Biden introduces his climate team, says ‘no time to waste’

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE (AP) — Just as the United States (US) has needed a unified, national response to COVID-19, it needs one for dealing with climate change, President-elect Joe Biden said on Saturday as he rolled out key members of his environmental team.

“We literally have no time to waste,” Biden told reporters as introduced his choices.

The approach is a shift from Donald Trump’s presidency, which has been marked by efforts to boost oil and gas production while rolling back government efforts intended to safeguard the environment. The incoming Biden team will try to undo or block many of the current administration’s initiatives. There also will be an emphasis on looking out for the low-income, working class and minority communities hit hardest by fossil fuel pollution and climate change.

In his remarks, Biden stressed the diversity of an emerging team that he described as “brilliant, qualified, tested and they are barrier-busting”.

“Already there are more people of color in our Cabinet than any Cabinet ever, more women than ever,” said the former vice president, who has promised to assemble a group of department leaders who reflect the diversity of America.

Michael Regan listens as United States President-elect Joe Biden announces him as his nominee for EPA Administrator at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware. PHOTO: AP

The nominees Biden introduced on Saturday had compelling personal stories that they cited as guiding them if confirmed by the Senate.

New Mexico Republican Deb Haaland would be the first Native American to lead the Interior Department, which has wielded influence over the nation’s tribes for generations. She said her life has not been easy. She struggled with homelessness and relied on food stamps at one point.

“This moment is profound when we consider the fact that a former secretary of the Interior once proclaimed his goal, was to quote, ‘civilise or exterminate’ us,” Haaland said. “I’m a living testament to the failure of that horrific ideology.”

Haaland was referring to Alexander H H Stuart, who said that in 1851.

Former two-term Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is in line to be energy secretary. She described arriving in the US at age four and brought from Canada by a family “seeking opportunity”. “It’s because of my family’s journey and my experience in fighting for hardworking Michigan families that I have become obsessed, obsessed with gaining good-paying jobs in America in a global economy,” Granholm said.

North Carolina official Michael Regan would be the first African American man to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).