Biden's Cabinet picks show he's serious about protecting the environment


Rep. Deb Haaland, former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, and Michael Regan, North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality secretary, are his latest qualified nominees.

President-elect Joe Biden's recent environmental-related Cabinet selections have the experience required to effectively handle their jobs, a contrast to the current administration and further proof of Biden's commitment on the issue.

On Thursday, Biden tapped Michael Regan, North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality secretary, to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Brian Buzby, who leads the North Carolina Conservation Network, applauded the decision, telling the New York Times, "It signals that the Biden administration is serious about getting the E.P.A. back to its core mission to protect the environment and public health as well as ensure strong, meaningful steps are taken to advance environmental justice issues."

Regan formerly worked at the EPA as an air quality specialist during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

Also on Thursday, Biden announced Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) as his pick for Interior secretary. The selection is historic, as Haaland would become the first Native American to hold the Cabinet position in the nation's history.

Haaland, member of the Pueblo of Laguna, has endorsed renewable energy and vowed to fight climate change, the Washington Post noted.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday sung Haaland's praises, telling the Post: "I am so proud that, as one of the first Native American women to have served in Congress, she serves as chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands."

"Congresswoman Haaland knows the territory, and if she is the president-elect's choice for Interior secretary, then he will have made an excellent choice," the speaker added.

For the Energy secretary role, Biden is expected to tap former two-term Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. She has been credited in the automobile industry bailout in 2009, when she worked with the Obama administration to include investments in clean energy, according to the Times. After serving as governor, she began advocacy efforts for renewable energy, the outlet noted.

Elsewhere in his administration, Biden has appointed former Secretary of State John Kerry to a newly created role as the National Security Council's first special presidential envoy for climate.

For years, Kerry has discussed the risks to national security that climate change poses, including in a 2015 speech that emphasized the matter's urgency.

"America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is," Kerry tweeted on Nov. 23, saying he's proud to partner with Biden.

Biden is also set to name former Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina MacCarthy as the White House climate coordinator.

McCarthy led the agency under the Obama administration, headed the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, and currently serves as the Natural Resources Defense Council's chief executive.

As climate coordinator, MacCarthy will be tasked with lowering the country's greenhouse gas emissions after Biden pledged carbon neutrality within the next 30 years.

Biden's picks strike a stark contrast with Donald Trump's picks, who have faced heavy criticism for their past records working to combat environmental advocates, or their lack of experience in the subject.

Former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, for instance, currently leads the EPA. A former lobbyist for Ford Motor Company, Dan Brouillette, is heading the Energy Department, while his predecessor, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, previously called to abolish the very agency he was picked to run.

Though not in an environmental role, Biden has also selected California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to serve as Health and Human Services secretary, an unintentional snub at Trump, who has launched a barrage of attacks on the environment since taking office. Becerra was a key figure in California's lawsuits against Trump's Bureau of Land Management, which sought to block the agency from leasing more than a million acres of protected land in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to fossil fuel industries.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.