A look at Biden’s ‘climate cabinet’ nominees
Image Credit: MattWade
Joe Biden was on the most ambitious president’s environmental agenda in US history, pledging not only to reverse the damage caused by his predecessor, but to focus more on combating climate change than any other government before him.
He won’t do it alone. To achieve his goal of net zero emissions by 2050, he will rely on a cabinet in which almost every workplace has some influence on climate policy – from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Transportation, each with a view to reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and improving climate resilience.
Here is a look at the most important names and résumés. Biden hopes its ambitious climate gets the muscle it needs:
On January 20, the day of his inauguration, Biden returned the US to the Paris Climate Agreement, which President Donald Trump abandoned. It will fall John kerrywho, as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, helped draft the agreement to restore US credibility to foreign powers. Kerry will serve in the newly created position of the President’s Special Envoy on Climate Change.
Kerry is a great pick for this as he’s known to overseas executives and credited with the international Kigali add-on to phasing out fluorocarbon super pollutants among many other highlights. Kerry will be the first person with a climate portfolio to sit on the National Security Council. Like Biden, he knows that the Paris Agreement is just a beginning.
He is accompanied by Gina McCarthy, the former Obama EPA administrator who will head the Office of the White House’s Home Office on Climate Change, another newly created post. Your job will be to coordinate climate policy between several government agencies and Congress. It has already been praised by progressive climate activists like the Sunrise Movement – which helped draft the Green New Deal in America – and older centrists like Al Gore.
Individuals Biden has named in key positions in other federal agencies also have experience addressing climate issues such as: Brian Deesewho helped negotiate the Paris Agreement under Obama and will now chair the National Economic Council.
Jennifer Granholm was nominated to head the energy department tasked with finding breakthrough technologies. Before the Obama administration, this agency mainly dealt with nuclear issues: monitoring civilian nuclear power plants, managing nuclear waste, and working with the military to protect the country’s nuclear arsenal.
While the agency will continue this role, under Granholm it will also expand to include the development of battery technology for electric vehicles. Granholm is a two year old Michigan governor. He has good working relationships with Detroit automakers and is a cheerleader for the Green New Deal and Green Jobs. In a post-election post for the Detroit News, she extolled clean energy as a better way for her state.
The nomination of Deb Haaland Leading the Ministry of the Interior is Biden’s widely praised move. As a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, Haaland was the first Native American to serve as cabinet secretary. Her climate awareness and close experience with indigenous tribes will make her a strong leader in the department that oversees hundreds of millions of acres of public land as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She is an outspoken supporter of the Green New Deal, an advocate for fossil fuels to remain in the soil, and a major supporter in Congress for the 30 × 30 goal of conserving 30 percent of US lands and waters by 2030. Haaland would be the person who can make Biden’s election promise that there are no new permits for fossil fuels in the federal state a reality. The Republicans have already signaled a confirmatory brawl around them and they Michael ReganBiden’s candidate for the EPA.
As the former head of North Carolina’s environmental quality department, which he oversaw for 17 years, Regan was praised on chemical companies for overseeing the “largest coal ash cleaning settlement in the country,” according to the New York Times. While he has received criticism of approving water quality certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, his national and state records show his willingness to fight climate change, according to the Sierra Club and the Union for Concerned Scientists, two of America’s most influential environmental organizations.
Pete ButtigiegThe former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who was one of Mr. Biden’s challengers for the Democratic nomination, has been named director of a transportation division that plays an important role in developing climate-friendly local transportation. As noted in Slate magazine, Buttigieg isn’t particularly qualified for the role, but he could make something good of it. In his own presidential campaign, Buttigieg focused on the climate. During the campaign, he made ambitious climate proposals and reported on his sustainable transit initiatives, including free charging points for electric vehicles, a green fire station and safer roads
As a former EPA attorney from the Obama era Brenda Mallory is a promising selection for the German Environmental Quality Council, which coordinates the necessary environmental impact assessments for new infrastructure projects, from major motorway overhauls to the energy efficiency of commercial and residential buildings. She has advised the Biden team on government action on climate change and is familiar with the environmental justice issues that color communities face, from industrial pollutants to housing quality.
Tom Vilsack, who was appointed head of the Department of Agriculture, is perhaps the most disappointing of Biden’s selections. He served as Secretary of Agriculture under Obama. Progressive critics point to the Monsanto and Bayer merger that happened on his watch, and the Sierra Club has warned he is being too friendly with Big Agriculture. After his tenure, he worked as a senior executive at Big Dairy, where he was criticized for favoring low-carbon farms over smallholders. Numerous grassroots organizations are calling on the Senate to reject Vilsack in the confirmation process. Although he is not officially part of Biden’s “climate team”, Vilsack’s position will undoubtedly play an important role in Biden’s climate policy.
Still, many US environmental groups are hoping for Biden’s nomination list. Now it remains for the Senate – with its 50:50 split from Democrats to Republicans – to confirm it.