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Amid all the challenges that we face, my ears are becoming attuned for a particular drip, a drip of good (to outstanding) news on a particular front.

One of the heartening elements of the past few months, with some (sometimes notable exceptions):  the stream of competent to highly competent, moral to extremely moral, bright to brilliant people who have been nominated for and moved into Obama Administration positions.

A quick note on one of these:  Gina McCarthy, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Envrionmental Protection (DEP).  With about a 30 year record working in the environmental arena, McCarthy was announced a few weeks ago as the Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation for the Environmental Protection Agency.  She has a big job in front of her.

If confirmed in her EPA job ... she will immediately face the task of reviewing ''a series of controversial Bush-era clean air regulations that have been sent back to the agency by federal courts,'' while moving to complete mercury and clean-air interstate regulations, to curb power plant pollutants.

''She understands not only all the issues involved in air pollution and global warming but has seen them from a state perspective as well as a national one.  Obviously, there's going to be a huge amount on her plate,'' Clean Air Watch President Frank O'Donnell. ''In all these cases, she is very familiar with them because Connecticut has been on the receiving end of a lot of emissions from other areas.''

In her statement to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, McCarthy showed that she doesn't just have the expertise, but also the passion for the tasks before her.

Above all else, if confirmed, I will keep OAR’s eyes on the real prize: saving lives by protecting our environment. Air pollution kills people and makes people sick – a lot of people – each and every day, each and every year. And climate change, if greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked, has the potential to rob my children (Dan, Maggie and Julie) and to rob all children, of their rightful future. So my deliverable, if confirmed, will be clean air and federal leadership on climate.

25+ years of experience and a passion for protecting her children and, by extension, mine.  

As with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, McCarthy emphasized the importance of EPA staff and EPA scientists>  From McCarthy's opening statement at her nomination hearing yesterday,

As we all know, the science around air quality, radiation and climate is very complex. In fact, some of most complex scientific modeling and assessments underway within the Environmental Protection Agency take place within the Office of Air and Radiation. And I am sitting here today not because I am a scientist, but because, like President Obama and Administrator Jackson, I intend to leave the science to the scientists.

If confirmed I will reach out to the EPA’s scientists who work so hard to inform our health risk and impact assessments and to define our environmental challenges. I commit to this Committee that I will fully consider their work in each and every decision I recommend to the Administrator. Science will be the backbone of our decision-making process. That is what Administrator Jackson has promised, and that is what I will deliver.


And, like Jackson, McCarthy emphasized the rule of law.  "I am going to ask [EPA career staff] how we can get the job done in ways that not only meet the letter of the law but the spirit of the law. The rule of law will be the fundamental principle that will guide our actions."

Drip ... drip ... drip ...

Will the steady drip ... drip... drip of very to extremely competent people being appointed ever cease?  Will the chorus of informed and passionate voices joining the Administration fade away?  We can hope that this will only occur if (or when) President Obama runs out of positions to fill.

Originally posted to A Siegel on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 08:45 PM PDT.

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