resized gina mccarthy

(Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)


Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy has faced intense scrutiny surrounding the majority of actions taken by her agency over the last four years, but she remains unwaveringly energetic and optimistic about the future of environmental protection. The EPA, she said, will continue to attract the best and brightest who want to fight climate change, all while remaining the “rock star” internationally for how to structure environmental protection initiatives.

McCarthy said she intends to be active until the end of President Barack Obama's administration and hopes to “tee up” a number of high profile regulations, like the Clean Power Plan, to withstand legal battles during the next administration.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Bloomberg BNA reporter Anthony Adragna April 14 on the sidelines of the Environmental Council of the States spring meeting in Nashville, McCarthy acknowledged “mistakes were made” in responding to the Flint, Mich., drinking water crisis and the Gold King mine spill. But she said “the worst thing we can do is put our head in the sand and not face them.” Those incidents underscore the need for greater collaboration between states and the EPA and the need for significant additional investment in our national infrastructure, she said.

The world is on the verge of a “big leap” in environmental protection—a “second wave,” McCarthy called it—that will see greater reuse of materials and a more sustainable integration of materials to reduce waste of natural resources, like food, she said. One component of the next wave of environmental protection is to have public health officials work more closely with environmental regulators, McCarthy said, noting human environmental activities “are directly impacting public health.” 

Anthony’s interview is available at McCarthy: We’re Nearing ‘Second Wave’ of Environmental Action.