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North Carolina environmental official Michael Regan picked to head EPA
Regan is the first Southern official named to President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Michael Regan, North Carolina’s chief environmental regulator, to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency in his new administration.
Regan, 44, is currently the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. He is the first Southern official to be named to the Biden Cabinet and, if confirmed, will be the first black man to run the EPA, overseeing nearly 14,000 employees and a $9 billion budget.
Prior to being appointed as head of the Tar Heel State’s environmental department in 2017 by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, Regan had been an official with the Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental advocacy group, working on clean energy issues.
He has previously worked as a regulator for the EPA from 1998 to 2008 during both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
Earlier this year, Regan reached an agreement with Duke Energy to clean up coal ash contamination in North Carolina and ordered a subsidiary of chemical giant DuPont to clean up toxic chemicals from the Cape Fear River.
However, he was criticized by a number of environmental groups for approving permits for a natural gas pipeline across the state, a project that was later canceled.
The Biden transition rolled out Regan’s appointment as part of a slate of “climate nominees” expected to focus on climate change issues that will be emphasized in the new administration.
In a statement announcing their appointments, Biden said the nominees “share my belief that we have no time to waste to confront the climate crisis, protect our air and drinking water, and deliver justice to communities that have long shouldered the burdens of environmental harms.”
Regan is so far the only Southern public official named to the Biden Cabinet, although two — Lloyd Austin, the pick for defense secretary, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the pick for U.N. ambassador — have Southern roots. Austin was born in Alabama and is a graduate of Auburn University; Thomas-Greenfield is from Louisiana and graduated from Louisiana State University.
Louisiana U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond will serve as a senior White House advisor, and Kate Bedingfield, the new White House communications director, grew up in the Atlanta suburbs.