Senate approves Regan for EPA administrator

Michael Regan, testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (Caroline Brehman/Pool via AP)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate on Wednesday confirmed N.C. Dept. of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a 66-34 vote.

Regan, who has served as NC DEQ’s Secretary since 2017, will help lead President Joe Biden’s environmental initiatives including what the administration refers to as climate change and environmental justice. He is the first black man to run the EPA.

Both of North Carolina’s Republican senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, backed Regan’s nomination and voted for his confirmation.

“Secretary Regan will bring the right expertise, leadership, and experience to the EPA,” said Sen. Burr. “During his time working for North Carolina, Secretary Regan demonstrated his commitment to sound environmental stewardship and to building constructive relationships with those who may have different points of view. I applaud the Senate’s bipartisan support of this qualified nominee, and look forward to working with him in this new role.”

“Michael Regan has a strong record of service to the state of North Carolina, earning a reputation for being a thoughtful, engaging, and well-qualified leader through his work with the EPA, the Environmental Defense Fund, and as Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality,” said Sen. Tillis. “I have no doubt he will do a great job and serve our country well.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell opposed Regan’s nominaton, saying in a floor speech, he would, “Report straight to the front lines of the new Administration’s left-wing war on American energy. They’d work to unbalance the balancing act between conservation and the economic comeback we badly need.”

“To head the Environmental Protection Agency, the President has nominated Michael Regan, a longtime regulator and activist. Mr. Regan has plenty of experience. The problem is what he’s poised to do with it. The Clean Power Plan? Back on the table. The absurd Waters of the United States rule? Back on the table,” McConnell added.

McConnell said Regan and the Biden administration are prepared to put their experience behind “the same far-left policies” that crushed jobs and prosperity in states like Kentucky throughout the Obama administration.

Prior to his service as N.C. DEQ Secretary, Regan worked at the EPA for nine years across a variety of policy positions. He was born and raised in Goldsboro and is a graduate of North Carolina A&T University.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.