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Here’s What You Need To Know About Biden’s Climate Team

(Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images)

Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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President-elect Joe Biden introduced key members of his climate team in an announcement Thursday, including designated nominees for both Cabinet level and advisory posts.

“This brilliant, tested, trailblazing team will be ready on day one to confront the existential threat of climate change with a unified national response rooted in science and equity,” Biden said in a statement. “They share my belief that we have no time to waste to confront the climate crisis, protect our air and drinking water, and deliver justice to communities that have long shouldered the burdens of environmental harms.”

Biden continues to build up his incoming administration even as President Donald Trump’s campaign contests the election results. Here’s what you should know about Biden’s climate team before he is expected to take office Jan 20. (RELATED: Climate Experts Sound The Alarm On Biden’s $2 Trillion Climate Plan)

Deb Haaland

Multiple news outlets reported before the transition team’s official announcement that Biden had nominated Haaland to be his secretary of the Interior Department. Haaland currently serves as Democratic Rep. from New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District and easily won reelection in November.

Haaland is a member of the Laguno Pueblo tribe and would be the first Native American interior secretary if confirmed. The Interior Department oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and many Native American groups said the nomination could mean reshaping tribal relations with the federal government, according to NBC News.

But Haaland would also oversee around 20% of land in the United States and most of the country’s natural resources. She has pledged a progressive environmental agenda that would likely include promoting renewable energy sources and halting new oil and gas drilling on public lands, according to The Washington Post.

“I come from New Mexico. It’s a big oil and gas state. And I care about every single job,” she told The Post in a recent interview. “[But] we don’t want to go back to normal, right? We don’t want to go back to where we were because that economy wasn’t working for a lot of people.”

Jennifer Granholm

Politico reported before the transition team’s official announcement that Biden had nominated Granholm to be his secretary of energy. The former Democratic Michigan governor managed the state’s auto industry during the 2008 financial recession and implemented clean energy initiatives in Michigan. She would be the second woman to serve as energy secretary if confirmed.

Most of the Energy Department’s budget goes to maintaining the nuclear arsenal but the department also helps determine energy standards for households and businesses. Granholm would aid in implementing Biden’s climate plan and transitioning the energy industry towards renewable sources.

“The private sector needs greater support and political will from our policymakers to help us fully realize the potential of a zero-carbon future,” she wrote in a Nov. 7 op-ed. “The economics are clear: The time for a low-carbon recovery is now.”

But Granholm also promoted Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy theories and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s unsubstantiated gang rape allegations on social media.

She promoted the “pee tape” allegation published in the Steele Dossier which claims Trump in 2013 hired prostitutes to urinate on each other during a trip to Moscow, according to The New York Times. She also called for an independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia after the president fired former FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.

Granholm also promoted sexual harassment allegations lobbied against Kavanaugh during his 2018 confirmation hearings, including allegations promoted by lawyer Michael Avenatti that Kavanaugh participated in gang rape.

Michael Regan

Regan is currently the secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality and was nominated to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He would be the first black man to run the EPA if confirmed and would play a central role in implementing Biden’s climate plan, according to The Washington Post.

As the chief steward of North Carolina’s environmental resources, Regan made environmental justice and protecting drinking water a top priority, according to NPR. “We’re looking forward to a Biden administration and an EPA that uses its resources to push aggressively on key issues like climate change,” he told NPR in an interview. (RELATED: Joe Biden Is Building A Secret EPA)

Regan has endorsed key aspects of Biden’s climate plan including rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. He also backed proposals to eliminate fossil fuel emissions in the power sector by 2035 and attain net-zero emissions by 2050, according to The New York Times.

Brenda Mallory

Mallory is currently a lawyer at the Southern Environmental Law Center lawyer and was nominated to chair the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which coordinates federal environmental policies. She would be the first black person to hold the position if confirmed and was previously General Counsel to the CEQ under former President Barack Obama.

She would play a critical role in reversing the Trump administration’s climate policies, including regulatory rollbacks and the push towards energy dominance, according to NPR. Her nomination was welcomed by environmental groups who have long sought to reverse Trump-era policies.

Mallory joined nearly 150 black colleagues from the Obama administration in a 2019 op-ed accusing Trump of racism after attendees at a Trump rally in North Carolina chanted “send her back” when the president brought up Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Gina McCarthy

McCarthy served as Obama’s EPA administrator and was nominated to lead the newly-formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy as Biden’s national climate adviser. The role would not require Senate confirmation and McCarthy is likely to play an instrumental role in implementing Biden’s climate plan, according to The Hill.

Biden’s transition team has not provided greater detail on what McCarthy’s job responsibilities would be, but her domestic role is designed to match the international one given to former Secretary of State John Kerry.

She oversaw the Obama administration’s most ambitious and controversial environmental policies including the Waters of the United States rule and the Clean Power Plan. The latter was challenged in federal court before the Trump administration ultimately tossed the plan out in 2017.

McCarthy currently heads the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a major environmental lobbying group with close working ties to China. NRDC senior strategic director Barbara Finamore released a book in 2018 titled “Will China Save the Planet?” praising the communist country for leading a global clean energy revolution.

Republican lawmakers led by Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney urged the Justice Department earlier this year to investigate ties between China and environmental groups like the NRDC, Fox Business reported. (RELATED: Obama EPA Heads Spent Nearly $1 Million On Foreign Trips)

“The NRDC maintains a presence in China and has long worked with [Chinese Communist Party] officials. Meanwhile, the group touts the dozens of lawsuits that it has launched against the Trump Administration,” Cheney wrote in a Sept. 4 letter.

Ali Zaidi

Zaidi is currently New York’s deputy secretary for energy and environment and was nominated to serve as Biden’s deputy national climate adviser. He would work with McCarthy as her deputy and is also an Obama administration alum, according to The Washington Post.

While serving in the Obama administration, Zaidi argued that climate change would cost trillions of dollars and called for tougher environmental regulations. “Climate change is already costing taxpayers,” he wrote in a 2016 white paper. “But the costs we are incurring today will be dwarfed by the costs that lie ahead.”

During his time in Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, he has largely prioritized environmental justice and developing a transportation green zone to boost pollution monitoring efforts, according to E&E News.