According to reports, President Obama is leaning towards naming EPA official Gina McCarthy to succeed Lisa Jackson as EPA Administrator. McCarthy is currently in charge of air quality at the EPA. She has an extensive background, however, in climate change policy. She served as a top environmental advisor to then Governor Mitt Romney and helped his administration put in place the state’s first action plan on climate change.
McCarthy’s appointment would be a clear indication that Obama plans to make action on climate change a priority in his second term. The EPA is expected to finalize final rules on emissions from new power plants this Spring. The rules will likely be the first fight between the Administration and Congress on climate change proposals. The new regulations, also, will provide a controversial back-drop to any nominee’s confirmation to head the EPA.
McCarthy’s nomination would be controversial on its own, however, as she has often clashed with Republicans in testimony on the Hill. Politico describes her as “battle-ready,” which is consistent with the more confrontational approach towards Congress Obama has taken with his second term nominations.
The media will no doubt play up her work for Gov. Romney as “bi-partisan” credentials. At that time, however, Romney believed government needed to take action to avert climate change, putting him far outside mainstream Republican opinion on the subject.
In his first term, Obama generally avoided knock-down fights over his nominees. At the beginning of his second term, he now seems to relish them.