By Jeremy Carroll, Crain News Service

WASHINGTON (March 29, 2013) — Environmental organizations have been quick to laud the work of Gina McCarthy, President Barack Obama's pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during his second term.

Ms. McCarthy, 58, is expected to face tough questions from Republicans during Senate confirmation hearings and the environmental organizations appeared to be gearing up for a fight, launching a website supporting the pick.

Ms. McCarthy, who served as the agency's assistant administrator for air and radiation, was confirmed by the Senate for that role in 2009 following a voice vote. Before coming to the EPA, she led environmental initiatives in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

"As a top environmental official in Massachusetts and Connecticut, she helped design programs to expand energy efficiency and promote renewable energy," Mr. Obama said as he announced his nomination of Ms. McCarthy during a March 4 news conference. "As assistant EPA administrator, Gina has focused on practical, cost-effective ways to keep our air clean and our economy growing."

Mr. Obama said she's earned a reputation as a straight-shooter.

"She welcomes different points of view," he said. "I'm confident that she's going to do an outstanding job leading the EPA."

Sharon Kneiss, president and CEO of the Environmental Industries Association, said the nation's solid waste and recycling industry is looking forward to working with the new administrator after she is confirmed.

Ms. McCarthy is best known as the architect of regulations aimed at curbing mercury and soot emissions from power plants.

With a thick Boston accent, Ms. McCarthy is pragmatic and has a sharp sense of humor, say various environmental leaders.

"She's been an incredible clean air champion, a real advocate for the public health and the environment," said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters.

Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, called Ms. McCarthy the "perfect choice" and someone with a strong record of meeting with stakeholders and getting their input.

"I guarantee the American public will love her style," he said. "She's smart, she's funny and, in fact, she uses her humor to defuse many difficult problems. She's brutally honest and she makes things happen."

Her nomination came with criticism as well, with Emily Wismer, a policy analyst from the Independent Women's Forum, saying Ms. McCarthy's aggressive policies should concern Americans.

"Though McCarthy has been praised by outlets on the left as bipartisan—having even served under Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Massachusetts—her policies clearly favor an active regulatory state," Ms. Wismer said in a press statement.

This report appeared in Waste & Recycling News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.