WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) -President-elect Joe Biden introduced his climate and energy team on Saturday, a history-making group that will seek to advance an ambitious climate agenda that reverses many Trump administration policies.
Michael Regan would become the first Black man to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if confirmed by the Senate, and U.S. Representative Deb Haaland, as interior secretary, would be the first Native American Cabinet member.
“This moment is profound when we consider the fact that a former secretary of the Interior once proclaimed it his goal to, quote, ‘civilize or exterminate’ us,” said Haaland, referring to comments made by Alexander H.H. Stuart in 1851. “I’m a living testament to the failure of that horrific ideology.”
Biden, a Democrat who will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, has vowed to make tackling climate change a top priority. But with a slim majority in the House of Representatives and control of the Senate still undecided, his agenda may see little success in Congress and instead rely on rules from his regulatory agencies to enact sweeping change.
Biden, who served as vice president to President Barack Obama, tapped Obama’s EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, to fill a new role as national climate adviser.
Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm will be Biden’s energy secretary if confirmed.
“Today’s nominees are ready on day one, which is essential because we literally have no time to waste,” Biden said at a media briefing in his home state of Delaware.
Environmental groups have largely praised the team for its experience and diversity. But the powerful fossil fuel industry, which Biden has frequently criticized, has argued he must balance climate efforts with preserving jobs.
Biden wants the United States to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which would require the world’s second-largest emitter to transform its economy including transportation, power generation and farming.
He diverges sharply from President Donald Trump, who withdrew Washington from the Paris climate accord and softened or dismantled climate regulations the administration deemed harmful to the economy.
The president-elect on Saturday spoke with Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador about a “new approach” to regional migration and its causes in Central America, the Biden transition team said.
Trump on Saturday continued to falsely assert on Twitter that the election had been stolen from him through voter fraud.
The Republican president on Friday evening discussed with Sidney Powell, a lawyer formerly on his election challenge team, her potential appointment as a special government counsel to probe allegations of voter fraud, according to a source familiar with the meeting. Powell has promoted unproven conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines.
It was unclear whether Trump intended to move forward with the plan. Both White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and White House counsel Pat Cipollone strenuously objected to the idea, the source said.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Wilmington; Additional reporting by Jarrett Renshaw, Steve Holland and Timothy Gardner; Writing by James Oliphant; editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Osterman)