President Biden Assembles Climate Avengers

by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer

Starting today, climate action is back on the agenda. Yesterday at noon, the White House website updated to reflect the new administration and President Biden’s agenda which placed climate action as the number two priority for his administration, just after COVID-19. And he’s bringing the largest team of climate experts ever assembled in the White House to carry out the vision, installing climate policy experts everywhere from the National Security Council to the Department of Transportation and it doesn’t stop there

Why This Matters: Climate action was dangerously stymied the past four years as Trump-era policies and rollbacks impaired the nation’s ability to be a global leader in reducing carbon emissions. Trump’s rollbacks of over 100 environmental regulations and final hail-Mary attempts to clear the way for the fossil fuel industry have left the Biden administration a complex mess to clean up. Yet Biden’s new climate “nerve center”  reflects his purposeful  approach to cleaning up not only Trump’s mess but legacy environmental degradation as well

The transition of power also marks a return to science-based decison making after years of climate change denial and dangerous misinformation.

Avengers, Assemble!

The Biden team will borrow some old talent from past administrations, as well as recruit advocates and experts from the clean energy and advocacy sectors.

  • Gina McCarthy, who led the EPA under President Obama, has been chosen to head up a new White House office on climate policy. Ali Zaidi, a former top energy official under Obama, will accompany her as deputy.
  • Former Secretary of State John Kerry will serve as Biden’s international climate envoy. His team includes Jonathan Pershing, former State Department special envoy for climate change under Obama; Sue Biniaz, a former top climate lawyer for the State Department; and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, former deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury Department for energy and environment under Obama.
  • Dr. Cecelia Martinez, the co-founder and Executive Director at the Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy, will serve as senior director for environmental justice at the Council on Environmental Quality.

In addition to staffing these teams with experts, Biden is building climate action into every department by appointing pro-environment candidates to his cabinet. He has nominated Michael S. Regan, a North Carolina environmental regulator, to head up the EPA and Representative Deb Haaland (D – N.M.) to serve as the first Indigenous Secretary of the interior. Biden’s pick for Secretary of Transportation, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, has said he plans to prioritize climate in his transportation policy and will have his Senate confirmation hearing this Thursday.


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