March 4, 2021

Biden’s pick to head US environment agency heartens scientists


Veteran environmental regulator Michael Regan will lead the Environmental Coverage Company, becoming a member of a staff of skilled weather appointees.

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Michael S. Regan

US president-elect Joe Biden has nominated Michael Regan, North Carolina’s most sensible environmental regulator, to guide the rustic’s Environmental Coverage Company (EPA) — and scientists and environmentalists are constructive.

Regan, who will now want to be showed via america Senate, joins different skilled appointees whom Biden has tasked with imposing his historical weather schedule. Those come with an ambassador who will maintain global weather negotiations and a coordinator to be sure that targets are accomplished at house.

“This displays the Biden staff is in reality going to apply via at the daring weather commitments they put ahead,” says Leah Stokes, a climate-policy researcher on the College of a blog post by Surfing LA California, Santa Barbara. It’s an enormous political shift, she says, “and it places the rustic on the right track to make weather exchange the centre of our financial coverage”.

Regan spent greater than 9 years operating within the EPA’s air-quality programme beneath former presidents Invoice Clinton and George W. Bush, and every other 8 years on the Environmental Protection Fund, an advocacy workforce primarily based in New York Town. For the previous 4, he has led the North Carolina Division of Environmental High quality, the place he earned the beef up of many environmentalists via status as much as chemical and effort corporations.

“Local weather exchange is probably the most important problem humanity faces. We’ll make significant development in combination via being attentive to each voice — from our formative years & frontline communities to scientists & our team of workers. I will be able to be commemorated to be a part of that paintings as EPA Administrator,” stated Regan on Twitter on 18 December.

Rebuilding the EPA

If showed, Regan will inherit an company demoralized via 4 years beneath President Donald Trump. The Trump management sidelined scientists on the company and brushed aside medical proof in an unparalleled effort to reduce environmental and public-health protections. Present and previous EPA personnel not too long ago instructed Nature about their hopes that Biden can flip issues round, even though additionally they highlighted some giant demanding situations he’ll face in doing so.

Regan has revel in with such eventualities. When he joined North Carolina’s Division of Environmental High quality in 2017, beneath newly elected Democratic governor Roy Cooper, personnel felt undermined via the former Republican governor’s industry-friendly insurance policies, says Jeremy Symons, an environmental advisor in Arlington, Virginia, who labored with Regan on the Environmental Protection Fund. Regan was once in a position to rebuild the company and give a boost to the state’s processes for chemical legislation and disposal of residual coal-ash waste from coal-fired energy crops, says Symons.

“Michael Regan will likely be precisely the type of administrator that the EPA wishes to mend the wear that was once accomplished beneath 4 years of Trump and take on the weather and fitness disaster dealing with American citizens,” he provides.

The Environmental Coverage Community in Washington DC, a company shaped via EPA alumni to talk out towards Trump’s undermining of the company, additionally endorses Regan’s appointment. Michael Regan “has the background and revel in to take on ongoing threats to other folks’s fitness and the surroundings, profound demanding situations of #climatechange and systemic environmental injustice”, the crowd posted on Twitter on 17 December.

Environmental justice

Regan is anticipated to position new emphasis on environmental justice, to offer protection to deficient and under-represented communities which can be disproportionately impacted via air pollution and weather exchange. In North Carolina, he created the state’s first Environmental Justice and Fairness Advisory Board to deal with those problems. Biden put emphasis on environmental justice all the way through his marketing campaign for president, promising to speculate 40% of his US$2-trillion weather plan in deprived communities.

Regan “has the revel in, understands the demanding situations confronted via environmental-justice communities, and has demonstrated a dedication to addressing them”, stated Peggy Shepard in an electronic mail to Nature. Shepard is co-founder and govt director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, an advocacy workforce primarily based in New York.

Local weather cupboard

On the EPA, considered one of Regan’s jobs will likely be to craft laws to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions from cars and {industry} — an effort this is meant to take a seat on the center of Biden’s method to mitigate weather exchange. However Biden’s weather schedule is huge: he has dedicated to ramping up blank power manufacturing, increasing low-carbon infrastructure and achieving 0 greenhouse-gas emissions from the ability sector via 2035. Assembly the ones targets would require motion around the federal executive, and Biden is already assembling a staff of high-profile weather appointees to advance that effort.

At the global entrance, former secretary of state John Kerry will function weather envoy, main the management’s effort to reintegrate the rustic into the Paris weather settlement. Biden has additionally appointed Gina McCarthy, a staunch environmentalist and previous EPA head, as his US weather czar. On this place, McCarthy, who helped put into effect former president Barack Obama’s weather schedule, will coordinate weather motion throughout all federal businesses. Neither of those staff contributors want to be showed via the Senate.

Those and different appointments sign that Biden is gearing up for motion on all fronts, says Symons, who is a part of the Local weather 21 Undertaking, an impartial workforce of lecturers, coverage experts and previous executive officers that has crafted a blueprint for federal weather motion. “What we have been searching for is a White Area construction that might abruptly mobilize all of the executive to behave on weather exchange,” he says, and up to now, “there’s no query that president-elect Biden is exceeding our expectancies.”

To learn extra about Biden’s choices for science company heads and advisers, see Nature’s up to date information.

EPA chief

America Environmental Coverage Company (EPA) safeguards public fitness and the surroundings via assessing and regulating the dangers posed via chemical compounds and pollution. It has a big function in climate-change mitigation via crafting regulations that prohibit greenhouse-gas emissions.

Left: Michael Regan; right: Andrew Wheeler

Environmental Coverage Company


Incoming: Michael Regan

Outgoing: Andrew Wheeler


Regan spent greater than 9 years operating within the EPA’s air-quality programme beneath former presidents Invoice Clinton and George W. Bush, after which 8 extra on the Environmental Protection Fund, an advocacy workforce primarily based in New York Town. For the previous 4 years, he has led the North Carolina Division of Environmental High quality.

Educated as an legal professional, Wheeler spent 4 years within the EPA’s Place of work of Air pollution Prevention and Toxics beneath former presidents George H. W. Bush and Invoice Clinton, in addition to greater than a decade operating for Senate Republicans on environmental coverage.

Identified for

In North Carolina, Regan established his division’s first environmental-justice advisory board whilst advancing chemical legislation and the remediation of web sites infected with residual coal ash from energy crops.

Wheeler has overseen an competitive effort to roll again environmental regulations established beneath former president Barack Obama; overhaul or do away with science advisory panels; and change how the EPA makes use of medical proof, making it tougher for the company to depend on mainstream public-health analysis to factor laws.


Introduced 17 December 2020; watching for Senate affirmation.

February 2019–January 2021.

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