The front-runner to fill the vacancy atop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pledged to push ahead with actions to confront climate change during a wide-ranging speech Thursday.


“As President Obama said, climate change is a priority — and we are going to take action,” Gina McCarthy, the EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, told attendees at the Georgetown Climate Center Workshop in Washington, D.C.

Obama is reportedly leaning toward tapping McCarthy as the next EPA administrator. She would replace Lisa Jackson, who left the post last week after four years with the White House.

McCarthy was hardly unaware of that development.

“There’s more suits this time. I don’t know why,” McCarthy joked when comparing the crowd to the one that showed up for her speech at the same conference four years ago.

McCarthy discussed a list of emissions rules rolled out during Obama’s first term, touting them for their public health benefits and effects on tackling climate change.

Among the rules were stronger fuel economy standards for vehicles, proposed rules for new coal-fired power plants and limits on mercury and other toxic air pollutants.