“The worry for those of us who want to see bolder action is that Biden isn’t going to be willing to move further,” said Jamie Henn, director of Fossil Free Media, a group that this month distributed a letter from 145 environmental organizations calling on Mr. Biden to bar fossil fuel executives, lobbyists and representatives from his campaign and administration.
The list of those targeted includes Mr. Moniz, who in 2018 joined the board of Southern Company, an electric utility that sued the Obama administration over its Clean Power Plan climate change regulations. Another target: Mr. Salazar, Mr. Obama’s first interior secretary, who is now a partner at the law firm WilmerHale and in 2019 opposed a planned overhaul of oil and gas regulations in Colorado. In July, the campaign named Mr. Salazar a co-chairman of its Latino leadership committee.
Lesser-known aides to Mr. Obama who have come into the groups’ cross hairs include Heather Zichal, an architect of the Clean Power Plan who served on the board of Cheniere Energy, a liquefied natural gas company, and Jason Bordoff, a former senior director on the National Security Council who founded the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. The university, like many academic institutions, accepts funding from energy companies.
“We can’t have people who are beholden to the fossil fuel industry in any way shape or form,” said Barbara Beseda Grasseschi, a Democratic fund-raiser in Sonoma County, Calif., who along with her husband, Tony Crabb, signed the Democratic donors’ letter.
Organizers shared the letter but not the full list of signatories.
The Biden campaign declined to comment, but a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, Courtney Parella, called Mr. Biden “an empty vessel filled by the radical left’s agenda.”
John Holdren, Mr. Obama’s chief science adviser and a professor of environmental policy at Harvard University, said the effort was “misguided.” Mr. Holdren called Mr. Moniz “the best energy secretary in history,” noting he helped develop the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Most researchers, including himself, had accepted funding from energy companies, he said, and have pushed the private sector to tackle climate change.
“We are not going to solve the climate problem over the dead bodies of the private sector,” Mr. Holdren said.