President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality chief Michael Regan as the next Environmental Protection Agency, according to multiple reports.
While the decision has not been formally announced, if confirmed, Regan would be the first Black man to run the increasingly vital agency which will be tasked with combating growing threats posed by climate change.
Among those also considered for the role included California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols and Richard Revesz of New York University Law School, according to the Washington Post.
Biden has vowed to prioritize environmental issues, naming for the first time a global climate envoy with a seat on the National Security Council, when he tapped former Obama-era Secretary of State John Kerry for the job last month.
In his campaign platform, Biden said he would embrace green energy and enforce bold climate policies after President Donald Trump’s administration has bulldozed more than 130 environmental protections and regulations.
Career department employees have battled for the past four years with Trump’s political appointees on efforts to undo environmental safeguards, among them fuel-efficiency standard and Obama-era limits on methane released from new oil and gas wells.
Trump’s first EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, was plagued by numerous scandals during his tenure. Pruitt took an ax to a long list of government regulations.
Regan has served as the top environmental official in North Carolina since early 2017 and paved the way for a multibillion-dollar settlement over a coal ash cleanup with Duke Energy. Regan, a Democrat, has also fostered bipartisan partnerships in work with the state’s Republican-controlled legislature — a boon for the President-elect’s campaign message to establish unity over political division.
Regan, 44, won over fierce competition for the nomination, beating out environmental regulators and experts with decades more experience, in an apparent effort by Biden to focus on building from fresh talent among a younger generation of political leaders.
While campaigning earlier this year Biden referred to himself as a “bridge,” to a generation of leaders who are “the future of this country.”
Biden made a similar decision opting for a younger nominee for transportation secretary when earlier this week reports revealed his plans to tap the 38-year-old former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg for the role.