Photo Courtesy of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
The agency is expected to advance a rule to curb powerplants' air emissions.

Despite opposition from some Senate Republicans and one Democrat from a coal state, Gina McCarthy was sworn in as the Environmental Protection Agency's administrator. She receives high marks from industry and environmental groups. Both are waiting to see the shape of regulations the EPA issues on McCarthy's watch.

McCarthy, whom the Senate confirmed on July 18 by a 59-40 vote, headed EPA's Office of Air and Radiation during President Obama's first term. She is described as a pragmatist who can work with Republicans and Democrats. But some industry officials express concern about pending EPA rules and proposals that they contend could hinder economic growth and slow construction.

David Goldston, Natural Resources Defense Council director of government relations, says, "We're very optimistic. She knows the agency, she knows the administration and Congress, she's worked with stakeholders … so she's as ready to meet [coming] challenges as anyone could be."

Goldston expects McCarthy to focus on rules aimed at curbing new and existing powerplants' airborne carbon emissions. He also says EPA's water program "has a backlog of issues to deal with."

Michael Kennedy, Associated General Contractors of America's general counsel, says AGC has had a "good relationship" with Mc-Carthy but is concerned about some pending EPA actions. He says a potential proposal to regulate stormwater runoff from completed projects "could leave construction contractors with long-term liability" for long-finished work.

If the EPA decides to regulate coal-combustion waste—fly ash—as a hazardous material, he says that would curb recycling of the material for concrete. Environmental groups favor the "hazardous" designation.