President Obama's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, has spent some time in Wisconsin; whether her air pollution policies have been good or bad for the state may be a matter of dispute.
McCarthy has headed the EPA's division that targets air pollution. She spoke at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Madison in October 2009. McCarthy was jokingly asked if when the EPA goes after carbon dioxide sources contributing to climate change, the agency planned to regulate cow gas.
McCarthy sarcastically replied: "And we're going to make that first announcement in Wisconsin. What a public relations strategy that would be."
Jennifer Feyerherm of the Sierra Club in Madison says carbon dioxide controls remain at the top of the EPA's to-do list. Feyerherm says that she is happy that President Obama wants McCarthy to be EPA administrator.
Feyerherm says McCarthy has already helped tackle other air pollution problems in Wisconsin: "The biggest accomplishment that has helped Wisconsin air has been the tightening of fine particulate standards [and] passing mercury standards — these are rules that help us make sure that our air is as clean as it can be."
Feyerherm also says McCarthy has a good record of enforcing the Clean Air Act. But besides carbon dioxide, Feyerherm says the EPA also needs to move ahead on tighter ozone standards and crack down on coal ash.
Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson is promising a close look at the EPA nominee during the Senate confirmation process. Johnson says he'll focus on "Ms. McCarthy's ideas for achieving environmental goals without restraining private-sector growth."