Before you do anything else, the EPA Climate Tracker is Back!!!

CABINET

CABINET

President George Washington created the Cabinet by having meetings with three advisers, but James Madison gave the group its enduring name. Today, the President’s Cabinet has expanded from three to fifteen, including the Vice President. Cabinet members determine the order of succession should the President pass away or be unable to serve — the Secretary of State, for example, follows the Vice President, Speaker of the House, and President pro tempore of the Senate — but they are also heads of their own Executive Departments. Cabinet members are nominated by the President and require a majority vote from the Senate to be confirmed.

Examples include the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Transportation. The presidentially-appointed Secretaries of each Department develop, enforce, and oversee federal regulations. Because climate change touches every single aspect of our lives, the position of every government leader towards climate change has significant consequence; however, there are certain positions, like Head of the Department of Energy and the Department of Interior, where this connection is especially explicit.

It is for this reason that, on occasion, the relationship between a Cabinet member and private interests have drawn public ire. For example, it doesn’t sit well that Dan Brouillette, the Secretary of Energy under President Trump, was a former lobbyist for Ford Motor Company. Similarly, Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, was a former lobbyist for oil and gas companiesThese conflicts of interest are undoubtedly connected to the approximately 100 environmental rollbacks that occurred under President Trump.

Most of these rollbacks came from the Environmental Protection Agency, then headed by Andrew Wheeler. While the EPA Administrator is not a part of the Cabinet, the position has Cabinet-level rank, and also has regulatory power. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, continued trends set by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (who was also appointed by Trump and one who does not believe in scientific evidence supporting climate change) to aggressively challenge Obama-era environmental regulations. As Gina McCarthy, head of the EPA under Obama vocalized, rollbacks that allow for increased pollution exacerbate the threat of Covid-19, particularly for marginalized populations who are more likely to live in areas with poor air quality and less likely to have access to health insurance.

Many of President Joe Biden’s climate team have been announced.

  • John Kerry has been, a cabinet level post named special presidential envoy on climate change with a seat on the National Security Council. Kerry helped write and steer the negotiation of the Paris Agreement, and the appointment signals Joe Biden’s commitment to the climate crisis.
  • Jennifer Granholm will be the Energy Secretary. A former governor of Michigan, she is currently teaching at UC Berkeley and will be the second woman to run the 14,000-employee department, long focused on maintaining the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons. She has long advocated for renewable energy sources.
  • Michael Regan will run the EPA, and will be responsible for crafting fuel-efficiency standards for the nation’s cars and trucks, overseeing emissions from power plants and oil and gas facilities, and cleaning up the country’s most polluted sites.
  • Deb Haaland, if confirmed, will be the Interior Secretary. Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, will be in charge of an agency that has tremendous sway over the nearly 600 federally recognized tribes as well as over much of the nation’s vast public lands, waterways, wildlife, national parks and mineral wealth.
  • David Hayes, will be special assistant to the president for climate policy, coming to the Biden White House with a background in both the Obama and Clinton administrations, as deputy secretary at the Department of the Interior.
  • Brenda Mallory will be the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, and  brings deep and versatile expertise working directly with communities and partners across the public and private sectors to solve climate challenges and advance environmental protection and environmental justice.
  • Gina McCarthy will be the first-ever National Climate Advisor. McCarthy will head up the newly formed White House Office of Climate Policy, where she will drive an “all of government” approach to combating climate change. A leading voice on climate and environmental issues for more than 30 years, she will oversee the National Climate Task Force, which President Biden created as part of a series of executive actions during his first week in office.
  • Ali Zaidi will be Deputy National Climate Advisor, Zaidi helped draft and implement the Obama-Biden Administration’s Climate Action Plan and negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement.

CURRENT NEWS

KEY RESOURCES

Investing in a Clean Energy Future: Solar Energy Research, Deployment, and Workforce Priorities

09/13/21
The immediate need for action on climate change has been made clear in the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Limiting the rise in global temperatures would help avoid future catastrophic…

Climate Change Indicators in the United States

05/18/21
The Earth's climate is changing. Temperatures are rising, snow and rainfall patterns are shifting, and more extreme climate events – like heavy rainstorms and record high temperatures – are already happening. Many of these observed…

Vineyard Wind

05/16/21
The Departments of the Interior and Commerce announced the approval of the construction and operation of the first large-scale, offshore wind project in the United States, located offshore Massachusetts. The 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind energy project…

Climate Change Adaptation: Department of the Interior

03/02/21
The Department of the Interior (DOI) and many agencies within it, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and U.S. Geological…

Tracking turnover in the Trump administration

01/01/20
The rate of turnover among senior level advisers to President Trump has generated a great deal of attention. Below, we offer four resources to help measure and contextualize this turnover. The first set of resources…

The Cabinet

01/27/19
Established in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office.

MORE NEWS

The International Energy Agency Aims for Net-Zero by 2024

By Sami Grover  Photo: PBNJ Productions / Getty Images   09/30/21  
Whether it’s promoting building efficiency or pushing for renewables, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has been talking about decarbonization for quite some time. Now the agency is putting what it preaches into practice, announcing a…

USDA pledges billions for climate-smart farm projects, resilience

By Marc Heller   09/29/21  
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today he’ll use billions of dollars from a Depression-era agency to pay for a carbon-saving program for farms, and to help farmers prepare for drought and adverse weather associated with…
EPA

U.S. Will Dramatically Cut Climate-Damaging Greenhouse Gases

09/23/21  
Today, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule establishing a comprehensive program to cap and phase down the production and consumption of climate-damaging hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the United States. HFCs are…
DOE

DOE Announces $12 Million to Boost Geothermal Energy Research

09/22/21  
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $12 million in funding for seven research projects to advance the commercialization of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) — manmade reservoirs that produce clean, renewable energy. EGS development…

U.S. Climate Equity Office Debuts, But With a Tiny Budget

By Ariel Wittenberg, E&E News  Photo: Luke Sharrett Getty Images   09/13/21  
It aims to help communities become more resilient to climate change, particularly its health impacts

House Energy Panel Seeks Billions For EPA To Cut GHGs, Air Pollution

09/10/21  
The House Energy & Commerce Committee is poised to mark up budget reconciliation measures Sept. 13 that would appropriate billions of dollars for EPA to cut greenhouse gases and conventional air pollution, while also imposing…

U.S. Department of Energy Announces More Than $64 Million for Biofuels Research to Reduce Transportation Emissions

09/09/21  
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced more than $64 million in funding for 22 projects focused on developing technologies and processes that produce low-cost, low-carbon biofuels. Biofuels are made up of renewable resources and…

DOE Announces Nearly $65 Million for Biofuels Research to Reduce Airplane and Ship Emissions

09/09/21  
As part of a White House roundtable to launch the Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) Grand Challenge to decarbonize the aviation sector by 2050, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $64.7 million in funding for projects focused on producing cost-effective, low-carbon biofuels. These investments will advance technologies to create replacements for petroleum fuels used in heavy-duty forms of…

Solar Could Be the Keystone of Biden’s Decarbonization Plans

By Eduardo Garcia   09/09/21  
The U.S. could rely on solar energy to produce 40% of its electricity by 2035, an effort that would lead to a drastic reduction in carbon emissions, the Biden administration said in a new energy…
HHS

HHS Establishes Office of Climate Change and Health Equity

08/30/21  
Protecting Americans’ health and well-being has always been at the heart of fighting climate change, and now for the first time, its importance is being elevated at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services…

UC Berkeley scientist Patrick Gonzalez to advise White House on climate change and biodiversity

By Jacob Shea  Photo: Al Golub   08/30/21  
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has appointed University of California, Berkeley, scientist Patrick Gonzalez as assistant director for climate and biodiversity. The OSTP advises the president, vice president and the…

Biden Opens New Federal Office for Climate Change, Health and Equity

By Lisa Friedman  Photo: Nathan Howard/Associated Press   08/30/21  
Amid deadly heat waves and new evidence showing that wildfire smoke may contribute to premature births, the Biden administration is creating a new federal office to address the health consequences of climate change and their…

U.S. begins detaining solar panel imports over concerns about forced labor in China

By Jeanne Whalen  Photo: Qilai Shen , Bloomberg News   08/27/21  
U.S. officials have begun blocking the import of solar panels that they believe could be products of forced labor in China, implementing a recent ban that could slow construction of solar-energy projects throughout the country.

How Should the Fed Deal With Climate Change?

By Neil Irwin  Photo: Lexey Swall for The New York Times   08/26/21  
The climate crisis is at high risk of becoming an economic crisis. That is an increasingly widespread view among leading economic thinkers — that a range of economic and financial problems could result from a…

FEMA overhauls the National Flood Insurance Program for climate change

By Diana Olick   08/18/21  
Climate change and its devastating impact are accelerating faster than ever, according to a new report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Hurricanes are becoming stronger, rainfall heavier and flood risk higher.…

‘Climate change is going to cost us’: How the US military is preparing for harsher environments

By Andrew Eversden   08/09/21  
The aftermath of Hurricane Florence dumping 36 inches of rain on North Carolina in 2018 saw three Marine Corps installations flooded, costing taxpayers $3.6 billion in damage. A few weeks later, Hurricane Michael ripped through…

FEMA Knows a Lot About Climate-Driven Flooding

By James Bruggers  Photo: Michael S. Williamson , Getty Images   08/04/21  
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been collecting a lot of information about flood risks across America, including the increased risk of flooding linked to climate change. But the agency has not effectively used…

EPA announces new members of science board after firing Trump appointees

By Rachel Frazin   08/02/21  
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday announced the new members of its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) after previously firing the board members who had been appointed during the Trump administration.

Democrats’ ‘Hot FERC Summer’ campaign aims to boost FERC’s visibility on Capitol Hill

By Catherine Morehouse   07/21/21  
What do the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, rapper Megan Thee Stallion and climate change have in common? They're all tied to a new campaign launched on the House floor Tuesday intended to boost FERC's visibility…

DOE Quietly Backs Plan for Carbon Capture Network Larger Than Entire Oil Pipeline System

By Sharon Kelly  Photo: Kilian Munch   07/18/21  
An organization run by former Obama-era Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, with the backing of the AFL-CIO, a federation of 56 labor unions, has created a policy “blueprint” to build a nationwide pipeline network capable of carrying a gigaton of…

DoD will soon release climate change strategy that will impact almost every facet of the military

By Scott Maucione   07/15/21  
The Defense Department says it will have a plan to make climate change a main factor in the further strategy of the military’s operations, risk assessments and programming by Sept. 1.

E.P.A. Approved Toxic Chemicals for Fracking a Decade Ago, New Files Show

By Hiroko Tabuchi  Photo: Jim West/Alamy   07/13/21  
For much of the past decade, oil companies engaged in drilling and fracking have been allowed to pump into the ground chemicals that, over time, can break down into toxic substances known as PFAS —…

Lack of climate risk analysis in US federal retirement fund sparks concern

By David Sherfinski  Photo: Rafael Marchante   07/13/21  
The board overseeing the largest public retirement plan in the United States has not comprehensively assessed the risks climate change poses to its investments, a U.S. federal agency says, sparking fears retirement savings pots could…

DOE Awards $12 Million to Tribal Communities

07/13/21  
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today $12 million in funding to 13 American Indian and Alaska Native communities across the nation for projects that will reduce energy costs and increase energy security and…

US’s Yellen urges better coordination on carbon policy

By David Lawder  Photo: Shawn Thew/Pool via REUTERS/File   07/09/21  
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on Friday for better international coordination on carbon-cutting policies to avoid trade frictions, days before the European Union is due to unveil a controversial carbon border tax.

Democrat presses Haaland on oil and gas review

By Rachel Frazin  Photo: Greg Nash   06/16/21  
A Democratic senator pressed Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on the Biden administration’s review of its oil and gas program on Wednesday following a court ruling that blocked its pause on new leasing. Sen. Jon Tester…

For Clean Energy, Buy American or Buy It Quick and Cheap?

By Jessica Murray  Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images   05/16/21  
US climate envoy says people will not have to give up quality of life to achieve some of net zero goals
BBC

US environmental agency releases climate report delayed by Trump

Photo: Getty Images   05/13/21  
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said for the first time that climate change is being driven at least in part by humans.

Q&A: Pete Buttigieg has Eisenhower, Lincoln and buses on his mind

By Michael Laris and Ian Duncan  Photo: John McDonnell   05/06/21  
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is one of the Cabinet members President Biden tapped to explain the melding of infrastructure, climate and equity in the administration’s $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan. In the run-up to the…

Biden Has Elevated the Job of Science Adviser. Is That What Science Needs?

By William J. Broad  Photo: Amr Alfiki , New York Times   05/03/21  
On the campaign trail, Joseph R. Biden Jr. vowed to unseat Donald J. Trump and bring science back to the White House, the federal government and the nation after years of presidential attacks and disavowals, neglect…

Biden Interior nominee questioned on past work for fossil fuel industry

By Rachel Frazin  Photo by Getty Images   04/29/21  
President Biden’s pick for the No. 2 spot at the Interior Department fielded a question Thursday on his previous work for fossil fuel companies during his confirmation hearing as progressives look to press him on…

In the climate change fight, the Interior Department becomes a battlefield

By Juliet Eilperin and Joshua Partlow  Photo: Graeme Jennings   04/17/21  
In the weeks after President Biden’s inauguration, as the oil industry was facing a far less welcoming White House, a ConocoPhillips executive went pheasant hunting with the Democratic senator poised to wield tremendous power in…

Deb Haaland Scraps A Slew Of Fossil Fuel-Friendly Trump Orders

By Chris D’Angelo   04/16/21  
With the stroke of a pen on Friday, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland dismantled a sizable chunk of her predecessors’ legacies, revoking a dozen Trump-era secretarial orders that sought to boost fossil fuel and other extraction…

Biden picks energy lawyer Tommy Beaudreau as Interior Department’s No. 2 official

By Dino Grandoni, Juliet Eilperin and Joshua Partlow  Photo: Rich Clement/Bloomberg News   04/14/21  
President Biden announced Wednesday that he will nominate Tommy Beaudreau to be deputy secretary of the Interior Department, ending a standoff between the White House and senators from fossil-fuel-rich states who derailed the president’s first…

EPA dismisses dozens of key science advisers picked under Trump

By Dino Grandoni   04/01/21  
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan will purge more than 40 outside experts appointed under President Donald Trump from two key advisory panels, a move he says will help restore the role of science at the agency…

Rolling back a rollback: Buttigieg deletes some Trump-era limits on regulation

By Michael Laris   03/25/21  
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg moved Wednesday to undo key deregulatory actions by the Trump administration, an overhaul that department officials said was necessary to address challenges that include climate change, racial injustices, the coronavirus pandemic…

John Kerry embarks on his latest mission: saving the world

By Jess Bidgood  Photo: Stephane De Sakutin   03/19/21  
Earlier this month, John Kerry, the recently vaccinated elder statesman of American climate politics, boarded a commercial redeye for a trip to London, Brussels, and Paris with a single aide and the understated mission of…

Haaland confirmed by Senate as first Native American to lead Interior

By Darryl Fears   03/16/21  
As thousands of Native Americans watched online, Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) was confirmed as secretary of the Interior Department by a 51-to-40 vote in the Senate, making her the first American Indian to lead an…

New EPA administrator: ‘Science is back’

By Brady Dennis and Dino Grandoni  Photo by Caroline Brehman   03/16/21  
Michael Regan has bold aspirations, and a long to-do list, as President Biden’s newly confirmed Environmental Protection Agency administrator. He wants to hasten the nation’s shift to cleaner forms of energy, make transformational investments in…

Senate Confirms Biden’s Pick to Lead E.P.A.

By Lisa Friedman  Photo by Brandon Bell   03/10/21  
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Michael S. Regan, the former top environmental regulator for North Carolina, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and drive some of the Biden administration’s biggest climate and regulatory policies.

Biden’s Justice Dept. already has split from Trump. Merrick Garland will go even further

By Matt Zapotosky  Photo by Demetrius Freeman   03/10/21  
For nearly two months, the Justice Department has quietly rolled back several Trump-era policies and shifted positions in civil cases, moves that officials see as relatively noncontroversial returns to previous ways of doing business.

Who are President Biden’s Cabinet members and nominees?

By Times staff  Photo: Getty Images   03/08/21  
Blinken is a veteran of the Obama White House and worked as a senior advisor to then-Sen. Joe Biden before that. He and the president have a close relationship, and share a foreign policy philosophy…

Pete Buttigieg Has Some Ideas for Overhauling How America Moves Around

By Ryan Bort   03/05/21  
Pete Buttigieg, the man now responsible for managing the means by which Americans travel trillions of miles per year, can’t leave his house. Just days after he was confirmed as secretary of transportation, a member…

Reversing Trump, Interior Department Moves Swiftly on Climate Change

By Lisa Friedman  Photo by Jim Watson   03/02/21  
As the Interior Department awaits its new secretary, the agency is already moving to lock in key parts of President Biden’s environmental agenda, particularly on oil and gas restrictions, laying the groundwork to fulfill some…

Jennifer Granholm is confirmed as energy secretary.

By Brad Plumer  Photo: Graeme Jennings   02/25/21  
The Senate confirmed Jennifer M. Granholm to be energy secretary on Thursday, positioning the former governor of Michigan to play a key role in President Biden’s plans to confront climate change.

Senate confirms former Michigan governor Granholm as Energy secretary

By Rachel Frazin   02/25/21  
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Jennifer Granholm to lead the Energy Department, making her the latest Cabinet nominee to secure confirmation this week. She was confirmed in a 64-35 vote, with 14 Republicans joining all 50 Senate Democrats in…

Manchin backs Haaland to lead Interior Department

By Anthony Adragna  Photo by Leigh Vogel   02/24/21  
Senate Energy Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on Wednesday he supported the nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) to lead the Interior Department, delivering a crucial boost for the New Mexico lawmaker to be the…

Buttigieg Sets Climate, Race Equity as Infrastructure Priorities

By Lillianna Byington  Photo by Stefani Reynolds   02/17/21  
The Biden administration is revamping a key infrastructure grant program to prioritize projects that address climate change and racial equity. The Transportation Department included the new criteria in its announcement Wednesday that it will award…

Interior Secretary Nominee on Collision Course With Oil Industry

By Timothy Puko   02/14/21  
Deb Haaland is poised to make history on two fronts, as both the first Native American cabinet secretary and as the architect of what could be a landmark change in the U.S. government’s relationship with…

The Energy 202: GOP opposition to Haaland as interior secretary grows

By Dino Grandoni  Photo by Stefani Reynolds   02/09/21  
Frustration among Republicans with President Biden's climate policies has coalesced around one of his most historic Cabinet picks — Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.). Biden's pick to be interior secretary will be tasked with carrying out…