EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said there is no need to continue debating the science behind climate change.
“I can remember a day when the weather report was in the middle of the domestic and international news and took about a minute and a half. It wasn’t the news. When you go on the news today the first thing you’ll hear about is the weather. So there is a dramatic difference in the way people perceive the ability of the climate to impact their lives because they’re feeling it today,” McCarthy said during an event sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
“I think we need to make it very clear and not continue to debate the science. I think we need to get more people speaking about it than EPA, or NOAA or NASA. I mean, those people are great and looked at as being experts, not necessarily the best at making climate change science personal for people so they understand it,” she added.
McCarthy, who met with the Pope Francis in January to discuss climate change, applauded his encyclical as “a big game changer.” She said it’s America’s “moral responsibility” to act on the issue.
“He can reach to communities that we can’t. I think it’s very difficult to say the pope is saying it for political reasons. He’s, I think, able to make the case that this is really a factual occurrence that humans are impacting the climate, that’s it’s really important, that it’s most important for the poor, the low-income minority communities that can’t get out of the way of the climate impacts,” McCarthy said.
“I thought his encyclical was very hopeful in saying that it’s an opportunity to think about how we shift the economy and how we do that in a way that’s more inclusive so that people can get into the system,” she added.
McCarthy also addressed the governors who have indicated that their states would not be able to meet the standards under President Obama’s clean power plan.
“While there may be governors that are making statements, those statements are not filtering down to the very tables that continue to be set to look at how states are operating and how states might think about how to design a plan that’s effective for them and making sure that their reliability and affordability is maintained and it becomes part of a growing economy,” she said. “Some of the states that are vocal are already benefiting from some of the solutions that we want them to have on the table for a clean power plan.”
Following the event, McCarthy said the EPA budget cuts being considered by Congress could hurt the core functions of the agency. She told reporters the EPA has already reduced its staff from approximately 18,000 employees to 15,000.
“Taking away our core budget doesn’t just impact the Clean Power Plan and problems of the future. It definitely impacts our ability, which I think the general public has relied on, to protect their direct public health and the environment,” she said.