Unable to offer many details about the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy on Monday emphasized the lasting nature of the EPA’s mission. “We have a great mission that I know will sustain because people kind of like clean air and clean water and healthy land,” McCarthy said during a Washington, D.C., event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
Trump was particularly critical of the EPA during his campaign, pledging to roll back agency regulations such at the Clean Power Plan, carbon emissions standards for existing coal-fired power plants. In an October 2015 interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Trump suggested nixing the agency altogether. Asked what departments or services he would cut, Trump responded: “Environmental protection, what they do is a disgrace. Every week they come out with new regulations … we’ll be fine with the environment. We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.”
Trump has tapped Myron Ebell to oversee the transition of the EPA under the new administration. Ebell leads the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and chairs the “Cooler Heads Coalition,” which describes itself as an “informal and ad-hoc group focused on dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis.”
Regardless, McCarthy said she looks forward to working with Trump’s transition team, which at this point has not had any substantial contact with the agency. “As far as I know, up until this weekend we have just had one individual who came a couple of days before Thanksgiving,” she said.
McCarthy said the EPA’s mission is nonpartisan and that she and the rest of the agency’s staff look forward to a smooth transition. “The most important message that we’re giving to people is to trust that the mission of the agency is solid, people actually continue to care, it’s a nonpartisan mission, it’s about protecting public health, which is a pretty good thing, and so I’m not particular worried that people have now decided they don’t care about the health of themselves or their children or the future of the country or the planet,” she said.
The EPA’s career staff have been holding steady since the election, McCarthy said. “They are going to as career staff be engaged in that transition. I think we’re most anxious to have the transition team around. … One of the key … tenets of EPA is that we have followed the science and we have followed the law, and I think folks know that that’s how the agency operates, and that policy is one thing, scientific fact is another,” she said. “That change in policy does not change science facts.”