Washington D.C. is known for many things, chief among them being the perpetual gridlock on Capitol Hill. But last week the Senate actually managed to come together to approve a new appointee to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Gina McCarthy, the agency’s new chief, has spent the last four years working as the E.P.A’s top official on air quality control.

It is no coincidence that McCarthy’s former profession falls right in line with the administration’s efforts to impose new emission restrictions on carbon-based power plants. The administration announced last month that they will begin drawing up plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants using the regulatory authority granted to the E.P.A. Coal as an energy source accounts for roughly 1/3 of all greenhouse gas emissions produced by the United States, making it the largest target for national emissions standards.

Of course any new environmental regulations are sure to meet stiff resistance from manufacturing and energy companies. However, McCarthy has spent several years working with industry leaders in order to strike a balance between the economic interests of big business and the environmental concerns of both the public and state. Her appointment pales in comparison to previous appointees to the position who entered the office with more polarized support from either environmentalists or industrialists.

The new chief will also have to contend with a number of other pressing issues. The proposed oil pipeline stretching from the oil sands of Canada down to the Gulf still requires agency review, on top of new auto emission standards, a huge increase in hydraulic fracking, and a new push among the states to adopt waste-to-energy plants. The agency will also have to oversee the waste management practices of states that are currently running out of landfills, prompting an increasing number of them to push recycling and other renewable disposal practices.

The E.P.A.’s daunting agenda can hopefully be handled by the new chief. But as with every federal agency, there is always a lot more that could be done than actually gets done.

Source Via: Reuters