Biden’s climate and energy team welcomed by US renewables sector

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Former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy will serve as the US’ first national climate advisor. Image: Build Back Better.

The US renewable energy industry has applauded Joe Biden’s climate team nominations and appointments, as the President-elect says he aims to build a clean energy future for the country.

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has been picked for Secretary of Energy, while North Carolina regulator Michael Regan has been nominated to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Gina McCarthy, who served as EPA administrator under President Obama, will become the US’ first national climate advisor, heading up a newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.

Gregory Wetstone, CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said the trade association is “impressed by the depth of expertise and experience… and encouraged about prospects for sorely needed progress on this vital issue”.

On Michael Regan's appointment as EPA administrator, Wetstone added: “The EPA has a critical role to play in mitigating climate change and driving the deployment of pollution-free, renewable power. Having a true environmental leader like Michael Regan heading the agency is a big step in the right direction.”

Other nominations to the climate team include Congresswoman Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior, environmental lawyer Brenda Mallory as chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and Ali Zaidi to the role of deputy national climate advisor.

A statement from the Biden transition team said the appointments will tackle the “undeniable, accelerating, punishing reality of climate change” and turn the crisis into an opportunity to create millions of jobs and power the US economy with renewable energy.

“This brilliant, tested, trailblasing team will be ready on day one to confront the existential threat of climate change with a unified national response rooted in science and equity,” said Biden.

Upon taking office next month, Biden will work to make his US$2 trillion climate plan a reality and look to transition the US to a carbon-free power sector by 2035. That climate plan aims to unleash a “clean energy revolution” and spur the installation of millions of solar panels, including utility-scale, rooftop and community solar systems, Biden's campaign said when it was announced earlier in the year. 

Since last month’s election, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has released its policy wish list for the incoming Biden-Harris administration. As well as an extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit, the organisation is calling for an executive order to remove Section 201 tariffs – which are set to rise to 18% next year – as well as policies to support domestic manufacturing of clean energy technologies.

SEIA CEO Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement this week that the association has emphasised the importance of Biden nominating leaders who will also prioritise equity and justice in the clean energy transformation. “Jennifer Granholm, Gina McCarthy and Brenda Mallory are talented women who have the background and experience needed to tackle the incredible challenges we face, and we welcome and applaud their nominations,” she said.

“We also congratulate Ali Zaidi on his nomination with the new climate office. We look forward to working with these leaders to address the climate crisis and build a clean, affordable and equitable electricity system for all Americans.”

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