Following weeks of speculation, President Obama has nominated a top current Environmental Protection Agency official and a former Clintoon administration Energy Dept. official to fill the top posts at EPA and DOE.
Gina McCarthy, currently assistant administrator at EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, has been tapped to serve as administrator of EPA; Ernest Moniz, former under secretary of energy during the Clinton administration, and currently a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to lead the DOE, Obama announced at a March 4 White House briefing.
Both are expected to be confirmed, industry sources say, although some environmental groups express reservations about Moniz’s support for natural gas development and nuclear power.
Environment America’s Clean Energy Advocate Courtney Abrams says Moniz “has a history of supporting dirty and dangerous energy sources like gas and nucleaer power with polluting partners, including BP, Shell, Chevron and Saudi Aramco.”
But those concerns don’t seem likely to ultimately cost Moniz the confirmation. Scott Segal, an energy lobbyist with the Washington, D.C. offices of Bracewell and Giuliani, says, “Some have criticized [Moniz] for recognizing that fossils fuels are the only bridge to newer technologies. But comments like that only show that he can be counted on to be more clear-eyed as America faces important energy choices in coming years.”
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, said in a statement that he was “thrilled” that Moniz had been nominated and said, “A nationally and internationally recognized scholar on energy issues, Ernie brings plenty of intellectual firepower to this job, just as his predecessor Steven Chu did, as well as a down-to-earth, human touch that will serve him well as he leads the Energy Department in a too often contentious political environment.”
McCarthy, who oversaw the development of several regulations to reduce air pollution at EPA, has also served as a top environmental official in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.
While some industry groups complain that many of the air-related rules EPA developed under McCarthy’s supervision were overly burdensome on manufacturers and the power sector, Jeff Holmstead, a former air administrator during the George W. Bush administration, notes, “There’s a general sense that Gina is at least willing to listen to industry’s concerns and to address them when she believes they’re legitimate. Gina is certainly an environmentalist, but I don’t think she’s anti-industry.”
Kevin Crapsey, vice president of corporate strategy and development of Louisville, Ky.-based Eco Power Solutions, a provider of multi-pollutant emissions control technology, says, “"Most of our senior management has experience with Gina McCarthy at the state level and found her to be tough on emissions but fair to the industry. We expect that she will continue to seek that balance as EPA Administrator. “ He adds, "McCarthy’s EPA can lead the effort to address climate change with a minimal impact on electricity consumers with realistic timelines for impacted industries and incentives for reducing emissions.
Both Sens. Barbara Boxer, (D-Calif.) chairman of the Environmenta and Public Works Committee, and and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, say they plan to hold confirmation hearings for the nominees soon.