The people Mr. Biden has named to key posts in the various federal agencies are no less committed, including an economic team led by Brian Deese, who quarterbacked Mr. Obama’s climate program. Jennifer Granholm, a two-term Michigan governor and a champion of renewable energy, was selected to run the Energy Department, which is entrusted with finding breakthrough technologies. Pete Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who was among Mr. Biden’s challengers for the Democratic nomination, has been designated to lead a Transportation Department with an important role in developing climate-friendly mass transit. Deb Haaland, a member of Congress and Democrat from New Mexico, was named to be the interior secretary.
The Haaland appointment is interesting, and not just for symbolic reasons. True, she would be the first Native American appointed to a cabinet secretary position. Critically important, from a climate perspective, she would oversee 500 million acres of federal land, including national parks and wilderness and mixed-use land, which under her predecessors — first Mr. Zinke, then David Bernhardt, an oil industry lobbyist — were increasingly given over to drilling, mining, logging and development, all the things that enable greenhouse gases and that a good climate policy does not want.
There are, of course, other reasons for leaving some lands completely alone — to protect endangered species and clean water sources, for instance, and simply for the enjoyment of future generations. To those we can now add the imperative of slowing climate change.
The only controversy in this selection process involved the E.P.A. Mr. Biden’s first choice was reportedly Mary Nichols, who worked at the agency years ago before becoming California’s air quality regulator and arguably the nation’s most energetic voice on climate change. But activists claimed that she had ignored air quality concerns in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and while their policy arguments were largely specious, this was a fight Mr. Biden did not need. Besides, he had already recruited Ms. McCarthy, who is generationally and ideologically on the same wavelength as Ms. Nichols.
So he chose instead Michael Regan, North Carolina’s top environmental regulator, who did much good in a state where progress on environmental issues has never been easy. Mr. Regan would be the second Black person to run the E.P.A., the first being Lisa Jackson, who served in Mr. Obama’s first term. It will fall to the new administrator to revive agency morale, give science its rightful place in decision-making and restore, in addition to the Obama emissions rules, the broad powers of the Clean Water Act, which were narrowed under Mr. Trump.