According to two sources familiar with the deliberations, the White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy is planning to step down, likely ending a tenure marked by ambitious emissions targets but failure to secure major US carbon-cutting legislation.
McCarthy, 67, originally planned to stay in the White House for about a year, hoping to help federal agencies implement President Joe Biden's ambitious climate legislation, but those efforts have stalled due to intraparty opposition from key Democratic senators, including Joe Manchin.
McCarthy has already delayed her departure, and told a Reuters source that she plans to leave as soon as next month.
Vedant Patel, White House spokesman, said on Thursday: This is not true and there are no personnel announcements under way. He said in an email that Gina and her entire team are focused on delivering President Biden's clean energy agenda.
According to the New York Times and the Washington Post, McCarthy had told confidantes she was going to leave her job in the coming months, with the Times reporting that she was frustrated by the slow pace of climate progress. According to a December poll from December, 80% of Americans said that the Biden administration is doing too little to address climate change. McCarthy responded publicly to that sentiment in February, according to Politico, "We understand people's frustration." Would we all like to run faster and faster? We would. The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment from the Guardian about McCarthy's plans.
McCarthy, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator during the Obama administration, was selected by Biden to lead domestic climate policy coordination at the White House. She serves as a domestic counterpart to John Kerry, whom Biden appointed as his special international envoy on climate change.
Her deputy, Ali Zaidi, who served as a climate policy adviser in the Obama White House, is seen as her likely replacement, according to the Washington Post.
Biden came into office with an ambitious climate agenda, pinned to a $555 billion plan to transition to cleaner energy in all aspects of American life. Before the policies stalled, McCarthy, a regulatory expert, was going to be tasked with implementing the plan across multiple agencies.
Biden had promised to remove fossil fuels from the nation, but he is now looking for ways to increase global supply of oil and other carbon-rich energy products, as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and high gas prices that advisers see damaging his standing with voters.
McCarthy's position was a key demand by the liberal wing of the Democratic party and an example of Biden's commitment to the cause. It could be seen as a retreat from the environmental community if you don't replace her.