EPA chief visiting China amid record air pollution

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will begin her tour of China on Monday as one of the country's largest cities faces record air pollution.

On Monday, Shanghai warned children and the elderly to remain indoors due to increasing smog that has reached the worst levels since the Chinese government began monitoring it last year.

McCarthy will stop in Shanghai on her third day of touring the country, and plans to discuss air pollution standards with Chinese officials.

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President and CEO of the American Gas Association Dave McCurdy said late last week that he expects McCarthy to also discuss natural-gas development with Chinese officials during her visit.

Shale development in China could be the answer to the country's severe air pollution woes, with the U.S. helping pave the way, McCurdy stressed during a reporter's roundtable on Friday.

"Any time the president and energy secretary go to China, in every conversation they have with China's leaders they talk about natural gas and how it is the driver to actually meeting carbon goals," McCurdy said.

McCurdy met with McCarthy on Friday ahead of her trip to talk about where shale development is headed in China and the United States.

"I think the Cabinet is at a level of people who can provide real counsel and support to the administration on real policy and development on natural gas," McCurdy said. "I know climate [change] is their principle mantra but I can assure you in all of our meetings with [the administration] natural gas is a key part of the foundation.

"I think their domestic agenda is effected by international appeal for help in this area," McCurdy added.

China is asking for help as heavy pollution — which reached a record 482 on the air quality index in the last four days — threatens to undermine Shanghai's pursuit of foreign investment, Bloomberg reports.

McCarthy will be the latest from the Obama administration to visit the country.

Last week, Vice President Biden met with China's president to discuss relations between the two superpowers. The two leaders also discussed battling climate change, as China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

"We agreed to work with [China] to open up their shale gas to investment and development," a senior administration official said last week.