Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

President-elect Biden. Photo: ALEX EDELMAN / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden introduced his energy and environment team on Saturday at an event that emphasized job-creation in low-carbon industries and racial justice, but provided no new policy specifics.

Why it matters: Biden has promised to make climate among his top priorities and his team is planning an approach that draws in agencies government-wide.

  • "Folks, we are in a crisis," Biden said at the event. "We need a unified national response to climate change."
  • Biden sought to show that climate change is not a niche topic. His remarks touched on everything from western wildfires to how extreme weather impacts farmers to threats to military installations.
  • However, big climate and energy bills will face high hurdles in Congress, so much of his agenda will rest on executive actions that are certain to face intense legal battles.

Driving the news: Biden appeared with members of the team announced earlier in the week: Rep. Deb Haaland is the nominee for Interior secretary; Michael Regan is up for EPA leader; Brenda Mallory is the choice to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality; and Jennifer Granholm is up for Energy secretary.

  • Perhaps the most powerful domestic climate official will be Gina McCarthy, the Obama-era EPA head that will run a new White House climate office.
  • Saturday's event followed the announcement last month that Biden tapped former Secretary of State John Kerry as his special international climate envoy with a seat on the National Security Council.

Catch up fast: The slate includes several firsts. Haaland is the first Native American person tapped to run a Cabinet agency, while Regan would be the first Black man to lead the EPA, and Mallory would be the first Black person to head CEQ.

What they're saying: "When we think about climate change, we think jobs, we think good paying union jobs," Biden said, citing opportunities in areas like renewable power, electric vehicles and charging, water infrastructure and more.

Granholm said clean energy is “among the most promising jobs and economic growth sectors in the world.”

  • Biden and others also repeatedly raised environmental justice — addressing the disproportionate pollution burdens that poor people and communities of color face.
  • For instance, Haaland noted that Interior’s jurisdiction goes well beyond conservation and the agency has a role in “closing the racial wealth and health gaps.”
  • “Together, this team will ensure that environmental justice and human impacts are top of mind as we tackle these tough issues,” Regan said.

Yes, but: The event did not provide new specifics on how the administration hopes to implement the agenda Biden laid out on the campaign trail.

For instance, Haaland did not discuss plans to thwart new oil-and-gas permitting on vast swaths of federal lands that Interior oversees, a plan slated to receive heavy pushback from Republicans and industry groups that say it will cause job losses.

What we're watching: Regan, Haaland, Granholm and Mallory will need to be confirmed by the closely divided Senate.

  • "Republicans have already signaled they will sharply scrutinize the records of Haaland and Regan, including their past opposition to fossil fuel projects," Bloomberg reports.
  • McCarthy, her deputy Ali Zaidi, a top New York State energy official, and Kerry do not require Senate confirmation.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Schumer suggests Biden could use emergency powers for climate policy

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants President Biden to explore use of emergency executive powers to fight climate change, he told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow last night.

Driving the news: Schumer said it "might be a good idea for President Biden to call a climate emergency," and noted, "Then he can do many, many things under the emergency powers of the president ... that he could do without legislation."

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.

Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Hundreds of Biden staffers receive COVID vaccine

Screenshots of an email inviting White House staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, obtained by Alayna Treene/Axios

A week into the job, President Biden's White House medical team has administered the coronavirus vaccine to several hundred staffers — and aims to vaccinate all in-person staff over the next few weeks, officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: The new administration is ramping up steps to protect President Biden and all staff working inside the White House complex. The administration is also requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times.