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



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.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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…

Biden’s EPA nominee vows ‘urgency’ on climate change

By Brady Dennis  Photo by Jonathan Newton   02/04/21  
Michael Regan, President Biden’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, told lawmakers Wednesday that he would “restore” science and transparency at the agency, focus on marginalized communities and move “with a sense of urgency”…

The Energy 202: Biden creates new climate adviser role at NASA

By Dino Grandoni  Photo by Jonathan Newton   02/03/21  
NASA is elevating one of its top climate scientists to a new role, a move meant to put greater focus at the space agency on studying the causes and consequences of global warming under President…

Secretary Pete: Transportation Should Be a Climate Agency

By Ann Shikany   01/20/21  
President Joe Biden’s decision to nominate Pete Buttigieg to lead the Department of Transportation may be among the most consequential of his presidency. His experience as a mid-sized-city executive, combined with the experience of his…

Climatizing Security: Protecting Americans in the Age of Climate Change

By Sherri Goodman and Kate Guy   01/15/21  
The Biden administration’s Defense Department can lead by example with the “climatization of security.”

The Energy 202: Biden’s new hires show West Wing will be center of gravity on climate push

By Dino Grandoni   01/15/21  
A federal judge in Montana has handed the Trump administration a stunning rebuke, ruling today that William Perry Pendley is illegally heading the Bureau of Land Management.

EPA preps for transition of power with unusual change to succession orders

By Rebecca Beitsch  Photo: Paul Morigi, Paul Marotta, and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images   01/11/21  
A new line of succession established at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leaves an official who was slotted into a newly created high-ranking role just a month ago in charge on Inauguration Day.

The Energy 202: What Merrick Garland as attorney general means for the environment

By Dino Grandoni   01/11/21  
President-elect Joe Biden's pick for attorney general, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Merrick B. Garland, is set to bring deep expertise on environmental law to the Justice Department.

Energy implications of Biden’s latest Cabinet picks

Ben Geman  Photo: Paul Morigi, Paul Marotta, and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images   01/08/21  
President-elect Joe Biden's final burst of Cabinet picks could have important roles to play in the new administration's climate change and energy agenda.

Biden picks top North Carolina environmental official to run EPA

By Brady Dennis  Photo by John Rae   12/18/20  
President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Michael S. Regan, who heads the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, as the next Environmental Protection Agency administrator, according to two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity…

Rep. Deb Haaland to be first Native American interior secretary

By Juliet Eilperin, Dino Grandoni and Brady Dennis  Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount, The Washington Post   12/17/20  
President-elect Joe Biden chose Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) Thursday to serve as the first Native American Cabinet secretary and head the Interior Department, a historic pick that marks a turning point for the U.S. government’s…

Meet Biden’s energy and climate cabinet contenders

By Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman  Photo: Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times   12/04/20  
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s environment and energy team — facing a narrowly divided Congress and a hostile Republican leadership — will need creativity and perseverance if Mr. Biden is to follow through on his ambitious…

Biden narrows list for top climate adviser

Scott Waldman and Jean Chemnick   12/03/20  
President-elect Joe Biden's short list of candidates to serve as his domestic climate adviser is beginning to narrow, with three names coming up the most, according to multiple sources. Three participants in those discussions said…

As Election Nears, Trump Makes a Final Push Against Climate Science

By Christopher Flavelle and Lisa Friedman  Photo by Stefani Reynolds   10/27/20  
The moves threaten to stifle a major source of objective United States government information about climate change that underpins federal rules on greenhouse gas emissions and offer an indication of the direction the agency will…

As Election Nears, Trump Makes a Final Push Against Climate Science

By Christopher Flavelle and Lisa Friedman  Photo by Kris Connor   10/27/20  
The moves threaten to stifle a major source of objective United States government information about climate change that underpins federal rules on greenhouse gas emissions and offer an indication of the direction the agency will…

‘It just goes into a black hole’

By Peter Fairley   10/26/20  
This story was produced in collaboration with InvestigateWest, a nonprofit newsroom in Seattle with a focus on the environment, public health, and government accountability

Trump Administration Touts Superfund List Deletions as Victories Amid Continuing Contamination Threat

By Enrique Saenz   10/19/20  
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is touting the full and partial removal of 27 Superfund sites from a list tracking the nation’s most contaminated sites as Trump administration victories despite decades of cleanup, persisting contamination…

Judge invalidates Pendley’s BLM decisions

By Scott Streater  Photo by Francis Chung   10/17/20  
"The court's erroneous ruling continues to disregard basic facts and misapprehend how authority is delegated within federal agencies," it said.

Judge rules Pendley illegally leading BLM

By Scott Streater  Photo: Francis Chung/E&E News   09/25/20  
A federal judge in Montana has handed the Trump administration a stunning rebuke, ruling today that William Perry Pendley is illegally heading the Bureau of Land Management.

Big changes may be ahead for natural gas pipelines, if FERC does its job

By Jessica Bell   09/16/20  
The day of reckoning for new natural gas infrastructure is long overdue. As states and consumers turn towards cleaner sources of energy, we must ask what the place is for new pipelines.

Climate change denialist given top role at major U.S. science agency

By Scott Waldman  Photo: Kristoffer Tripplaar / Sipa USA / TNS via Newscom   09/14/20  
A controversial researcher who rejects climate science was hired by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for a senior position, in a move suggesting the Trump administration is asserting growing influence over the…

EPA rejects tougher air-quality standards, says 2015 limits are sufficient

By Brady Dennis  Photo by J. David Ake   07/14/20  
The Trump administration said Monday that it will maintain national air-quality standards put in place in 2015, despite calls for more stringent regulations that advocates say are necessary to protect Americans in communities that are…

Interior to push drilling in Florida waters after November election

By Ben Lefevbre  Photo by Joe Raedle   06/10/20  
The Trump administration is preparing to open the door to oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coast — but will wait until after the November election to avoid blowback in a swing state whose waters…

EPA limits states and tribes’ ability to protest pipelines and other energy projects

By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis  Photo by Bonnie Jo Moun   06/02/20  
The Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule Monday curtailing the rights of states, tribes and the public to object to federal permits for energy projects and other activities that could pollute waterways across the country.

EPA staff warned that mileage rollbacks had flaws. Trump officials ignored them.

By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis  Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images   05/19/20  
In its rush to roll back the most significant climate policy enacted by President Barack Obama — mileage standards designed to reduce pollution from cars — the Trump administration ignored warnings that its new rule…

Bipartisan senators ask Mnuchin to extend safe harbor deadlines for renewables projects

By Catherine Morehouse   04/24/20  
A group of bipartisan senators on Thursday asked the Department of Treasury to extend safe harbor deadlines to ensure renewable energy developers are able to secure the tax credits they need to finance their projects.

When the War on Science Really Began

By The Revelator   03/13/20  
A new book, The War on the EPA, tracks the history and importance of the government agency — and how efforts to undermine it began decades...

EPA Doubles Down on Its Attempt to Censor Science

By Vijay Limaye   03/06/20  
By Vijay LimayeThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2018 censoring science proposal aimed to undercut the agency's application of landmark public health science by severely restricting its...

The Energy 202: Trump administration decides against drilling for oil under popular Utah bike trail

By Dino Grandoni   02/24/20  
After a public outcry in Utah, the Trump administration backed down from the idea of bringing oil and gas drilling to one of the best-known biking trails in the world.

EPA data emphasizes danger of Trump Administration’s “air toxics loophole”

By Taylor Bacon  Graphic: EDF   02/19/20  
Over the last few decades, EPA has issued numerous Clean Air Act protections to curb dangerous air pollution from large industrial sources. Now, however, a proposed Trump Administration loophole threatens to undermine that effort –…

The Declining Organizational Capacity of U.S. Environmental Agencies

By Steve Cohen   02/17/20  
We need effective state and federal environmental cops to protect the fragile blue dot in the vast vacuum of space that we call home. ...

Is Trump’s USDA Ready to Address Climate Change?

By Georgina Gustin   02/14/20  
A new 5-year plan addresses weather disasters that have battered American farms and mentions climate change. Critics are dubious.

She pushed Trump to exit the Paris climate agreement and roll back environmental rules. And she’s returning to EPA as chief of staff

By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis   02/14/20  
Mandy Gunasekara, who pressed for President Trump to exit the Paris climate agreement as the Environmental Protection Agency’s top air-policy adviser, is poised to return to the agency as its next chief of staff, according…

The Energy 202: The Trump administration is forcing these workers out West. Now they want to unionize

By Dino Grandoni  Photo by Carolyn Van Houten   01/28/20  
Employees at the headquarters of the federal government's main land-management agency are trying to unionize in response to a controversial reorganization plan to relocate hundreds of staffers thousands of miles away from Washington.

Climate Politics/Capitol Light (41)

By Joel Stronberg   01/27/20  
The Trump administration has gone to great pains to purge Obama-era science advisers from federal advisory boards and replace them with their own. Trump’s scientists seem to have the integrity many of his administrative appointees,…

BLM Ignores Own Findings in Proposed Management Plans

Millions of acres of Western public lands could lose protections

The Energy 202: Federal lands chief makes mark on agency — even though his position is not permanent

By Dino Grandoni  Photo by Matthew Brown   01/07/20  
The acting head of the Bureau of Land Management is making his mark on the agency: He's naming the agency's new headquarters after his co-worker during the Ronald Reagan administration.

Rick Perry Rejoins Pipeline Company After He Steps Down From Trump Admin Energy Department

By Sharon KellyFormer Trump administration Energy Sec. Rick Perry, who resigned from his cabinet-level post effective last month, has joined the board of directors of the...

Trump to nominate Energy Dept. deputy Dan Brouillette to succeed Rick Perry as secretary – The Washington Post

The deputy energy secretary is the former top lobbyist for the Ford Motor Co....

Open for Business: The Trump revolution on America’s public lands

The Trump administration is systematically remaking U.S. policies toward public lands, moving aggressively to open protected areas for development - from the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, to the red rock country of Utah, to the…

What the BLM Shake-Up Could Mean for Public Lands and Their Climate Impact

By Judy Fahys  Photo: Bureau of Land Management   10/08/19  
With a self-described Sagebrush Rebel in charge, moving nearly 300 Bureau of Land Management staff could give Western states more influence over federal land use.

Bipartisan Report Says Trump’s Abuse Has Pushed Federal Science to a ‘Crisis’

By Lisa Friedman   10/03/19  
All presidents over the past two decades have nudged science to support their policies, but a report out of N.Y.U. said the Trump administration has driven federal science to a “crisis point.”

BLM Moves to Allow Mining and Drilling on Lands Cut from Utah National Monument

By John Gilroy  Photo: Bob Wick   09/27/19  
The colorful hoodoos, slot canyons, cliffs, and plateaus of southern Utah’s panoramic canyon country attract visitors and researchers from across the globe. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, designated in 1996,  is known as the “Science Monument"…

EPA tells California it is ‘failing to meet its obligations’ to protect the environment

By Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis and Josh Dawsey  Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images   09/26/19  
The Trump administration accused the state of California Thursday of “failing to meet its obligations” to protect the environment, claiming that a growing homeless population threatens the state’s water quality.