Former President Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency chief said she is having a hard time watching the Trump administration repeal the regulations she helped spearhead.
"It's not easy for me to watch, but I'm not despairing in any way," said Gina McCarthy in an interview with High Country News published Monday. She is taking refuge in the idea that states will pick up the slack, especially on climate change.
"When the U.S. government in Washington has fallen asleep, the rest of the country tends to wake up big time," McCarthy said. She hasn't spoken much to the media since she departed the EPA in January.
Even though she is optimistic on climate, she said the Trump administration's approach to tearing down Obama's entire environmental record is a bit hamfisted, suggesting it should be more selective in its approach. It's the most discouraging part of watching Trump deregulate the agency, she said.
"Well, at this point, I'd say that the current administration is really relooking and reconsidering just about every decision that's been made under the Obama administration, and I think they've made it clear that they want to rethink all the climate efforts," she said.
But they are also "going after" clean water regulations such as those meant to reduce toxic pollutants from entering streams from power plants and others such as the Waters of the U.S. rule, she said.
"It's pretty clear they haven't really been selective in their thinking, and perhaps that's the most discouraging thing," McCarthy said.
The WOTUS rule expanded the jurisdiction of the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers over everything from rivers to drainage ditches, which federal appeals courts said constituted federal overreach.
The EPA last month took actions to begin rescinding rules limit discharges from power plants.