Climate policy office gets heat

Source: BY MATTHEW CHOI, Politico • Posted: Sunday, June 5, 2022

The White House Climate Policy Office is facing frustration over how it’s pushing President Joe Biden’s climate agenda — and its coming from its own camp, POLITICO’s Zack Colman reports.

Several Democrats both in and out of the administration laid out their discontent with the office, led by National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy, over its involvement in other agencies’ work, saying it slowed down several high-profile agenda items.

The Democrats said the office has gotten in the way of agency rulemakings. A Democratic Hill staffer told Zack the office edited and chose the day after Thanksgiving to release last year’s long-awaited Interior Department report on the federal oil and gas leasing program.

Another administration official told Zack the office delayed EPA’s latest biofuel blending requirements last summer in order to keep key lawmakers on board with its Build Back Better agenda.

And a person involved in the Council on Environmental Quality’s Justice40 initiative said McCarthy’s office constantly revised CEQ’s screening tool for disadvantaged communities, slowing its roll out. “While we wait, the White House expects Black and brown communities to be grateful for table scraps,” an official said.

Leaders in the departments of Labor, Transportation and Health and Human Services, and the White House denied that the Climate Policy Office has gotten in the way, emphasizing it was a key player in some of the administration’s highest profile climate items. Several of McCarthy’s defenders outside of the administration also rebuffed the idea that her office was slowing others down, stressing that its staff was often on the phone prodding its counterparts throughout the federal government to do more.

“President Biden directed us to ensure the entire government does more than ever before to tackle the climate crisis,” McCarthy said in a statement. “If we are pushing hard, that means we’re doing exactly what the president directed — leaving no stone unturned.”