WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. introduced key members of his climate change team on Saturday, saying his administration would combine efforts to reduce emissions to warm the planet with restoring the economy and creating jobs .
Mr. Biden said at an event in Wilmington, Delaware that the climate team “will be ready on day one, which is important because we literally have no time to waste”.
One lieutenant will be Gina McCarthy, the administrator of former President Obama’s environmental protection agency, whom Mr. Biden has won to head a new office on climate change in the White House.
The group includes progressives like New Mexico representative Deb Haaland, Mr. Biden’s decision to head the Home Office and co-sponsor the Green New Deal, and founding members like Jennifer Granholm, the former Michigan Governor who selected Mr. Biden to be energy secretary.
Michael Regan, North Carolina’s top environmental agency, has been named head of the Environmental Protection Agency and Brenda Mallory, a longtime environmental attorney, will chair the Environmental Quality Board. Ms. McCarthy’s deputy will be Ali Zaidi, who currently serves as Assistant Secretary for Energy and Environment for New York State. And last month, Mr Biden named former Secretary of State John Kerry as the President’s International Envoy on Climate Change.
“Folks, we are in a crisis,” said Mr Biden on Saturday. “Just as we need to be a unified nation to respond to Covid-19, we need a unified national response to climate change.”
Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect and senator of California, said the state had weathered its worst wildfire season this year. Calling forest fires “just a symptom of our growing climate crisis,” along with historic floods in the Midwest and a record hurricane season, she said, “Our climate crisis is not a partisan problem and not a joke. It is an existential threat to all of us. “
When Mr Biden takes office in January, he will inherit a government still struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic and a shattered U.S. economy that has suffered millions of job losses. After four years of reversing more than 100 environmental laws, ridiculing climate science, and advocating the production of the fossil fuels primarily responsible for warming the planet, he faces a monumental rebuilding.
The transition of the president
Apr. 18, 2020, 2:59 pm ET
On Saturday, Mr Biden said he intended to make combating climate change a cornerstone of his coronavirus recovery effort. He called for 500,000 new charging stations for electric vehicles, the construction of 1.5 million new energy-efficient houses and public housing units as well as the creation of a “civilian climate corps” to carry out climate and nature conservation projects.
He said he would prioritize environmental justice and restore the regulations that President Trump reversed. And he appealed directly to federal academics and other career workers that his administration “will honor the integrity of the office” in which they work.
Climate policy is expected to play a crucial role in the Biden government, said the president-elect. He also highlighted the role of Ms. Granholm, the former Michigan governor, who thanks her in being the first standard for the state’s renewable energy portfolio through a divided legislature, and working with the auto industry to create electric vehicles to develop.
While curbing carbon emissions is expected to create tension with the leaders of fossil fuel-dependent states, members of the team sought to see the fight against climate change as a job-creating measure. Over the next decade, countries and companies plan to invest trillions of dollars in electric vehicles, grid technology, wind turbines, and other clean energy components.
The team includes a number of historic premieres.
Ms. Haaland, Mr. Biden’s decision to head the Home Office would be the first Native American Cabinet Secretary in history and would head an agency responsible for managing United States relations with hundreds of recognized tribes.
The Department of the Interior manages the country’s vast natural resources and millions of acres of state that includes national parks and nature reserves. The agency also monitors the listing of endangered and threatened species. Ms. Haaland opposed several Trump administration directives regarding states, including his efforts to open up Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.
“Growing up in my mother’s pueblo household made me feel bad,” said Ms. Haaland. She vowed to protect public land from oil and gas drilling and said, “I will be wild for all of us.”
Mr. Regan, who heads the Environmental Quality Department in North Carolina, would be the first black man to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr Regan said growing up hunting and fishing in North Carolina with his family made him curious about the environment, and asthma made him understand the link between pollution and public health.
Mr. Biden called Mr. Regan “a leader who will respect the EPA’s place” as the lead agency in charge of protecting the air and water of the United States.
Brenda Mallory, a longtime environmental attorney who has worked with the EPA for more than 15 years, will be the first black woman to lead the White House’s Environmental Quality Council.
All four positions must be approved by the Senate.
So far, none of Mr Biden’s selections have met with Republican opposition, although some anti-climate change groups have described Ms. Haaland as “radical” on energy issues. And the North Carolina Republican Senators did not respond when asked if they would like to endorse Mr. Regan’s nomination.
Daniel Keylin, a spokesman for Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, said in a statement that the Senator “expects the EPA to align the promotion of clean energy with the special needs of American farmers and small businesses, and not return to Obama The government’s devastating regulatory approach. “
Details on how Mr Biden will coordinate the team on all aspects of climate change remain unclear.
In a letter to the new administration, four US Democratic Senators, led by Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, urged Mr Biden to create an overarching unit reporting directly to the President to appoint Inter-Agent Councils to deal with environmental justice, and ensure this, climate-focused executives are given authority within key business agencies such as the Treasury Department and the United States Sales Representative’s office.
Lawmakers urged Mr. Biden to “adopt the approach of previous mobilizations against major national threats, just as the Roosevelt administration did to coordinate the executive branch during World War II.”