The Biden-Harris Administration is initiating an ambitious innovation effort to create American jobs while tackling the climate crisis, which includes the launch of a new research working group, an outline of the Administration’s innovation agenda, and a new $100 million funding opportunity from the U.S. Department of Energy to support transformational low-carbon energy technologies. The announcements kick start the Administration’s undertaking to spur the creation of new jobs, technology, and tools that empower the United States to innovate and lead the world in addressing the climate crisis.
President Biden is fulfilling his promise to accelerate R&D investments, creating a new Climate Innovation Working Group as part of the National Climate Task Force to advance his commitment to launching an Advanced Research Projects Agency-Climate (ARPA-C). The working group will help coordinate and strengthen federal government-wide efforts to foster affordable, game-changing technologies that can help America achieve the President’s goal of net zero economy-wide emissions by 2050 and can protect the American people from the impacts of droughts and flooding, bigger wildfires, and stronger hurricanes. The working group will be co-chaired by the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, Office of Science of Technology and Policy, and Office of Management and Budget.
“We are tapping into the imagination, talent, and grit of America’s innovators, scientists, and workers to spearhead a national effort that empowers the United States to lead the world in tackling the climate crisis,” said Gina McCarthy, President Biden’s National Climate Advisor. “At the same time, we are positioning America to create good-paying, union jobs in a just and equitable way in communities across the nation that will be at the forefront of new manufacturing for clean energy and new technology, tools, and infrastructure that will help us adapt to a changing climate.”
As the opportunity for American leadership in climate innovation is vast, the Administration is outlining key planks of an agenda the Climate Innovation Working Group will help advance:
zero net carbon buildings at zero net cost, including carbon-neutral construction materials;
energy storage at one-tenth the cost of today’s alternatives;
advanced energy system management tools to plan for and operate a grid powered by zero carbon power plants;
very low-cost zero carbon on-road vehicles and transit systems;
new, sustainable fuels for aircraft and ships, as well as improvements in broader aircraft and ship efficiency and transportation management;
affordable refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pumps made without refrigerants that warm the planet;
carbon-free heat and industrial processes that capture emissions for making steel, concrete, chemicals, and other important industrial products;
carbon-free hydrogen at a lower cost than hydrogen made from polluting alternatives;
innovative soil management, plant biologies, and agricultural techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the ground;
direct air capture systems and retrofits to existing industrial and power plant exhausts to capture carbon dioxide and use it to make alternative products or permanently sequester it deep underground.
As a first example of the widespread innovation effort, the U.S. Department of Energy is announcing $100 million in funding via the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to support transformational low-carbon energy technologies. The ARPA-E announcement invites experts across the country to submit proposals for funding to support early-stage research into potentially disruptive energy technologies, specifically encouraging inter-disciplinary approaches and collaboration across sectors.
“Today we are inviting scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers across America to join us in developing the clean energy technologies we need to tackle the climate crisis and build a new more equitable clean energy economy,” said DOE Chief of Staff Tarak Shah. “The Department of Energy is committed to empowering innovators to think boldly and create the cutting-edge technologies that will usher in our clean energy future and create millions of good-paying jobs.”
In addition to supporting technologies that are near commercialization, the Climate Innovation Working Group will also emphasize research to bolster and build critical clean energy supply chains in the United States and strengthen American manufacturing. As it coordinates climate innovation across the federal government, it will focus on programs at land-grant universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other minority-serving institutions.
“Today is an important day for tackling the climate crisis through cutting-edge science, technology, and innovation. The Office of Science and Technology Policy is ready to help turbocharge climate-related innovation, and we look forward to engaging with scientists, engineers, students, and innovators all across America to build a future in which not only jobs and economic benefits but also opportunities to participate in climate innovation are shared equitably by all Americans,” said Kei Koizumi, Acting Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Biden Administration Holds First National Climate Task Force Meeting
Today, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy convened the first-ever National Climate Task Force meeting as outlined by President Biden’s January 27 executive order on tackling the climate crisis. The Task Force is chaired by the National Climate Advisor and includes Cabinet-level leaders from 21 federal agencies and senior White House officials to kick start the Biden-Harris Administration’s implementation of a whole-of-government approach to tackling climate change, creating good-paying, union jobs, and achieving environmental justice.
During the virtual inaugural convening of the Task Force, representatives from more than 20 federal agencies and offices underscored the shared commitment of every agency in collaborating and coordinating across the federal government to ensure the United States leads the world in a clean energy revolution that creates American jobs with the chance to join a union and builds back an inclusive, equitable economy.
Additionally, Vice President Harris dropped by the Task Force meeting to greet participants and underscore her and President Biden’s commitment to overseeing an unprecedented approach to tackling climate change at home and abroad, making sure that every agency plays a role and has the White House’s support in working together. A longtime fighter for environmental justice, the Vice President discussed the need to focus on those communities that are most vulnerable to climate change.
Agency leadership and senior White House officials also discussed the National Climate Task Force Charter, early actions, near-term priorities and key milestones, and the role of the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. Additionally, participants were invited to highlight the ways their agencies and staff are prioritizing climate throughout all of their decision making and how they plan to collaborate with additional agency partners.
As outlined in President Biden’s January 27th executive order on tackling the climate crises, Task Force membership is comprised of the following government officials:
National Climate Advisor (Chair)
Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of Defense
Secretary of the Interior
Secretary of Agriculture
Secretary of Commerce
Secretary of Education*
Secretary of Labor
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary of Transportation
Secretary of Energy
Secretary of Homeland Security
Administrator of General Services
Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy
Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy
Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
President Joe Biden visited the US State Department to give his first major foreign policy speech in which he declared emphatically, “America is back.” He noted the importance – the obligation – of America to assert its global leadership, and said he would repair the alliances broken and weakened by the Trump Administration, along with reinforcing his respect and commitment to the people who serve in the diplomatic corps, often in dangerous and difficult circumstances.
He emphasized that diplomacy is not just because of the moral imperative, but also helps America and Americans prosper and live in peace.
And he said he would reassert American values in diplomacy: reinstating a refugee admissions program that would accommodate up to 125,000 in the first full fiscal year of his administration; would seek a ceasefire in Yemen and would send humanitarian aid; and would stand up for human rights.
He said he would assert American interests in Russia and China, and suggested there would be sanctions against the military leadership that fomented a coup in Myanmar. “In a democracy, force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election,” he declared, in a statement that had eerie resonance in the United States.
“Investing in our diplomacy isn’t something we do just because it’s the right thing to do for the world. We do it in order to live in peace, security, and prosperity. We do it because it’s in our own naked self-interest. When we strengthen our alliances, we amplify our power as well as our ability to disrupt threats before they can reach our shores.
“When we invest in economic development of countries, we create new markets for our products and reduce the likelihood of instability, violence, and mass migrations.
“When we strengthen health systems in far regions of the world, we reduce the risk of future pandemics that can threaten our people and our economy. “When we defend equal rights of people the world over — of women and girls, LGBTQ individuals, indigenous communities, and people with disabilities, the people of every ethnic background and religion — we also ensure that those rights are protected for our own children here in America.
“America cannot afford to be absent any longer on the world stage. I come today to the State Department, an agency as old and as storied as the nation itself, because diplomacy has always been essential to how America writes its own destiny.”
Here is a highlighted transcript of President Biden’s remarks:
It’s great to be here and stand alongside our most recent and senior diplomat, Secretary Tony Blinken. Mr. Secretary, thank you for welcoming us today. We’ve worked together for over 20 years. Your diplomatic skills are respected equally by your friends and our competitors around the world.
And they know when you speak, you speak for me. And so — so is the message I want the world to hear today: America is back. America is back. Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy.
As I said in my inaugural address, we will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s. American leadership must meet this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy.
We must meet the new moment accelerating global challenges — from the pandemic to the climate crisis to nuclear proliferation — challenging the will only to be solved by nations working together and in common. We can’t do it alone.
That must be this — we must start with diplomacy rooted in America’s most cherished democratic values: defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity.
That’s the grounding wire of our global policy — our global power. That’s our inexhaustible source of strength. That’s America’s abiding advantage.
Though many of these values have come under intense pressure in recent years, even pushed to the brink in the last few weeks, the American people are going to emerge from this moment stronger, more determined, and better equipped to unite the world in fighting to defend democracy, because we have fought for it ourselves.
Over the past few days, we’ve been in close cooperation with our allies and partners to bring together the international community to address the military coup in Burma.
I’ve also been in touch with Leader McConnell to discuss our shared concerns about the situation in Burma, and we are united in our resolve.
There can be no doubt: In a democracy, force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election.
The Burmese military should relinquish power they have seized, release the advocates and activists and officials they have detained, lift the restrictions on telecommunications, and refrain from violence.
As I said earlier this week, we will work with our partners to support restoration of democracy and the rule of law, and impose consequences on those responsible.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve spoken with the leaders of many of our closest friends — Canada, Mexico, the UK, Germany, France, NATO, Japan, South Korea, Australia — to being [begin] reforming the habits of cooperation and rebuilding the muscle of democratic alliances that have atrophied over the past few years of neglect and, I would argue, abuse.
America’s alliances are our greatest asset, and leading with diplomacy means standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and key partners once again.
By leading with diplomacy, we must also mean engaging our adversaries and our competitors diplomatically, where it’s in our interest, and advance the security of the American people.
That’s why, yesterday, the United States and Russia agreed to extend the New START Treaty for five years to preserve the only remaining treaty between our countries safeguarding nuclear stability.
At the same time, I made it clear to President Putin, in a manner very different from my predecessor, that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions — interfering with our elections, cyberattacks, poisoning its citizens — are over. We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interests and our people. And we will be more effective in dealing with Russia when we work in coalition and coordination with other like-minded partners.
The politically motivated jailing of Alexei Navalny and the Russian efforts to suppress freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are a matter of deep concern to us and the international community.
Mr. Navalny, like all Russian citizens, is entitled to his rights under the Russian constitution. He’s been targeted — targeted for exposing corruption. He should be released immediately and without condition.
And we’ll also take on directly the challenges posed by our prosperity, security, and democratic values by our most serious competitor, China. We’ll confront China’s economic abuses; counter its aggressive, coercive action; to push back on China’s attack on human rights, intellectual property, and global governance.
But we are ready to work with Beijing when it’s in America’s interest to do so. We will compete from a position of strength by building back better at home, working with our allies and partners, renewing our role in international institutions, and reclaiming our credibility and moral authority, much of which has been lost.
That’s why we’ve moved quickly to begin restoring American engagement internationally and earn back our leadership position, to catalyze global action on shared challenges.
On day one, I signed the paperwork to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. We’re taking steps led by the example of integrating climate objectives across all of our diplomacy and raise the ambition of our climate targets. That way, we can challenge other nations, other major emitters,to up the ante on their own commitments. I’ll be hosting climate leaders — a climate leaders’ summit to address the climate crisis on Earth Day of this year.
America must lead in the face of this existential threat. And just as with the pandemic, it requires global cooperation.
We’ve also reengaged with the World Health Organization. That way, we can build better global preparedness to counter COVID-19, as well as detect and prevent future pandemics, because there will be more.
We’ve elevated the status of cyber issues within our government, including appointing the first national — Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology. We’re launching an urgent initiative to improve our capability, readiness, and resilience in cyberspace.
Today, I’m announcing additional steps to course-correct our foreign policy and better unite our democratic values with our diplomatic leadership.
To begin, Defense Secretary Austin will be leading a Global Posture Review of our forces so that our military footprint is appropriately aligned with our foreign policy and national security priorities. It will be coordinated across all elements of our national security, with Secretary Austin and Secretary Blinken working in close cooperation.
And while this review is taking place, we’ll be stopping any planned troop withdrawals from Germany. We’re also stepping up our diplomacy to end the war in Yemen — a war which has created a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe. I’ve asked my Middle East team to ensure our support for the United Nations-led initiative to impose a ceasefire, open humanitarian channels, and restore long-dormant peace talks.
This morning, Secretary Blinken appointed Tim Lenderking, a career foreign policy officer, as our special envoy to the Yemen conflict. And I appreciate his doing this. Tim is a life — has lifelong experience in the region, and he’ll work with the U.N. envoy and all parties of the conflict to push for a diplomatic resolution.
And Tim’s diplomacy will be bolstered by USAID, working to ensure that humanitarian aid is reaching the Yemeni people who are sufferinguunendurable devastation. This war has to end.
And to underscore our commitment, we are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.
At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV strikes, and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries. We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.
We also face a crisis of more than 80 million displaced people suffering all around the world. The United States’ moral leadership on refugee issues was a point of bipartisan consensus for so many decades when I first got here. We shined the light of lamp on — of liberty on oppressed people. We offered safe havens for those fleeing violence or persecution. And our example pushed other nations to open wide their doors as well.
So today, I’m approving an executive order to begin the hard work of restoring our refugee admissions program to help meet the unprecedented global need. It’s going to take time to rebuild what has been so badly damaged, but that’s precisely what we’re going to do.
This executive order will position us to be able to raise the refugee admissions back up to 125,000 persons for the first full fiscal year of the Biden-Harris administration. And I’m directing the State Department to consult with Congress about making a down payment on that commitment as soon as possible.
And to further repair our moral leadership, I’m also issuing a presidential memo to agencies to reinvigorate our leadership on the LGBTQI issues and do it internationally. You know, we’ll ensure diplomacy and foreign assistance are working to promote the rights of those individuals, included by combatting criminalization and protecting LGBTQ refugees and asylum-seekers.
And finally, to successfully reassert our diplomacy and keep Americans safe, prosperous, and free, we must restore the health and morale of our foreign policy institutions.
I want the people who work in this building and our embassies and consulates around the world to know: I value your expertise and I respect you, and I will have your back. This administration is going to empower you to do your jobs, not target or politicize you. We want a rigorous debate that brings all perspectives and makes room for dissent. That’s how we’ll get the best possible policy outcomes.
So, with your help, the United States will again lead not just by the example of our power but the power of our example.
That’s why my administration has already taken the important step to live our domestic values at home — our democratic values at home.
Within hours of taking office, I signed an executive order overturning the hateful, discriminatory Muslim ban; reversed the ban on transgender individuals serving in our military.
And as part of our commitment to truth, transparency, and accountability, we stated on day one — we started on day one with daily briefings of the press from the White House. We’ve reinstituted regular briefings here at State and at the Pentagon. We believe a free press isn’t an adversary; rather, it’s essential to the health of a democracy.
We’ve restored our commitment to science and to create policies grounded in facts and evidence. I suspect Ben Franklin would approve.
We’ve taken steps to acknowledge and address systemic racism and the scourge of white supremacy in our own country. Racial equity will not just be an issue for one department in our administration, it has to be the business of the whole of government in all our federal policies and institutions.
All this matters to foreign policy, because when we host the Summit of Democracy early in my administration to rally the nations of the world to defend democracy globally, to push back the authoritarianism’s advance, we’ll be a much more credible partner because of these efforts to shore up our own foundations.
There’s no longer a bright line between foreign and domestic policy. Every action we take in our conduct abroad, we must take with American working families in mind. Advancing a foreign policy for the middle class demands urgent focus on our domestic economic renewal.
And that’s why I immediately put forth the American Rescue Plan to pull us out of this economic crisis. That’s why I signed an executive order strengthening our Buy American policies last week. And it’s also why I’ll work with Congress to make far-reaching investments in research and development of transformable technologies.
These investments are going to create jobs, maintain America’s competitive edge globally, and ensure all Americans share in the dividends.
If we invest in ourselves and our people, if we fight to ensure that American businesses are positioned to compete and win on the global stage, if the rules of international trade aren’t stacked against us, if our workers and intellectual property are protected, then there’s no country on Earth — not China or any other country on Earth — that can match us.
Investing in our diplomacy isn’t something we do just because it’s the right thing to do for the world. We do it in order to live in peace, security, and prosperity. We do it because it’s in our own naked self-interest. When we strengthen our alliances, we amplify our power as well as our ability to disrupt threats before they can reach our shores.
When we invest in economic development of countries, we create new markets for our products and reduce the likelihood of instability, violence, and mass migrations.
When we strengthen health systems in far regions of the world, we reduce the risk of future pandemics that can threaten our people and our economy.
When we defend equal rights of people the world over — of women and girls, LGBTQ individuals, indigenous communities, and people with disabilities, the people of every ethnic background and religion — we also ensure that those rights are protected for our own children here in America.
America cannot afford to be absent any longer on the world stage. I come today to the State Department, an agency as old and as storied as the nation itself, because diplomacy has always been essential to how American — America writes its own destiny.
For the diplomacy of Ben Franklin helped assure the success of our revolution. The vision of the Marshall Plan helped prevent the world from foundering on the wreckage of war. And the passions of Eleanor Roosevelt declared the audacious idea of universal rights that belong to all.
The leadership of diplomats of every stripe, doing the daily work of engagement, created the very idea of a free and interconnected world. We are a country that does big things. American diplomacy makes it happen. And our administration is ready to take up the mantle and lead once again.
Thank you all. And may God bless you and protect our troops, our diplomats, and our development experts, and all Americans serving in harm’s way.
On January 20, the Biden Harris Administration took the first steps in a broad, whole of government effort to finally reform our immigration system, including sending to Congress legislation that creates a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in and contributing to our country. On February 2, the Administration is announcing a series of additional actions it is taking to rebuild and strengthen our immigration system.
These actions build on executive actions the President took his first day in office, including steps to preserve and fortify protections for Dreamers, end the Muslim and Africa ban, halt border wall construction and protect Liberian nationals living and working in our country. On day 1, the President also sent the United States Citizenship Act to Congress, which seeks to modernize our immigration system and smartly manage our borders, while addressing the root causes of migration.
President Biden’s strategy is centered on the basic premise that our country is safer, stronger, and more prosperous with a fair, safe and orderly immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, and allows people—both newly arrived immigrants and people who have lived here for generations—to more fully contribute to our country. President Biden knows that new Americans fuel our economy, as innovators and job creators, working in every American industry, and contributing to our arts, culture, and government.
In signing the executive orders, President Biden said:
“Today, I’m going to sign a few executive orders to strengthen our immigration system, building on the executive actions I took on day one to protect DREAMers, and the Muslim ban, and to better manage of our borders. And that’s what these three different executive orders are about.
“And I want to make it clear — there’s a lot of talk, with good reason, about the number of executive orders that I have signed — I’m not making new law; I’m eliminating bad policy. What I’m doing is taking on the issues that — 99 percent of them — that the President — the last President of the United States issued executive orders I felt were very counterproductive to our security, counterproductive to who we are as a country, particularly in the area of immigration.
“This is about how America is safer, stronger, more prosperous when we have a fair, orderly, and humane, and legal immigration system.
“And with the first action today, we’re going to work to undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration that literally, not figuratively, ripped children from the arms of their families — their mothers and fathers at the border — and with no plan, none whatsoever, to reunify the children who are still in custody and their parents.”
As he signed the first order, the reestablishment of an Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families, he said, “this removes the stain on our reputation for what these separations caused.” The second order, “Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, [and] to Manage Migration Throughout the North and Central America, and to Provide [a] Safe and Orderly Processing Of Asylum Seekers at the United States Border,” he said, “addresses the root causes of a migration to our southern border.”
The third action, Restoring [the] Faith in Our Legal Immigration System and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans,”orders a full review of the previous administration’s harmful and counterproductive immigration policies, basically across the board,” he said.
“As my grandfather would say: By the grace of God and the goodwill of neighbors, we’ll reunite these children and reestablish our reputation as being a haven for people in need.”
Today’s executive actions will:
Create a Task Force to Reunify Families. President Biden believes that families belong together. He has made clear that reversing the Trump Administration’s immigration policies that separated thousands of families at the border is a top priority. A key part of this effort is the creation of a task force to reunite families that remain separated. This task force will work across the U.S. government, with key stakeholders and representatives of impacted families, and with partners across the hemisphere to find parents and children separated by the Trump Administration. The task force will make recommendations to the President and federal agencies regarding steps that they can take to reunify families. Further, the task force will report regularly to the President and recommend steps to prevent such tragedies from occurring again. This Order also revokes the Trump Administration’s Executive Order that sought to justify separating children from their parents.
Develop a Strategy to Address Irregular Migration Across the Southern Border and Create a Humane Asylum System. The Trump Administration’s policies at the border have caused chaos, cruelty and confusion. Those policies have undermined the safety of our communities, penalized asylum seekers fleeing violence, and destabilized security across the Western hemisphere. Today, the Biden Harris Administration will begin to roll back the most damaging policies adopted by the prior administration, while taking effective action to manage migration across the region.
Specifically, the Biden Harris Administration will begin implementing a comprehensive three-part plan for safe, lawful, and orderly migration in the region. First, the Administration will address the underlying causes of migration through a strategy to confront the instability, violence, and economic insecurity that currently drives migrants from their homes. Second, the Administration will collaborate with regional partners, including foreign governments, international organizations, and nonprofits to shore up other countries’ capacity to provide protection and opportunities to asylum seekers and migrants closer to home. Finally, the Administration will ensure that Central American refugees and asylum seekers have access to legal avenues to the United States. The Secretary of Homeland Security is also directed to review the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program. The situation at the border will not transform overnight, due in large part to the damage done over the last four years. But the President is committed to an approach that keeps our country safe, strong, and prosperous and that also aligns with our values. This Executive Order also directs a series of actions to restore the U.S. asylum system, including by rescinding and directing agency review of a host of Trump Administration proclamations, rules, and guidance documents that have effectively closed the U.S. border to asylum seekers.
Restore Faith in Our Legal Immigration System and Promote Integration of New Americans. President Biden believes that immigrants are essential to who we are as a nation and critical to our aspirations for the future. The prior administration enacted hundreds of policies that run counter to our history and undermine America’s character as a land of opportunity that is open and welcoming to all who come here seeking protection and opportunity. This Executive Order elevates the role of the White House in coordinating the federal government’s strategy to promote immigrant integration and inclusion, including re-establishing a Task Force on New Americans, and ensuring that our legal immigration system operates fairly and efficiently. The order requires agencies to conduct a top-to-bottom review of recent regulations, policies, and guidance that have set up barriers to our legal immigration system. It also rescinds President Trump’s memorandum requiring family sponsors to repay the government if relatives receive public benefits, instructs the agencies to review the public charge rule and related policies, and streamline the naturalization process.
On January 20, soon after sitting in the Oval Office for the first time after his inauguration, President Biden stated he was sending to Congress a bill to “restore humanity and American values to our immigration system.”
The bill provides hardworking people who enrich our communities every day and who have lived here for years, in some cases for decades, an opportunity to earn citizenship. The legislation modernizes our immigration system, and prioritizes keeping families together, growing our economy, responsibly managing the border with smart investments, addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, and ensuring that the United States remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution. The bill will stimulate our economy while ensuring that every worker is protected. The bill creates an earned path to citizenship for our immigrant neighbors, colleagues, parishioners, community leaders, friends, and loved ones—including Dreamers and the essential workers who have risked their lives to serve and protect American communities.
The U.S. Citizenship Act will:
PROVIDE PATHWAYS TO CITIZENSHIP & STRENGTHEN LABOR PROTECTIONS
Create an earned roadmap to citizenship for undocumented individuals. The bill allows undocumented individuals to apply for temporary legal status, with the ability to apply for green cards after five years if they pass criminal and national security background checks and pay their taxes. Dreamers, TPS holders, and immigrant farmworkers who meet specific requirements are eligible for green cards immediately under the legislation. After three years, all green card holders who pass additional background checks and demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics can apply to become citizens. Applicants must be physically present in the United States on or before January 1, 2021. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may waive the presence requirement for those deported on or after January 20, 2017 who were physically present for at least three years prior to removal for family unity and other humanitarian purposes. Lastly, the bill further recognizes America as a nation of immigrants by changing the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in our immigration laws.
Keep families together. The bill reforms the family-based immigration system by clearing backlogs, recapturing unused visas, eliminating lengthy wait times, and increasing per-country visa caps. It also eliminates the so-called “3 and 10-year bars,” and other provisions that keep families apart. The bill further supports familes by more explicitly including permanent partnerships and eliminating discrimination facing LGBTQ+ families. It also provides protections for orphans, widows, children, and Filipino veterans who fought alongside the United States in World War II. Lastly, the bill allows immigrants with approved family-sponsorship petitions to join family in the United States on a temporary basis while they wait for green cards to become available.
Embrace diversity. The bill includes the NO BAN Act that prohibits discrimination based on religion and limits presidential authority to issue future bans. The bill also increases Diversity Visas to 80,000 from 55,000.
Promote immigrant and refugee integration and citizenship. The bill provides new funding to state and local governments, private organizations, educational institutions, community-based organizations, and not-for-profit organizations to expand programs to promote integration and inclusion, increase English-language instruction, and provide assistance to individuals seeking to become citizens.
Grow our economy. This bill clears employment-based visa backlogs, recaptures unused visas, reduces lengthy wait times, and eliminates per-country visa caps. The bill makes it easier for graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees to stay in the United States; improves access to green cards for workers in lower-wage sectors; and eliminates other unnecessary hurdles for employment-based green cards. The bill provides dependents of H-1B visa holders work authorization, and children are prevented from “aging out” of the system. The bill also creates a pilot program to stimulate regional economic development, gives DHS the authority to adjust green cards based on macroeconomic conditions, and incentivizes higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers.
Protect workers from exploitation and improve the employment verification process. The bill requires that DHS and the Department of Labor establish a commission involving labor, employer, and civil rights organizations to make recommendations for improving the employment verification process. Workers who suffer serious labor violations and cooperate with worker protection agencies will be granted greater access to U visa relief. The bill protects workers who are victims of workplace retaliation from deportation in order to allow labor agencies to interview these workers. It also protects migrant and seasonal workers, and increases penalties for employers who violate labor laws.
PRIORITIZE SMART BORDER CONTROLS
Supplement existing border resources with technology and infrastructure. The legislation builds on record budget allocations for immigration enforcement by authorizing additional funding for the Secretary of DHS to develop and implement a plan to deploy technology to expedite screening and enhance the ability to identify narcotics and other contraband at every land, air, and sea port of entry. This includes high-throughput scanning technologies to ensure that all commercial and passenger vehicles and freight rail traffic entering the United States at land ports of entry and rail-border crossings along the border undergo pre-primary scanning. It also authorizes and provides funding for plans to improve infrastructure at ports of entry to enhance the ability to process asylum seekers and detect, interdict, disrupt and prevent narcotics from entering the United States. It authorizes the DHS Secretary to develop and implement a strategy to manage and secure the southern border between ports of entry that focuses on flexible solutions and technologies that expand the ability to detect illicit activity, evaluate the effectiveness of border security operations, and be easily relocated and broken out by Border Patrol Sector. To protect privacy, the DHS Inspector General is authorized to conduct oversight to ensure that employed technology effectively serves legitimate agency purposes.
Manage the border and protect border communities. The bill provides funding for training and continuing education to promote agent and officer safety and professionalism. It also creates a Border Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee, provides more special agents at the DHS Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate criminal and administrative misconduct, and requires the issuance of department-wide policies governing the use of force. The bill directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the impact of DHS’s authority to waive environmental and state and federal laws to expedite the construction of barriers and roads near U.S. borders and provides for additional rescue beacons to prevent needless deaths along the border. The bill authorizes and provides funding for DHS, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and nongovernmental experts, to develop guidelines and protocols for standards of care for individuals, families, and children in CBP custody.
Crack down on criminal organizations. The bill enhances the ability to prosecute individuals involved in smuggling and trafficking networks who are responsible for the exploitation of migrants. It also expands investigations, intelligence collection and analysis pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act to increase sanctions against foreign narcotics traffickers, their organizations and networks. The bill also requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and DHS, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to improve and expand transnational anti-gang task forces in Central America.
ADDRESS ROOT CAUSES OF MIGRATION
Start from the source. The bill codifies and funds the President’s $4 billion four-year inter-agency plan to address the underlying causes of migration in the region, including by increasing assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, conditioned on their ability to reduce the endemic corruption, violence, and poverty that causes people to flee their home countries. It also creates safe and legal channels for people to seek protection, including by establishing Designated Processing Centers throughout Central America to register and process displaced persons for refugee resettlement and other lawful migration avenues—either to the United States or other partner countries. The bill also re-institutes the Central American Minors program to reunite children with U.S. relatives and creates a Central American Family Reunification Parole Program to more quickly unite families with approved family sponsorship petitions.
Improve the immigration courts and protect vulnerable individuals. The bill expands family case management programs, reduces immigration court backlogs, expands training for immigration judges, and improves technology for immigration courts. The bill also restores fairness and balance to our immigration system by providing judges and adjudicators with discretion to review cases and grant relief to deserving individuals. Funding is authorized for legal orientation programs and counsel for children, vulnerable individuals, and others when necessary to ensure the fair and efficient resolution of their claims. The bill also provides funding for school districts educating unaccompanied children, while clarifying sponsor responsibilities for such children.
Support asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations. The bill eliminates the one-year deadline for filing asylum claims and provides funding to reduce asylum application backlogs. It also increases protections for U visa, T visa, and VAWA applicants, including by raising the cap on U visas from 10,000 to 30,000. The bill also expands protections for foreign nationals assisting U.S. troops.
Each one a person of remarkable achievement, who lifted themselves up, sometimes from abject poverty; several were the first in their family to go to college, several were immigrants or children of immigrants, and one is a 35th generation Pueblo Indian, the first Native American to lead the Interior Department which historically ruled over Indian lands and routinely violated treaties. The nominees and appointees to key climate and environmental positions are the incarnation of President-Elect Joe Biden’s campaign promises, specifically, the first administration to elevating climate and environmental protection to this level and priority.
As Biden said, like his other cabinet picks, these climate, energy and environment nominees and appointees are brilliant, qualified and tested, and barrier-busting, precedent-breaking, historic, “a cabinet that looks like America, that taps into the best of America.”
The contrast to Trump, who declared climate change a “hoax” and whose priorities – to overturn the climate action and environmental protection initiatives of the Obama-Biden administration and elevate to top positions lobbyists and executives from gas, oil, and mining industries, people of privilege and wealth – could not be more stark.
Clean energy, resilient infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and development, are the building blocks to Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan that will employ millions in new jobs and enterprises and keep the United States competitive with the rest of the world. “When we think about climate change, we think jobs.”
Electric cars – incentivized with purchase for the federal fleet – will mean one million auto industry jobs; transforming the electricity sector to being carbon-free “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.”
He added, “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 this team will get them done.”
Biden introduced his nominees:
Secretary of the Interior, Congresswoman Deb Haaland. Secretary of Energy, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality Michael Regan
Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, environmental lawyer Brenda Mallory
National Climate Advisor and head of the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
Deputy National Climate Advisor, Ali Zaidi.
These nominees – as throughout Biden’s cabinet – are notable for their story and the values their background forged.
Here are their remarks, highlighted: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Remarks by President-elect Joe Biden
Today I am pleased to announce the team that will lead my Administration’s ambitious plan to address an existential threat of our time — climate change.
Like their fellow-Cabinet nominees and appointments, members of our environment and energy team are brilliant, qualified and tested, and barrier-busting.
With today’s announcements there will be six African American members of our Cabinet.
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.
Already there are more people of color in this Cabinet than any Cabinet ever. More women than ever.
The Biden-Harris Cabinet will be an historic Cabinet.
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 lose.
Just this year, wildfires burned more than 5 million acres in California, Washington, and across the West — an area roughly the size of the entire state of New Jersey.
Intense and powerful hurricanes and tropical storms pummeled Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and 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 and small towns, on coastlines and farmlands, in red states and blue states.
Billions of dollars in damage. Homes and memories washed away. Small businesses closed up for good. Crops and farmlands destroyed for the next generation family farmer.
Just last year, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a direct threat to more than two-thirds of the military’s operationally critical installations. And this could well be a conservative estimate.
And so many climate and health calamities are colliding 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 an increased risk of death from Covid-19.
Folks, we’re in a crisis.
Just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change.
We need to meet this moment with the urgency it demands as we would during any national emergency.
And from the crisis, we need to seize the opportunity to build back better than we were before. That’s what this Administration will do.
When we think about climate change, we think “jobs.” Good-paying union jobs.
A key plank of our Build Back Better economic plan is building a modern, climate-resilient infrastructure and 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 manufacturing, American workers, racing to lead the global market.
We see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.
We see the small businesses and master electricians designing and installing innovative, energy-conserving buildings and homes. This will reduce electricity consumption and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.
And we will challenge everyone to step up.
We will bring America back into the Paris Agreement and put us back in the business of leading the world on climate change.
The current Administration reversed the Obama-Biden fuel-efficiency standards and picked Big Oil companies over the American workers. Our Administration will not only bring those standards back — we will set new, ambitious ones that our workers are ready to meet.
We see American workers building and installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country.
We see American consumers switching to electric vehicles through rebates and incentives.
Not only that — the federal government owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles.
And we’re going to harness the purchasing power of our federal government to make sure we are buying clean, electric vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in America.
All together, this will mean one million new jobs in the American auto industry.
And we’ll do another big thing: put us on a path of achieving a carbon-pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 that no future president can turn back.
Transforming the American electricity 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.
But we need to get to work right away.
We’ll need scientists at national labs, land-grant universities, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to innovate the technologies needed to generate, store, and transmit this clean electricity.
We’ll need engineers to design them and workers to manufacture them.
We’ll need ironworkers and welders to install them.
That’s how we’ll become the world’s largest exporter of these technologies, creating even more jobs.
We know how to do this.
The Obama-Biden Administration rescued the auto industry and helped them retool.
We made solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy and weatherized more than a million homes.
The Recovery Act made record clean energy investments — $90 Billion — on everything from smart grid systems to clean energy manufacturing.
We will do it again — bigger, and faster, and better than before.
We’ll also 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 homeownership.
We’ll create more than a quarter-million jobs right away, to do things like working toward plugging the 3.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells that the EPA says pose an ongoing threat to the health and safety of our communities.
We’ll 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.
But 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 along the Route 9 corridor right here in Delaware.
Fulfilling this basic obligation to all Americans, especially in low-income white, Black, Brown, and Native American communities who too often don’t have clean air and clean water is not going to be easy.
But it is 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 this team will get them done.
For Secretary of the Interior, I nominate Congresswoman Deb Haaland.
She’s of the Pueblo people. A 35th-generation New Mexican.
She’s from a military family. Her mom, also Pueblo, served in the United States Navy. Her dad, Norwegian American, a 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 got involved in politics.
Two years ago, she became one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress.
She serves on the Armed Services Committee, and Committee on Natural Resources, and Chairs the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, where she’s earned the respect of a broad coalition of people — from tribal leaders to environmental groups to labor.
As the first Native American Cabinet Secretary in the history of the United States of America, she will be a true steward of our national parks, natural resources, and all of our lands.
The federal government has long broken promises to Native American tribes who have been on this land since time immemorial.
With her appointment, Congresswoman Haaland will help me strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship, and I am honored she accepted this critical role.
For Secretary of Energy, I nominate Jennifer Granholm.
The first woman to ever serve as Governor of Michigan.
In 2009, she faced the collapse of a defining industry of her state and our nation.
But I saw firsthand how she responded. She bet on the autoworkers. She bet on the promise of a clean energy future.
Her leadership helped rescue the American auto industry, helped save one million American jobs, and helped bring Detroit back.
Governor Granholm is just like the state she led so 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 always with her eyes on the needs and aspirations of working people.
Throughout her career, she’s worked with states, cities, business, and labor to promote a clean energy future with new jobs, new industries, cleaner and more affordable energy.
Now, I’m asking her to bring that vision and faith in America to the Department of Energy.
For Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, I nominate Michael Regan.
A proud son of North Carolina, he turned a passion for exploring the woods and waters of the Inner Coastal Plain into a deep expertise in environmental science.
He got his start at the EPA serving in both Democratic and Republican Administrations, working on everything from reducing air pollution to improving energy efficiency.
He currently serves as Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, where he’s brought people together across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to help build a new clean energy economy, creating quality jobs, and confronting climate change.
He led the charge to clean up the Cape Fear River, contaminated for years by dangerous toxic chemicals.
And he created North Carolina’s first board of its kind to address environmental justice and equity.
It helps lift up frontline and fenceline communities who had carried the burdens of industrial progress for too long, without sharing in the benefits.
Michael would be the second African American official and first African American man to serve in this position.
He shares my belief in forging consensus and finding common purpose.
He is the leader who will reassert the EPA’s place as the world’s premier environmental protection agency that safeguards our planet, protects our lives, and strengthens our economy for all Americans.
For Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, I nominate Brenda Mallory.
An accomplished public servant. A brilliant environmental lawyer.
A daughter of a working-class family who has dedicated her life to solving the most complex environmental challenges facing America.
She has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, helping safeguard our public lands and helping communities manage their natural resources responsibly.
As Chair of CEQ, 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.
To serve as the first-ever National Climate Advisor and lead the newly formed White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, I appoint Gina McCarthy.
The fact I’ve asked a former EPA Administrator to take this role and lead this new office shows how serious I am.
Gina’s got more than 30 years of experience.
She’s a policy wonk and a people person.
A problem-solver and 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 of the future.
And by doing the necessary work here at home, she helped us rally the world around the Paris Climate Accords.
Today, I’m asking her to take a singular focus on carrying out our ambitious climate agenda here at home, while my Special Envoy John Kerry leads our climate efforts around the world.
I’m grateful to work alongside her again.
And to serve as Deputy National Climate Advisor, I appoint Ali Zaidi.
He served as a top climate advisor to President Obama and me at the Office of Management and 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’s 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, bold climate action grounded in science, economics, and public health.
And, he’s an immigrant from Pakistan who grew up in the Rust Belt, outside Erie, Pennsylvania.
Ali knows we can beat the climate crisis with jobs.
He knows we can deliver environmental justice and revitalize communities too often overlooked and forgotten.
And every day he’ll walk into the White House, knowing the world is looking for America to lead.
To each of you, thank you for answering the call to serve.
To your families, thank you.
We could not do this without you or them.
To the career civil servants at these agencies, we look forward to working with you to once again carry out your department’s mission with honor and integrity.
And to the American people — yes, the goals I’ve laid today 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.
And there’s nothing we can’t do when we work together.
May God bless you all.
May God protect our troops.
Remarks by Nominee for Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland
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.
Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce. My life has not been easy — I struggled with homelessness, relied on food stamps, and raised my child as a single mom.
These struggles give me perspective to help people 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.
This moment is profound when we consider the fact that a former Secretary of the Interior once proclaimed it his goal to, quote, ‘civilize or exterminate’ us. I’m a living testament to the failure of that horrific ideology.
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 US 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.
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 are 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.
We know that climate change can only be solved with participation of every department and of every community coming together in 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.
This historic moment will not go by without the acknowledgment 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 protected land.
I am honored and ready to serve.
Remarks by Nominee for Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm
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 best friend and husband Dan Mulhern, my glorious children and their equally magnificent spouses — Connor and Alexis, Cece and Damián, and Jack.
My commitment to clean energy was forged in the fire.
I was the Governor of Michigan when the Great Recession struck, pushing the auto industry — the lifeblood of our state — to the brink of collapse.
Workers were losing their jobs through no fault of their own.
Banks wouldn’t lend; families lost their homes; our unemployment rate shot up to 15 percent.
But then, thankfully, as now, “help was on the way.”
Joe Biden and the Obama administration worked with us to rescue the auto industry, save a million jobs, retool and electrify Detroit for the future, and diversify Michigan’s economy on the strength of a new sector: clean energy.
Today, in the midst of another harrowing crisis, clean energy remains one of the most promising economic growth sectors in the world.
Over the next two decades, countries will invest trillions of dollars in electric cars, solar panels, wind turbines, and energy-efficient appliances and buildings.
They’ll upgrade their electric grids using smart technology.
Millions of good-paying jobs will be created — but where will those jobs be?
In China, or other countries fighting tooth-and-nail to corner the clean energy market? Or here in America?
The path to building back better starts with building and deploying those products here, stamping them Made in America, and exporting them around the world.
We can win those jobs for American workers.
I know what those jobs will mean for families.
Though I’m proud to have been a U.S. citizen for 40 years, 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” from Newfoundland, Canada — an island fishing province they call “The Rock.”
Like many women in her generation, she never went to college.
My dad died earlier this year of a cerebral hemorrhage.
He was born into extreme poverty, in a cabin in rural Canada with no running water.
My grandfather had immigrated from Sweden during the depression; unable to find a job to provide for his young family, he shot himself in desperation when my dad was three years old.
My grandmother became a single mom, with three young children, living in dire poverty.
My dad found work at a sawmill at 11. And after he married my mom, they came to America for better jobs.
Despite not having a college degree, my hard-working, gentle dad got the fair chance he was looking for in America — he started out as a bank teller, and retired as head of the bank.
It is because of my family’s journey — and my experience fighting for hardworking Michigan families — that I have become obsessed.
Obsessed with creating good-paying jobs in America — obsessed with seizing the opportunities of a clean energy future.
We can let other countries beat us to those opportunities, or we can get in the game.
I’m 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, for the people still waiting on the fair chance they need.
Thank you for tapping me to work on their behalf.
Remarks by Nominee for Administrator of the EPA, Michael Regan
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 I wanted to work: the EPA.
When I started that first summer internship, I never imagined I would one day be nominated to lead the agency as its Administrator.
So this opportunity is 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 water; to protect families and communities and help them seize the opportunities of a cleaner, healthier world.
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 fenceline communities during the campaign, he made it clear that we would no longer just deal with issues up to the fencelines of facilities — we would actually see the people on the other side of those fences.
He has 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 the tough issues.
After nearly a decade at the EPA, I know firsthand the remarkable dedication and talent of the career staff.
And as a state official, I understand how the actions of the EPA can help or hurt local efforts.
We are going to ensure that the EPA is once again a strong partner for the states — not a roadblock.
We will be driven by our conviction 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 pocket, the color of their skin, or what community they live in.
We will move with urgency on climate change, protecting our drinking water, and enacting an environmental justice framework that empowers people in all communities.
But we also know that these challenges can’t be solved by regulation alone.
And we know that environmental protection and economic prosperity are 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 communities, for our economy, and for our planet.
And that’s what we’ll pursue together.
I look forward to continuing that work on behalf of the American people.
Remarks by Appointee for Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, Brenda Mallory
Mr. 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 am especially grateful for this 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 and interwoven crises.
I know first-hand 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 my vernacular back then, the evidence of their impacts was all around.
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 called to bring those gifts to bear wherever we are to work with anyone and everyone to make things better in the communities we share.
This has been a driving force and a guiding principle on my journey.
I earned a high school scholarship that changed the course of my life.
I became the first 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.
I didn’t set out to specialize in environmental issues, but once I started, I was always mindful of the practical implications of 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 their people.
The Build Back Better plan is poised to breathe new life into the Council on Environmental Quality.
CEQ will 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 the Vice President-elect for elevating this work and lifting up the communities where it will make a world of difference.
Thank you for this opportunity to serve.
Remarks by Appointee for White House Climate Coordinator, Gina McCarthy
Mr. President-elect — Madam Vice President-elect—
Thank you for the opportunity to serve — and to work alongside this talented team.
The issues I’ll be taking on in this role are personal to me, and have been for as long as I can remember.
As keen listeners may have already guessed, I grew up in and around Boston.
My Dad was a teacher in the Boston Schools for more than 40 years; my Mom waitressed in local doughnut shops.
Looking back, I guess we were a lower-middle-class family. Instead of expensive vacations, my sisters and I did our adventuring in our backyard, playing in the woods and around ponds in our hometown.
A beach day for our family was a swim in Boston Harbor.
That meant coming out of the water with oil and other things stuck to our skin — so we’d have to dry and clean ourselves at the same time.
That was back in the 60s, before the first Earth Day — not the Boston Harbor of today.
I can remember jumping up to close the windows in my classroom when the chemical stench from the nearby rubber factory would start wafting in.
That smell kept us from outside recess on more days than I cared to remember.
So I figured out early on that there was a connection between our environment and our health.
And that understanding drew me into a long career of public service helping families and communities like mine, and those facing much steeper and more insidious legacies of environmental harm to overcome the challenges that were holding them back.
Environmental protection is part of my moral fiber.
And I am proud of the progress we’ve made and the work I did in local and state governments as well as at EPA to make air and water cleaner, make communities safer and more livable, and begin to confront climate change.
I’m here today because climate change isn’t only a threat to the planet — it’s a threat to the health and wellbeing of people, and the precious natural resources we depend on.
Defeating that threat is the fight of our lifetimes.
And our success will require the engagement of every community and every sector in our nation, and every country across our world.
But the opportunities to act on climate right now fill me with hope, 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.
It rises to this incredible moment of opportunity to build back better for our health, for jobs, and for communities that have been systemically disadvantaged for years.
It will be my honor to help turn this plan into promises kept by marshaling every part of our government, working directly with communities, and harnessing the forces of science — and the values of environmental justice — to build a better future for my two—soon to be three—little grandchildren, and for generations of Americans to come.
Thank you for this opportunity to help put Americans back to work in innovative, good-paying 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, more vibrant lives.
Remarks by Appointee for Deputy White House Climate Coordinator, Ali Zaidi
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 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 the pollution has been heavy, and opportunity has never quite reached.
Mr. President-elect & Madam Vice President-elect, you campaigned on delivering that promise by mounting a response equal to this existential threat, 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.
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 frontlines of the COVID crisis, and me: moving to frontlines of the fight against climate change.
To be healthy, to have purpose, and to be able to give back — that is how our parents taught us to define the American Dream.
I am so grateful to be serving alongside the team you have assembled.
Grateful for Gina McCarthy, my guide and 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 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, decency and goodness.
Your leadership gives me hope.
My students, scientists imagining and inventing, give me hope
Young organizers, mobilizing and advocating, give me hope
And together, I know: We will meet this moment.
Remarks Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
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.
Homes and neighborhoods in ashes.
Firefighters battling fires, while their own homes burned to the ground.
Some of the most toxic air, anywhere in the world.
Two years ago, in 2018, when I visited communities like Paradise 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 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.
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.
Years ago, when I was District Attorney in San Francisco, I created the first environmental justice unit in the city — and one of the first in our country.
Because I believe that everyone has a right to breathe clean air and drink clean water.
So does the president-elect.
Part of the reason I was so proud to join him 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.
They 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 the private sector and organized labor together with government to meet this challenge, and 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.
In his 2015 encyclical, the Holy Father Pope Francis wrote — quote: “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.