Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyBusiness leaders must stand up and 'March for Science' on Saturday Trump isn't saving the coal industry. He's letting it compete. EPA chief: ‘Help is on the way’ for farmers MORE says the administration's recent proposal to cut carbon pollution from the nation's power plants is about leadership.
"The president knows we have to show domestic leadership," McCarthy said during an interview on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher."
McCarthy was responding to assertions by opponents of the new rules, who say the U.S. should not act on climate change policies when other countries such as China and India are continuing to build coal-fired power plants.
McCarthy argued: "But if the US doesn't act what voice do we bring to the table to drive that larger solution."
Heading into the 2015 Paris climate talks the U.S. has been including climate change as a central talking point in most diplomatic talks.
Leading up to the administration's announcement on the new carbon standards, global leaders were keeping a watchful eye on the specifics of the rules.
Energy experts said that global leaders are looking to the U.S. to lead on climate policies. Leaders from the European Union, and India applauded President Obama for taking an aggressive step but said more needs to be done.
"We are dealing with the most difficult, contentious, public health challenge of our time," McCarthy added.