McCarthy vows to be ‘a friend’ to clean energy industry

Source: Daniel Lippman, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, March 31, 2014

U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy today promised renewable energy advocates that the Obama administration’s climate rules would help grow the clean energy industry.

“Know that you have a friend at this podium,” McCarthy told a meeting of the American Council on Renewable Energy on Capitol Hill.”The energy issues and the environmental issues are really two sides of the same coin,” she said. “If there’s one message … it is that the president’s Climate Action Plan is designed to complement clean energy development and its deployment.”Rebutting charges that stricter environmental rules can hurt businesses, she said “a healthy environment can in no way jeopardize our economy” because the United States will benefit from leading the world on renewable energy.McCarthy used the opportunity to tout her agency’s upcoming carbon regulations due out in June.The regulations are aimed “to craft a path forward in a 21st-century economy that understands our economy is going to be operating in a carbon-constrained world,” she said. “We have been really having a dialogue at the state level between energy and environmental commissioners that I think has been overdue for decades” to help craft a rule that all states can comply with.

She said EPA’s rules are aimed at “normal human beings who want to have jobs, who want clean air and want to have the lights come on when they switch on the lights.”

And she talked up previous regulations her agency has released on fuel economy standards and for biofuels.

“Our policies are moving private capital off the shelves and they’re putting them into cutting-edge technologies,” she said.

She pointed to “historic fuel economy standards” that she said have helped the U.S. automobile industry add 250,000 jobs in recent years, “the best period they’ve seen in growth in over a decade.”

And she lauded the fact that there have been at least 40 renewable energy projects built on public lands since President Obama took office. Those projects have created 20,000 jobs and generated enough electricity to power 4.8 million homes, she said.

“When it comes to clean energy, we really do have to keep incentivizing innovation,” she said. “That’s what the renewable fuels standard is all about. That’s why the administration remains committed to biofuels.”

But she said that the transition to clean energy won’t happen “overnight” and that she knows “that conventional fuels are going to be an important part” of the country’s energy mix going forward.