As the country’s first national climate adviser, Ms. McCarthy helped seed climate policy throughout the federal government.
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By Lisa Friedman
Gina McCarthy, President Biden’s top climate adviser, will leave her job on Sept. 16, just weeks after the president signed a landmark climate bill to slow the pace of global warming, two people familiar with her plans said Friday.
Ms. McCarthy, whose nearly two-year tenure was consumed by efforts to move climate legislation through Congress, departs on a triumphant note.
The new law includes nearly $370 billion in tax incentives and programs intended to speed up the nation’s transition from an economy based on oil, gas and coal to one powered by wind, solar and other clean energy.
It is expected to help slash the country’s carbon emissions, which are helping to drive climate change, to levels not seen since Lyndon Johnson was president, an achievement Ms. McCarthy described in a recent interview as “the most historic step on climate I’ve ever seen or frankly anticipated.”
Ms. McCarthy, 68, who played a central role in integrating climate policy across federal agencies and increasing government support for wind and solar development, had been widely expected to step down for months. She has told associates that the travel associated with her job was tiring and that she never intended to stay for the president’s full four-year term.
When Mr. Biden signed the climate bill into law last month, it provided a natural pivot point for Ms. McCarthy. She is expected to be succeeded by her deputy, Ali Zaidi, according to two administration officials who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
“You know, I’ve been working on climate issues now really for decades,” Ms. McCarthy said in a recent interview. She said the bill would kick off “transformational change.”
A Massachusetts native with a distinct Boston accent, Ms. McCarthy served as an environmental adviser to several Massachusetts governors, including Mitt Romney, now a Utah senator. She was Connecticut’s commissioner of environmental protection before joining the Environmental Protection Agency as an assistant administrator in 2009. In 2013, she was tapped by President Barack Obama to run the E.P.A. and helped to shape the nation’s policies to fight global warming for over a decade.
She developed the country’s first regulations to cut planet-warming pollution, which were later stripped away by the Trump administration. In early 2020, Ms. McCarthy became president and chief executive of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which filed 100 lawsuits challenging changes to environmental policy made by the Trump administration.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, she influenced Mr. Biden’s promises to do more than any leader in the nation’s history to fight climate change. After his election, he turned to her to turn that ambitious agenda into reality as the country’s first national climate adviser.
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