Biden to Name Gina McCarthy, Former E.P.A. Chief, as White House Climate Coordinator
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to pick Gina McCarthy, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama and the architect of some of his most far-reaching regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions, to serve as senior White House adviser on climate change, according to three people close to the Biden transition team.
As White House adviser, Ms. McCarthy will coordinate domestic climate policies across the United States government, playing a central role in helping Mr. Biden make good on his campaign promise of putting the United States on track to reach carbon neutrality before 2050.
Mr. Biden also intends to name Ali Zaidi, the deputy secretary for energy and environment for New York State, who helped write Mr. Biden’s climate plan, as Ms. McCarthy’s deputy.
Ms. McCarthy, who has served since January as president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, joins the ranks of high-profile former Obama administration officials given top positions in the Biden administration. Advocates for stronger action to fight climate change said her nomination would send a signal that the administration was prepared to bypass Congress and enact measures using executive authority to begin bringing down greenhouse gases.
Her international counterpart is former Secretary of State John Kerry, whom Mr. Biden has tapped to galvanize other nations to take more ambitious action as the United States prepares, after four years of disregarding climate change under President Trump, to restart its own efforts.
“A new era of climate accountability is upon us,” former Vice President Al Gore said in a statement. “The U.S. is back on task.”
He called Ms. McCarthy “uniquely suited for the job” and said her appointment, along with Mr. Kerry’s, “affirms that Joe Biden is serious about America leading by example and driving deep reductions in pollution and climate emissions.”
As E.P.A. administrator, Ms. McCarthy developed the Clean Power Plan, which set the first-ever national limits on carbon emissions from power plants. She also pushed forward rules to cut mercury emissions from power plants, increase fuel efficiency in automobiles and limit methane leaks from oil and gas wells.
All of those moves were opposed by the coal, gas and oil industries and ultimately repealed or weakened by the Trump administration.
Lawmakers from fossil fuel-dependent states who have clashed with Ms. McCarthy in the past said they were concerned about the prospect of stricter regulations.
The Presidential Transition
“America needs leaders who will promote both a growing economy and a healthy environment,” said Senator John Barrasso, the Wyoming Republican who will assume the top spot on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee next year. “The punishing regulations of the Obama administration hurt Wyoming workers and stifled America’s economy.”
The role of a senior adviser on climate change is not entirely new. The Obama administration tapped Carol Browner, a former E.P.A. chief, to be his director of climate policy and, in his second term, brought in John Podesta, founder of the liberal Center for American Progress, to be his climate change adviser.
But Ms. McCarthy’s new position — which is expected to be located within the White House and to have its own staff, as well as authority to work across agencies — suggests that the role may have significantly more influence than before.
Senator Edward J. Markey called it “a very strong signal to every federal agency that the president means business and he wants to see real action that every one of the agencies are taking to telescope the time frame that it will take to put meaningful action in place to deal with the climate crisis.”