Meet the administrators

NAFEM takes a look at what to expect from members of President Biden’s cabinet that most directly impact the commercial foodservice equipment and supplies industry.

Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Energy

Granholm is expected to play a key role in President Biden’s goal to transition the U.S. toward clean energy and achieve zero net emissions – or carbon neutrality – by 2050. On Earth Day, April 22, word is that the administration will announce its ambitious agenda, including plans to substantially cut greenhouse gases by 2030 toward the 2050 goal. “These plans to combat climate change hold the potential to transform our lives and industry in ways that are sometimes subtle and at other times hard to ignore,” said Charlie Souhrada, CFSP, NAFEM’s vice president, regulatory & technical affairs.

“As Governor of Michigan from 2003 – 2011, Granholm guided the state when the economy was in recession and the auto industry in great trouble,” said Michigander Tammy Helminski, NAFEM legal counsel, Barnes & Thornburg. “She pushed green energy and job creation.”

“Part of the reason for her selection as Secretary of Energy is her understanding of what clean energy and green jobs can mean,” added Edward Ayoob, NAFEM legal counsel, Barnes & Thornburg.

“We look forward to working with Governor Granholm in pursuit of manufacturers’ ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to energy development, balancing the needs of American consumers and manufacturers, the opportunities for American workers and the responsibilities of protecting our environment,” said the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior

The first Native American cabinet secretary in U.S. history, Haaland is a former New Mexico Congresswoman and member of the state’s Laguna Pueblo. In the Biden cabinet she assumes responsibility for managing U.S. public lands, endangered species and natural resources, as well as the U.S. relationship with Native America governments. Like other cabinet members, Haaland will play a role in the administration’s approach to climate change. One of her first priorities will be reviewing the federal leasing program following the pause President Biden placed on new oil and gas leases on federal lands to give his team time to do so.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Energy production on federal lands and waters provides 22% of total U.S. oil production and 12% of total natural gas production. Preempting new energy production in such an enormous area of land is bad economic and energy policy and deleterious to addressing climate change.”

During her confirmation hearings, Haaland said “Fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come.” She also has said she will “move climate change, tribal consultation and a green economic recovery forward.”

John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate

In creating this new cabinet position that did not require Senate confirmation, President Biden underscored his commitment to addressing climate change. The former Senator and Secretary of State played a key role in negotiating the Paris Agreement. In 2019, Kerry co-founded a bipartisan initiative of world leaders and celebrities called World War Zero to combat the climate crisis and achieve zero net emissions by 2050. He also is the first climate official to sit on the National Security Council.

Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce

The former Rhode Island Governor is recognized for her efforts to encourage economic growth and lower the state’s unemployment rate via tax incentives for companies that relocated to Rhode Island. She also rolled back regulations on businesses and overhauled the state’s pension plan.

Raimondo, who signed an Executive Order to move Rhode Island toward a 100 percent renewable energy future by 2030, also is expected to play an important role in the administrations’ climate policy. “We need to recognize that tackling climate change goes hand-in-hand with creating good-paying jobs. As governor, I expanded clean-energy jobs and oversaw construction of the nation’s first offshore wind farm. Like President Biden, I know the climate crisis poses an existential threat to our economic security, and we must meet this challenge by creating millions of good, union jobs that power a more sustainable economy,” she said.

Also during her nomination hearings, Raimondo simply said she would review the Section 232 tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. She offered no additional details.

Regarding her nomination, the NAM said, “Raimondo will undoubtedly draw on her past private-sector experience in her new role. With a family that has been heavily involved in manufacturing, she knows well that our industry is the backbone of the American economy.”

“We need to ensure that American workers and manufacturers can compete fairly on the global playing field,” Raimondo said. “We need to invest in innovation and technology in our manufacturing sector, leveraging the capacity at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (see related story below) to ensure our industries succeed.”

Michael Regan, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

In naming Michael Regan to lead the EPA, President Biden clearly signaled the intent of his administration to focus on climate and the environment. Most recently the head of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality and a former EPA staffer, Regan said, “We will move with a sense of urgency on climate change, and we will stand up for environmental justice and equity,” at his confirmation hearing.

Regan’s emphasis on the importance of economic justice also was recognized at the Environmental Defense Fund, where he led efforts to increase clean energy and was recognized for working with unexpected allies to achieve environmental progress.

According to the NAM, “Manufacturers take seriously our responsibility to drive economic growth while being good stewards of the environment. We have outpaced our competitors around the world in reducing emissions, while pushing the EPA to improve and streamline its rulemaking processes. Manufacturers have led the way in innovations that improve energy efficiency, and save and recycle water, we have implemented successful initiatives to reduce pollution and waste. So we look forward to working with Michael Regan. As we’ve often said, when given regulatory clarity and the tools to be competitive, manufacturers will keep our promises to protect our earth, the only home we have.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce added, “Regan’s history of working collaboratively with the business community and other critical stakeholders demonstrates an opportunity to improve environmental quality and develop innovative solutions for a broad range of environment and public-health challenges. We are committed to such a collaborative approach.”

In his first keynote address as EPA administrator, to the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), Regan said, ““The strength of the federal-state relationship will determine whether we rise to meet the challenges of today and those that lie ahead. EPA is committed to building on the values of transparency, respect, and an open dialogue that are the cornerstone of a successful partnership with the states” 

Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative

In a rare, 98-0 bipartisan vote, the U.S. senate confirmed Katherine Tai as U.S. Trade Representative. This unprecedented support demonstrates confidence in the former chief trade counsel for the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means. She previously worked in the USTR Office of the General Counsel and for the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The daughter of Chinese immigrants, she was born in Connecticut, grew up in Washington, D.C., and speaks fluent Mandarin. During her confirmation hearing, she said tariffs are a “legitimate tool in the trade toolbox” but that “a whole slew of policy tools” were needed to address the core problem of global excess production capacity for the metals, centered primarily in China. Regarding the Section 301 tariffs on imports from China, Tai said China needs to live up to its commitments under the Phase 1 trade deal it signed with the U.S. in early 2020 but gave few specifics on how she would achieve this besides using existing enforcement tools.

“We worked extensively with Katherine and she is quick to listen to manufacturers’ concerns,” said the NAM. She has the expertise to confront China’s unfair trade practices and to lead efforts to improve U.S.– China trade relations. We look forward to supporting her efforts to advance robust, open and rules-based global trade as we emerge from the pandemic.”