Moniz has also advocated for nuclear power, including a new generation of small modular reactors that proponents say hold great promise as a power source with fewer risks and costs than larger-scale reactors.
Obama insisted that the drive to develop domestic energy resources is not inconsistent with protecting the environment.
“Ernie knows that we can produce more energy and grow our economy, while still taking care of our air, our water and our climate,” he said.
Familiarity Won’t Preclude Debate
McCarthy led Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection and worked for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney when he was the governor of Massachusetts, completing the state’s first climate protection plan. At the EPA, she has been an architect of the administration’s clean air rules.
“As assistant EPA administrator, Gina’s focused on practical, cost-effective ways to keep our air clean and our economy growing,” Obama said. “She’s earned a reputation as a straight-shooter. She welcomes different points of views. I’m confident that she’s going to do an outstanding job leading the EPA.”
McCarthy won Senate confirmation for her current position in 2009. Oklahoma Republican Sen. James M. Inhofe, a vociferous EPA critic despite his affinity for former EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, predicted in December that senators would largely defer to Obama’s choice and avoid filibustering the nomination.
Other lawmakers also have suggested that an EPA nominee who has already received Senate confirmation could see an easier path to assuming the agency’s top post.
But given Republicans’ vehement opposition to Defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel— — a former GOP senator from Nebraska— McCarthy’s route to confirmation will likely be anything but easy.
And while environmentalists praise McCarthy for her past work, they will push for her to make proposing carbon pollution limits for the existing power plant fleet a priority.
Like Steven Chu, Moniz comes from a scientific background, serving as the head of MIT’s physics department and the current director of the school’s Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. He also leads MIT’s Energy Initiative, which is funded largely by oil and gas companies and electric utilities.
Moniz serves on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and has experience on corporate boards in the electric utility, natural gas and oil industries. He also served on an Obama-appointed panel to draw up recommendations for the long term, safe disposal of radioactive waste.