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EPA Chief: Just Trust Us On Climate Science

Americans are just going to have to trust the EPA’s 44 years of experience dealing with environmental issues when it comes to figuring out ways to cope with man-made global warming, says the agency’s chief.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told Big Think in an interview that while there are limits to how much the federal government can do for issues like global warming, the public needs to trust how the EPA translates the “complicated” science into real-life actions.

“Well I think we all have to recognize the strengths and limitations of government action,” McCarthy said. “But here’s what I think we can do at the federal level more effectively. We can speak to the science because it’s complicated and we do a lot of research and we do a lot of translation of the science into what it means for people so that the decisions can be made on the basis of real science and on the basis of a real technical understanding.”

“That’s how it has worked in EPA’s career for 44 years at EPA is we’ve listened to the science and the law and we have let solutions take off in the marketplace which is where the cheapest, most effective always win,” McCarthy said. “That’s why EPA can move environmental standards forward so effectively and grow jobs at the same time.”

The EPA is on the verge of finalizing rules limiting CO2 emissions from power plants as part of President Barack Obama’s climate agenda. Republicans and industrial lobbies have opposed the rules, saying they will be costly and do nothing to stem warming.

McCarthy, however, has continually argued the EPA’s so-called “Clean Power Plan” will send a signal to the world the U.S. is serious about dealing with global warming and spur innovation in green technology.

“Now what you really want to do at the national level is send long-term signals,” McCarthy said. “And those signals go to people in markets because the best thing EPA and other regulatory agencies need to do is set standards based on what we think the science tells us, the law tells us and what’s achievable.”

“It’s like being in a race and the federal government, you know, says what direction to run and they shoot the starting gun, but the ones in the race become the businesses, the entrepreneurs, the people who are driving new technologies,” she said.

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