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Biden Team Considering North Carolina Official to Lead EPA

December 14, 2020by Ari Natter and Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Bloomberg News (TNS)
Biden Team Considering North Carolina Official to Lead EPA

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team is considering a North Carolina environmental regulator and EPA veteran to lead the agency, as he assembles a team to move aggressively against climate change and pollution.

Michael Regan is now among the top contenders to be Environmental Protection Agency administrator, according to three people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. Regan spent nearly a decade working under two presidents at the EPA and is now the secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality.

The deliberations come as Biden nears final decisions on a slate of nominees to lead key environment and energy posts, a list that may include former EPA chief Gina McCarthy and environmental lawyer Brenda Mallory. The president-elect has been meeting with transition team officials in Delaware this weekend.

Also being eyed to lead the EPA is Richard Revesz, a former dean of the New York University School of Law who has been a fierce critic of the Trump administration’s environmental policy moves, according to two people familiar with the matter.

All of those potential picks would add to the diversity Biden has vowed to achieve for his Cabinet. His early nominees for top jobs have drawn criticism for not featuring enough people of color. Regan and Mallory are African-American. Revesz was born in Argentina and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 17.

Biden transition officials had been eyeing National Wildlife Federation head and former Delaware regulator Collin O’Mara for the job, as well as Mary Nichols, the longtime head of the California Air Resources Board.

Regan has also been considered for other top roles within EPA, including as an assistant administrator focused on air or water policy.

In addition, Biden was said to be considering McCarthy to run a new White House office on climate change that will coordinate policy and elevate global warming to a top place in the executive office. McCarthy, who led the EPA for nearly four years under former President Barack Obama, was the driving force behind his efforts to combat climate change through regulation, including his signature Clean Power Plan.

McCarthy, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, previously has signaled she was not eager to rejoin the EPA as administrator again. But the White House role would give her a leading position coordinating environmental and climate policy across the executive branch.

Regan did not respond to emailed requests for comment sent after hours on Sunday evening. Biden transition spokespeople also did not respond to an emailed request. Revesz declined to comment.

“Gina’s been clear she’s dedicated to advancing NRDC’s work,” said Mark Drajem, a spokesman for the environmental group.

The White House climate czar would work across agencies to ensure a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to confronting the challenge. The person would work closely with former Secretary of State John Kerry, who Biden announced in November as special presidential climate envoy focusing on reentry of the U.S. to the Paris climate accord and related diplomacy.

Biden is also nearing a choice on who he wants to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, with Mallory, former CEQ general counsel, a leading candidate, according to one person familiar with the matter. Mallory, who served in the agency under Obama, has more recently been the director of regulatory policy for the Southern Environmental Law Center, a group that uses litigation to promote clean air, safe water and wildlife conservation. Transition officials have also been considering two environmental justice advocates — Cecilia Martinez and Mustafa Santiago Ali — for the role.

The CEQ coordinates environmental policy across the federal government. It also oversees implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

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©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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