By Ben Geman - 04/11/13 02:59 PM EDT
Democratic supporters of Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s choice to run the Environmental Protection Agency, are highlighting her past work for GOP governors early and often during McCarthy’s Thursday appearance before a Senate panel.
“She has shown a strong bipartisan spirit,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that’s vetting McCarthy’s nomination. “She has worked for both Republicans and Democrats.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who introduced the Boston native, said McCarthy has a “pragmatic” approach, noting work for governors of both parties in Massachusetts.
“She served in numerous environmental posts in the administrations of no fewer than five governors,” Warren said. “Those of you who are familiar with Massachusetts politics will recognize this as an achievement in and of itself.”
McCarthy is currently the agency’s top air pollution regulator, a role that has drawn scathing attacks from Republican lawmakers who say the agency’s air pollution rules are too aggressive and hurting the coal industry.
McCarthy was previously the top environmental aide to Connecticut’s former GOP Gov. Jodi Rell, and before that worked for several Republican governors of Massachusetts — including failed Republican White House candidate and former Gov. Mitt Romney.
But while McCarthy supporters are emphasizing her state-level work to undercut political opposition, Senate Republicans are stressing McCarthy’s more recent past.
“As head of the EPA's office on air quality since 2009, Ms. McCarthy has been a leader in the administration's war on fossil fuels,” writes Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) in The Wall Street Journal Thursday.
Sen. David Vitter (La.), the committee’s top Republican, opened the hearing with attacks against the EPA’s record under Obama, including what he called a disturbing lack of transparency.
“I am concerned ... that the central functions of the agency have been obfuscated by ideology,” Vitter said.
He riffed off of McCarthy’s recent comment that “information is power.”
“Apparently she believes that withholding information is power,” Vitter said.