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Who is Michael Regan, the new head of Environmental Protection Agency?

Michael Regan was confirmed to head Environmental Protection Agency by the Senate in a 66-34 vote on Wednesday. He is the first Black man to lead the EPA.

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Who is Michael Regan, the new head of Environmental Protection Agency?

Michael S. Regan was confirmed to head Environmental Protection Agency by the Senate on Wednesday with 16 Republicans voting in favour of his appointment in a 66-34 vote together with all 50 Democrats.

Michael Regan, the 16th EPA Administrator

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded in December 1970 and Regan, who was nominated for the Administrator post last month, becomes the 16th person to take on the role and is the first Black man to hold the position. The first African-American person to serve as EPA Administrator was Lisa Jackson who was selected in December 2008 during Barack Obama’s first term in office – a position she held for just over four years.

Regan, who was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina in 1976, graduated with a BSc in Earth and Environmental Sciences in 1998 from North Carolina A&T University. The four years of his studies were dedicated to investigating environmental dilemmas, pollution, global environmental change, physical geology, environmental systems and solutions. He also has a master’s degree in Public Administration from George Washington University.

Regan's first experience of working for the EPA

Immediately after graduating, he took an internship at the Environmental Protection Agency, working in the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) in North Carolina. A few months later he enrolled on a two-year management internship program at EPA’s headquarters in Washington.

In 2008, he joined the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a non-profit environmental advocacy group tasked with reducing the impacts of climate change and air quality pollution. He remained at the EDF until 2016. In January 2017, he took another step forward in his chosen career as he was appointed Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality by the state’s Governor Roy Cooper. As DEQ Secretary, Regan's mission was to protect the state’s natural resources - the quality of North Carolina’s air, water and land.

Regan nominated for EPA Administrator

In February 2021, Regan was nominated for the EPA Administrator post. US Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) said, “I am confident that Michael Regan is the right person to lead EPA. He is a man of deep faith who believes that we have a moral obligation to be good stewards of this planet. Mr. Regan has experience bringing people together to solve our most pressing environmental issues and make sure no community gets left behind in the process. I’m confident he will bring his sterling record of public service to lead the EPA with integrity and compassion”.

Complimentary words about Regan’s integrity which were echoed by his former boss, Governor Cooper, who is delighted to see him heading the EPA. "I am proud that President-elect Biden has recognized the talent we have here to select Michael Regan, North Carolina born and educated, to be EPA Administrator,” Cooper said in a statement. “Michael has served as DEQ secretary with distinction, helping advance my climate change executive order and promoting creative solutions to some of our toughest challenges. He has important work ahead of him helping battle climate change on a national level, and I wish him and his family the best on this next step."

Biden committed to climate change

As EPA Administrator, Regan will head an organisation which will play a key part in following President Joe Biden’s policies on climate change. First up will be putting new policies in place regarding the regulation of CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and cars. The Biden administration plans to have reduced the nation's carbon dioxide emissions to net-zero by 2035.

Regan, 45, is married to Melvina and they have one son, Matthew.