President Obama has named Gina McCarthy, G81, to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. McCarthy, who earned a joint M.S. degree in environmental health engineering and planning and policy, is currently the EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation.
McCarthy has a long career in public service in New England, having served as commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and as an advisor on environmental and public health issues at both the municipal and state level in Massachusetts. She was deputy secretary of operations for the Massachusetts Office for Commonwealth Development and oversaw the state’s first Climate Protection Action Plan. A Boston native, she has been an environmental advisor to five Massachusetts governors, including former Governor Mitt Romney.
She has a reputation as a master administrator, who is able to work well with environmentalists as well as with industry and government leaders, some of whom have praised her nomination. Doug Foy, who coordinated environmental and development policy for Romney, told Reuters, “She has a natural grasp of how to make bureaucracies work better.” Don Strait, director of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, said, “It’s rare to find an official who can combine vision and persuasiveness with a real practical sense of how to get things done.”
In a 2009 interview with Tufts E-News, McCarthy joked, “I think Tufts taught me to be a terrible bureaucrat. I don’t separate health issues from environmental issues or environmental issues from energy issues. I try to see it from the standpoint of human beings and what they need to have a sustainable world. I ended up in the environmental world because I saw the most direct overlap between what is happening in peoples’ health and the pollution they were being exposed to.”
McCarthy’s appointment must be confirmed by the Senate.