Biden Selects Energy Secretary and New National Climate Advisor

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a U.C. Berkeley professor, is Biden's choice to lead the Energy Department. A new position, national climate advisor, will be filled by former Obama EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, current head of the NRDC.

December 18, 2020, 8:00 AM PST

By Irvin Dawid

Biden administration

Biden's appointment to the new position of national climate advisor, Gina McCarthy, pictured in 2013. | Albert H. Teich / Shutterstock

"Joe Biden is set to pick former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to lead the U.S. Department of Energy and former EPA chief administrator Gina McCarthy as domestic 'climate czar' elevating two women with strong Democratic party credentials and records on combating climate change to play key roles in enacting the president-elect’s climate change policy agenda," report Jeff St. John and Emma Foehringer Merchant for Greentech Media.

Granholm, now a professor at the [Goldman School of Public Policy at the] University of California at Berkeley, had not been on a shortlist of three former Energy Department officials seen as likely picks for the Energy Secretary role [which] included Ernest Moniz, a physicist and former Energy Secretary under President Barack Obama.

"Granholm has sought to position herself as a figure who can help U.S. industry transition to a clean energy economy, a process that Biden has made one his top four goals," according to a Politico report.

Granholm’s Michigan connections to the auto industry and her ability to win support for a transition to electrified transportation would be central to Biden’s vision for the U.S. economy and for the nation’s climate change puzzle.

Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis of The Washington Post report that Gina McCarthy, who served as President Barak Obama's Environmental Protection Agency's administrator from 2013 to 2017 and has been the president and chief executive officer of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) since January, "will head the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy."

McCarthy, 66, who spearheaded the Obama administration’s efforts to curb greenhouse gases from power plants and vehicles, will be responsible for implementing Biden’s plan to weave climate policy throughout the federal government as the first-ever “national climate adviser.”

She will be the domestic counterpart to John F. Kerry, the former secretary of state and senator whom Biden has named special presidential envoy to manage the U.S. role in global climate action.

Dennis reports separately that Biden has chosen Brenda Mallory, who is the director of regulatory policy at the Southern Environmental Law Center, to head the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality that oversees the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by federal agencies.

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