by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A pair of top incoming White House environmental aides has blamed “systemic racism” as a driver of climate change in an attempt to justify a government-led economic overhaul.
President-elect Joe Biden named progressive policy adviser Maggie Thomas as Office of Domestic Climate Policy chief of staff and climate advocate Cecilia Martinez as “senior director for environmental justice” on Thursday. Both Thomas and Martinez have cited racial inequality as perpetuating climate change, arguing that the Biden administration’s environmental policy must be centered on “racial and economic justice.”
“Unless intentionally interrupted, systemic racism will continue to be a major obstacle to creating a healthy planet,” Martinez said in a 2019 press release touting her “Equitable & Just” climate platform. “The only path forward is to design national climate policies that are centered on justice.”
For Thomas and Martinez, such policies require “massive” government spending and the “realignment of public dollars at all levels.” Thomas’s climate plan demands “trillions” in public investment—not only to “crack down” on oil production and shift away from the nation’s “fossil fuel economy” but also to fund welfare programs, including rent and utility relief. Martinez’s platform calls for much of the same, including increased government investment into “affordable and quality housing.”
Progressives’ most ambitious climate goals are likely to face congressional opposition from centrist Democrats. Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) recently told the Washington Examiner that he would oppose a federal mandate to make utilities carbon-free within 15 years. But Biden could use executive action to implement some of his team’s far-left climate-policy priorities. Thomas’s climate plan, for example, calls on the president-elect to issue an executive order “on day 1” establishing a “government-wide environmental justice initiative” tasked with centering “federal environmental policy around equity, justice, and inclusion.”