Gina McCarthy being sworn in

U.S. EPAGina McCarthy takes the oath of office, with Carol Browner and Bob Perciasepe.

Tuesday, in her first speech as EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy got real with a crowd at Harvard Law School, the AP reports:

“Can we stop talking about environmental regulations killing jobs? Please, at least for today,” said McCarthy, referring to one of the favorite talking points of Republicans and industry groups.

“Let’s talk about this as an opportunity of a lifetime, because there are too many lifetimes at stake,” she said of efforts to address global warming.

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The GOP has resorted to calling pretty much every Obama plan, especially those related to the climate, “job-killing.” McCarthy hammered home the emptiness of that claim. The Hill relays what she said:

The truth is cutting carbon pollution will spark business innovation, resulting in cleaner forms of American-made energy …

Right now, state and local communities — as well as industry, universities, and other non-profits — have been piloting projects, advancing policies, and developing best practices that follow the same basic blueprint: combining environmental and economic interests for combined maximum benefit. These on-the-ground efforts are the future. It’s a chance to harness the American entrepreneur spirit, developing new technologies and creating new jobs, while at the same time reducing carbon pollution to help our children and their children.

By appointing McCarthy, who pushed through tougher air-pollution regulations while at the head of EPA’s office of air quality, Obama signaled that he’s serious about using his executive power to cut carbon emissions. She warned him that she wouldn’t have an easy time getting Senate confirmation, The New York Times reports:

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“Why would you want me?” Ms. McCarthy said she asked the president when he offered her the top job. “Do you realize the rules I’ve done over the past three or four years?” …

The president told Ms. McCarthy that his environmental and presidential legacy would be incomplete without a serious effort to address climate change.

She was right: Winning confirmation was an arduous process. But now that she’s in, she is “pumped” about the new job. More from the Times:

[S]he said the agency would play a crucial role in dealing with climate change, both in writing the rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants and in helping communities adapt to the inevitable changes wrought by a warming planet.

She also said the agency had to do a better job of explaining its mission to hostile constituencies, including Congress and the agriculture, mining and utility industries. …

“I spend a lot of time protecting what we are doing rather than thinking about what we should be doing.”

McCarthy’s trip to Cambridge for her Harvard speech is the first of many public appearances she’ll be making over the coming weeks, part of a big push by the Obama administration and other Democrats to promote Obama’s climate plan. Politico reports:

Starting [this] week, McCarthy will begin traveling around the country to discuss the importance of acting on climate change. The White House official said her schedule includes speeches, media events and meetings with outside groups — all of which will be promoted heavily on social media. And the official added that McCarthy will begin meeting with states soon to discuss the agency’s pending climate regulations.

It’s nice to see Democrats going on the offensive for climate. If you happen to belong to the 80 percent of voters under 35 who support the president’s climate plan, you can launch your own promotion effort, too — maybe start by convincing your cranky uncle that emissions regulations don’t kill jobs.