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Meet Biden’s Natural Resource Team

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By Patrick J. Paul

Consistent with his campaign promises to establish a diverse cabinet and leadership team, representative of both the national community and his own philosophy on environmental, energy and climate change issues, President Biden’s natural resource leadership team reflects just that.

New EPA Administrator, Michael Regan, a former EPA employee having worked in both the Clinton and Bush administrations and most recently serving as Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) is President Biden’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). When confirmed, Regan will be the first African-American to lead EPA.

As Secretary of the NC DEQ he created the Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board to assist in achieving and maintaining the fair and equal treatment and meaningful involvement of North Carolinians regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. During his confirmation hearings, he told the Senate that environmental justice was something “near and dear to his heart.”

Jennifer Granholm, former Michigan Governor and Attorney General, is President Biden’s selection to lead the Department of Energy. As Governor, Granholm attempted to diversify Michigan’s economy by emphasizing clean energy, including the establishment of economic incentives for the manufacture of wind turbines, solar panels, batteries, and electric vehicles. Granholm also required more of Michigan’s energy to be derived from renewable sources.

Representative Deb Haaland, the second Native American woman elected to Congress, has been nominated to serve as Secretary of the Interior. When confirmed, Haaland will be the first ever Native American Cabinet Secretary. As Interior Secretary, she will be responsible for millions of acres of land that include national parks and wildlife refuges and would be the lead federal liaison with over 500 Native American tribes. Her historic nomination is being met with some opposition in large part due to her support of the Green New Deal she cosponsored while in Congress. Still, she is expected to be confirmed.

Brenda Mallory has been selected to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Under President Obama, Mallory served as General Counsel of the CEQ. With a background that includes private practice, Mallory currently leads the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Former Secretary of State and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has been chosen by President Biden for the new Cabinet post of Climate Envoy or, “Czar.”  As the former Secretary of State, Kerry help lead the negotiation of the Paris Climate Accord.

Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy also enjoys a new White House role as National Climate Advisor and similarly “Czar” to coordinate a domestic climate agenda. As president of the Natural Resources Defense Council which sued the Trump administration over 100 times on a variety of environmental issues, McCarthy is anticipated to revisit greenhouse gas reductions from power plants and vehicles and to make climate change a consistent theme throughout federal policy development.

Although it’s early, Biden’s natural resource leadership choices are certainly historic and have the ability to impact federal policy immediately. Only time can tell their ultimate impact.