Editor’s note: since publication New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland has been tapped as Interior Department Secretary.
By Kelvey Vander Hart
President-elect Joe Biden has been hyperfocused on the environment during his campaign and after his election. Instead of selecting climate realists to key appointments in his Cabinet, President-elect Biden has begun to surround himself with people who believe in big-government solutions to combat climate. If these appointees truly did care about climate change they would focus on solutions that lower emissions and protect the environment, such as investing in energy innovation and reducing burdensome regulation.
Here is a quick primer on the seven things you should know about Biden’s environmental picks:
John Kerry’s Position Is New
Biden created a new position for former Secretary of State John Kerry within the National Security Council: Special Envoy for Climate. Kerry’s two key priorities will be to make sure the United States re-enters the Paris Climate Accord, which he signed in 2016, and that our country leads an international push to slash carbon emissions. Kerry founded World War Zero, a coalition of world leaders and celebrities urging climate action and net zero carbon emissions, in 2019. When the position was official, Kerry tweeted, “America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is.”
Conservatives have widely criticized Kerry. C3 Solutions released their own statement regarding Kerry’s appointment:
We hope this appointment represents a move toward climate realism and away from the ideological extremism of the Green New Deal, which used climate concern to promote socialist goals like government-run health care and guaranteed income.
The U.S. is already leading the world at reducing carbon emissions without being part of the Paris Agreement, thanks to innovation and natural gas. If we want to, and we should, further reduce carbon emissions to address climate change, it won’t be through a unilateral action because Co2 doesn’t respect borders. Moreover, raising energy costs for low income and minority communities in America while giving political cover to countries like China that put minorities and dissidents in internment camps isn’t good for people or the planet.
No international agreement is a substitute for the technological innovation the free enterprise system is best able to deliver. That system must be preserved if Kerry’s – and President-elect Biden’s – work has any hope of success.
Michael Regan will be the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
The Biden era will see the EPA headed by Michael Regan. Regan is currently the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. He will be the first black man to head the agency and served in air quality roles under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Regan also has a history of serving in senior roles with the Environmental Defense Fund.
Obama EPA Alumnus for Domestic Climate Policy Chief
Biden has named Gina McCarthy, both former EPA air chief and administrator, as his domestic climate policy chief. McCarthy has been the leader of the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council since early 2020. During her tenure in the EPA, McCarthy signed the Clean Power Plan and spearheaded many increased regulations.
Former Governor of Michigan Will Lead Department of Energy
Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) has been tapped to run the Department of Energy. Granholm was Michigan’s first female governor and served for two terms. It is predicted that her experience with the auto industry will be put to use to help Biden achieve his goal of moving the nation away from fossil fuels, while her support for the industry will help the administration’s public image.
Top Pick For Interior Would Make History
At the top of the list to run the Department of the Interior is New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D). Congresswoman Haaland would be not only the first Native American woman to serve in this role, but the first Native American woman to serve in any cabinet position. While she has centrist support, both the far-left youth climate group Sunrise Movement and leftist PAC Justice Democrats applaud her as their top pick for the position.
No Clear Consensus On The Green New Deal
It seems as though Biden’s environmental picks might not be on the same page of the Green New Deal. Congresswoman Haaland and McCarthy are in favor of its passage, and it’s unclear if Regan and Granholm feel the same. While Kerry has not adamantly endorsed the Green New Deal, his support and admiration of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is troubling.
But Picks United Around Increased Government
Whether it is through increased regulation or increased spending, all of Biden’s picks look like they will work closely with him to increase the scope of the government’s role. Biden has announced his intent to spend $1.7 trillion in federal dollars on the “Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice,” and his environmental leaders within the administration will be right there, helping make this reality.
Biden has lofty environmental goals, and his picks echo this. Conservatives will have plenty to oppose but will also have an opportunity to respond to Biden’s ambition with proposals of their own.
Kelvey Vander Hart is a native Iowan and a senior staff writer for the American Conservation Coalition