The US solar industry yesterday welcomed the appointment of Gina McCarthy as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, marking an end to months of Republican wrangling over the presidential-nominee.

The Senate confirmed McCarthy by 59 to 40 votes. Previously the head of the EPA's air pollution department, McCarthy's foremost task will be to execute President Barack Obama's climate plan, which will force the closure of coal fired power stations and encourage the adoption of cleaner sources of energy, including solar.

Obama nominated McCarthy in March along with Earnest Moniz, the new chief of the Department of Energy. While Moniz's nomination was confirmed without controversy, McCarthy faced fierce scrutiny from Republicans. McCarthy will work closely with Moniz and Sally Jewell, the new interior secretary, on Obama's clean energy agenda.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said: “During a distinguished 25-year career in public administration, Gina McCarthy has shown, time after time, an uncanny ability to work in a bipartisan manner to solve very difficult and complex problems.

"We believe McCarthy will be an extraordinary leader, and SEIA applauds President Obama for his wisdom in nominating her, and the Senate for confirming her. We look forward to working with administrator McCarthy on a wide range of issues which are important to our nation and environment.”

As commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 to 2009, McCarthy implemented carbon trading to reduce emissions from power plants.

The Business Council for Sustainable Energy also welcomed McCarthy on her confirmation as EPA Administrator.

"With tens of billions of dollars expected in US energy investment over the next decade, it is essential that the leader of EPA adopts a holistic view of the nation's energy and environmental challenges and has a track record of working constructively with the private sector," the BCSE said in statement. "McCarthy has both of these attributes and will lead EPA at a critical time in the development and implementation of national air quality and greenhouse gas policy.

"Noting the need for integrated energy and environmental policies, BCSE members look forward to working with EPA to ensure clean, reliable and affordable energy production, distribution and use."