Senate Confirms Biden’s Pick to Lead E.P.A.
Michael S. Regan has said he intends to act aggressively in carrying out the president’s agenda of fighting climate change.
Central to Mr. Regan’s mission will be putting forward aggressive new regulations to meet President Biden’s pledge of eliminating fossil fuel emissions from the electric power sector by 2035, significantly reducing emissions from automobiles and preparing the United States to emit no net carbon pollution by the middle of the century. Several proposed regulations are already being prepared, administration officials have said.
His nomination was approved by a vote of 66-34, with all Democrats and 16 Republicans voting in favor
“There are few leadership roles in the federal government that have greater responsibility for setting environmental goals and climate policies than the Environmental Protection Agency,” said Senator Tom Carper, Democrat of Delaware and chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Mr. Regan, he said, “is the person for the job at this critical moment.”
Those potentially overlapping authorities have already provoked criticism from Republicans, some of whom voted against Mr. Regan’s confirmation because they said they did not know who is truly in charge of the administration’s climate and environment policy.
“I can’t support Secretary Regan when Gina McCarthy is the orchestra leader for the Biden administration,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia.
But most of the opposition centered on Democratic policy. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, called Mr. Biden’s agenda a “left-wing war on American energy.”
“Mr. Regan has plenty of experience,” Senator McConnell said. “The problem is what he’s poised to do with it.”
In his testimony before the Senate last month Mr. Regan assured lawmakers that when it comes to E.P.A. policies, “I will be leading and making those decisions, and I will be accepting accountability for those decisions.”
“I really liked meeting and getting to know Michael Regan,” Senator Capito said. “He is a dedicated public servant and an honest man.”
But Mr. Regan said he did intend to act aggressively in carrying out Mr. Biden’s agenda of fighting climate change.
Precisely what that will look like within the E.P.A., and particularly in the electricity sector, remains unclear, but administration officials have already hinted that they intend to create a new regulation to rein in the second largest source of United States emissions.
The Clean Power Plan rule met resistance at the Supreme Court, but the Trump version was struck down altogether. That combination, Mr. Regan told lawmakers, gives E.P.A. a “clean slate” to move forward. Several administration officials said they expected the agency to roll out a “Clean Power Plan 2.0” in the coming weeks.
Another expected focus of Mr. Regan will be environmental policy impact on poor and minority communities. He has called environmental justice an issue “that is near and dear to my heart” and told lawmakers he intended to bring on a special adviser and request additional funding to better address what experts have identified as systemic racism and inequity in environmental decision-making.
Source: New York Times