Nature Needs Heroes: Looking Ahead at the Biden-Harris Administration
When President-Elect Joe Biden began announcing members of his Cabinet, all eyes were on who he would select to lead the climate and environment agenda for the next four years. Based on his selection, we’re looking at 2021 with cautious optimism and hope for the future of our planet, and environmental justice for communities who have been disproportionately impacted by those who put profits over the health of the environment and all living beings on this planet.
Who we’ll be watching (in the order of their announcements):
Special Presidential Envoy for Climate: John Kerry (announced November 23, 2020)
John Kerry was tapped for a newly-created role as the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, a signal from the Biden-Harris administration that addressing the climate crisis will be a key priority. Eliciting positive reactions from youth-led grassroots activist groups and world-renowned environmental organizations alike, Kerry is recognized for his pivotal role shaping the Paris Climate Agreement. This appointment acknowledges that climate change is and will continue to be a national security issue, and provides Kerry the opportunity to repair the country’s reputation and credibility in the fight against the global climate crisis as he join others at the National Security Council decision-making table.
Secretary of the Interior: Deb Haaland (announced December 17, 2020)
As one of the first two Native American women to ever serve in Congress, Representative Debra Anne Haaland was nominated as the United States Secretary of the Interior. This historic pick would place Haaland as the first Native American to serve in a Cabinet position and be the person responsible for the management and conservation of federal land and natural resources. Biden’s nomination is welcomed by progressives and over 100 tribal leaders who have been seeking a leader who is a proponent for the planet and all protected lands.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator: Michael S. Regan (announced December 17, 2020)
The EPA is an independent executive agency of the federal government whose mission is to protect human health and the environment. In the past four years of the Trump administration, over 100 environmental protections have been rolled back, leaving plenty of work to be done for the next United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. Biden chose Michael S. Regan for this undertaking, and many environmental advocacy groups are in support of this nomination. Regan’s background includes time at the EPA (during the Clinton administration), the Environmental Defense Fund, and most recently North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality Secretary. Similar to Kerry and Haaland, Regan will be expected to face an uphill battle to repair the former administration’s actions related to environmental regulations that negatively impacted people and planet.
As we look beyond Inauguration Day, let’s continue to keep a watchful eye and ensure that this administration holds true to their promise for a clean energy future and one that achieves environmental justice for all.