President-elect Joe Biden will name Michael Regan, North Carolina’s environment secretary and a former EPA official, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a source familiar with the decision who spoke about private conversations on the basis of anonymity.
If confirmed by the Senate, Regan would be the first African American man to run the EPA. He stands to inherit an agency that has been ground zero as the Trump administration rolled back climate and pollution regulations.
Biden has promised to make climate change a top priority, which would make the head of the EPA a major player in the new administration. The agency regulates pollution released by cars and trucks, industrial facilities, oil and gas wells, and power plants, and keeps track of U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
Regan has been the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality since 2017. Before then, he worked on clean energy initiatives for the Environmental Defense Fund, a national environmental advocacy group. If he is confirmed to lead the EPA, Regan would return to an agency where he spent much of his early career, working on air quality for nearly a decade under the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
“Michael operates with the belief that really every North Carolinian deserves clean air and clean water,” says Hawley Truax, director of the Southeast office of the Environmental Defense Fund, where Regan worked for about eight years.
Truax says Regan has also helped North Carolina address climate change. “Secretary Regan recognizes the very real threat that climate change poses to lives and livelihoods,” he says. “During Michael’s tenure as head of the Department of Environmental Quality in North Carolina, the state has launched the most ambitious carbon reduction into clean energy plans in its history.”
Global greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, and U.S. emissions are falling too slowly to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. People across the country are already suffering the effects of a hotter Earth. The cost of hurricanes, floods, wildfires, heat waves and droughts has skyrocketed in recent years, exceeding $530 billion in the last five years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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SOURCE: NPR, Rebecca Hersher