A career environmental administrator, the 58-year-old McCarthy has worked under Republican governors in Massachusetts and Connecticut, where she developed legislation to close coal-fired power plants. She enjoys support among Washington Democrats including Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairs of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who praised McCarthy’s “experience, intelligence, energy and unquestioned expertise” making her “the right person for the job.”

Over the past four years, the EPA and Jackson have come under heavy fire from many manufacturing and utility executives accusing her of imposing regulations that needlessly hurt jobs. Indeed, at one point at a 2011 event in Kentucky, McCarthy even told her audience that “the EPA is not the enemy.”

Such sentiments have done little to influence observers at Heartland like Executive Vice President Kenneth Haapala, who noted energy policies in Europe reliant on solar and wind power. “The results are grim: skyrocketing electrical costs for consumers, energy poverty and totally unreliable electricity systems kept working only by relying on fossil fuel plants or hydroelectric.”