SPONSORED:

Senate confirms Michael Regan as EPA chief

Senate confirms Michael Regan as EPA chief
© Roll Call/Pool

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Michael ReganMichael ReganOvernight Energy: EPA takes major step to battle climate change Carper asks EPA to require half of new cars to be zero-emissions by 2030 EPA proposes major rule to reduce certain greenhouse gases MORE as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), putting him in charge of an agency that will play a key role in implementing President BidenJoe BidenCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Manchin, Biden huddle amid talk of breaking up T package Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE's climate agenda.

The Senate voted 66-34 in favor of Regan, who will be the first Black man to lead the EPA. Sixteen Republicans joined every Democrat in supporting his nomination.

Regan, who became North Carolina’s top environmental regulator in 2017, will now take the reins of an agency that rolled back dozens of environmental protections under former President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE. The Biden administration is expected to restore many of those regulations.

ADVERTISEMENT

He will also play a major role in efforts to get the U.S. on track to achieve a carbon-free power sector by 2035 and overall carbon neutrality by 2050.

During his February confirmation hearing, Regan said his priorities at the EPA would include restoring science and transparency, supporting career officials, and acting with “urgency” on climate change.

He also said he would operate with a “clean slate” on regulating emissions from coal-fired power plants. Republicans have argued that the Obama-era rule, which aimed to limit carbon pollution from the plants, was too burdensome.

He further pledged to take action on a class of cancer-linked chemicals known as PFAS but didn’t say whether he would set a standard for what constitutes a safe level of the contaminants in drinking water.

Regan’s supporters praised his prior work on environmental issues Wednesday ahead of the Senate vote.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Under Donald Trump, the EPA weakened environmental protections, fudged the science [and] completely ignored climate change to potentially disastrous effect, unfortunately,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHouse conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill There will be no new immigration law under Biden, unless he changes course This week: Congressional leaders to meet with Biden amid GOP reckoning MORE (D-N.Y.). “It’s high time the Senate confirmed someone like Michael Regan, who has made environmental protection the cause of his career, to lead the agency and set it back on its proper footing.”

Republicans opposed to Regan's nomination cited Biden's environmental agenda.

“He and the administration are plainly prepared to put that experience behind the same far-left policies that crushed jobs and prosperity in states like Kentucky throughout the Obama administration,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellManchin, Biden huddle amid talk of breaking up T package Romney: Removing Cheney from House leadership will cost GOP election votes The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden reverses Trump limits on transgender protections MORE (R-Ky.).

“The Clean Power Plan? Back on the table. The absurd Waters of the United States rule? Back on the table,” he added, referring to a power plant rule and a rule that sought to give Clean Water Act protections to small bodies of water.

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrUtah county GOP censures Romney over Trump impeachment vote Battle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers FDA unveils plan to ban menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars MORE (R-N.C.) praised Regan as someone who will listen to people who disagree with him.

ADVERTISEMENT

“You will consistently hear from those who have worked with him that whether they agree or disagree with him on a given policy, he always listens and looked to find agreement. This type of praise is not easy to come by on environmental matters, but it’s exactly what we should ask of any nominee to ensure everyone gets a fair hearing at their agency,” Burr said during a floor speech Wednesday.

Regan will be the second Black administrator at the EPA, following Lisa Jackson, who led the agency during the Obama administration.

Regan's confirmation comes as Biden seeks to fill out his Cabinet, with high-profile nominees such as Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden officials unveil plan to conserve 30 percent of US lands and water | Watchdog questions adequacy of EPA standards for carcinogenic chemical emissions | Interior proposing revocation of Trump-era rollback on bird protections Biden officials unveil plan to conserve 30 percent of US lands and water Interior proposing revocation of Trump-era rollback on bird protections MORE (D-N.M.) and California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden reverses Trump limits on transgender protections Biden HHS secretary argued to keep Trump-era refugee cap: report MORE awaiting confirmation votes for their posts at the Interior Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, respectively.

Updated at 7:32 p.m.