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Obama announces nominees for EPA, Energy

| Monday, March 4, 2013, 6:33 p.m.

WASHINGTON — President Obama signaled his willingness to tackle climate change with his pick of Gina McCarthy to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, one of three major posts he filled on Monday.

A 25-year veteran of environmental policy and politics, McCarthy has worked for Republicans and Democrats, including Obama's presidential rival, Mitt Romney, who tapped her to help draft state plans for curbing the pollution linked to global warming. Along with McCarthy, Obama nominated MIT nuclear physicist Ernie Moniz to lead the Energy Department and Wal-Mart's Sylvia Mathews Burwell to head the budget office.

McCarthy has led the EPA's air pollution division since 2009, ushering in many of the agency's most controversial new rules, such as placing the first-ever limits on greenhouse gases on newly built power plants.

Moniz, as head of MIT's Energy Initiative, has worked on developing ways to produce power while curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

“They're going to be making sure we're investing in American energy, that we're doing everything we can to combat the threat of climate change, that we're going to be creating jobs and economic opportunity,” Obama said.

But conservatives immediately stressed her role in what they consider to be destructive policies from EPA.

“McCarthy will continue the regulatory attack on oil, coal and natural gas with the result that Americans will experience increasing energy costs and high unemployment rates,” said Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, a conservative think tank that receives some support from the fossil fuel industry.

Moniz, 68, was a former Energy Department undersecretary under Clinton. He's advised Obama on numerous energy topics, including how to handle the country's nuclear waste and the natural gas produced by the controversial technique of hydraulic fracturing.

Environmental groups are wary of Moniz, because of his support of natural gas and nuclear power. His MIT Energy Initiative has received funding from oil companies such as BP, Shell and Chevron.

Burwell is Washington veteran who served in posts in the Clinton administration, including deputy OMB director. She heads the Wal-Mart Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the retail giant, and has led the Gates Foundation's Global Development Program.

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