How to Engage Middle America on Climate? Make Resilience Primary, says Gina McCarthy

Share Button

Bringing middle America into the climate discussion requires focusing on the importance of resilience and job creation, said Gina McCarthy, President Joe Biden’s new climate advisor, speaking yesterday at a policy forum organized by the Energy Storage Association.

“Look, we have to get the middle of the country understanding and active on climate. We need to show them what resilience looks like,” she said. 

McCarthy cited a US commitment to energy resilience technologies, particularly energy storage, as a way to ramp up clean tech manufacturing. “We are right now ceding a lot of the biggest opportunities to China and other countries.”

A longtime energy regulator and policymaker on both the state and federal level, McCarthy is the first national climate advisor to be named by a US president. She served as head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama and is a former advisor to five Massachusetts governors, both Democrat and Republican. She is also a former commissioner at the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and, most recently, served as president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Speaking at the virtual forum, she called for moving the climate message from the “coastlines” to “every state in the middle so they can see, not just that climate change is real and the crisis is upon us, but we have solutions. Let’s celebrate them. Let’s spend money on them. Let’s grow this clean energy future that we all talk about, and let’s do it now.”

Feds as orchestra leader

Energy storage needs to be a central part of strategic thinking in grid planning, she said, noting that it’s not a futuristic technology. “We can deploy it now.” Energy storage, particularly batteries, are often incorporated in microgrids.

“Resilience is too often seen as a secondary consideration, when it really needs to move into a primary consideration,” she said.

McCarthy sees the federal government under Biden acting as “as orchestra leader for a very large band,” harnessing the power of federal spending to infuse investment in clean technologies. The US government is the nation’s largest energy user. 

 “… we have solutions. Let’s celebrate them. Let’s spend money on them. Let’s grow this clean energy future.” — Gina McCarthy

She cited three goals already set by the Biden administration:

  • A carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035
  • Net zero emissions by 2050
  • Conversion of the federal transportation fleet to zero-emissions vehicles and the installation of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations nationwide

“When you start from scratch, where you need to drive millions of jobs into the economy to get the United States on a more stable economic footing, you ought to be thinking about where you want to go, not where we used to be,” she said. “Let’s not re-create our fossil fuel based economy that we know is creating the climate crisis before us. Let’s start investing in clean energy.”

Track news about microgrids and energy storage. Subscribe to the free Microgrid Knowledge newsletter.

Share Button

About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of She has been writing about energy for more than three decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.


  1. Steven Curtis says:

    Most people in middle America understand that there has been no evidence of a crisis with climate after observing 40 years of being “12 years from the tipping point”. Yes, China and Russia (and others) are far ahead of us, but this is because they are going full speed to nuclear power. With fast reactors, using the current inventory of used nuclear fuel could power America with “clean energy too cheap to meter”. It is available, robust, and affordable energy which is preferred by Americans overwhelmingly. It is competitive even without subsidies (“renewables” cannot say that). Thanks for pointing our our lack of competition in the world energy market. THAT is the real crisis.

    • I fully agree. So, I’ve recently re-read the May 1967 Manabe and Wetherald’s 19 page excerpt from the Journal of Atmospheric Science that conveniently aligns their CO2 climate theory culprit with the environmental movements against fossil fuels of those days. Unfortunately, every graph shows CO2 trending higher after temps have already tracked higher. CO2 molecules are 1.5 heavier than air so you would expect CO2 to be an influence on light waves in the lower 10,000ft. Certainly CO2 can be swept to higher elevations, but CO2 rarely become opaque at -70degF until it reaches the 80,000ft level. So, there’s virtually no crystalline blocking of short and long light waves by CO2 like occurs with H20 vapor (ie. clouds below 30,000ft where H20 freezes). Since CO2 molecules are symmetric with two Oxygen atoms electrically opposed by the one carbon atom impacts with light/radiation must be done by direct collision, versus H20 which is asymmetrical molecule that can also deflect radiation with electron attractions. H20 vapor is 20-30 times more prevalent than CO2 in our air. Water vapor is the biggest greenhouse gas and it allows earth to have a hospitable temp outcome as the sunlight hits or subsides. It seems that CA fossil fuel and nuke fear mongers have thwarted our once robust electric system by the slow elimination of generation on the coast with a 1967 theory on CO2. The same CO2 fear mongers created legislation to sequester obscene amounts of CO2 in dead trees in forests that fueled the fires and made all CA electric utilities pariahs. Obviously, climate changes over time, but it’s becoming obscene what CO2 fanatics have done to CA by siphoning money toward their cronies who profit from renewables over the stability of our electric system. Next there will be carbon taxes on these same theories, which incidentally drives more money to the renewable cronies which you would think would be fully transparent and appalling.

  2. John Fischer says:

    I thin k the biggest thing about “Middle America” is that they’re smart enough to know that any sort of “climate” discussion is pure nonsense.

    • Middle America certainly realizes the difference between the weak CO2 theory versus metropolitan smog. Smog is nitrous oxide emissions mixed with other VOC hydrocarbons that is activated by a sunlight photochemical reaction. The city definitely need to continue working on their smog, but this false CO2 conspiracy to shutdown gas powerplants is driven by money.