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Administrator Gina McCarthy, Remarks at Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference, As Prepared

Thanks, Dave. In case folks can’t tell from the way I talk—I grew up in Boston. My dad was a teacher in South Boston for 40 years. My sister is a teacher today. I’ve been a public servant pretty much my entire life.

Whether it’s a teacher’s union or a steelworker’s—the moral of the story is the same. Our work, our value—has little meaning without fair protections that keep us safe and healthy.
Because, at the end of the day, what is “worker productivity”—if the work makes us sick? What is economic productivity—if our water is too dirty to drink and air too dirty to breathe? That’s the principle that drives EPA’s mission to protect public health and the environment.

And today, that challenge is evolving. Times are changing. Newer, cleaner energy frontiers are being explored. And of course, the threat of our changing climate is more real by the minute. Climate impacts are not just hurting our people and the planet—first and
foremost, they are a threat to our economy. You know how much disasters cost us in 2012? $110 billion dollars. That’s Billion, with a “B”. The second highest price tag in U.S. history. Recently, Mr. Trumka talked about the “terrible cost of inaction.” He’s right. That’s why President Obama reiterated the commitment to climate action in the State of the Union. He also said that the nation that invests in energy innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. I couldn’t agree more.

That’s why we need to
explore creative approaches to meet our energy demands without sacrificing environmental and health protections. And we need to do it with sensitivity to the workers that for years have brought that energy to American families and will continue to do so for years to come. Back when we amended the Clean Air Act, the cynics said the earth would stop spinning, and it would end manufacturing as we know it….but we knew better. The United Steel Workers knew better. You supported the amendments.

And guess what? – today we are adding manufacturing jobs, not losing them…and those amendments will
pay out 30 to 1 in economic and health benefits by 2020. So—we know that it’s never been about choosing the between the economy and the environment—it’s about choosing both. It’s about finding the best paths forward to build a vibrant, healthy economy.

Don’t take my word for it—just look at our track record. Look at the
historic progress on fuel economy standards. We worked arm-in-arm with industry, the UAW, consumer groups, and more to build the best standards we could.

As a result—we are: slashing 6 billion tons of carbon pollution—the entire output of the U.S. in 2010; saving families $8,000 at the pump over the life of their car; promoting energy independence by reducing U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels; And oh—by the way—we’re selling more fuel efficient American cars faster than ever.

Since Chrysler and GM emerged from bankruptcy in June of 2009,
the auto industry has added nearly 250,000 jobs, the best period of job growth in over a decade. GM Chevy Corvette Stingray and Silverado 1500 were 2014 North American Car and Truck of the year. During that time, over the past eight years, we’ve reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth.

Go figure—an environmental rule helped fuel a resurgent auto industry. A win for everybody. When we work together, the sky’s the limit. And when we step forward together to tackle climate change—we will all win again.

As you know, we proposed carbon pollution standards for
new power plants that are out for public comment now. And we’re on track to propose commonsense standards for existing plants in June. In the end, these standards will be flexible—because they are part of a broader picture that places economic growth out front.

With a modern power sector:

encourage clean energy investment that expands domestic industries and secures good paying jobs here at home—while making sure there’s space for a diverse fuel supply.

protect public health and make sure folks are less sick; missing less work days, dealing with fewer medical bills and lost wages.

We’ll help
unleash the innovation that will spur the next great American industry that will be the envy of the world.

I just know that will
seize the opportunity in front of us. I know we will not fail. Why? Because you just don’t bet against the American worker. In the end, like the President said—we are all have the same motivation: "when our kids look us in the eye and ask us if we did everything we could to protect their health, their planet, and promote new sources of energy"—we want to be able to say loud and proud: yes, we did. Thank you.