President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday unveiled his incoming administration’s climate and energy team in Wilmington, Del. — hailing its diversity and promising "ambitious" action on climate change.
"Like their fellow cabinet nominees and appointees, the members of our environment and energy team are brilliant, qualified, tested and they are barrier busting," Biden said.
Biden has announced Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., as his pick for Interior Department secretary, Jennifer Granholm as secretary of energy, Gina McCarthy as national climate advisor and Michael Regan as EPA administrator.
The event demonstrated Biden’s intention to make a significant turn away from the Trump administration’s strategy of rolling back environmental regulations to boost energy production and the economy. He said the team would "lead my administration's ambitious plan to address the existential threat of our time — climate change."
He called for an agenda that includes a move to clean energy and building 1.5 million energy-efficient homes and public housing units. He also painted a dark picture of the climate change challenge facing the country.
"Look, billions of dollars in damage, homes and memories washed away, small businesses closed for good, crops and farmlands destroyed for the next generation of family farmers, and just last year the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two-thirds of our military operation and critical installations in the world, particularly in the U.S.," he said.
Biden also noted the diversity of his team. If confirmed, Haaland would be the first Native American to lead Interior, while Regan would be the first African-American to head the EPA.
"Already there are more people of color in our cabinet than any cabinet ever, more women than ever," he said. "The Biden-Harris cabinet, it will be historic, a cabinet that looks like America, that taps into the best of America, that opens doors and includes the full range of talents we have in this nation."
Haaland became choked up as she noted her Native American heritage, as well as her personal background facing homeless and as a single mother.
"I also stand on the shoulders of my ancestors, and all the people who have sacrificed so I can be here," she said.
Granholm, a former Michigan governor, emphasized the Biden team’s belief that the right policies can win green jobs for American workers that would otherwise go to China or elsewhere.
"We can win those jobs for American workers with the right policy, we can, and I know what those jobs will mean both for the planet and those workers and families," she said.
Regan, who pursued a cleanup of industrial toxins, and assisted minority and low-income communities affected by pollution, promised that the administration would move quickly.
"We will move with a sense of urgency on climate change, protecting our drinking water, and enact an environmental justice framework that empowers people in all communities," he said.
The event is the latest sign of how Biden’s cabinet and administration is coming together. He has made a number of high-profile announcements, including his nominees for the State Department, Defense, Homeland Security and Treasury.
President Trump is challenging the election results in key swing states, but the Electoral College last week certified the results. Congress will meet on Jan. 6 to accept the results — and Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.