EPA chief: US is ready to push forward on climate change

EPA chief: US is ready to push forward on climate change
© Greg Nash

President Obama’s chief environmental regulator told the international climate conference in Paris on Tuesday that the U.S. is already pushing forward with a slate of new climate change rules. 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Critics accuse Interior's top lawyer of misleading Congress | Boaty McBoatface makes key climate change discovery | Outrage over Trump's order to trim science advisory panels Trump's order to trim science advisory panels sparks outrage Overnight Energy: Trump order to trim science panels sparks outrage | Greens ask watchdog to investigate Interior's records policies | EPA to allow use of pesticide harmful to bees MORE told climate negotiators that the U.S. is committed to cutting down on carbon pollution and fighting global warming. 

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“The U.S. is serious and committed,” she said during an event about Obama’s climate action plan. 

“We’ve taken durable steps that are rooted in science, codified in our laws, and broadly supported by our citizens. The right market signals are there. And the technologies we need to make solutions profitable are at our fingertips.”

McCarthy highlighted progress the U.S. has made on greening its energy systems and its transportation sector. The Clean Power Plan, the controversial, sweeping new EPA rules regulating emissions from the power sector, are the “single biggest step America has ever taken to fight climate change,” she said.

McCarthy’s message looks to drive home the Obama administration’s contention that the U.S. is ready to carry its weight in implementing a landmark, worldwide deal to cut carbon emissions and begin tackling climate change. 

“I also want to assure you that our plan will stick, and it will stand the test of time,” she said of the Clean Power Plan, the cornerstone of Obama’s climate pledge. 

“First, it’s based on science and the law. Second, when I go out on the road to cities and towns across the U.S., it’s crystal clear that the American people want climate action. I see it at the community level all the way up through polls at the national scale.”

United Nations officials hope to agree to terms on a climate accord by this weekend. As part of that deal, the United States, the world’s second-largest carbon emitter, has agreed to cut its carbon pollution by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025. 

Republicans have looked to raise doubts about the U.S.’s ability to do that and have warned other negotiators that the country might not be able to follow through on its pledges. They have passed legislation blocking the power plant rules, and while Obama is certain to veto those resolutions, the rules face legal challenges as well.

But McCarthy said Tuesday that the plan will survive the challenges against it.

“American law requires that we act to reduce greenhouse gases, and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing,” she said.