Seasoned policy pros tasked with helping Biden deliver on his bold climate policy agenda
Secretary of Transportation
As a presidential candidate in 2019, Pete Buttigieg released a $1 trillion climate-change plan that called for net-zero emissions by 2050 and the creation of more than 3 million clean-energy and infrastructure jobs over 10 years. The former South Bend, Indiana mayor didn’t win the White House, but he still has a chance to work toward those goals. While many observers expected that he might be tapped as Labor secretary or an ambassador, President Biden instead chose Buttigieg to head the Transportation Department.
Secretary of the Interior
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s life has been marked by breaking barriers––whether she was earning her juris doctor as a single mother, running for lieutenant governor, or becoming one of two Native American women ever elected to the House.
But beyond making history, the driving force behind her career has always been service to Native communities like her own, the Laguna Pueblo tribe. As the first Native person to hold a Cabinet post, she intends to focus on the needs of Native Indian and Alaska Native communities, including educational resources, law enforcement, social services, disaster relief, and the sacred task of conserving and restoring tribal culture.
Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality
Brenda Mallory is another official who’s boomeranged back from the Obama administration. But she’s not just a partisan actor. She arrived at the Environmental Protection Agency at the tail end of the Clinton administration but stayed on at EPA and CEQ during George W. Bush’s tenure and into Obama’s, when she finished as CEQ’s general counsel. And while she drew nine GOP votes against her confirmation in committee, 13 past Republican CEQ chairs and EPA appointees sent a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee supporting her.
Her recent approval by the full Senate makes her the first Black woman to head the panel, which coordinates federal environmental policy and advises the president on environmental issues.
National Climate Adviser, White House
Gina McCarthy is back on the biggest stage of the climate fight.
As President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator, McCarthy led the creation of his signature climate-change policy, the Clean Power Plan. Then President Trump was elected, and his administration scrapped it.
A recent court decision threw out the Trump team’s replacement regulation, opening up a space for the Biden administration to propose its own emissions plan. And McCarthy is again on the scene, this time as President Biden’s climate czar, spearheading the effort to reorient the federal government to fight climate change.
Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
On March 11, Michael Regan was sworn in as the Environmental Protection Agency’s 16th administrator, with 16 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in supporting him. Regan is the first Black man to lead the agency.
Regan started his career with the EPA the same year that he graduated college. He worked for the agency for a decade, starting as a special assistant to the assistant administrator for air and radiation, and eventually becoming the national program manager for program design in the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards.
Deputy National Climate Advisor
Ali Zaidi is one of the many prominent Obama-era figures who have boomeranged back to the Biden White House after spending the Trump years in the private sector.
Zaidi, a Pakistani immigrant who moved to the U.S. as a child and grew up in Pennsylvania, served all over the Obama administration through the entirety of its eight years, mostly in areas dealing with energy and the environment. He began at the Council on Environmental Quality before becoming deputy director of energy policy at the Domestic Policy Council and associate director for energy and natural resources at the Office of Management and Budget. There, he led the creation and implementation of the Climate Action Plan and helped negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement.