Joe Biden has made it clear that the primary existential threat to nation—human-caused climate change—will return to center stage once he takes office. Biden intends to bring the U.S. back together with the global community in addressing this vital issue, to repeal executive orders from Donald Trump that deliberately sabotaged improvements made under the Obama administration, and restore regulations that are meant to move the nation in the right direction.
Biden has also made it clear that he intends to replace Trump’s collection of fossil fuel lobbyists with actual experts on the environment. Since the election, Biden has named North Carolina Environment Secretary Michael Regan to be the director of the Environmental Protection Agency and Brenda Mallory to run the White House Council on Environmental Quality. In addition, he’s named Gina McCarthy to head a new White House Office of Climate Policy. These three signal a 180-degree turn away from Trump’s hate-the-Earth policies. They’re not just serious, experienced environmental watchdogs, they represent a strong record of advocacy with a long list of successes when it comes to fighting destructive practices and promoting green actions. But Biden is far from done. On Wednesday, he named six more members of his climate team. Even if the nation wasn’t coming off four years of nepotism and seemingly random appointments, this group would still seem like a dream team.
As E & E News reports, Biden’s six new members of the climate team continue to signal that Biden is taking climate change seriously. These new hires have been on the forefront of both fighting environmental rollbacks under Trump and of planning longer-term goals like those incorporated in the Green New Deal.
David Hayes, the former deputy interior secretary during the Obama administration, has been named as special assistant to the president for climate policy. Hayes may seem like something of a throwback since he also had this same role during the Clinton administration, but Hayes is a longtime green energy advocate who spent the last four years helping states push back against regulatory changes introduced under Trump. He also has long experience in another aspect of climate change that too often gets overlooked: the fair and appropriate distribution of water rights.
Cecilia Martinez, who was instrumental in developing Biden’s climate and environmental plans during the campaign, has been named senior director for environmental justice. She co-founded the Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy (CEED) and previous served as that group’s executive director. Many of the ideas in CEED’s “Equitable and Just Climate Platform” were incorporated into both the Green New Deal and Biden’s platform.
Maggie Thomas from Evergreen Energy is Biden’s choice to be chief of staff for the new Office of Domestic Climate Policy. If her name sounds familiar to Daily Kos readers, it may be because she was formerly climate adviser for Elizabeth Warren. And if it’s not that, it may be from her previous role as deputy climate director to Gov. Jay Inslee.
- Sonia Aggarwal will move into the role of senior adviser for climate policy and innovation from her current spot as vice president at Energy Innovation. In that role, she was the primary force behind America’s Power Plan, which seeks to lower carbon not just by changing the sources of power, but by looking at how power is both distributed and marketed.
- Jahi Wise has been selected as senior adviser for climate policy and finance, which is a perfect fit for someone who currently serves as policy director for the Coalition for Green Capital. Wise has been behind efforts to fund green energy and brings a wide range of understanding about what it takes to get business on board with green ideas.
- Jeff Marootian will be special assistant to the president for climate and science agency personnel, helping Biden to fill all the thousands of slots that need to be filled in a new administration. Marootian currently works in the Washington, D.C. government, where he’s director of the Department of Transportation … because it’s not a Biden administration without a train guy.
Biden is building out a team with members who understand environmental law, how to work green plans into federal and state planning, how to work with industry, and overall … just how to make good progress.