Infrastructure Negotiations and the Fate of National Climate Policy —

Joel B. Stronberg
5 min readJun 11, 2021

Will There Be a Chance to Make a Second Impression?

Photo by Jose Fontano on Unsplash

Gina, Gina, Gina…didn’t your mother ever tell you that you never get a second chance to make a first impression? Certainly, mine told me, and I’d venture most have been offered such pearls — or something like them — at one time or another.

I’m confident my mother heard the phrase in an ad for a brand of men’s suits. The first of many times she told it to me was just before a meeting with my college’s scholarship committee, when she advised I shave my beard, cut my hair, and put on a suit. But I digress.

The Gina of whom I speak is Gina McCarthy. Ms. McCarthy serves in the White House as President Biden’s climate czar; it’ a role for which she is more than qualified, having served in the Obama administration as EPA’s admin-istrator and during the Trump administration as president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

McCarthy gave voice during a Politico interview to what many in the climate community have thought but rarely spoke of publicly — that President Biden would accept gutting a central climate provision of the infrastructure bill as part of a bipartisan deal.

In her own words:

While every piece like a clean electricity standard may not end [up] in the final version, we know that it is necessary, we know that the utilities want it, we are going to fight like crazy to make sure that it’s in there. And then we’re going to be open to a range of other investment strategies. (Emphasis added)

The timing of this statement was awful.

The day before McCarthy’s Politico interview, President Biden ended his negotiations with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). He told the senator that he appreciated her efforts to put together an infrastructure bill that he and Senate Republicans could support, but that he would now try his luck with a bipartisan group of senators that included Sinema (D-AZ), Manchin (DWV), Romney (R-UT), Cassidy (R-LA), and Portman (R-OH).

The group comprised of the Senate’s leading moderates was still working on their version of an infrastructure bill. It was hardly the time for McCarthy to have suggested that the White House…



Joel B. Stronberg

Stronberg is a thought leader in the climate community with over 40 years of experience covering environmental and sustainability issues as a freelancer.