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Biden Chooses More People To Fill Top Slots In His Administration

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The president-elect has named several more officials whose job will include fighting climate change. This is an issue where the new administration has a very different approach from the old one. The Biden administration is setting goals for clean energy and arguing that the transition to new fuels will help the economy, and Biden aides talk of this as an issue to address all across the government. Energy use, after all, pretty much touches everything. NPR's Scott Detrow is covering the Biden transition. Scott, good morning.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK, some names here. NPR's reporting Gina McCarthy as domestic climate coordinator. She's a former EPA administrator. What's her job?

DETROW: Yeah, so I actually interviewed McCarthy last week for a profile of John Kerry, who's going to be the international counterpart to this job. And I asked her, won't there be some strangeness to a former Cabinet official in the administration but with someone else in his old job? And she paused and laughed and said this.

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GINA MCCARTHY: Well, it's really nice to know about government, and it's nice to know what we did and what we can do and how we move forward.

DETROW: And that answer makes a lot more sense now because it is the exact position that she is going to be in. She ran the EPA during the Obama years. Now she's going to be the point person tasked with coordinating efforts across departments to address climate change. Joe Biden has set some really ambitious goals, including spending $2 trillion to totally transform the country's energy sector. He wants to get it to carbon-neutral in 15 years. That is a really aggressive timeline. McCarthy is someone who knows every level of government. She saw a lot of big EPA actions that the Trump administration has since rolled back. Now the Biden administration is going to redo those efforts and try to do a lot more.

INSKEEP: All across government, as we mentioned. And in that respect, NPR has also learned the pick for energy secretary. Who is she, and where does she fit in?

DETROW: Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Throughout the campaign, Biden has made a big point to frame climate plans as all about creating new jobs - utilizing manufacturing and tapping into union work, not slowing it down. Granholm is someone who was involved in the Obama administration's push to work with the auto industry to invest in green technology during the auto bailout. She's been making the case there's just as much economic activity in green energy - things like electric cars - as there is in older manufacturing. I'll note we're still waiting for a few more of these pieces to fill in, including EPA administrator and Interior secretary. Those are picks that we're expecting in the next day or so.

INSKEEP: Let's get in one more name. The nominee for Department of Transportation is Peter Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., the former mayor there and former presidential candidate. And of course, transportation has a lot to do with the climate. It's energy use.

DETROW: It does. Buttigieg won the Iowa caucuses, and then he dropped out on the eve of Super Tuesday, endorsed Joe Biden, and that set the stage for Biden's big win that day. Now he's going to be the nominee to run a really large department. And in addition to climate, Biden has repeatedly said, unlike President Trump, he wants to actually get a big bipartisan infrastructure deal done. If that's the case, Buttigieg would be a big point person in that effort. It is also worth noting he would be the first LGBTQ nominee to a permanent Cabinet position.

INSKEEP: Scott, always a pleasure talking with you.

DETROW: Thank you.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Scott Detrow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.