Dec 19, 2020
Joe Biden Introduces Picks for Climate & Energy Team: Transcript
President-elect Joe Biden announced & introduced their nominees and appointees for their climate & energy team on December 19. Read the full transcript of their press conference here.
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Joe Biden: (00:00)
… of our time, climate change. Excuse me. Like their fellow Cabinet nominees and appointees, members of our environmental and energy team are brilliant. They’re qualified, tested, and they are barrier-busting. Today, the announcement we will make is the sixth of African-American members of our Cabinet, which is a record. After today, our Cabinet won’t just have one or two precedent-breaking appointments, but 12, including today’s long overdue appointment of the first Native American Cabinet Secretary. And welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Thanks for being willing to do this.
Joe Biden: (00:41)
Already, there are more people of color in our Cabinet than any Cabinet ever, more women than ever. 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. And like the rest of the team today’s nominees are ready on day one, which is essential because we literally have no time to waste.
Joe Biden: (01:12)
Just this year, wildfires burned more than five million acres in California and Washington state. Across the West, an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey literally burned to the ground. Intense and powerful hurricanes, tropical storms pummeled Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, across the Gulf, and along the East Coast. Record floods, hurricane-speed windstorms, and severe droughts ravaged the Midwest, and more Americans see and feel the devastation in big cities, small towns, on coastlines and in farmlands, and red states and in blue.
Joe Biden: (01:55)
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 operational critical installations in the world, particularly in the United States. And this could well be a conservative estimate.
Joe Biden: (02:26)
And so many climate and health calamities are colliding all at once. It’s not just a pandemic that keeps people inside. It’s poor air quality. Multiple studies have shown air pollution is associated with the increased risk of death from COVID-19. Folks, we’re in a crisis. Just like we need to be a unified nation in response to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change. We need to meet the moment with the urgency it demands as you would during national emergency. And from this crisis, from these crises, I should say, we need to seize the opportunity to build back and build back better than we were before. That’s what this administration is going to do with the help of these fine people.
Joe Biden: (03:16)
When we think about climate change, we think jobs, good-paying union jobs. A key plank of our Build Back Better economy and economic plan is building a modern, climate-resistant infrastructure and a clean energy future. We can put millions of Americans to work, modernizing water, transportation, and energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme weather. When we think about renewable energy, we see American manufacturers, American workers racing to lead the global market. We see farmers making agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process on the farm. And we see small businesses and master electricians designing and installing innovative, energy-conserving buildings and homes. We’re going to reduce electric consumption and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs. And we will challenge everyone, everyone to step up.
Joe Biden: (04:20)
And we’ll bring America back, back into the Paris Agreement, and put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change again. The current administration reversed the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards and picked Big Oil companies over American workers. Our administration will not only bring those standards back. We’ll set new, ambitious standards that our workers are ready to meet today.
Joe Biden: (04:47)
We see American workers building and installing over 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across this country. We see American consumers switching to electrical vehicles through rebates and incentives. And not only that, the federal government owns a maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles. We’re going to harness the purchasing power of our federal government to make sure we’re buying clean electric vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in America. Altogether, this will mean one million, one million new jobs in the American auto industry.
Joe Biden: (05:24)
And we’ll do another big thing, put us on a path of achieving a carbon- pollution-free electric sector by the year 2035 that no future president can turn back. Transforming the American electric sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be the greatest spur to job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st century, not to mention the benefits to our health and our environment.
Joe Biden: (05:54)
But we need to get to work. We got to get to work right away. We’ll need scientists at national labs, land-grant universities, historic Black colleges and universities to innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit this clean energy. We’ll need engineers to design them, workers to manufacture them. We’ll need iron workers and welders to install them. That’s how we’re going to become the world’s largest exporter of these technologies, creating even more jobs.
Joe Biden: (06:25)
We know how to do this. The Obama-Biden administration reduced the auto industry and … [inaudible 00:06:31] rescued the automobile industry while reducing pollution and, at the same time, helped them retool. We made solar cost competitive with traditional energy, weatherized more than a million homes. Recovery Act made record clean energy investments, $90 billion, on everything from smart grid systems to clean energy manufacturing, and we’re going to do it again, but this time bigger, faster, and better than before.
Joe Biden: (07:01)
We’re also going to build 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes and public housing units that will benefit our communities three times over by alleviating the affordable housing crisis, by increasing energy efficiency, and by reducing the racial wealth gap linked to home ownership. We’re going to create more than a quarter-million jobs right away to do things like working toward plugging the 3,200,000 abandoned oil and gas Wells that the EPA says pose an ongoing threat to the health and safety of our communities. They’re going to be good-paying union jobs doing that.
Joe Biden: (07:42)
We’re going to launch a new, modern-day Civilian Climate Corps to heal our public lands and make us less vulnerable to wildfires and floods. And I believe that every American has a fundamental right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. I know that we haven’t fulfilled that right. No, we haven’t fulfilled that right for a generation or more in places like Cancer Alley in Louisiana or right here in my state along Route 9, the Delaware Corridor.
Joe Biden: (08:14)
Fulfilling this basic obligation to all Americans, especially low-income white, Black, brown, and Native American communities who too often don’t have the clean air and clean water … It’s not going to be easy, but it’s absolutely necessary. And we are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice. These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams. These are concrete, actionable solutions, and the team’s going to get it done.
Joe Biden: (08:44)
For the Secretary of the Interior, I nominate Congresswoman Deb Haaland. She’s of the Pueblo people, only 35 generations in New Mexico, and she’s from a military family. Her mom, also Pueblo, served in the United States Navy. Her dad, a Norwegian American and Marine, now buried in Arlington. A single mom, she raised her child while running a small business. When times were tough, they relied on food stamps. Congresswoman Haaland graduated from law school and then got involved in politics, public life.
Joe Biden: (09:20)
Two years ago, she became one of the first Native American women to serve in the United States Congress. She serves on the Armed Service Committee and the Committee on Natural Resources and chairs the subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, which I have an incredibly sincere interest in. Where she learned, she learned and she earned the respect of a broad coalition of people from tribal leaders to environmental groups to labor.
Joe Biden: (09:49)
As the first Native American Cabinet Secretary in the history of United States of America, she’ll be a true steward of our national parks, our natural resources, and all of our lands. The federal government has long broken promises to Native American tribes, who’ve been on this land since time immemorial. With her appointment, Congresswoman Haaland will help me strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship, and I’m honored to accept … She’s been willing when I called her to accept this critical role. Again, Deb, thank you for doing this.
Joe Biden: (10:24)
For Secretary of Energy, I nominate Governor Jennifer Granholm, first woman … Where is Jennifer? Back there. She’s a great friend as well … first woman ever to serve as governor of Michigan. In 2009, she faced the collapse of the defining industry of her state and our nation, but I saw firsthand how she responded. She bet on the auto workers. She bet on the promise of a clean energy future. Her leadership helped rescue the automobile industry in the United States of America, helped save a million American jobs. It helped bring Detroit back.
Joe Biden: (11:04)
Governor Granholm is just like the state she’s led so efficiently and effectively for eight years, hard-working, resilient, and forward-thinking, someone not only capable of solving urgent problems, but someone who sees the opportunities of the future, and always, always with her eyes on the needs and aspirations of working people. We’ve become friends over time together throughout her career.
Joe Biden: (11:29)
She’s worked with states, cities, business, and labor to promote clean energy future with new jobs, new industry, cleaner and more affordable energy. Now I am asking her to bring that vision and faith in America to the Department of Energy. Thank you [inaudible 00:11:45]. I appreciate it a bunch.
Joe Biden: (11:49)
For Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, I nominate Michael Regan. Michael is a proud son of North Carolina. He turned a passion for exploring the woods and waters and Inner Coastal Plain into a deep expertise in environmental science. He got his start at the EPA serving with both Democrat and Republican administrations, working in everything from reducing air pollution to improving energy efficiency. He currently serves as Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality. When the governor told me how wonderful he was, I don’t think he expected that I was going to try to steal him, but Governor, thank you very much for putting up with me. But in Environmental Quality, he’s brought to the people across the public and private and nonprofit sectors to help build new clean energy economy, creating quality jobs and confronting climate change.
Joe Biden: (12:45)
He led the charge to clean up the Cape Fear River, contaminated for years by dangerous toxic chemicals. He created North Carolina’s first board of its kind to address environmental justice and equality and equity. It helps lift up frontline and fenceline communities. They’re those communities that live along … that literally have fences separating them from the plants that are polluting, chemical and other plants that are polluting … helps lift up those frontline and fenceline communities who carried the burdens of industrial progress for much too long without sharing in any of the benefits.
Joe Biden: (13:25)
Michael would be the second African-American official and the first African-American man to serve in this position. He shares my belief in forming consensus and finding common purpose. He’s a leader who will respect the EPA’s place as the world’s premier environmental protection agency and reassert that as the world premier agency that safeguards our entire planet, protects our lives, and strengthens our economy for all Americans.
Joe Biden: (13:54)
And to chair the Council on Environmental Quality, I nominate Brenda Mallory, an accomplished public servant, brilliant environmental-
Joe Biden: (14:03)
An accomplished public servant, brilliant environmental lawyer, daughter of a working class family who has dedicated her life to solving the most complex environmental challenges facing America. She’s served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, helping safeguard our public lands, helping communities manage the natural resources responsibilities.
Joe Biden: (14:25)
Chairman of the CEO, Council of Economic Quality, I’m asking her to coordinate our environmental efforts across the entire federal government to solve some of the most persistent environmental problems America faces today. Brenda would be the first African-American official to hold this critical position. We are fortunate that one of the most widely respected environmental leaders in the country accepted the call to serve again. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. To serve as the first ever national climate advisor.
Joe Biden: (14:59)
By the way, when we were in the back, we were talking about the environment, and I turned and said that this particular person’s forgotten more about the environment than most people know. I wasn’t sure she was going to do it, but the first ever national climate advisor to lead the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Policy, I’m appointing Gina McCarthy.
Joe Biden: (15:24)
Gina was the former EPA administrator. In this role she led the office. It shows how serious I am to ask her to come back, and it shows how committed she is to be willing to come back. Gina has got more than 20 years of experience, and she’s a policy wonk and a people person, a problem solver, and a coalition builder. As EPA administrator, she was instrumental in carrying out the Obama Biden climate action plan, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, getting toxins out of the air we breathe, conserving critical water sources. She led our effort to help lower carbon emissions of existing power plants and power plants in the future. We’re doing the necessary work here at home. She helped us rally the world around the Paris Climate Accords.
Joe Biden: (16:12)
Today, I’m asking her to take a singular focus on carrying out the ambitious climate agenda here at home and working with my special envoy, former secretary of state John Kerry, who leads our climate effort around the world. I’m grateful that she agreed to do it. I’m looking forward to working alongside her again. I used to drive her crazy when I was vice president, always calling, asking all these questions, and she’s thinking, “My god, what’s he going to do as president?”
Joe Biden: (16:47)
To serve as our national climate advisor, I appoint Ali Zandi … Zaidi, excuse me. Ali, you can call me Bidden. If I mispronounced your last name. I apologize. He served as a top climate advisor to president Obama and me in the office with managing the budget and the domestic policy council. He helped draft and implement our climate action plan and secure the Paris Climate Agreement. He currently serves as New York deputy secretary of energy and environment and the state’s chairman of climate policy and finance. He’s helping to create jobs generating solar and wind power, jobs building electric charging stations, and a more modern grid of bold climate action grounded in science, economic and public health. He’s an immigrant from Pakistan who grew up in the rust belt outside of Erie, Pennsylvania. I was from the better part of the state in Northeast, the Scranton and Pittsburgh area.
Joe Biden: (17:49)
All kidding aside, he knows we can beat climate crisis and we can do it with jobs. He knows we can deliver environmental justice and revitalize communities as well, too often overlooked and forgotten, and every day, he’ll walk into the White House knowing the world is looking for America to lead.
Joe Biden: (18:10)
I say to each one of you, thank you for answering the call, and thank you to your families. We could not do this without them. We couldn’t do it without you. To the career civil servants at the agencies, I know many of you have felt forgotten for a long time. We look forward to working with you, to once again carrying out your department’s mission and honoring the integrity of the offices in the organization you’re involved with.
Joe Biden: (18:36)
To the American people, yes, the goals I’ve laid out are bold, the challenges ahead are daunting, but I want you to know that we can do this. We must do this, and we will do this. We are America. There’s nothing we can’t do when we do it together. So I say again to all of you, God bless you all, may God protect our troops, and now I’m going to turn this to the team, starting with our next Secretary of the Interior, congresswomen Deb Haaland. Deb, the floor is yours once they clean off …
Deb Haaland: (19:38)
Thank you. Thank you. I’m proud to stand here on the ancestral homelands of the Lenape tribal nation. The President-elect and vice president-elect are committed to a diverse cabinet, and I’m honored and humbled to accept their nomination for Secretary of the Interior.
Deb Haaland: (19:59)
Growing up in my mother’s pueblo household made me fierce. My life has not been easy. I struggled with homelessness. I relied on food stamps and raised my child as a single mom. These struggles give me perspectives, though, so that I can help people to succeed. My grandparents, who were taken away from their families as children and sent to boarding school in an effort to destroy their traditions and identities, maintained our culture.
Deb Haaland: (20:29)
This moment is profound when we consider the fact that a former secretary of the interior once proclaimed his goal to “civilize or exterminate us.” I’m a living testament to the failure of that horrific ideology.
Deb Haaland: (20:46)
I also stand on the shoulders of my ancestors and all the people who have sacrificed so that I can be here. My dad was a U.S. Marine, and no matter where we were stationed, he made sure we spent time outdoors. Time with my dad in the mountains or on the beach and time with my grandparents in the cornfield at Laguna taught me to respect the earth and to value our resources. I carry those values with me everywhere. I’m a product of their resilience.
Deb Haaland: (21:18)
As our country faces the impacts of climate change and environmental injustice, the interior department has a role to address these challenges, the President-elect’s goals, driven by justice and empowering communities who have shouldered the burdens of environmental negligence, and we will ensure that the decisions at interior will once again be driven by science.
Deb Haaland: (21:46)
We know that climate change can only be solved with participation of every department and of every community. Coming together in a common purpose, this country can and will tackle this challenge. The President-elect and vice president-elect know that issues under interior’s jurisdiction aren’t simply about conservation. They’re woven in with justice, good jobs and closing the racial, wealth and health gaps.
Deb Haaland: (22:18)
This historic moment will not go by without the acknowledgement of the many people who have believed in me over the years and had the confidence in me for this position. I’ll be fierce for all of us, for our planet and all of our protective land, and I’m honored and ready to serve. Thank you again.
Jennifer Granholm: (23:03)
Mr. President-elect, Madam vice president elect, thank you for your confidence. I bring my gratitude and that of the loves of my life, my husband and best friend and partner, Dan Mulhern, my glorious children and their equally magnificent spouses, Connor and Alexis, Cece and Dameon, and Jack.
Jennifer Granholm: (23:32)
My commitment to clean energy was forged in the fire. I was the governor of Michigan, as the President-elect said, during the great recession, when it struck and pushed our auto industry, which is the lifeblood of Michigan, to the brink of utter collapse. Workers were losing their jobs through no fault of their own, banks wouldn’t lend, people were losing their houses. Our unemployment rate in Michigan was 15%, in Detroit it was 28%, but then, thankfully, as now, help was on the way.
Jennifer Granholm: (24:16)
Joe Biden and the Obama administration worked with us to rescue the auto industry and the million jobs that are attached to it. They worked with us to retool and electrify Detroit for the future, of course, and to diversify Michigan’s economy on the premise of this promising future in clean energy. So today, in the midst of another harrowing crisis, clean energy remains among the most promising jobs and economic growth sector in the world. Over the next two decades, countries and companies are going to invest trillions, trillions, not just billions, trillions in electric cars and batteries and wind turbines and solar panels and energy efficient appliances and energy efficient buildings. They’re going to upgrade their electric grids using smart technology. Millions of good paying jobs are going to be created, millions, but where? Where will those jobs be? Are they going to be in China or in the other countries that are fighting tooth and nail to corner the market on this hopeful, electric and clean energy future, or are those jobs going to be here in America?
Jennifer Granholm: (25:47)
The path to building back better starts with building and, and deploying those products here, stamping them “Made in America,” and exporting them around the world. We can win those jobs for American workers with the right policy. We can, and I know what those jobs will mean for both the planet and for those workers and families.
Jennifer Granholm: (26:16)
I’m proud to have been a U.S. citizen now for 40 years, but I arrived here as a Canadian immigrant at age four, brought by parents seeking opportunity. My mom is a funny and fierce Irish Welsh Newfie, born in Newfoundland, which is a Canadian province off the East coast, a fishing province they called the Rock, and like many women in her generation, she didn’t go to college. She married a great man, my dad, who passed away earlier this year of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Jennifer Granholm: (26:58)
My dad was born in rural Canada, in a log cabin with no running water, into extreme poverty. His father, my grandfather, immigrated to Canada from Sweden, during the Great Depression, again, seeking opportunity, but when my grandfather could not find a job to support his young family, in desperation, my grandfather shot himself, leaving my grandmother and three young children in dire poverty.
Jennifer Granholm: (27:39)
My father was three years old when that happened, and when he was 11, my dad found work at a saw mill, and he never stopped working. He married my mom, they came to America for work, and despite not having a college degree, my hardworking, gentle father got a fair chance-
Jennifer Granholm: (28:03)
Working gentle father got the fair chance that he was looking for in America. He had started out as a bank teller and he retired as head of the bank. And it’s because of my family’s journey and my experience in fighting for hardworking Michigan families that I have become obsessed, obsessed with creating good paying jobs in America, in a global economy, obsessed with seizing the opportunities that a clean energy future will provide for American workers. So we can stand on the sidelines and let other countries beat us to these opportunities, or we can get in the game. And I am so ready and honored, coach, that you are putting me on the field with this amazing team to help create those jobs in every pocket of this country and especially in the hardest hit places and for the people who are still waiting on the fair chance that they need. Thank you for tapping me to work on their behalf.
Michael Regan: (29:23)
Mr. President Elect, Madam Vice president Elect, thank you for this opportunity. Growing up as a child, hunting and fishing with my father and grandfather in eastern North Carolina, I developed a deep love and respect for the outdoors and our natural resources, but I also experienced respiratory issues that required me to use an inhaler on days when pollutants and allergens were especially bad. I’ve always been curious about the connections between our environment and our health, how the world around us contributes to or detracts from our enjoyment of life. So after completing my education in environmental science, there was one place in particular that I wanted to work, the EPA. When I started that first summer internship, I never imagined that one day I would be nominated to lead an agency as its administrator. So this opportunity, well, it’s a dream come true. Since the start of my career, my goals have been the same, to safeguard our natural resources, to improve the quality of our air and our water, to our families and our communities, And to help them seize the opportunities of a cleaner, healthier world.
Michael Regan: (31:07)
Now I’m honored to pursue those goals alongside leaders who understand what’s at stake. When president elect Biden called out the plight of the fence line communities during the campaign, he made it clear that we would no longer just deal with the issues up to the fence line of these facilities, but that we would actually see the people on the other side of those fence lines. He’s already backed up that commitment by assembling a team that reflects America. And I’m proud to join the vice-president elect as a fellow HBCU graduate in this administration. Together this team will ensure that environmental justice and human impacts are top of mind as we tackle these tough issues. After nearly a decade at the EPA, I know firsthand the remarkable dedication and talent of those career staff.
Michael Regan: (32:06)
And as a state official, I understand how actions from EPA can help or hurt local efforts. We’re going to ensure that EPA is once again a strong partner for the states, not a roadblock. We will be driven by our convictions, that every person in our great country has the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthier life, no matter how much money they have in their pockets, the color of their skin, or the community that they live in. We will move with a sense of urgency on climate change, protecting our drinking water and enact and environmental justice framework that empowers people in all communities.
Michael Regan: (32:51)
But we also know that these challenges can’t be solved by regulation alone. And we also know that environmental protection and equal economic prosperity. Well, they’re not mutually exclusive. They go hand in hand. We need an all hands on deck approach from industry to individuals finding common ground to Build Back Better for workers, for our communities, for our economy, and yes, for our planet. And that’s what we’ll pursue together. I look forward to continuing this work on behalf of the American people. So thank you.
Brenda Mallory: (33:57)
Good afternoon, Mr. President Elect, Madam President Elect, Madam Vice President Elect, I am honored and humbled by the trust you’ve placed in me, and I look forward to getting to work with this incredible team. I’m especially grateful for the chance to return to public service at a time when agency personnel are looking for optimism. And so many communities are struggling under the weight of persistent interwoven crises. I know firsthand the challenges that everyday people face when one unexpected illness or expense can upend the economic stability of a family. I grew up in the working class community of Waterbury, Connecticut, a town not so different from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I know the faces of the marginalized, and I appreciate the challenges of urban pollution. While the words climate change and environmental injustice were not part of the vernacular back then, the evidence of their impacts was all around.
Brenda Mallory: (35:10)
In that setting. There was plenty of opportunity to work to make a difference in people’s lives. For my parents, and particularly my father, dedication to tackling community challenges was vitally important. Service, in all its forms, was essential. They taught me to be a problem solver to recognize that each of us is blessed with different talents, and we are all called to bring those gifts to bear wherever we are to work with anyone and everyone to make things better in communities that we share. This has been the driving force and the guiding principle of my journey. I earned a high school scholarship that changed the course of my life. I became the first person in my family to go to college. I attended law school and at each stage I was aware of how different the world I came from was from the one I was entering.
Brenda Mallory: (36:12)
I didn’t set out to specialize in environmental issues, but once I started, I was always mindful of the practical implications of the decisions. As a staffer at the Connecticut commission on human rights, I learned that environmental protection and ensuring the health and wellbeing of all communities had to be reconciled. It is essential that we deploy smart and humane policy to help communities pull themselves back from the edge and improve the health, security and prosperity of all people. The Build Back Better plan is poised to breathe new life into the council on environmental quality. CQ we’ll work with a broad range of partners on a broad range of issues, tackle the full breadth of climate change, preserve the natural treasures of our nation, center environmental justice, and help more communities overcome legacy environmental impacts. I am grateful to the President Elect and Vice President Elect for elevating this work and lifting up the communities where it will make the most difference. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.
Gina McCarthy: (37:30)
Mr. President Elect, Madam Vice president Elect, thank you so much for this opportunity to serve and to work beside and with this incredibly talented team. The issues I’ve been taking on in this role are very personal to me and they have been for as long as I can remember. As keen listeners, you will already have guessed that I grew up in and around the city of Boston. My dad was a teacher in the Boston school system for more than 40 years. And my mom waitressed at local donut shops. Looking back, I guess we were a lower middle-class family, but we didn’t know it. Instead of expensive vacations, my sisters and I did our adventuring in our own backyards playing in the woods. Oops, I’m going to take that off. Playing in the woods and around ponds in our hometown. A beach day for my family was a swim and Boston Harbor. And at that point in time, it meant coming out of the water with oil and other things stuck to our skin. So we’d have to dry and clean ourselves all at the same time.
Gina McCarthy: (39:18)
Well, that was back in the sixties before the first Earth Day, but we managed and Boston Harbor today is terrific. But all I can think of is back when I was in grammar school and the nuns used to jump up and say, “Run. Close the windows in your classrooms.” Because when the rubber factory across the street started to spew chemical stenches into the air, it would come wafting into our classroom. And that smell kept us from recess more days than I, or my teacher ever cared to remember. So I figured out early that there was just an intrinsic connection between our environment and our health. And that understanding drew me into a very long career of public service, which I will never regret and always cherish.
Gina McCarthy: (40:15)
And I did it because I was trying to help families and communities just like mine, and those who are facing certainly much deeper and more insidious legacies of environmental harm so they could overcome the challenges that were holding them back. Environmental protection is part of my moral fiber. It’s what I live for. And I’m proud of the progress that we’ve made across the United States. And I’m proud of the work that I did for many years at local and state governments, as well as at EPA to make sure our air and water works were cleaner, to make communities safer and more livable, and begin to confront the crisis of climate change.
Gina McCarthy: (41:02)
And I’m here today because climate change is not only a threat to the planet. It is a threat to our health and our wellbeing. It’s a threat to people everywhere and the precious natural resources that we depend on. Defeating this threat is the fight of our lifetimes. And our success will require the engagement of every community, every sector in our nation, and every country in the world. But the opportunities to act on climate change right now, fill me with incredible optimism, with hope, with energy and excitement. We not only have the responsibility to meet this moment together, we have the capacity to meet this moment together. The President Elect has put together the strongest climate plan ever raised to this level of leadership.
Gina McCarthy: (42:02)
… And ever raised to this level of leadership. It rises to the incredible moment of opportunity we have to build back better, for our health, for jobs and for communities that have been systematically disadvantaged for years. It will be my incredible honor to help turn this plan into promises kept by marshaling every part of our government, working directly with communities and harnessing the force of science and the values of environmental justice to build a better future for my two very soon to be three little grandchildren, and for generations of Americans to come. So thank you for this opportunity to help put Americans back to work in innovative, good-paying, clean energy jobs, to improve the health of our communities and to help clear the path for people in every hometown in America to live brighter, cleaner, and more vibrant lives. Thank you.
Michael Regan: (43:40)
Thank you, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. I am deeply honored to answer your call to serve this nation that I love, especially at this moment of consequence. For our planet and for the people who live here, the peril of the climate crisis is already evident, but we can also see the promise in the jobs, casting and machining, installing and rewiring, pouring new foundations and building new industries. And in the possibility of repairing communities, hurt places where pollution has been heavy and opportunity has never quite reached.
Michael Regan: (44:36)
Mr. President-elect and Madam Vice President-elect, you campaigned on delivering that promise by mounting a response equal to the existential threat that we face, not only by listening to the science but also by invigorating the economy, revving up manufacturing and innovation, spurring good-paying union jobs and advancing justice long overdue, leading by the example of America at its best.
Michael Regan: (45:16)
When my parents moved from Pakistan to Pennsylvania, they brought two little kids and a few suitcases of dreams, dreams their kids are living today. Danish my brother, a doctor on the front lines of the COVID crisis and me, moving to the front lines of the fight against climate change. To be healthy, to have purpose, to be able to give back, that is how our parents taught us to define the American dream.
Michael Regan: (45:58)
I am so grateful to be serving alongside the team you have assembled. Grateful for Gina McCarthy, my guide and my good friend, for the incredible and inspiring leaders on this stage and for those with whom we’ll partner all across your administration. This has been a trying year for all Americans marked by so much loss, but throughout you, sir, have been there for us, and when the pandemic hit closer to home you were there for me. Mr. President-elect, that is who you are, a person of faith and family, of decency and goodness. Your leadership gives me hope. My students, scientists imagining and inventing, they give me hope. Young organizers, mobilizing and advocating they give me hope, and together I know we will meet this moment. Thank you and God bless you.
Jennifer Granholm: (47:46)
Good afternoon. A few months ago as wildfires raged across the West I traveled home to California. What I saw on that trip and so many others in recent years was heartbreaking. Charred playgrounds, homes and neighborhoods in ashes, firefighters battling fires while their own homes burned to the ground. My brother-in-law is actually a firefighter in California as well. Some of the most toxic air anywhere in the world.
Jennifer Granholm: (48:21)
Two years ago in 2018 when I visited communities like Paradise, California, that had been devastated by wildfires, that year’s fire season was considered the worst in California’s history. This fire season was even worse, the worst in California’s history and America’s history. And of course, fires are only one symptom of our growing climate crisis. In recent years families across the Midwest have experienced historic flooding while families all along our coasts have endured some of the most active hurricane seasons on record. They only name a storm if it’s particularly dangerous. This year we had more named storms than ever before.
Jennifer Granholm: (49:14)
Our climate crisis is not a partisan issue and it is not a hoax. It is an existential threat to all of us, particularly poor communities and communities of color who bear the greatest risks from polluted air, polluted water, and a failing infrastructure. Many years ago, 15 years ago when I was district attorney in San Francisco I created the first environmental justice unit in the city and it was one of the first in our country because I believed then as I do now, everyone has a right to breathe clean air and drink clean water, and of course so does our President-elect Biden.
Jennifer Granholm: (50:04)
Part of the reason I was so proud to join Joe Biden as his running mate was because he was proposing one of the most ambitious climate plans in history. A plan to secure carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, a plan to achieve net zero emissions no later than 2050, a plan to invest in a clean energy future and create millions of good-paying union jobs along the way. And the team that President-elect Biden and I are announcing today will help make that plan a reality.
Jennifer Granholm: (50:45)
These are some of our country’s most seasoned public servants and climate experts. They have experience mastering the most effective ways to get things done when it comes to climate change. They recognize the importance of bringing together the private sector and organized labor together with government to meet these challenges and to confront this crisis head-on with our allies and partners around the world. And they are compassionate leaders who understand that ultimately addressing climate change is about building safer communities and healthier communities, and thriving communities for all Americans. These public servants reflect the very best of America and they are the team we need to meet this urgent challenge.
Jennifer Granholm: (51:43)
In his 2015 encyclical, the Holy Father, Pope Francis wrote, “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.” Starting on January 20th, we will work to heed those words and come together here in our country and around the world to build and protect our common home for generations to come. Thank you, Mr. President-elect for this day. Thank you. (silence).