Gina McCarthy was the head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama, starting in July 2013. Under her leadership, the agency undertook an ambitious climate change agenda, curbing emissions from vehicles and working toward the Clean Power Plan, an effort to further cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Many of those regulations are now being undone by her successor, Scott Pruitt, who as attorney general of Oklahoma initiated multiple challenges to EPA regulations. High Country News recently caught up with McCarthy in Lander, Wyoming, as she prepared to address a crowd at the 50th anniversary of the Wyoming Outdoor Council. High Country News: In terms of their impact on Western states and Alaska, what accomplishments at the EPA were you most proud of, and which of these are most threatened by the current administration? Gina McCarthy: Well at this point, I’d say that the current administration is really relooking and reconsidering just about every decision that’s been made under the Obama administration, and I think they’ve made it clear that they want to rethink all the climate efforts.
A letter signed by a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and Representatives from New Mexico and Colorado is urging President Barack Obama to direct federal resources to the Animas River spill cleanup. Among these resources is a call for a coordinated response to the disaster. The Environmental Protection Agency has been criticized by state and local governments for not providing timely communication on the spill and its impact on the area. The spill happened after a team working for the EPA accidentally released three million gallons of toxic water from an abandoned mine near Silverton, Colo. into a nearby creek.
There will be several high profile visits to the site of the Animas River Spill in the coming days. The spill happened when an Environmental Protection Agency team attempting to clean the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colo. released millions of gallons of water with heavy metals and other materials. The materials flowed into a creek that led to the Animas River. Now, the Administrator of the EPA will visit the site of the damage according to a press release by members of the New Mexico congressional delegation.