Obama's EPA, DOE Nominations Bring Political and Industry Experience

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According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, President Barack Obama has nominated new heads of both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE), two agencies that could spearhead action regarding climate change and carbon emissions during the president's second term. Obama has picked Gina McCarthy to be the EPA's new administrator and Ernest Moniz as the new DOE secretary. Both have strong backgrounds in public administration and hail from the state of Massachusetts.

Here are some facts and details about each candidate's background and responses regarding President Obama's choices:

Gina McCarthy

Background and Experience:

Selected to replace Lisa Jackson as head of the EPA, McCarthy, 58, is already familiar with the agency's operations since she currently serves as the assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, noted Reuters. Additionally, she served under the state administrations former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and former Gov. Jodi Rell of Connecticut, both Republicans. While serving in both states, McCarthy often worked with industries and became an expert in air policies.

Political and Industry Response:

Her nomination has already brought some praise. American Chemistry Council President Cal Dooley said he and members of his group "have a lot of confidence in McCarthy's leadership ability." The Washington Post noted that Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., also emphasized her experience as making her the "right person for the job." However, despite her affiliation with right-wing administrations, coal companies have expressed reservations and it is expected that Republican senators, including Sen. David Vittner, R-La., will grill her during the appointment approval process.

Ernest Moniz

Background and Experience:

If approved by the Senate, Moniz will replace Steven Chu at the DOE. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Moniz, 68, is currently an engineering and physics scientist and researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Between 1997 and 2001, he was an undersecretary at the DOE and also served as a science adviser to President Bill Clinton for two years. His own research focuses on biofuel and nuclear fission technology.

Political and Industry Response:

USA Today reports that Moniz is a proponent of nuclear energy and natural gas, which has immediately awarded him favor with these two industries. His position as director of MIT's Energy Initiative, which is supported by BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and Chevron, also positively links him to the private energy sector. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Moniz's nomination is a move in the right direction for national security and economic development. However, environmental groups, specifically the Sierra Club, expressed concern that Moniz would focus too heavily on nuclear energy and natural gas production, at a time when fracking and nuclear waste are of widespread criticism, and not enough on moving towards renewable energy sources.

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

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