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Environment

Biden Unveils His Climate Team, Promising To Fight 'With The Urgency It Demands'

Rep. Deb Haaland delivers remarks after being introduced as President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to be the next secretary of interior.
Rep. Deb Haaland delivers remarks after being introduced as President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to be the next secretary of interior.

Biden has vowed to make tackling the climate crisis a key component of his administration.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden formally introduced his climate team on Saturday, saying that the people he has selected will lead his administration's "ambitious plan to address the existential threat of our time, climate change."

Biden announced his intention to nominate Rep. Deb Haaland to serve as secretary of the interior; former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to head the Department of Energy; Michael Regan as EPA Administrator; Brenda Mallory as chair of the Council on Environmental Quality; Gina McCarthy as national climate advisor; and Ali Zaidi as deputy national climate advisor.

All told, the members of the team that Biden announced on Saturday illustrate an agenda markedly different from that of the Trump presidency.

The Trump administration has gutted a number of environmental protections and the president himself has questioned climate science. The president-elect and his incoming team have made clear that they plan to try to undo or block many of the Trump administration's initiatives, as well as to prioritize communities of color and low-income communities, which have been disproportionately impacted by climate change and pollution.

During his remarks, Biden compared the climate threat to that of the coronavirus pandemic, and promised to take action.

"Just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change. We need to meet the moment with the urgency it demands as we would during any national emergency."

Biden also stressed the diversity of his emerging cabinet, describing it as "a cabinet that looks like America, that taps into the best of America, that opens doors and includes the full range of talents that we have in this nation."

If confirmed by the Senate, Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo, would be the first Native American to lead the Interior Department. The agency has responsibility for not only managing the nation's public lands, but also honoring the United States' treaties with the indigenous peoples from whom those lands were taken.

"This moment is profound when we consider the fact that a former secretary of the interior once proclaimed his goal to, 'civilize or exterminate us,'" Haaland said in her remarks. "I'm a living testament to the failure of that horrific ideology."

Haaland is not the only member of the climate team that would break barriers. Michael Regan, Biden's pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency, would be the first Black man to hold that role. And Brenda Mallory, who Biden will nominate to head up the Council on Environmental Quality, will be the first Black person to hold that position if she is confirmed by the Senate.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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