Heard this last night (while listening to UConn game...pre-overtime):
President Barack Obama announced today his intent to nominate Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Gina McCarthy to be Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Governor M. Jodi Rell has issued the following statement: “Gina McCarthy is doing an outstanding job for the citizens of Connecticut. Her leadership on climate issues is nationally respected, so it comes as no surprise that the Obama administration would reach out to Commissioner McCarthy, a dedicated public servant with tremendous talent and passion. While we certainly would hate to lose her in Connecticut, it is reassuring to know she would be working to preserve and improve the environment for all Americans.” (read more in today's Courant)
I don't always find myself in agreement with Mrs. Rell. But on this count, I do. Not a big surprise that McCarthy was tapped for the job, given the close ties to new EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. She talked about Jackson's qualifications for that job, and their working relationship on a Christmas Eve Where We Live last year.
Clean-air activists are already hailing the decision. Gary Yohe, the Nobel Prize-winning Wesleyan Economist told the Courant's Rinker Buck, "Gina is full of energy and excitement for the global warming issue, and I am excited for her and the Obama administration." Noted liberal activist Jonathan Pelto says, "Hurray for DEP'S Gina McCarthy and her appointment to the Obama Administration - but there goes Rell's only good Commissioner." That's pretty typical of the kind of support she get gets from enviros and administration officials alike. But the national kudos she'll get today aren't just because she's led the Northeast in the effort to combat global warming.
I spent some time over the years working with WNPR's Environmental Reporter Nancy Cohen on a series of investigative reports about the Rowland-era DEP. The department was filled with excellent scientists, who reported to us that they were "bullied" by top administrators into bending toward a "business-friendly" approach - that led to lax enforcement. There was a palpable culture of fear and mistrust. The difference in personality, leadership and vision under McCarthy has been clear, and it's led to an atmosphere that has changed enormously, at least according to all of the DEP professionals I've talked to.
What Gina McCarthy did for one of Connecticut's most important agencies can only be described as "rapid climate change." We wish her luck.