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Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images     

The incoming Joe Biden administration just filled in some of the biggest blanks on its energy and climate team, and the decisions say plenty about its approach.

Catch up fast: Obama-era EPA boss Gina McCarthy is slated to be named Biden's White House domestic climate policy adviser to lead a government-wide policy push.

  • Ali Zaidi, a top New York State energy and climate official, is expected to be named her deputy. Neither role requires Senate confirmation.
  • Biden is expected to nominate former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as secretary of Energy.
  • Michael Regan, North Carolina's top environmental regulator, has emerged as a leading candidate for the nominee to run EPA.
  • Biden announced he's nominating Pete Buttigieg as secretary of transportation.
Quick take

1. Executive experience is at a premium. That makes sense because the odds of steering major climate legislation through Congress are very low.

  • The New York Times reports that climate advocates see choosing McCarthy as a "signal that the administration was prepared to bypass Congress and enact measures using executive authority to begin bringing down greenhouse gases."

2. A related point: Familiarity with the federal regulatory process is important for the Biden team.

  • McCarthy has that. So does Zaidi, who was a senior official in President Obama's White House Office of Management and Budget.
  • And Regan was at EPA during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

3. It's top-heavy. The Biden team is concentrating a lot of policy power in the White House.

  • McCarthy, a prominent name in the climate world, will be the domestic counterpart to special climate envoy John Kerry, the highest-profile name on Biden's climate and energy team.
  • Kerry's job, while under the State Department's purview, includes a seat on the National Security Council.

4. Cars — Granholm is very familiar with the auto sector. That matters because Biden hopes to greatly speed up adoption of electric vehicles as part of his energy and climate agenda.

5. The new picks have avoided inflaming intra-Democratic tensions. Groups on the left flank of the green movement last night applauded the choices of McCarthy and Granholm.

  • New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, reportedly a leading candidate for the Interior Department, is a top choice for progressives, so keep an eye on that one.

6. It's a diverse slate. Buttigieg would be the first openly gay Cabinet secretary, while Haaland, if selected, would be the first Native American Cabinet secretary.

  • Regan would be the first Black man to lead EPA, while Granholm would be the second woman to run the Energy Department.

Go deeper

Scoop: GOP ignored its early fears about Marjorie Taylor Greene

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

During previously unreported meetings last summer, House Republican leaders discussed — but then largely set aside — fears that QAnon-supporting conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene would end up a flaming trainwreck for their party.

Why it matters: Greene has emerged not just as an embarrassment but a challenge for the GOP, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy now forced to weigh whether to maintain his policy of sanctioning members who make dangerous statements.

Updated 13 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

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