WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Michael S. Regan, the previous high environmental regulator for North Carolina, to guide the Environmental Safety Company and drive a number of the Biden administration’s largest local weather and regulatory insurance policies.
As administrator, Mr. Regan, who started his profession on the E.P.A. and labored in environmental and renewable power advocacy earlier than changing into secretary of North Carolina’s Division of Environmental High quality, can be tasked to rebuild an company that misplaced 1000’s of workers below the Trump administration. Political appointees below Donald J. Trump spent the previous 4 years unwinding dozens of fresh air and water protections, whereas rolling again the entire Obama administration’s main local weather guidelines.
Central to Mr. Regan’s mission can be placing ahead aggressive new rules to satisfy President Biden’s pledge of eliminating fossil gas emissions from the electrical energy sector by 2035, considerably decreasing emissions from cars and getting ready america to emit no internet carbon air pollution by the center of the century. A number of proposed rules are already being ready, administration officers have stated.
His nomination was authorized by a vote of 66-34, with all Democrats and 16 Republicans voting in favor
“There are few management roles within the federal authorities which have larger accountability for setting environmental objectives and local weather insurance policies than the Environmental Safety Company,” stated Senator Tom Carper, Democrat of Delaware and chairman of the Senate Committee on Setting and Public Works. Mr. Regan, he stated, “is the particular person for the job at this important second.”
Mr. Regan would be the first Black man to function E.P.A. administrator. At 44, he can even be considered one of Mr. Biden’s youngest cupboard secretaries and must navigate a crowded subject of older, extra seasoned Washington veterans already put in in key environmental positions — notably Gina McCarthy, who previously held Mr. Regan’s job and is the pinnacle of a brand new White Home local weather coverage workplace.
These probably overlapping authorities have already provoked criticism from Republicans, a few of whom voted towards Mr. Regan’s affirmation as a result of they stated they didn’t know who is actually answerable for the administration’s local weather and surroundings coverage.
“I can’t assist Secretary Regan when Gina McCarthy is the orchestra chief for the Biden administration,” stated Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia.
However a lot of the opposition centered on Democratic coverage. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican chief, known as Mr. Biden’s agenda a “left-wing warfare on American power.”
“Mr. Regan has loads of expertise,” Senator McConnell stated. “The issue is what he’s poised to do with it.”
In his testimony earlier than the Senate final month Mr. Regan assured lawmakers that in terms of E.P.A. insurance policies, “I can be main and making these choices, and I can be accepting accountability for these choices.”
Mr. Regan has a repute as a consensus-builder who works nicely with lawmakers from each events. North Carolina’s two Republican senators, Thom Tillis and Richard Burr voted to assist his nomination. Even Senate Republicans who voted towards him had sort phrases.
“I actually preferred assembly and attending to know Michael Regan,” Senator Capito stated. “He’s a devoted public servant and an trustworthy man.”
However Mr. Regan stated he did intend to behave aggressively in finishing up Mr. Biden’s agenda of combating local weather change.
Exactly what that can seem like inside the E.P.A., and notably within the electrical energy sector, stays unclear, however administration officers have already hinted that they intend to create a brand new regulation to rein within the second largest supply of United States emissions.
The Obama administration tried to curb carbon air pollution from the electrical energy sector with a regulation known as the Clear Energy Plan, which might have pushed utilities to maneuver away from coal and towards cleaner-burning fuels or renewable power. The Trump administration repealed that and changed it with a far weaker rule that solely required utilities to make effectivity upgrades at particular person energy crops.
The Clear Energy Plan rule met resistance on the Supreme Court docket, however the Trump model was struck down altogether. That mixture, Mr. Regan instructed lawmakers, provides E.P.A. a “clear slate” to maneuver ahead. A number of administration officers stated they anticipated the company to roll out a “Clear Energy Plan 2.0” within the coming weeks.
Ms. McCarthy has already been in talks with automakers round new car emissions requirements, however the proposed new rule itself can even come from E.P.A.
One other anticipated focus of Mr. Regan can be environmental coverage affect on poor and minority communities. He has known as environmental justice a problem “that’s close to and pricey to my coronary heart” and instructed lawmakers he meant to carry on a particular adviser and request extra funding to raised tackle what specialists have recognized as systemic racism and inequity in environmental decision-making.