Gina McCarthy, Biden’s Climate Czar, Is Reportedly Considering Stepping Down. It’s Easy to See Why.

The Biden administration’s domestic climate czar, Gina McCarthy, is reportedly considering stepping down, as the administration’s climate agenda remains marred by Democratic infighting in the Senate and Republican stonewalling. McCarthy denied reports Thursday night, saying that she has not resigned as of yet. “Reports that I have resigned from my position as President Biden’s National Climate Advisor are simply inaccurate,” she tweeted.

McCarthy, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator under Barack Obama, has privately expressed plans to leave her post as soon as next month, Reuters first reported—whispers that were confirmed by multiple news outlets. The New York Times reported McCarthy has been “frustrated by the slow pace of climate progress.” The White House has also denied the report. “There are no such plans underway and no personnel announcements to make,” White House spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a statement to Reuters. “Gina and her entire team continue to be laser-focused on delivering on President Biden’s clean energy agenda.”

She is the first national climate adviser in White House history, tasked with shaping the administration’s strategy for tackling the climate crisis and leading the newly established Office of Domestic Climate Policy. McCarthy serves as the stateside counterpart to John Kerry, Biden’s international climate envoy.

It’s not necessarily unusual for a White House official to step down in the middle of a president’s term; news of McCarthy’s possible departure comes just two weeks after reports that Biden press secretary Jen Psaki has plans leave the White House for a job at MSNBC this spring (the White House hasn’t confirmed those either). Still, the timing of the McCarthy news is notable, as greenhouse-gas and clean-energy policies that may have seemed achievable last year seem increasingly unlikely. Hopes of robust climate action in Congress are dwindling, with opposition from Democrats like West Virginia senator Joe Manchin, who holds immense power in an evenly divided Senate and has opposed Democrats’ most ambitious policies to address climate change. Meanwhile, many of the Biden administration’s regulations on greenhouse gas emissions are currently in legal limbo.

As The New York Times noted, Biden hasn’t been emphasizing his climate change policies since the war began in Ukraine, instead focusing on managing the price of oil and gas. With fuel prices in America reaching a 14-year high during the 50 days that have passed since Russia’s invasion, the U.S. is now uncorking 1 million barrels from its strategic oil reserves every day in an effort to pump as much gas as possible and drive consumer costs down. As my colleague Eric Lutz reported this week, the president has also waived rules on ethanol blending, allowing for cheaper and potentially dirtier gas options to hit U.S. pumps in time for some of the busiest driving months. (Experts have questioned whether resorting to E15, an ethanol blend that typically faces sale restrictions in the summer due to the smog it emits, will make a noticeable dent in rising gas prices over the summer.) As Western governments continue attempts to wean themselves off Russian oil imports, organizations like the American Petroleum Institute are capitalizing on the moment by lobbying for an increase in U.S.-based drilling and the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline, a yearslong construction project that Biden halted last summer.

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