WASHINGTON — The Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, making the state regulator the first Black man to be administrator of the agency.
Michael Regan, 44, was confirmed with a bipartisan vote of 66-34, with sixteen Republicans joining all Democrats in voting to confirm him.
The North Carolinian will lead the agency in an administration that has promised to aggressively fight against climate change and environmental injustice.
He worked at the EPA from 2001-08 in the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards. He joined the Environmental Defense Fund in 2008 and left in 2015 to found M. Regan and Associates, a consulting firm on environmental issues. In 2017, he became cabinet secretary for North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality.
Where the nominees stand:Tracking the confirmation of Biden’s cabinet members
Though Regan is not a widely known political figure, he brings his past experience leading North Carolina’s environmental agency. His background includes working to hold a business blamed for the toxic PFAS pollution accountable, and his work improving regulation of his state’s giant hog farms and releasing a plan to cut climate-damaging fossil fuel pollution from power plants by 70 percent within a decade.
He’ll also have to deal with the fallout of numerous rollbacks in environmental protections overseen by the Trump administration on air, water and energy regulations.
The first Black man to lead the agency, he is the second Black person after Lisa Jackson was administrator in the Obama administration.
Biden signed a number of executive actions aimed at combating climate change and reversing Trump actions, such as rejoining the Paris Agreement, a treaty on climate change the United States formally exited in November after Trump withdrew in 2017, and declaring climate change as a priority national security concern.
More:Merrick Garland confirmed as attorney general in 70-30 Senate vote
Regan was one of three Biden nominees to receive Senate confirmations Wednesday, with Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge also receiving bipartisan support.
Contributing: The Associated Press