The Biden-Harris transition group is anticipated to pick Michael Regan, who presently heads North Carolina’s Division of Environmental High quality, as the following administrator of the Environmental Safety Company, in keeping with Thursday information experiences.
Earlier than being chosen by Gov. Roy Cooper to guide North Carolina’s DEQ in 2017, Regan labored at EPA throughout the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations on vitality and air high quality. After his time on the EPA, he joined the Environmental Protection Fund, the place he labored as Southeast regional director and directed regional efforts on clear vitality.
The anticipated nomination ends an prolonged wrestle over one of the crucial contested positions in President-elect Joe Biden’s cupboard. Up till Regan’s choice was reported, the transition group was mentioned to be contemplating quite a few individuals for the position, together with California Air Sources Board chair Mary Nichols, whose consideration confronted pushback from environmental justice teams.
Regan’s choice to succeed present EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler replaces “a fossil gasoline trade puppet with an skilled EPA air high quality scientist,” Dan Crawford, director of governmental relations on the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters, a federal environmental advocacy group with native chapters, mentioned in a press release.
The EPA’s concentrate on air high quality, air pollution and environmental compliance means the company has energy over many rules that influence the vitality trade. The cornerstone of President Obama’s environmental legacy, the Clear Energy Plan, was rooted within the Clear Air Act and created by the EPA. Biden’s pledge to advance his environmental agenda, by government motion if required, will even possible draw on that wide-reaching regulation.
“It’s one of the crucial outstanding items of laws. What it says is, we’re not after a particular finish level, our purpose is to scrub up the atmosphere,” mentioned Dan Kammen, a professor on the College of California, Berkeley who has suggested the California and U.S. governments on vitality points. “All of the issues that go into interested by cleansing the air additionally relate in several methods to the broader decarbonization agenda.”
The Trump administration changed the Clear Energy Plan, which set air pollution limits on energy crops, with the Reasonably priced Clear Power Rule, which eradicated total emissions necessities. Over the course of Trump’s presidency, coal turbines have continued to shut and in 2019 renewables offered extra U.S vitality than did coal.
Regan’s environmental and regulatory document
In North Carolina, Regan labored on a 2018 government order requiring the state cut back greenhouse gasoline emissions 40 p.c by 2025, cut back vitality consumption and improve electrical car deployment.
“In Michael’s practically 4 years because the Secretary of DEQ he has been a powerful chief in just a few areas that I’d count on to come back up for us nationally talking by the Environmental Safety Company,” mentioned Jennifer Rennicks, senior director of coverage and communications on the Southern Alliance for Clear Power. “Primarily, … a concentrate on local weather options which might be centered on not simply clear vitality within the macro, however truly electrifying transportation particularly.”
Rennicks, who as SACE’s North Carolina state liaison labored alongside Regan within the state, additionally famous his “sturdy bona fides” in dealing with the state’s transition from coal and its legacy air pollution. This 12 months, below Regan’s management, the DEQ negotiated a settlement with Duke Power on cleansing up 80 million tons of coal ash. The division referred to as it the biggest coal ash clear up in U.S. historical past.
At EDF, Regan additionally helped dealer one other settlement with Duke, together with teams such because the Southern Alliance for Clear Power and the Southern Environmental Legislation Heart, on vitality financial savings targets and a cap on income tied to an vitality effectivity program. He has additionally served on North Carolina’s Power Coverage Council, a gaggle below the state’s Division of Environmental High quality that Regan now oversees.
Beneath Biden’s plans to push america in the direction of 100 p.c clear vitality by 2025, Regan and the EPA can be charged with working throughout companies on local weather motion. This week Biden additionally chosen former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as Power Secretary, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as Inside Secretary, former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy as home “local weather czar” and Brenda Mallory as the top of the White Home Council on Environmental High quality.
“That is actually the place the remit of EPA and the Council on Environmental High quality and the Division of Power and ARPA-E all intersect,” mentioned Kammen. “The dramatic enchancment in effectivity and dropping prices of fresh vitality choices — most notably, solar energy, wind energy, vitality storage, however many others as nicely — permits a rethinking of what it means to guard the atmosphere for individuals, wildlife, and to satisfy our international local weather wants.”
If confirmed, Regan would be the first Black man to carry the place as EPA administrator. Biden has promised to prioritize range and environmental justice in assembling his group and forming local weather insurance policies. Importantly, Regan’s choice gained the assist of many environmental justice advocates, though some have expressed concern that Regan didn’t push onerous sufficient on sure points in North Carolina. Whereas on the Division of Environmental High quality, Regan arrange an environmental justice and fairness board to advise the company.
The nomination additionally received a nod of assist from the EPA’s largest union.
“Along with his understanding of presidency environmental companies and the position of enforcement, he’s nicely positioned to grasp the significance of the boots on the bottom — the civil servants, from inspectors to enforcement personnel — to making sure that the EPA can obtain its mission of defending human well being and the atmosphere,” mentioned Gary Morton, President of AFGE Council 238, in a press release.
The Biden Transition group didn’t reply to a request for remark.