New EPA chief Gina McCarthy has agenda, spirit

Posted by Mark Grossi on November 22, 2013 

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy at The Bee.

JOHN WALKER

Keep your eye on the new administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy. She has an ambitious agenda on climate change, fracking, dirty drinking water and smoggy air.

And she has spirit if her meeting with The Fresno Bee editorial board on Wednesday was any indication. She wants to cooperate with state and local leaders, but she's not giving up her role as environmental watchdog.

"People are nervous, about climate change and water," she said. "They're looking to the federal government for leadership."

What about the issue of hydraulic fracturing or fracking? It involves blasting water and chemicals into shale to free up oil. There's an estimated 15.4 billion barrels of it in California, and the practice is used in many states. 

Should fracking be stopped until science has figured out the impact to the air and water? She said the federal government is conducting extensive studies on the issue to answer those questions. But she did not advocate a moratorium.

"Life doesn't stop," she said. "The idea is to provide the best science we can."

When asked about the San Joaquin Valley's request to have EPA approve the region's attainment of the one-hour ozone standard, she was clear. It won't happen until EPA agrees with the local analysis of the ozone problem here.

She also talked about bringing more federal funding to the Valley, touching on environmental justice issues.

"We should be directing funds to where the greatest needs are," she said.

 

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