President-elect Biden has a new climate team and boy, is it a doozy. The best news I’ve heard all week is his pick of an admirable Native American woman committed to solving the climate crisis to be the next Secretary of Interior (backflip emojis). WOW, what a refreshing change of pace! And boy-oh-boy, is this long overdue. Many of us are so ready to leave behind the days of the fossil fuel industry good ol’ boys dictating how our public lands are managed as well as controlling critical Native American programs and sacred lands.
New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland is an excellent and inspired choice – one I’ve been rooting for since her name first surfaced. It’s high time an Indigenous person be in charge of overseeing the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education! She’ll also control the Bureau of Land Management that has long-advocated leasing public lands for fracking and coal extraction regardless of impacts to downstream water quality, agriculture, wildlife, or the climate. The U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be able to rely on science once more. The Office of Surface Mining and the Bureau of Reclamation will once again have to consider the climate impacts of their actions. And the list goes on. Kudos to Biden for choosing the right person for this monumental task. Hopefully, Bears Ears National Monument and so many others will again get the protections they so desperately need and deserve!
Gina McCarthy and John Kerry are definitely up to the task of helping this nation reverse course and use science to guide U.S. government decisions on the national and international stages. These two veterans will hit the ground running. They have proven cred when it comes to their commitments on climate change and we are lucky they want to continue to serve this nation at such a critical time and in such a demanding task.
Michael Regan, chosen to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, also has excellent credentials and he will finally require integration of environmental justice concerns in public health and pollution-related decisions. Environmental justice and equity are central to making durable and just decisions. Their absence has resulted in grave errors for generations. Imagine if Indigenous concerns had been fully incorporated into government decisions regarding the Zortman/Landusky gold mine near the Fort Belknap Indian Community or the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes concerns in regards to the Keystone Pipeline? These and so many other decisions would have been different.
Biden is keeping his promise to tackle the climate crisis and equity head-on. We, at MEIC, are thrilled to see such strong and diverse candidates taking the helm. If you want something to be thankful for this holiday season, Biden’s incoming Climate Team is it.