SPONSORED:

McEachin signals interest in Biden administration environment role  

McEachin signals interest in Biden administration environment role  
© Bonnie Cash

Rep. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinPolitical disenfranchisement is fueling environmental injustice White House names members of environmental justice panel Democrats reintroduce measure to address racial disparities in environmental impacts MORE (D-Va.) is interested in a job shaping environment policy for the Biden administration. 

In an interview with The Hill, the lawmaker said he isn't explicitly running for a gig with Team Biden, but said he would make a good bridge-builder in either the role of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator or domestic climate czar. 

McEachin said that he has not been in contact with the transition about these roles, but he and two others are reportedly being backed for the EPA role by the progressive Sunrise Movement. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“I’m thrilled and excited about Biden’s environmental plan,” McEachin said. “If the president-elect thinks that I can help him in whatever manner, I’m certainly open to having that conversation.”

McEachin has served in the House since 2017 and has been a leading voice on environmental inequalities faced by low-income communities and communities of color. 

He said that if he were to take on one of these roles, environmental justice and helping communities transition away from fossil fuel-dependent economies would be among his priorities. 

“What I’d like to see is the opportunity to coordinate things on a domestic level to make sure that we are about the business of environmental justice, about the business of helping transitional communities, about the business of making sure that America is doing her part to reduce our climate footprint, to engage in carbon sequestration and to be a partner on the world stage,” he said.   

Biden often mentioned environmental justice on the campaign trail, releasing a second environmental plan that specifically focused on the issue. 

ADVERTISEMENT

That plan was formulated with the help of a Sanders-Biden unity task force, of which McEachin was a member. In it, Biden pledged to target 40 percent of the clean energy investments in disadvantaged communities and create an Environmental and Climate Justice Division at the Justice Department to enforce environmental rules. 

If he were to be considered for the roles, McEachin would have stiff competition. 

Top contenders for the EPA include National Wildlife Federation CEO Collin O’Mara, former EPA regional administrator Heather McTeer Toney and head of the California Air Resources Board Mary NicholsMary NicholsWith climate team taking shape, Biden weighs picks for EPA, Interior OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden reportedly selects Granholm as energy secretary | Trump administration narrows protection of habitat for endangered species | Administration rolls back efficiency standards for showerheads, washers and dryers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - US inoculations begin; state electors certify Biden; Barr is out MORE.

And possible candidates for the climate policy position include Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeSeattle is first major US city to see 70 percent of residents fully vaccinated, mayor says Rivers, hydropower and climate resilience Environmentalists see infrastructure as crucial path to climate goals MORE (D), former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D), New York’s deputy secretary for Energy and Environment Ali Zaidi and John Podesta, who held a similar role under former President Obama. 

McTeer Toney is also backed by the Sunrise Movement, according to The Washington Post, while some left-wing groups have come out against Nichols, saying she hasn’t done enough to mitigate pollution effects for low-income communities and communities of color.

Many of these candidates have experience in environmental regulation, while McEachin has spent the last decade as a legislator, both in Congress and the Virginia state legislature. 

He said he’s not concerned that his lack of executive branch experience would be a detriment, saying, “what I bring to the table is the ability to build bridges between progressive forces and moderate forces, between environmentalists and others who are not necessarily as environmentally friendly.”