On December 12th, President-elect Joe Biden announced the primary members of his climate response team. These members include Congresswoman Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior, former Governor Jennifer Granholm as Secretary of Energy, Michael Regan as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Brenda Mallory as Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Gina McCarthy as National Climate Advisor, and Ali Zaidi as Deputy National Climate Advisor. Biden stated this team will “lead [his] administration’s ambitious plan to address the existential threat of our time, climate change”.
Below is a short introduction on each candidate selected by Biden:
Congresswoman Deb Haaland will make history as being the first Native American to be appointed to a position that serves all federal territories and land protection efforts in the United States. Haaland previously served as chairperson of the New Mexico Democratic Party from April 2015 to 2017, and a member of the New Mexico Congressional Delegation since 2017. In her new role, Haaland will implement policies designed to conserve and manage the use of natural resources on federal land and Native territories.
As a former Governor of Michigan and former Oakland resident, Jennifer Granholm will assume the role as Secretary of Energy. Granholm will manage an agency whose primary mission is to accommodate the expansion and protection of our nation’s nuclear arsenal and to oversee the federal government’s planned energy programs. In her capacity as governor, Granholm developed an intimate working relationship with key executives in America’s automobile industry. Appointing her to this position could provide Biden with an advantage as he attempts to convince American automakers to convert antiquated carbon-based technology to renewable clean energy in the transportation sector.
Michael Regan’s role as administrator of EPA is ideal for someone who values science and who will confront the issues surrounding climate change. Regan advocates for vigorous enforcement of meeting the requirements to preserve our environment and our public health. Through primary environmental laws like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act, the EPA puts forth efforts to protect our water, air, and land resources.
Brenda Mallory is an environmental lawyer who had worked with President Obama’s administration on energy policy. Mallory had previously worked and advised the CEQ, and will continue her service as their leader.. This position gives her the authority to coordinate Federal campaigns on environmental policy. On December 19, in a speech at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, DE, Mallory stated that “[the] CEQ will work with a broad range of partners on a broad range of issues to tackle […] climate change, preserve the natural treasures of the natural treasures of our nation, center environmental justice, and help more communities overcome legacy environmental effects”.
Under President Barack Obama, Gina McCarthy ran the Environmental Protection Agency. Biden assigned her to the position of National Climate Advisor. In this new role, she will lead a team whose primary mission is to organize the new administration’s domestic climate agenda, and implement and enforce a policy to achieve that aim.
Ali Zaidi had previously worked as Deputy Secretary of Energy and Environment for the governor of New York. His efforts in that position included mentoring government employees under his charge, interesting communities to promote investment into infrastructure and modernization, and pushing for industrial and environmental strength. Zaidi co-founded Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy, a non-profit legal aid organization that prepares startups focused around sustainability. In his new role as Deputy National Climate adviser, Zaidi will advocate for policies that protect our environment, both domestically and globally.
Unlike the previous administration, President Biden recognizes that climate change is a genuine threat to the survival of humanity. He understands that this is not an issue where we can afford to procrastinate, action needs to be taken now. Biden will propose bold additional steps to help mitigate the damage that has already been done. He and his team will actively work with other nations and global organizations to help ensure that our planet remains a sustainable place to live for future generations.