EPA chief: Public tired of debating climate change

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyEPA aims to improve environmental protections for minorities Administration should finalize proposed changes to strengthen the Regional Haze Rule Global climate pact may bump into Senate roadblock MORE said Friday that the public does not want more "debate or discussion" about climate change, but government action.

"First, people overwhelmingly consider climate change to be a problem—and they want action, not more debate or discussion," McCarthy said in a speech at Georgetown University.

"Second, what’s even more impressive, is that we see overwhelming support specifically for EPA action to curb carbon pollution from power plants," she said.

"Now that is music to my ears."

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in June found that 67 percent of adults support the EPA's proposal to reduce power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions

As the U.S. presses other countries to take action, McCarthy said she was encouraged by a United Nations climate meeting last month.

"It was the first time I have left one of those meetings optimistic, actually way optimistic," she said.

Officials from other countries were eager to hear if the U.S. was really going forward with the rules, she said.

"The optimism, much of it, was revolving around this president and this administration taking the kind of action that we need to take," McCarthy added.

The EPA's rule has taken center stage in Kentucky’s Senate race, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has accused the administration of a "war on coal."

"Coal as a fuel source for power plants is really not competitive in most of the United States," McCarthy said in a Q&A after her speech.

The transition, she said, "is already ongoing and, regardless of this rule, will continue."