What does an All of Government climate fight look like?
President Biden has unveiled an innovative “All of Government” approach to fighting climate pollution – and building into our cities, rural areas, and natural ecosystems a measure of resilience from the disastrous impacts of global warming. Under an All of Government approach, every federal agency must find ways to set real, enforceable limits on the carbon and methane emissions that are disrupting our climate, threatening the stability of our country, and harming the health of our families across the United States, and the globe.
An All of Government approach to tackling climate change calls on all federal agencies to “develop programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic, and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities.”
Members of Moms Clean Air Force are glad to work with agencies that respect science and public health officials and that care about everyone’s future.
Here’s how federal agencies can play a role in an All of Government battle against climate disruption—with a handy snapshot of who is heading these agencies. President Biden prioritized the climate crisis in the highest government offices by establishing two new White House positions.
PRESIDENT BIDEN’S CLIMATE CHIEFS TO LEAD HIS NEW WHITE OFFICE ON CLIMATE POLICY:
WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL CLIMATE ADVISOR
Gina McCarthy, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration, is President Biden’s national climate advisor. She leads inter-agency efforts to coordinate domestic climate change policy. McCarthy will carry out the administration’s planned actions to tackle climate change and address environmental justice.
Gina McCarthy has been a longtime friend of Moms Clean Air Force, and we honored her for protecting public health and the environment.
McCarthy on climate change and children’s health:
“Climate change is really all about kids’ health. Why aren’t we thinking about what my mother would call a two-fer? A double benefit here. That’s what thinking about health can do.”
SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE
John Kerry was a senator and the former secretary of state in the Obama administration. He was the key negotiator in the Paris Agreement. Kerry is the first member of the National Security Council to focus exclusively on fighting climate change. Mr. Kerry’s appointment is a “powerful signal” that will help the US – the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter after China – start regaining global trust on the issue.
Kerry on climate, social justice, and science:
“America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat that it is.”
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY:
The EPA is the nation’s top environmental regulator. EPA can rebuild rules – using the best available climate data – that were systematically dismantled by the Trump administration.
Michael Regan was the secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality. He has been confirmed as Administrator of the EPA—a cabinet-level position.
Regan on climate, social justice, and science:
“Climate change is the most significant challenge humanity faces. We’ll make meaningful progress together by listening to every voice—from our youth & frontline communities to scientists & our workforce.”
DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR OF THE EPA
Janet McCabe is confirmed as deputy administrator of the EPA.
McCabe on her role:
“I look forward to supporting the amazing EPA career staff in protecting public health and the environment around the country.”
PRESIDENT BIDEN’S CABINET MEMBERS:
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (DOE)
The DOE deals with energy efficiency standards for consumer products, like appliances. The previous administration’s baseless attack on energy-efficient appliances ignored the facts Efficiency standards save citizens and businesses money. DOE also oversees nuclear power. In line with Biden’s goal of a 100% clean electrical grid by 2035, DOE will help lead the transition from gas-powered to electric vehicles.
Jennifer Granholm, the former Michigan governor, has been confirmed to lead the DOE.
Granholm on the future of oil and gas companies:
“They are now diversifying to be energy companies rather than oil and gas companies.”
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is an independent agency that regulates transmission of electricity, natural gas, oil and hydropower projects. The commission works to secure economically efficient, safe, reliable, and secure energy for consumers.
Biden appointed Richard Glick chairman of FERC. Formerly, Glick was an attorney for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Glick on environmental justice:
“I believe that the Commission should more aggressively fulfill its responsibilities to ensure our decisions don’t unfairly impact historically marginalized communities… I intend to do what it takes to empower this new position to ensure that environmental justice and equity concerns finally get the attention they deserve.”
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DOT)
Transportation accounts for more than a quarter of carbon emissions. DOT sets fuel efficiency standards with EPA, funds public transit, and researches new transportation technologies. The Trump administration’s outrageous attack on the longstanding authority of states to limit climate and air pollution from cars can now be halted.
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has been confirmed to lead DOT.
Buttigieg on climate and electric vehicles:
“To meet the climate crisis, we must put millions of new electric vehicles on America’s roads. It’s time to build public charging infrastructure powered by clean energy and make it available in all parts of this country.”
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Interior Department controls public lands. It includes the Fish and Wildlife Service. Climate change impacts have taken a swift and terrible toll on endangered species. Interior also controls oil and gas operations on public lands and in offshore waters. This department will also carry out Biden’s campaign pledge that the US will conserve nearly one-third of all land and water by 2030.
Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico has been confirmed as Secretary of the Interior. She is the first Indigenous cabinet secretary.
Haaland on climate and Indigenous rights:
“I’ll be fierce for all of us, for our planet, and all of our protected land.”
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Climate research has lagged behind these last four years. NSF helps to fund the research and technology that can help decarbonize industry. It also works on technologies for storage, solar power, and efficient transmission.
Eric Lander, a geneticist, will serve as Presidential Science Advisor and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Lander on science challenges:
“What’s it going to take to find common ground to tackle big challenges in science and society? Humility, trust, and skepticism are a good foundation.”
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
The Pentagon funds billions of dollars of research into new energy technologies, including renewable energy versus fossil fuels. Renewable fuels are safer for soldiers out in the field. The Pentagon must also make plans for the sea level rise that is swamping military bases along the coast.
Lloyd Austin, a retired U.S. Army four-star general who served in the military for 41 years, has been confirmed to lead the Defense Department. Austin is the first African American secretary of defense.
Austin on climate change and national security:
“There is little about what the Department does to defend the American people that is not affected by climate change. It is a national security issue, and we must treat it as such.”
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
The Commerce Department includes the Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization (NOAA). NOAA does climate modeling and forecasting. NOAA can help us continue to adapt to climate change impacts. The Department of Commerce shares a great deal of valuable data with the public; we fund it, and we have a right to know what the science is telling us.
Gina Raimondo is governor of Rhode Island and Biden’s pick for Secretary of Commerce.
Raimondo on COVID and equity:
“COVID worsened the long-standing inequities facing low-income families.”
EXECUTIVE OFFICES OF THE PRESIDENT:
COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY (CEQ)
The CEQ was created by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to coordinate “improve, preserve, and protect America’s public health and environment.” CEQ coordinates energy and environmental policy. The agency develops policy for public lands, oceans, and wildlife conservation. CEQ also provides environmental reviews and permits for infrastructure, including pipelines.
In a bipartisan vote, environmental lawyer Brenda Mallory was confirmed to head CEQ. She was the Director of Regulatory Policy at the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Mallory on environmental justice:
“Ensuring that among the things the federal government considers when designing a new project or regulation is the potential for government action to have disparate impacts on communities of color and low-income communities.”