Biden to tap Brenda Mallory to lead White House environment council -sources

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg arrive prior to Biden announcing Buttigieg as his nominee for secretary of transportation during a news conference at Biden's transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., December 16, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Pool?

(Reuters) - President-elect Joe Biden is expected to pick Brenda Mallory, current head of regulatory affairs at the green advocacy group Southern Environmental Law Center, to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), according to sources familiar with the process.

The CEQ coordinates White House energy and environmental policies across federal agencies, and can have broad influence on the outlook for big infrastructure projects from pipelines to industrial facilities.

A spokesman for the transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The choice signals a focus by the incoming administration on environmental policies that would aim to ensure improved clean air and water for poor and minority communities that have historically taken the brunt of industrial pollution, and on pursuing Biden’s overarching plan to fight climate change.

Mallory told Reuters in a recent interview that she knew she was being vetted for the role, and believed CEQ was the right agency to carry out Biden’s environmental justice agenda because of its oversight of federal environmental permitting and engagement with outside stakeholder groups.

She said she also hoped CEQ would reverse changes made by the Trump administration to the National Environmental Policy Act, an environmental permitting law, that sought to ease and speed up the approval of big energy infrastructure projects.

“I am hoping at top of the priority list for CEQ is addressing changes Trump made to how CEQ implements NEPA,” she said.

Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Valerie Volcovici; writing by Richard Valdmanis; editing by Chris Reese and Steve Orlofsky