EPA chief: Teach climate change in schools

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyCalifornia commits to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 Overnight Energy: Watchdog faults EPA over Pruitt security costs | Court walks back order on enforcing chemical plant rule | IG office to probe truck pollution study EPA unveils new Trump plan gutting Obama power plant rules MORE said students should be taught the science behind climate change in schools.

"I think part of the challenge of explaining climate change is that it requires a level of science and a level of forward thinking and you’ve got to teach that to kids," McCarthy said in an interview with the magazine Irish American published Friday. 

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The comments from McCarthy, who is the face of President Obama’s signature climate rule on existing power plants, will likely set off a firestorm among Republican lawmakers skeptical of the science behind climate change.

McCarthy added that the growing use of renewables in communities, even on school buildings, would help kids see the transition to cleaner energy first hand.

"People didn’t have a sense of how dramatic climate change really is, and what it means for all of us. So that’s been a challenge,” she said. “But what’s great about renewables is that when you put a solar panel on the roof of a school, you change the entire dynamic of education for the students. It’s hands-on.”

Despite severe pushback from Republicans in Congress, and industry, on the administration's carbon pollution rules for power plants, McCarthy said people across the U.S. are getting "more active and engaged" on climate control.

The EPA is working overtime to fend off attacks from opponents of the president's climate agenda, and has stressed the flexibility the carbon rules give states. 

"We are under very close scrutiny but we'll live up to that scrutiny and we'll still make progress," McCarthy said.