After blocking her nomination for more than four months, the U.S. Senate voted Thursday to confirm a former Connecticut official as head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
In a 59-40 vote that was part of a high-profile compromise in the chamber, senators cleared the final hurdle for Gina McCarthy, an assistant EPA administrator who President Barack Obama tapped for the job in March.
McCarthy was the head of Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 to 2009. She had also held environmental posts in Massachusetts’ state government.
McCarthy’s nomination had been held up for months as Republican senators demanded documents and answers to hundreds of questions about the transparency of the science the EPA uses when it makes environmental rules. But this week, the GOP relented, saying they had secured key promises from McCarthy to disclose more of the agencies scientific data and to retrain its workers to communicate in ways that can be tracked with public records requests.
Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said on the Senate floor Thursday that McCarthy is “an environmental protector for all seasons, not a partisan by any stretch of the imagination.”
He added that he thought she will be able to carefully weigh the desires of environmental groups and businesses that might be able to make more money if regulations weren’t as stringent.
“I certainly know no one who strikes the balance and seeks both goals…with such zeal and passion,” he said. “She epitomizes the kind of bipartisan spirit that we should seek to grow and
attract in our federal government.”