Statement of Barbara Boxer
Hearing on the Nomination of Gina McCarthy to become the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
April 11, 2013
Today, I welcome the President's nominee for Administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Gina McCarthy. Gina McCarthy, you are one of the best qualified nominees ever to come before this Committee. Your combination of experience, intelligence, energy, expertise, and integrity will make you an effective EPA Administrator.
This is the second time you have been nominated for a top position at EPA. Previously, you were confirmed by the Senate without a recorded "no" vote.
Why do I believe this nominee is the right person to take the helm at EPA? She has over three decades of public service at the local, state, and federal levels, and at a time when there can be a bitter divide in Washington, she has shown a strong bipartisan spirit. She has worked for both Republicans and Democrats: Republican Governor of Connecticut, Jodi Rell; three Republican Governors of Massachusetts -- Paul Cellucci, Jane Swift, and Mitt Romney; and a Democratic President, Barack Obama.
Because of her common-sense approach to protecting public health, Gina McCarthy has received support from businesses, health officials, environmental organizations, and scientists. I would like to put into the record the letters and statements of support.
I strongly believe that Gina McCarthy's nomination should enjoy smooth sailing through this committee and on the Senate floor. Now, a few of my Republican colleagues have asked some questions, and it is my fervent hope that they will be resolved quickly.
One of the questions raised is the use of secondary work email accounts at EPA. It is important to note that this method of answering email was initiated by Republican EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and was used by Republican EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and Acting Administrator Marianne Horinko.
Secondary emails have been used because top officials at EPA simply receive too many messages through their primary email account to be manageable. For example, Administrator Jackson received roughly 1.5 million emails a year -- more than 41,000 emails a day.
For her secondary work email account, Administrator Jackson used the name "Richard Windsor," Administrator Whitman used "ToWhit," Administrator Johnson used "ToCarter," Acting Administrator Horinko used "ToDuke," and Deputy Administrator Peacock used the name "Tofu@epa.gov."
Republican members of this Committee wrote to Gina McCarthy just yesterday with a number of questions generally focusing on past EPA practices. EPA has provided extensive information and intends to continue to work with the Republican members on these issues.
I totally disagree that EPA has been "wholly unresponsive" to the majority of issues raised in this letter. I am hopeful all outstanding issues can be addressed promptly and will not stop this most qualified candidate from moving forward.
EPA has a critical mission - to protect human health. Laws like the Clean Air Act have a great history. I remember a time when the air was so dirty in Los Angeles it was hard to see out the window. Because of the EPA, there has been a dramatic improvement in air quality.
[Chart] In 1976, there were 166 air health alerts in Southern California. In 2012, there were zero air alerts. This demonstrates remarkable progress that must be continued across the country.
[Chart] Compare this Clean Air Act success story to China, where air quality is a disaster.
[Chart] The American people get this. In January 2013, a national bipartisan poll found that 78 percent of voters believe that clean air is extremely or very important, with 69 percent of voters favoring even stricter limits on air pollution.
The results are clear - the American people support the EPA and our landmark environmental and public health laws.
Gina McCarthy's service as Assistant Administrator over the past four years has led to reductions in mercury, arsenic, lead, and other toxic pollutants in our air.
I am confident that Gina McCarthy will lead EPA with transparency, and that she will follow the science and the law.
Gina McCarthy has a deep understanding that the health and safety of the American people and a growing economy depend on clean air and clean water, and I know she will lead EPA in a bipartisan manner.
Gina McCarthy, I strongly support your nomination to be the next EPA Administrator, and I look forward to hearing your testimony today.