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Biden taps climate, environment hands for transition teams

The transition staff also sprinkles climate change policy, diplomacy and regulatory experts across several agencies.

Richard Lazarus, an environmental law professor at Harvard Law School, is staffing the Justice Department transition efforts. Lazarus is an expert on the regulatory process, including pipeline permitting, and will have a say in filling out positions to accomplish Biden’s campaign goals of aggressively prosecuting energy companies for pollution violations.

Longtime State Department climate negotiator Susan Biniaz is joining Biden’s team to staff up Foggy Bottom. Biniaz, who worked for three different administrations as a career official, will weigh in on diplomats charged with negotiating international climate treaties, delivering finance for countries to adapt to climate change and participating in U.N. climate talks designed to further global emissions reduction efforts.

Sharon Burke, a former Defense Department official now at New America Foundation, is volunteering on the team filling out the Pentagon. Burke served as the first assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy, where she emphasized expanding renewable energy across the Armed Services, including building microgrids at military bases and reducing vulnerability of energy supply chains that depended on fossil fuels.

Leonardo Martinez, a climate finance expert at the World Resources Institute, was tapped to help fill positions for the U.S. mission to the U.N. Martinez has focused on financial system stability threats posed by climate change, a point of active discussion as the world moves from figuring out the rules of the U.N. Paris climate accord to achieving national goals for curbing emissions.

Former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Kathryn Sullivan and Karen Hyun, who leads water and coastal policy at the National Audubon Society and an Obama administration veteran, will join the team at the Commerce Department. Kris Sarri, who worked in the Obama Interior Department and now leads the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, is also on that team.

Also joining the team at CEQ is Nikki Buffa, an eight-year veteran of the Obama administration now with Latham & Watkins. Buffa served as deputy chief of staff at Interior, deputy director of cabinet affairs at the White House and associate director of CEQ at various points during the Obama years.

Horst Greczmiel, who served for 16 years as associate director for National Environmental Policy Act oversight at CEQ will also join the team, as will Shara Mohtadi, now with Bloomberg Philanthropies and previously an adviser to the Office of Management and Budget during the Obama administration.

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