WASHINGTON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Gina McCarthy, said to be
U.S. President Barack Obama's choice as the nation's top
environmental regulator, avoided questions about a potential
promotion on Thursday but said states will play a key role in
shaping federal regulations at an energy and climate policy
McCarthy, assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency's Office of Air and Radiation since 2009, was
tightlipped about whether Obama will nominate her as the EPA's
Sources told Reuters on Wednesday that Obama would nominate
the Boston native as early as this week, with a formal
announcement more likely next week.
Thursday's appearance was the first public event for
McCarthy, 58, since speculation arose that she will replace Lisa
Jackson, the EPA administrator who stepped down this month, as
the face of Obama's fresh push to fight climate change.
Addressing a room full of familiar faces at a workshop of
state and federal regulators, McCarthy applauded local efforts,
such as the nine-state carbon cap-and-trade program in the
Northeast United States, for showing Washington a path forward
on combating climate change.
"At the EPA we will do our part to build on your success,"
she said at the Georgetown University Law Center.
"We can find a way instead of having national solutions...to
open up opportunities for states to use all the flexibility, the
ingenuity, the innovation that you have shown could be done, and
just simply get it done."
The EPA is expected to complete the rule this spring on
emissions standards for new power plants. McCarthy said the
agency is still reading over 1 million public comments that the
proposal has received.
McCarthy recalled that she attended the same conference four
years ago, when still working for the Connecticut Department of
"We were suing the EPA to recognize greenhouse gases as a
pollutant that needed to be regulated under the Clean Air Act,"
McCarthy came to Washington after serving as the top state
environmental regulator in Massachusetts and Connecticut under
Democratic and Republican governors.
She was as environmental policy adviser to
then-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and launched the state's
first Climate Protection Action Plan.
Romney was Obama's Republican opponent in the 2012
presidential election and a regular critic of the EPA.
(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Ros Krasny and Lisa