency has had some
remarkable success in the time since. Between 1970 and
2011, air pollutant emissions dropped 68% while US
gross domestic product grew 212%, McCarthy said. According to EPA’s analysis, the Clean Air Act’s benefits will
outweigh its costs in 2020 by 20-to- 1, she added.
“EPA is having a substantive improvement on the lives
Time to step up
of people across the United States in a way that does not
harm the economy but sparks economic growth,” McCar-
thy said. “We have to convince the American people that
we’re taking advantage of the best thinking and the new-
est technology to meet their needs.”
She emphasized the importance of working with state
and local governments. “EPA cannot dictate solutions. We
need to engage others through partnerships and collabo-
ration,” said McCarthy. “We should listen to what’s being
done on the ground, because eventually it can be loud
enough that people listen to it in DC and take action.”
She said such efforts are the wave of the future, and
could provide a model for success across the country. “As
more businesses think about the opportunity of climate
change, they’ll make more investments,” she predicted.
“Other countries have recognized the potential in clean
energy and are making investments to move ahead. The
president has done his best the last 4 years, but it’s time
for the rest of us to step up. We need industry, from large
to small startup companies, to work with community and
Responding to questions following her remarks, Mc-
Carthy said she had not read a July 29 report by Ceres, a
Boston-based sustainable investment group, which said
natural gas flaring in North Dakota has more than dou-
bled in the last 2 years, but was aware of the problem.
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