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Biden announces energy, environment transition team members


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Biden announces energy, environment transition team members

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Nov. 10 named members of his agency review teams who will be responsible for preparing Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for the start of their administration.

The team members for the U.S. Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency and other energy-focused agencies included academics, representatives of environmental and labor groups, and several veterans of the Obama administration in which Biden served as Vice President.

Biden's DOE team lead is Arun Majumdar, co-director of Stanford University's Precourt Institute for Energy and founding director of the DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

The energy team also includes Jonathan Elkind, a senior research scholar at Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy. Elkind worked for the DOE under the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017, focusing on climate and energy programs with other nations, and left the department as assistant secretary for international affairs, according to Columbia's website.

The DOE team also includes Noah Deich, executive director of the nonprofit Carbon180, which is seeking to transform carbon into an asset. Deich has been especially active in the carbon capture, utilization and storage space.

Another energy transition team member is Brad Markell, executive director of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council and chair of the AFL-CIO energy task force. Prior to joining the AFL-CIO, Markell was a union representative in Detroit who was "deeply involved in the negotiations leading to the historic tailpipe emissions standards for light-duty vehicles," according to a biography from the National Academy of Engineering.

Biden's transition team for the EPA will be helmed by Patrice Simms, vice president for healthy communities at the environmental law and advocacy group Earthjustice. Simms started his career in the EPA's Office of General Counsel and went on to become deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division during the Obama administration.

Additional noteworthy team members include former Obama administration officials Joe Goffman and Cynthia Giles, who both currently hold positions at Harvard University.

Goffman, the executive director of Harvard's Environmental and Energy Law Program, previously worked as general counsel in the Obama EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. There, Goffman helped write the Clean Power Plan, which set the first federal greenhouse gas emission standards for fossil fuel-fired power plants — a rule that has since been repealed and replaced by the Trump administration.

Giles is a guest fellow at Harvard's Environmental and Energy Law Program and previously served as assistant administrator in the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. Notably, Giles analyzed EPA enforcement data for the first two years of the Trump administration and found a dramatic decline in civil penalties for polluters.

The Interior transition team has considerable experience in tribal rights. The group will be led by Kevin Washburn, who served as Interior Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs under Obama, and Janie Simms Hipp, CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund. Similar to other Biden agency teams, it included Obama administration veterans such as Bob Anderson, co-chair of Obama’s Interior transition team in 2008, and former Interior senior advisor Kate Kelly, currently director of public lands at the nonprofit the Center for American Progress.

Another member of the Interior team is Bret Birdsong, a law professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who has called for maintaining the Obama administration's sage-grouse species protections and restoring the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, which President Donald Trump significantly reduced in 2017.