Michael Regan listens as North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announces that Regan will lead the North Carolina environmental quality department at Executive Manson in Raleigh, NC on January 3, 2017.
Chuck Liddy | AP
President-elect Joe Biden will select Michael Regan, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC.
44-year-old Regan was Biden’s front runner and, if confirmed, will be the first black to head the agency.
Regan previously worked at the EPA for the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, and was the national program manager responsible for developing programs to improve energy efficiency, air quality and reduce air pollution.
Regan later worked at the Environmental Defense Fund, where he made efforts to curb the effects of climate change and air pollution.
He will play a crucial role in supporting Biden’s aggressive plan to combat global warming and transform the US economy from fossil fuels to clean energy. Regan is also expected to be heavily involved in environmental racism.
“Regan has dedicated his career to environmental work, promoting clean energy, combating climate change and tackling coal ash pollution,” said Abigail Dillen, president of Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization. “As the EPA administrator, Regan will play a key role in solving the climate crisis and protecting the health of all communities.”
Biden also intends to appoint Rep. Deb Haaland, DN.M., as his Home Secretary. If this were confirmed, Haaland would be the first Native American to be named cabinet secretary. She would oversee the management and conservation of the land’s public land and natural resources, as well as the restoration of land that the Trump administration had opened up for drilling and other construction.
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Biden has vowed to reintroduce the US to the Paris Agreement and bring the country to net zero emissions by 2050, though his climate agenda will face immense constraints if Republicans retain control of the Senate.
In the past four years, the Trump administration has phased out more than 70 key environmental regulations, with nearly 30 in the works.
“Regan will take over the helm of the EPA at perhaps the most critical moment in the agency’s history, and he has to do a lot more than clean up the toxic mess Trump left behind,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity .
If the GOP retains control of the Senate and hinders climate legislation, Biden’s plans will depend on the EPA to implement regulations to reduce fossil fuel emissions from sites and automobiles.
The Biden government is already planning to introduce restrictions on oil and gas drilling on public properties, block pipelines across the country and withdraw many of Trump’s executive orders for energy.