Gina McCarthy

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Gina McCarthy
Gina McCarthy official portrait.jpg
1st White House National Climate Advisor
Assumed office
January 20, 2021
PresidentJoe Biden
DeputyAli Zaidi
Preceded byPosition established
13th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
In office
July 18, 2013 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
DeputyStan Meiburg (acting)
Preceded byLisa Jackson
Succeeded byScott Pruitt
Personal details
Regina McCarthy

(1954-05-03) May 3, 1954 (age 66)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Massachusetts Boston (BA)
Tufts University (MS)

Regina McCarthy (born May 3, 1954) is an American environmental health and air quality expert serving as the first White House National Climate Advisor under U.S. President Joe Biden. She served as the 13th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2013 to 2017.[1][2]

On March 4, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated McCarthy to replace Lisa Jackson as head of the EPA.[3] Confirmation hearings started April 11, 2013.[4] On July 18, 2013, she was confirmed after a record 136-day confirmation fight, becoming the face of Obama's global warming and climate change initiative.[5][6][7]

In early 2020, McCarthy started as president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

On December 17, 2020, President-Elect Joe Biden announced that he would be nominating McCarthy as the first National Climate Advisor where she will advise Biden on domestic climate change policy and lead the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Brighton, Boston,[8] McCarthy was raised in Dorchester, Massachusetts.[9] She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 1976, as a Bachelor of Arts in Social Anthropology. She later attended Tufts University, where she received a Master of Science in Environmental Health Engineering and Planning and Policy in 1981.[10]


McCarthy visiting a Missouri farm in 2014

McCarthy held the position of Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation from 2009-13. Prior to 2009, she served as Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (2004–09).[11]

She held several top positions in the civil service of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including Deputy Secretary of the Massachusetts Office of Commonwealth Development (2003–2004) and Undersecretary for policy for Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs from 1999 to 2003.[citation needed]

McCarthy has worked on environmental issues at the state and local levels and has developed policies on economic growth, energy, transportation and the environment.[10]

She has served as environmental adviser to five Massachusetts governors, including former Governor Mitt Romney. From 2004 to 2009 she was commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. In this capacity she implemented a regional policy to trade carbon credits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.[5]

EPA Administrator[edit]

McCarthy at 2014 meeting

According to some observers, Obama's selection of McCarthy confirmed his seriousness about battling climate change. Daniel Fiorino, director of the Center for Environmental Policy at American University, said: "Her nomination signals that the president really wants to deliver on his State of the Union objectives to take serious action on climate change." At least one member of the GOP regarded McCarthy as an environmental extremist.[12]

Gina McCarthy began her early career in the public sector working as the health agent for the Canton Board of Health. Regarding speculation that her appointment would affect Obama's decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline, Fiorino stated that this wouldn't affect the dynamics of the Keystone decision significantly as other considerations are paramount, but added: "... she knows air and climate issues very well and she's a very strong environmentalist." The EPA is one of the federal agencies that advised the Obama administration on the proposed pipeline, "a project that would carry millions of barrels of bitumen a week from Alberta's carbon-intensive oilsands to the U.S. Gulf Coast".[13]


While the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved the nomination in a vote along party lines on May 16,[14] the nomination was stalled on the Senate floor.

In the interim, Bob Perciasepe served as the EPA's acting administrator.[15] David Vitter, the ranking Republican on the Committee, posed 600 of a total 1,100 questions, to McCarthy. The Committee Republicans demanded responses from McCarthy on five "transparency requests."[15]

The delayed nomination became the longest period on record that the agency was without a leader. Christine Todd Whitman, a former Republican governor of New Jersey and EPA administrator under President George W. Bush, stated: “It’s not about [McCarthy], it’s about the agency... Republicans lost the [presidential] election and they have to realize that this is the president’s choice of nominee. They can go after the president, but Gina McCarthy should get an up-and-down vote.”[16] On July 18, 2013, the Senate confirmed McCarthy as the 13th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency by a vote of 59-40, largely along party lines.[7]

On September 11, 2015, 26 U.S. representatives introduced a resolution impeaching McCarthy. It was referred to the House Judiciary Committee and died.[17]


Administrator Gina McCarthy at Portage Lake Glacier, Alaska, August 26, 2013

On May 27, 2015, McCarthy finalized a rule under the Clean Water Act which proposed a new detailed and inclusive definition of "waters of the United States".[18] Thirteen states sued, and U.S. Chief District Judge Ralph R. Erickson issued an injunction blocking the regulation in those states.[19]

In a separate lawsuit, on October 9, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Judge David McKeague, joined by Judge Richard Allen Griffin stayed the rule's application nationwide; judge Damon Keith dissented.[20] Congress passed a joint resolution under the Congressional Review Act overturning the "WOTUS" rule,[21] but President Obama vetoed the measure.[22]

On June 25, 2015, McCarthy finalized the Clean Power Plan under the Clean Air Act, seeking to reduce coal use pursuant to the Paris Agreement.[23] Challengers failed to get the regulation stayed by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, but on February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States voted 5-4 to grant the stay, the first time the Supreme Court had ever stayed a regulation prior to lower court review.[24]

On March 17, 2016, McCarthy and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder testified before the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding the Flint water crisis.[25] Snyder apologized for the state's mistakes.[25] McCarthy, however, insisted the EPA had done nothing wrong and that "there is no way my agency created this problem", causing her to at times be shouted down by outraged members of Congress.[25] In October 2016, the EPA's inspector general concluded that the EPA had wrongfully delayed issuing an emergency order regarding Flint, Michigan.[26]

Pegasus Capital[edit]

In 2017, McCarthy joined Pegasus Capital Advisors, a private equity firm, where she serves as an operating advisor focused on sustainability and wellness investments.[27]


In late May 2018, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health announced the formation of a new climate and health science center - The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard Chan School (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE) - with McCarthy as its director.[28][29] In January 2020, she was tapped as the chair of their board of advisors.[30]

McCarthy was also a Richard L. and Ronay A. Menschel Senior Leadership Fellow at the School of Public Health. She taught a course there in the Department of Environmental Health titled, "Environmental Leadership: Integrating Science, Public Policy, and Political Rhetoric". She was the School's 2017 Commencement speaker. On November 6, 2017, Dean Michelle Williams sent out a public notice appointing McCarthy as a Professor of Public Health Practice.[31]

Natural Resources Defense Council[edit]

In November 2019 McCarthy was appointed president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, effective early 2020.[32][33]

Biden administration[edit]

On December 14, 2020, it was announced that McCarthy would serve as the first National Climate Advisor in the Biden administration. In the newly-created position, McCarthy will serve as Biden's chief advisor on domestic climate change policy. The position, which will have its own staff, will be a part of the White House Office.[34][35]


  1. ^ Smith, Sandy (July 18, 2013). "Gina McCarthy Confirmed as EPA Administrator". EHS Today. Cleveland. Archived from the original on June 12, 2017. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  2. ^ Obama, Barack (March 4, 2013). "Remarks by the President in Personnel Announcements". White House Press Release. Archived from the original on January 19, 2017. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  3. ^ The Huffington Post (March 4, 2013). Gina McCarthy Gets EPA Head Nomination From Obama Archived November 18, 2016, at the Wayback Machine; retrieved March 5, 2013.
  4. ^ John M. Broder (April 11, 2013). "Environmental Questions Take Back Seat at Hearing for E.P.A. Nominee". The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Mason, Jeff & Roberta Rampton. Obama settles on EPA, Energy Department nominees: source Archived October 10, 2015, at the Wayback Machine,, February 20, 2013; retrieved February 22, 2013.
  6. ^ McCumber, David. EPA's Gina McCarthy under scrutiny Archived November 2, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. San Francisco Chronicle, February 21, 2013; retrieved February 22, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Tracy, Tennille. Senate Confirms McCarthy as Head of EPA Archived August 29, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2013; retrieved July 19, 2013.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 29, 2017. Retrieved August 29, 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 1, 2018. Retrieved May 1, 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ a b U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation; retrieved February 22, 2013. Archived May 18, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Sandy Smith "Obama on EPA Nominee Gina McCarthy: ‘I’m confident that she’s going to do an outstanding job leading the EPA.’" EHS TODAY March 7, 2013 Archived July 22, 2018, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "GOP lawmaker looks to impeach EPA chief". Archived from the original on December 23, 2016. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  13. ^ CBC News (February 21, 2013). What will Obama's 'green quarterback' mean for Keystone XL? Archived February 23, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; retrieved February 23, 2013.
  14. ^ Bernstein, Lenny (May 16, 2013). "Senate committee approves Obama's nomination of Gina McCarthy to head EPA". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 24, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  15. ^ a b Eilperin, Juliet (May 29, 2013). "Is blocking Gina McCarthy at EPA a pyrrhic victory for Republicans? It just might be". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on June 12, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  16. ^ Fifield, Anna (July 9, 2013). EPA nominee Gina McCarthy a victim of Washington’s toxic politics Archived September 24, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Financial Times; retrieved July 10, 2013.
  17. ^ "GOP Congressman Wants To Impeach EPA Chief Gina McCarthy". September 9, 2015. Archived from the original on September 13, 2015. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  18. ^ Davenport, Coral (May 28, 2015). "Obama Announces New Rule Limiting Water Pollution". The New York Times. p. A14. Archived from the original on January 27, 2018. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  19. ^ Gershman, Jacob (August 28, 2015). "After Court Defeat, EPA Presses Forward With Water Rule in Some States". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on November 10, 2018. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  20. ^ Gershman, Jacob (October 9, 2015). "Appeals Court Blocks EPA Water Rule Nationwide". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on August 1, 2017. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  21. ^ S.J.Res. 22, 114th Congress (2015).
  22. ^ Cama, Timothy (January 21, 2016). "Senate fails to override Obama veto". The Hill. Archived from the original on December 15, 2016. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  23. ^ Recent Regulation: The Clean Power Plan Archived December 6, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, 129 Harv. L. Rev. 1152 (February 10, 2016).
  24. ^ Liptak, Adam; Davenport, Coral. "Supreme Court Deals Blow to Obama's Efforts to Regulate Coal Emissions". The New York Times (February 10, 2016). p. A1. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  25. ^ a b c Goodnough, Abby (March 18, 2017). "Michigan Governor Tells Congress He Was Misled on Flint Water". The New York Times. p. A1. Archived from the original on October 15, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  26. ^ Bosman, Julie (October 21, 2016). "E.P.A. Waited Too Long to Warn of Flint Water Danger, Report Says". The New York Times. p. A19. Archived from the original on January 26, 2017. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  27. ^ "Environmental Leader Gina McCarthy Joins Pegasus Capital as Operating Advisor". Business Wire. June 1, 2017. Archived from the original on September 5, 2018. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  28. ^ "Gina McCarthy, former U.S. EPA Administrator, launches C-CHANGE at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health". News. May 30, 2018. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  29. ^ Stendahl, Max. "Former EPA head Gina McCarthy to lead new climate center at Harvard". Boston Business Journal. Archived from the original on December 16, 2020. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  30. ^ "PEOPLE: Gina McCarthy, John Kerry tapped for Harvard climate board". Retrieved January 19, 2021.
  31. ^ "Commencement 2017: Gina McCarthy, former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency". Archived from the original on November 16, 2018. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  32. ^ Eilperin, Juliet. "Obama's former EPA chief takes the helm of environmental group that's sued Trump nearly 100 times". Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 5, 2019. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  33. ^ "NRDC Announces Gina McCarthy as President & CEO". NRDC. Archived from the original on November 5, 2019. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  34. ^ Friedman, Lisa (December 15, 2020). "Biden to Name Gina McCarthy, Former E.P.A. Chief, as White House Climate Coordinator". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 15, 2020. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  35. ^ "Biden To Name Gina McCarthy, Former EPA Chief, As Domestic Climate Coordinator". Archived from the original on December 16, 2020. Retrieved December 16, 2020.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Lisa Jackson
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Succeeded by
Scott Pruitt
New creation White House National Climate Advisor