Janet McCabe gets nod for deputy administrator

Source: By Kevin Bogardus, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, January 18, 2021

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Janet McCabe to be EPA’s deputy administrator.

If confirmed, she would be a familiar face at EPA.

McCabe joined the agency in 2009 as the principal deputy to Gina McCarthy, then the head of EPA’s air office, who will now lead Biden’s new White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. McCabe then led the air office on an acting basis from 2013 to 2017. President Obama nominated McCabe for the assistant administrator position, but she was never confirmed by the Senate.

Biden today announced McCabe’s selection with other senior posts in his incoming administration.

“These dedicated and distinguished leaders will bring the highest level of experience, integrity, and knowledge to bear on behalf of the American people,” Biden said in a statement.

“Each of them brings a deep respect for the civil servants who keep our republic running, as well as a keen understanding of how the government can and should work for all Americans.”

At EPA, McCabe was one of the senior officials behind the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era rule designed to curb power plants’ carbon emissions, which has been repealed and replaced by the Trump administration. She also worked on a number of air pollution regulations, including on ozone and particulate matter.

“I would say to my successor that this is the most amazing job that you’ll ever be lucky enough to have,” McCabe said about the EPA air office job in an exit interview with E&E News back then (Greenwire, Jan. 3, 2017).

McCabe was in the mix for rejoining the agency. She was considered a contender to lead the air office again for the Biden EPA (Greenwire, Jan. 8).

She has also served in state government, including as air director for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Since leaving EPA, the Indiana native went into academia in her home state. McCabe now leads the Environmental Resilience Institute at Indiana University and is a professor at the university’s McKinney School of Law.

McCabe got her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and her law degree from Harvard Law School.

Biden’s pick of McCabe for deputy head of EPA would place a prominent expert in climate law and regulation at the top of the agency’s leadership, just under designated administrator Michael Regan. The president-elect pledged on the campaign trail to make fighting climate change a major focus of his administration.

Former EPA officials and environmental groups celebrated Biden picking McCabe for deputy administrator.

“Janet McCabe is a fantastic choice to help lead the EPA,” Matthew Davis, a former EPA scientist and legislative director of the League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement, noting her “deep experience” in climate and air standards.

“McCabe’s leadership will provide a needed morale boost at the EPA after four years of undermining science and health outcomes under the Trump administration.”

Reporter Timothy Cama contributed.