CERAWEEK-EPA chief tells energy execs she won't hobble business

by Reuters
Thursday, 6 March 2014 20:24 GMT

(Adds quotes from Administrator McCarthy)

By Ernest Scheyder

HOUSTON, March 6 (Reuters) - Carbon regulations can be crafted to help offset climate change without "shutting down business in its tracks," U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said at a major energy conference on Thursday.

"We don't have to choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy," said McCarthy, who has run the EPA for nearly a year, speaking about new rules she said would be proposed by June.

McCarthy's speech to IHS CERAWeek, the largest meeting of energy executives in the world, was the first by an EPA administrator since the conference began 33 years ago, a sign of the Obama administration's growing acknowledgement that the boom in unconventional oil and natural gas production over the past five years has been one of the U.S economy's brightest spots.

"We know conventional fuels like coal and natural gas are going to continue to play a critical role in a diverse U.S. energy mix," McCarthy said.

The Houston visit came about a week after McCarthy toured North Dakota, trying to convince the state's coal, oil and ethanol producers that her agency was not trying to burden their industries with onerous regulations.

The fuels, McCarthy said in North Dakota, should be used as part of an "all-of-the-above strategy" that runs from solar to coal - a theme she reiterated to CERAWeek's more than 2,000 attendees.

It was a marked shift from McCarthy's predecessor, Lisa Jackson, who was viewed warily by energy companies for a perceived indifference to how regulations affected their operations.

"Administrator McCarthy understands the EPA has to protect the environment while doing all it can to protect jobs," said Larry Nettles, an environmental lawyer at Vinson & Elkins LLP, a prominent law firm in the energy sector. (Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Terry Wade and Chris Reese)

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