President-elect Joe Biden is scheduled to publicly introduce his climate and energy team on Saturday, a history-making group that will be tasked with advancing his ambitious climate policy and strengthening safeguards against pollution.
Biden has promised to make tackling climate change one of the pillars of his Democratic administration. But with a slim majority in the US House of Representatives and control of the US Senate still undecided, Biden and his new team may see little success in Congress and instead rely on rules from his regulatory agencies to enact sweeping change.
The climate team will be formally introduced in Biden’s home state of Delaware on Saturday, during a press briefing where he's expected to tease further details of his climate plan.
The former Vice President to President Barack Obama tapped a familiar face, Obama’s US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy, to lead a newly-created position as national climate adviser tasked with implementing the domestic Biden agenda.
Biden nominated Michael Regan, North Carolina’s top environmental regulator, to head up the EPA. Regan, who worked at the Washington-based agency during the Clinton and Bush administrations, has served as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality since 2017.
Democratic congresswoman Deb Haaland will serve as Biden's interior secretary, and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as his energy secretary.
The team also includes Brenda Mallory, an environmental lawyer, as chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and Ali Zaidi, a leading climate expert and Biden adviser, as deputy national climate adviser.
If confirmed by the US Senate, Haaland would be the first Native American to hold a US cabinet post, Mallory would be the first African American to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Regan would be the first Black man to run the EPA.
The team has been largely praised by environmental groups for its experience and diversity. But the powerful fossil fuel industry, which Biden has frequently targeted for criticism, said the administration must balance its climate efforts with preserving jobs.
"We will also be watching closely to ensure that the incoming administration keeps President-elect Biden’s campaign promises to the energy workforce and protects the millions of jobs supported by our industry in states like New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and across the country," American Petroleum Institute President Mike Sommers said in a statement.