Environment and Energy News

Senate confirms Michael Regan to lead EPA

By Kevin Bogardus

The Senate this evening confirmed Michael Regan to be EPA administrator in a vote with bipartisan support.
President Biden's nominee to lead the agency was approved 66-34, with several Republican senators joining Democrats in support of Regan.

Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.) and Thom Tillis (N.C.) were some of the GOP senators backing the EPA nominee.

Democrats are hoping Regan can help restore EPA. The Trump administration had targeted the agency with proposed budget cuts and rollbacks of environmental rules.

Regan comes to EPA from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. As secretary of DEQ, he helped win a settlement with Duke Energy Corp. to clean up nearly 80 million tons of coal ash, considered the country's largest such agreement, and created the department's environmental justice advisory board.

Regan, also a former career EPA employee and top official with the Environmental Defense Fund, sought to boost staff morale at the state environmental agency and protect its funding — a job he will have to repeat at EPA.

"We need a strong, principled leader to get the EPA back on track. Michael Regan is the right person for the job at this critical moment," Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said on the Senate floor today before Regan's confirmation vote.

Republicans supporting Regan will likely push back against Biden's agenda on climate and energy. Yet the EPA nominee has received their support because of his pledge to listen to their concerns at the agency.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), ranking member on the EPW panel, voted against Regan's nomination. She said that during his confirmation hearing last month, Regan could not rule out bringing back Obama-era regulations like the Clean Power Plan or the Waters of the U.S. rule.

"This vote is not based on what Mr. Regan might do if he had his say. This vote is about confirming someone to execute President Biden's agenda, which Mr. Regan said he would faithfully do, and I cannot support that agenda," Capito said today.

Regan will be EPA's 16th administrator and the first Black man to lead the agency. Lisa Jackson was the first Black EPA administrator.

With 66 votes in his favor, Regan has received the greatest support for an EPA administrator nominee since 2009, when Jackson was approved on a voice vote.

Regan's confirmation vote is also the biggest roll-call vote for the head of EPA since Mike Leavitt, who was confirmed on an 88-8 vote in 2003.