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With historic picks, Biden puts environmental justice front and center

With historic picks, Biden puts environmental justice front and center

The selection of the first Native American interior secretary and first Black male EPA chief highlights pollution disparities

President-elect Joe Biden chose Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) Thursday to serve as the first Native American Cabinet secretary and head the Interior Department, a historic pick that marks a turning point for the U.S. government’s relationship with the nation’s Indigenous peoples.

With that selection and others this week, Biden sent a clear message that top officials charged with confronting the nation’s environmental problems will have a shared experience with the Americans who have disproportionately been affected by toxic air and polluted land.

“A voice like mine has never been a Cabinet secretary or at the head of the Department of Interior,” Haaland tweeted Thursday night. “ ... I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land.”

In addition to Haaland, Biden has turned to North Carolina environmental regulator Michael S. Regan to become the first Black man to head the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as Obama administration veteran Brenda Mallory to serve as the first Black chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

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