Following an uphill battle in Congress, the U.S. Senate confirmed Gina McCarthy as the 13th administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday in a 59-40 vote. She will now lead the agency’s work to reduce climate change and safeguard the public from harmful environmental health threats, which will include efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, among other standards.

Many organizations see McCarthy as an invaluable advocate of environmental health with a solid record of working across the aisle with both Democrats and Republicans to develop sensible policy that protects public health.

“Under McCarthy’s leadership, EPA tightened standards to reduce exposure to fine particle or soot pollution, which contributes to premature death, increased hospitalization and health conditions such as heart attacks, stroke and asthma attacks,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “The public health community is grateful to have her at the helm.”

Said President Barack Obama, “Over the past four years, I have valued Gina’s counsel and I look forward to having her in my Cabinet as we work to slow the effects of climate change and leave a cleaner environment for future generations.”

The Senate also approved Tom Perez as the new Secretary of Labor.

Perez previously served as the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, where he led efforts against discrimination and harassment in our nation’s schools and housing policies.

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