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EPA Chief on Climate Agreement: ‘There’s Uncertainty Around All This’

Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the EPA, said there is “uncertainty” surrounding the Paris climate change agreement and reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in the future.

McCarthy was asked what else the U.S. has to do to maintain its leadership role and to expand its own objectives past the agreement, which was reached as a result of the Paris climate talks between the U.S., China, India and other nations.

The moderator, John Bussey of the Wall Street Journal, mentioned that President Obama has discussed cutting carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025, compared to 2005 levels.

“Well, as you may know, EPA does our greenhouse gas inventory and does our reporting on how well we’ve done, and so we’re going to keep looking at bringing more expertise to that. John, there’s uncertainty around all this and we have to keep looking at how we get these numbers right for ourselves and for other countries,” McCarthy said at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“So we’re going to keep looking at the science around this and the analytics, but we are also going to be implementing many of the initiatives that the president identified, those that he identified that the U.S. has put in as the basis for our goal-setting exercise. We’re going to make sure those move forward and we’re going to keep, over the next year, looking at other opportunities,” she added.

McCarthy said “it’s very clear” the U.S. is not going to get “everywhere it needs to go” in terms of carbon emissions reductions.

“No country’s put a plan that’s going to get them there. So we have to keep looking. For EPA, it’s looking at how we push the envelope on heavy duty vehicles. It’s getting a Montreal Protocol amendment and doing continued work on looking at hydrofluorocarbons and moving those out of the system or reducing those so that the impact is not as large as it has been,” McCarthy said.

“We’re going to keep looking at methane, oil and gas, and looking at whatever opportunities in that sector are available to us to begin to explore this year,” she added.

McCarthy was also asked about the states challenging the implementation of President Obama’s “Clean Power Plan.”

“I think we all are confident that we meet the legal test there, but then the second question is how do we work with states to get those plans in in September? And I think that’s where I’ve been focusing and certainly Janet McCabe and Joe Goffman, who are my dynamic duo on this, are out there working this issue very hard,” she said.

“But I’ve been to many meetings. And I am seeing nothing but really actually very positive energy around this. The states are beginning to work together, not just individually but together, beginning to start making choices about where they think they want to head, and I’m pretty confident we’re going to have the plans in.”