WASHINGTON — Gina McCarthy, the White House climate adviser, has told confidants that she is frustrated with slow climate progress and intends to step down in the coming months, according to multiple people at who she talked to.
McCarthy, 67, who has served since the start of the Biden administration, was largely expected to remain in her post for about a year, friends and colleagues said Thursday.
President Biden has asked her to stay, according to a person familiar with Ms McCarthy’s plans. Other people who spoke to her in recent days said Ms McCarthy denied them that she was leaving imminently and told associates she had no specific date in mind. She should be replaced 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 agenda
President Biden is pushing for tougher regulations, but faces a narrow path to achieving his goals in the fight against global warming.
“We have no personnel announcements to make,” Mr Patel said in a statement. “Gina and her entire team continue to be focused on delivering President Biden’s clean energy agenda.”
Mr Biden has tapped Ms McCarthy, who served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama, to lead his ambitious climate agenda, which calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by about half the country’s greenhouse by the end of this decade.
But his plans have stalled in Congress due to unified opposition from Republicans as well as Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, who represents a crucial vote in an equally divided Senate.
Separately, Mr. Biden’s plans to use executive power to enact tough new rules on greenhouse pollution from power plants and automobiles could be severely limited by an upcoming Supreme Court ruling that tends conservative.
Additionally, the war in Ukraine has driven up gasoline prices, prompting Mr. Biden to take actions that are anathema to climate activists. He released a record amount of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, pleaded with oil and gas companies to do more drilling and temporarily relaxed environmental rules to allow the sale of gasoline blended with ethanol during the months summer, when it is usually prohibited because it can cause smog.
The moves came as a landmark United Nations report was released in which the world’s top scientists warned that time is running out for nations to move away from fossil fuels or face a future of climate catastrophe.
One person described Ms. McCarthy as being in “besieged mode” and said she had been concerned about the political and legal challenges facing the administration’s climate plans. Others said she lamented the difficulties of traveling and being away from her husband.
Publicly, however, Ms McCarthy has insisted she remains optimistic about the chances of climate legislation passing this year. At a recent event in Washington, she said she was “not naïve” about the challenges, but added, “I think we will have a bill that will pass this fall.”
While working in the Obama administration, Ms. McCarthy was the chief architect of the president’s historic and far-reaching climate change policies.
After Donald J. Trump was elected, Ms. McCarthy became head of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has sued the Trump administration more than 100 times as Mr. Trump undid much of Mr. Trump’s environmental legacy. Obama.
Under Mr. Biden, Ms. McCarthy has been tasked with leading a “whole of government” approach in which nearly every federal agency has enacted new regulations designed to tackle climate change. She had also hoped to guide Congress toward passing new climate laws that could not be undone by a future president, ensuring a steady decline in the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed report.