‘We have a clear responsibility to act now on climate change,’ McCarthy tells employees

Source: John McArdle, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Newly installed U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy distributed a brief video message to staffers this morning laying out her priorities as she officially takes the reins of the 17,000-employee agency.

McCarthy, who was sworn in Friday after a tough confirmation battle on Capitol Hill, said that the agency is facing a “defining” moment in large part because President Obama has called on the agency to take the lead in his new push to fight climate change.

“We have a clear responsibility to act now on climate change,” McCarthy said. “That’s what the president has called on us and the American people so that we protect future generations.”

McCarthy cited Obama’s recent remarks in which he laid out a controversial climate change plan that included efforts to lower carbon pollution from new and existing power plants. In that speech, Obama said the question facing the nation now is whether Americans have the courage to act to protect future generations before it’s too late.

“This agency has the courage to act,” McCarthy said. “We can make it happen. But we need all hands on deck.”

McCarthy also pointed to EPA efforts on water infrastructure and chemical safety laws as areas that present both challenges and opportunities for the agency.

The new administrator also appeared to sympathize with employees over the financial and staffing challenges EPA has faced due to recent budget cuts and ongoing impacts under the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.

“I know that the greatest resource this agency has is its people, and I’ll never forget to put the people and the mission of this EPA first,” McCarthy said