Mr If approved, Regan will take on a centralized agency to help achieve the new administration’s climate change agenda

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R Biden Jr has selected Michael S Regan, North Carolina’s top environmental agency, heads the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Biden’s transition team announced Thursday the decision raises for the first time the appointment of a black to lead the powerful department that is central to achieving the new government’s climate change agenda

Mr Regan was not the elected president’s first choice, and he lacks some of the political star power of Mr. Biden’s other cabinet selection, but he will be at the forefront of the new administration’s efforts to undo one of the most far-reaching transformations of the federal government by President Trump: the dissolution of half a century of pollution and climate regulations and the reduction in the science that underlies them / p>

“He faces massive rebuilding and rebuilding,” said Jody Freeman, a Harvard University law professor who served as the White House advisor on energy and climate change to the Obama administration

Mr Regan “needs to go in and restore morale to career staff,” she said. “He needs to make it clear that science and integrity are back. He has a set of rules that he needs to repeal, replace and strengthen”

The decision rounded off Mr. Biden’s aspiring climate team, led by two political heavyweights: Gina McCarthy, who served as President Barack Obama’s E.P.A chief will head a new White House climate policy office to coordinate domestic efforts, and former Secretary of State John Kerry will be Mr. Biden’s international climate envoy

Mr Biden also elected New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland to head the Department of the Interior.She would be the first Native American to head the department and is expected to restrict oil and gas leasing in states that Mr. Trump has overseen Brenda Mallory, a veteran former federal prosecutor, who will lead the environmental quality council

But no agency will be more fundamental to the politically sensitive work of actually reducing planet warming emissions in the US than the E.PA

Mr Biden has vowed to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and to eliminate fossil fuel emissions from the energy sector by 2035. With a party-political, deadlocked Congress, these tasks fall almost exclusively on EA

The new administrator must first remove barriers the Trump administration has put in place to make it harder to introduce new rules and then expand the Obama-era efforts to curb greenhouse gases from power plants, automobiles, and oil and gas sites / p>

Environmental activists in North Carolina commended Mr. Regan’s work in the state. He is credited with reaching the largest coal ash cleaning settlement in the country and ordering chemical company Chemours, a former DuPont grant, to take new steps to help remove the toxic substances known as PFAS from the Cape Fear River

Such contaminants are called “forever chemicals” because they do not degrade in the environment and can build up in the human body

Mr Regan was also a key figure in helping Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, deliver on his pledge to be carbon neutral in North Carolina by 2050, and oversee the state’s Interagency Council, a working group of state agencies that was set up To achieve this goal, in 2018 he established an agency for environmental justice and justice at the state environmental agency

“He’s gotten to grips with really tough terrain,” said Megan Mullin, associate professor of environmental policy at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “North Carolina is as difficult a place as any to comply with environmental laws, when utilities oppose the farm lobby and hostile lawmakers ”

But Mr. Regan has also been criticized, including by groups focusing on environmental justice, accusing him of not advocating enough for fossil fuels and agricultural interests

Under Mr Regan, the state agency, issued water quality certification to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that would have carried natural gas over the Appalachian Trail. This year, Duke Energy and Dominion Energy announced that they have rejected plans for the project because of environmental concerns. p>

Mr Biden’s transition declined to comment.But Mr. Regan has been praised by other environmental groups for giving poor and minority communities a greater voice in state decision-making

A long-time air quality specialist at the EPEIN under both the Clinton and George W Bush administrations, Mr. Regan later worked for the Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit advocacy group after defeating Pat McCrory in 2017, the Republican incumbent was Gov Cooper appointed Mr. Regan will head the North Carolina Environmental Protection Agency

There he replaced Donald R. van der Vaart, an ally of Mr. Trump, who challenged the established science of climate change and fought the Obama-era rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and campaigned for a business-friendly deregulation agenda in North Carolina

Supporters of Mr Regan said he had improved low morale and emphasized the role of science in the department, some called it an obvious parallel to what he would expect at E.P.A Andrew Wheeler, President Trump’s administrator and former coal lobbyist, has stopped the agency from looking into climate change and independent reviewers have identified a “culture at the forefront” of political interference in science

Mr van der Vaart denied the allegation that morale at the state authority had declined under his leadership

Mike Sommers, executive director of the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said in a statement that the oil industry “is ready to work with Mr. Regan But he added, “We will also be closely monitoring to ensure that the new administration keeps President-elect Biden’s election promises to the energy workforce and protects the millions of jobs that our industry supports”

The selection of Mr. Regan is a conventional choice in many ways Democratic presidents have a history of poaching EPA Leader from State Environmental Agencies Gina McCarthy and Lisa Jackson, both of whom ran the agency under President Obama, had been the heads of state environmental agencies Ms. McCarthy in Connecticut and Ms. Jackson in New Jersey

Mr Regan only stepped in as a leading competitor on Sunday, weeks before it appeared Mary D Nichols, California’s air quality regulator, had a lock on the EPONE job

Ms. Nichols, who has worked on clean air and climate change policy since 1979, is arguably the country’s most experienced climate change official. She worked as EPA Best Cleaner Air Official in the Clinton Administration During the Obama administration, it was Ms. Nichols who helped broker a deal with the federal government and the country’s largest automakers He took California’s stringent global warming regulations from auto emissions and applied them nationwide

Mr Trump reset those rules, but Mr. Biden is hoping to reinstate it as one of his first major action against climate change – and had seen Ms. Nichols as the obvious person to do so

Ms. Von Nichols was expected to face fierce opposition from the Republicans, which the Biden team was prepared for, but several people near the Biden crossing said the president-elect had been surprised by severe criticism of Ms. Nichols by Liberals who argued that the California cap-and-trade policy she helped shape allowed industry to continue polluting in ways that disproportionately harm poor communities and communities of color

This month a group of more than 70 environmental groups wrote to the Biden transition, accusing Dr Nichols had a “bleak track record in combating environmental racism”

The letter seemed to vibrate. One of Mr Biden’s key campaign pledges was the promise to address environmental justice, highlighting the need to protect poor and minority communities, who are more exposed to pollution than rich

Michael Regan

World News – USA – Biden elects Michael Regan, North Carolina chief environmental officer, to Head EPA

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/17/climate/michael-regan-epa.html