Biden taps Clean Power Plan architect McCabe as EPA deputy

Indiana professor has been part of a group offering plans to 'reset' the agency

As head of the EPA’s air office under then-President Barack Obama, McCabe helped develop that administration’s Clean Power Plan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
As head of the EPA’s air office under then-President Barack Obama, McCabe helped develop that administration’s Clean Power Plan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted January 15, 2021 at 2:56pm

President-elect Joe Biden has selected Janet McCabe to be the next deputy EPA administrator as he assembles the team responsible for crafting his administration’s climate policies.

McCabe fits in with the overall trend of Biden naming former officials who are deeply familiar with the government’s inner workings. As head of the EPA’s air office under then-President Barack Obama, McCabe helped develop that administration’s Clean Power Plan.

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She is currently a professor of practice at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law specializing in public policy and environmental issues. She’s been part of the Environmental Protection Network, a group of former EPA officials offering detailed plans for how to “reset” the agency’s course.

Among other recommendations, they have called for the agency to shield its scientific analysis from political interference and to incorporate environmental justice into all of its work.

“McCabe has deep experience with the climate and clean air standards that will be key to the Biden administration’s success on climate and environmental justice,” League of Conservation Voters legislative director Matthew Davis said in a statement. “And McCabe’s leadership will provide a needed morale boost at the EPA after four years of undermining science and health outcomes under the Trump administration.”

Biden previously announced another former EPA official Michael Regan as his pick for agency administrator.

The Biden transition team released McCabe’s name Friday after previously releasing a slew of other selections that highlight the administration’s expected emphasis on climate.

'No greater challenge'

According to that announcement, “there is no greater challenge facing our country and our world than climate change,” and members of the White House team will work under National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy.

“From marshaling every part of our government, working directly with communities, and harnessing the forces of science these appointees will be instrumental in utilizing all the tools at the incoming administration’s disposal to address climate change head on,” according to the transition.

Members of the White House climate team announced this week include:

  • Sonia Aggarwal, co-founder and vice president of the think tank Energy Innovation, will serve as senior advisor for climate policy and innovation. She directed development of the Energy Policy Simulator that analyzed the various impacts of climate policies.
  • David Hayes will be special assistant to the president for climate policy. He is the executive director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center and served as the U.S. Department of the Interior deputy secretary in both the Obama and Clinton administrations.
  • Maggie Thomas will be chief of staff for the Office of Domestic Climate Policy. She was the political director at climate-focused nonprofit Evergreen Action. She also has worked on climate issues for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
  • Jahi Wise will serve as senior advisor for climate policy and finance. He was policy director for the Coalition for Green Capital, which works to speed investment in clean energy and climate infrastructure.

At the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Biden has picked Cecilia Martinez to serve as senior director for environmental justice. She is the co-founder and executive director at the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy.

In the Presidential Personnel Office, Jeff Marootian will be special assistant to the president for climate and science agency personnel. Marootian is the Director of the District of Columbia’s Department of Transportation. Marootian served in the Obama administration, with roles at the Department of Transportation as the White House liaison, assistant secretary for administration and chief sustainability officer.