07/19/2013 12:09 pm ET Updated Sep 18, 2013

Climate Change Takes Center Stage

Climate change took center stage this week as the Senate confirmed climate and clean air champion Gina McCarthy to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with strong bipartisan support. Just a few days ago, climate hero Ed Markey was sworn in as the junior Senator from Massachusetts, marking a historic week that shows growing momentum in the fight to tackle the climate crisis.

This comes on the heels of President Obama's announcement of an ambitious climate plan, which includes placing the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, the largest individual source of carbon pollution in our nation. His plan also cuts other potent greenhouse gases while taking important steps to promote energy-efficient buildings and renewable energy projects.

Gina McCarthy will play an integral role in making the president's bold climate agenda a reality. She's has spent her entire career standing up for the environment and public health at both the state and federal level and bringing together members of both parties, industry leaders, and environmental advocates every step of the way.

She has served under both Republican and Democratic administrations at the state level, including Mitt Romney and four other Republican governors. Since 2009, McCarthy has headed the Clean Air division at the EPA, a position she was confirmed to with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate. Under her leadership, the EPA set national standards to decrease the toxic pollutants being spewed into our air by power plants. She has also worked with the Department of Transportation to make impressive advancements in fuel efficiency standards, helping us go further on a gallon of gas and taking billions of tons of carbon out of our air. In fact, it's the largest step the United States has taken so far to reduce our carbon footprint.

Both Gina McCarthy and President Obama understand that climate change is the biggest challenge facing our generation, and they now have Ed Markey, the biggest climate change advocate in Congress working side-by-side with them in the Senate. During his campaign for Senate, National Journal dubbed Ed Markey the "first real climate candidate," so it's fitting that the voters of Massachusetts elected him on the same day that President Obama gave his comprehensive speech on tackling the climate crisis.

Ed Markey has devoted his entire career to protecting our planet and fighting climate change. While he was in the House of Representatives, he authored landmark legislation to combat climate change and defend public health. Passage of this bill through the House marked the first time that either chamber passed a comprehensive bill to address climate change. Senator Markey also stood up to corporate polluters by authoring bills to end Big Oil subsidies, holding BP accountable for the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and fighting for stronger drilling regulations. He also worked to protect public lands like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and proposed important reforms of outdated mining laws. It's a remarkably strong environmental legacy that he'll be building upon in the United States Senate.

We've made huge strides, but we can't stop here. We need to work with President Obama to implement his climate action plan, and continue to give him allies in Congress so we can finally pass comprehensive climate legislation. We've passed a tipping point for action and this is a truly historic moment. Let's roll up our sleeves, get to work and keep building the momentum for action on climate change.