Outside groups put pressure on GOP to confirm EPA nominee

A pair of business and environmental organizations are mounting an advertising blitz against GOP senators that they hope will break the impasse over Environmental Protection Agency nominee 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.

Republican senators have placed a hold on McCarthy’s nomination, and there are rumblings that the party might filibuster her nomination when it comes to the floor.

The groups are trying to ward off that possibility by pressuring GOP lawmakers who have in the past supported or been linked to centrist or liberal energy policies.

The Sierra Club is the latest group to enter the fray with an ad campaign in Phoenix and Cincinnati that runs through July 15.

The ads say Sens. John McCainJohn McCainYes, let’s set politics aside on sage grouse conservation Democrats pounce on Cruz's Supreme Court comments Obama's right to tackle redistricting, but it won't be easy MORE (R-Ariz), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeThe Trail 2016: Wikissues Democrats pounce on Cruz's Supreme Court comments Flake gets early 2018 primary challenger MORE (R-Ariz.) and Rob PortmanRob PortmanDemocrats pounce on Cruz's Supreme Court comments Five takeaways from Florida Senate debate Endangered GOP senator: I don't know for whom I'll vote MORE (R-Ohio) “have the chance to get Washington moving again by supporting a smart, experienced, bipartisan leader who has what it takes to protect our air and water from dangerous pollution.”

McCain once championed cap-and-trade legislation for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, though he no longer does so. Flake introduced carbon tax legislation as a House member in 2009, though his office said it was simply a maneuver to offset a sweeping cap-and-trade bill moving through the lower chamber. And Portman is trying to shepherd a comprehensive energy efficiency bill through the Senate.

Sierra Club declined to disclose how much it was spending on the TV campaign, but said Cincinnati residents would see an ad between two and four times while those in Phoenix will see an ad between three and five times.

Republicans have said they're blocking McCarthy because she hasn’t fully answered questions about transparency at the EPA. They also want her to turn over information the EPA uses to craft air- and water-pollution regulations.

McCarthy’s boosters have stressed her experience working under Republican administrations — including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The Sierra Club endeavor comes on the heels of a “mid-six figure ad buy” from the American Sustainable Business Council Action Fund. That initiative spanned Tuesday and Wednesday, targeting viewers in Maine, New Hampshire and Ohio.

The business association is flexing on Portman, Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteFive takeaways from New Hampshire Senate debate Embattled GOP senator fires back at Warren The Trail 2016: Wikissues MORE (R-N.H.) and Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsRepublican opposition to raising the minimum wage Is crumbling 5 takeaways from the Indiana Senate debate GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election MORE (R-Maine), who is considered a centrist on energy issues, with ads contending that small businesses favor McCarthy.

“Gina has spent her career making sure environmental protection and economic interest work together. That’s why a recent poll showed that 62 percent of small businesses support her for EPA administrator,” the ad says.