WASHINGTON – Gina McCarthy, the White House climate adviser, told confidants she was disappointed with the slow pace of climate progress and intended to retire in the coming months, according to several people she spoke to.
Ms. McCarthy, 67, who has served since the Biden administration began, was expected to remain in office for about a year, friends and colleagues said Thursday.
President Biden asked her to stay, according to a man familiar with Ms. McCarthy’s plans. Others who have spoken to her in recent days said Ms McCarthy denied that she was leaving inevitably and told staff she had no date in mind. She is expected to be succeeded by her deputy, Ali Zaidi.
Ms McCarthy did not respond to requests for comment on her plans, which were first reported by Reuters. Vedant Patel, a White House spokesman, called the reports “false.”
The Biden administration’s environmental program
President Biden is pushing for tighter regulations, but faces a narrow path to achieving his goals in the fight against global warming.
“We have no personal messages to make,” Mr Patel said in a statement. “Gina and her entire team continue to be laser-focused on implementing President Biden’s clean energy program.
Mr Biden recruited Ms McCarthy, who was the administrator of President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency, to lead his ambitious climate program, which called for reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by about half by the end of the year. this decade.
But his plans stalled in Congress over united Republican opposition, as did Sen. Joe Manchin III, a West Virginia Democrat who represents a decisive swing vote in the evenly divided Senate.
Separately, Mr Biden’s plans to use the executive branch to introduce new stringent rules for greenhouse gas pollution from power plants and cars could be severely curtailed by an upcoming Conservative Supreme Court ruling.
In addition, the war in Ukraine has raised gasoline prices, prompting Mr Biden to take steps that are anathema to climate activists. He released a record amount of oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve, asked oil and gas companies to drill more and temporarily relaxed environmental regulations to allow the sale of gasoline mixed with ethanol during the summer months, when it is usually banned because it can cause smog.
The move comes after the publication of a landmark report by the United Nations, in which leading scientists from around the world warn that it is time for nations to give up fossil fuels or face the future of a climate catastrophe.
One person described Ms McCarthy as “under siege” and said she was concerned about the political and legal challenges facing the administration’s climate plans. Others said she complained about the difficulty of traveling and being away from her husband.
However, Ms McCarthy publicly insisted that she remained optimistic about the chances of climate legislation being passed this year. At a recent event in Washington, she said she was “not naive” about the challenges, but added: “I think we will have a bill that will change this fall.”
When she served in the Obama administration, Ms. McCarthy was the chief architect of the president’s historical and far-reaching climate change policies.
After the election of Donald J. Trump, Ms. McCarthy has become head of the Natural Resources Protection Council, which has sued the Trump administration more than 100 times as Mr. Trump opposes much of Obama’s environmental heritage.
Under Mr Biden, Ms McCarthy was tasked with leading a ‘whole government’ approach in which almost every federal agency introduced new regulations to tackle climate change. She also hoped to urge Congress to pass new climate laws that cannot be repealed by a future president, ensuring a steady decline in the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Zolan Kano-Youngs contributed to the reporting.