Jody Freeman, a Harvard University law professor who served as a White House advisor on energy and climate change to the Obama administration, told Lisa Friedman, of the New York Times, “He is facing massive rebuilding and rebuilding. … He has a set of rules that he must abolish, replace, and strengthen. “And” He has to do this under time pressure. “
Regan was an EPA Air Quality Specialist in the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations for 10 years, and then worked for the Environmental Defense Fund, one of the most prominent environmental groups in the country, for eight years. In 2017, he was named head of the North Carolina Environmental Protection Agency, replacing the previous head, a climate scientist who advocated deregulation and fought to kill Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which capped greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
Regan’s successes in running the state environmental agency have included settlements removing certain chemicals from a company’s manufacturing process and cleaning up toxic coal ash ponds, the toughest and most expensive such cleanup in the country. An unnamed source said Regan was tough on Duke Energy, the giant state utility and operator of the ponds. He set up an environmental justice bureau to advise the agency. He also drafted a climate protection plan with the goal of making North Carolina climate neutral by 2050. Biden has pledged to put the United States on a path toward net-zero carbon emissions by this year.
One unnamed person told Washington Post reporters: “Regan understands that American environmental laws and regulations must first protect those most at risk. Growing up with asthma in eastern North Carolina, Regan saw toxic pollution, agricultural waste, and environmental degradation concentrated near color communities and low-income communities. “
The Post quoted Ryke Longest, founding director of Duke University’s environmental law and policy clinic, as saying that Regan helped restore morale at DEQ following his predecessor accused of environmentalists weaken the department and give cheaper treatment to polluters.
Greenwire’s Kevin Bogardus (Paywall) reported that environmentalists are happy with Regan’s choice:
EDF President Fred Krupp praised Regan’s work at the North Carolina DEQ. “He was quick to restore morality and solve major problems by respecting science and bringing together people of different views. This is how he was so effective in protecting public health and the environment in the divided North Carolina government.”
In North Carolina, Regan “ran a large and complex agency with skill, an openness to new ideas, and a determination to produce real results for the people of his state,” said Krupp. “The selection of Michael Regan shows that Joe Biden is serious about making real progress on climate change, improving public health and addressing environmental justice. He will ensure that science, law and commitment to a healthier future are at the center represent America’s environmental policy. “
Abigail Dillen, President of Earth Justice said, “As EPA administrator, Regan will play a key role in solving the climate crisis and protecting the health of all communities. We will do everything in our power to support and urge Regan repair damage caused by Trump. ” Administration, take bold action on climate solutions and really tackle environmental injustices that have been allowed to last too long. “
If this is confirmed by the Senate, Regan can make it a new day at the EPA, with the agency redefining its original mission of protecting the environment rather than making it easier for polluters to destroy it. However, with at least half of the Senate made up of climate science deniers and even more members who want to protect the polluters from new regulations, it will be a tough toboggan run for their new boss. One reason Regan was selected in addition to his relevant experience is his ability to work with Republicans in North Carolina legislature about the aisle.