The head of the Environmental Protection Agency told Congress Tuesday that her agency's bust of German automaker Volkswagen, and other high-profile cases, shows "America still needs an environmental watchdog with grit and teeth."

"Laws talk the talk; but enforcement walks the walk," EPA administrator Gina McCarthy wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday on The Hill newspaper's Congress blog.

"The bottom line is, strong standards are a key step — but it's our ability to implement those standards that turns promises of protection into a healthy reality for Americans," she said. "That's where the rubber meets the road."

McCarthy's agency is being sued by more than half the country's attorneys general, 15 large trade groups and number of other individual firms over her agency's climate rules. Republican appropriators are also targeting the EPA for large spending cuts that could hobble her agency's core mission.

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