Biden EPA nominee vows 'sense of urgency' on climate change

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2021 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency nominee Michael Regan, speaks 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 – President Joe Biden's nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency pledged Wednesday to “move with a sense of urgency on climate change” and other priorities, while working with lawmakers from both parties to protect the environment.

Michael Regan told a Senate committee that under Biden the EPA “will stand up for environmental justice and equity'' and will collaborate with business and community groups, state and local governments and others "who know their own communities better than the federal government ever could.''

Under questioning from Republican senators, Regan vowed to “follow the law, not exceed my statutory authority” to complete major new regulations on power plants, automobile tailpipes, mercury emissions and waterways — all of which will likely face strong GOP opposition.

“We will work transparently with responsible industries eager to establish clear, consistent rules of the road,'' Regan said, and "work in partnership with Congress, leveraging your expertise ... as we strive to build healthier communities.''

Regan, who has served as top environmental regulator in North Carolina since 2017, would be the first African American man to run the EPA. He made a name for himself in his home state by pursuing cleanups of industrial toxins and helping low-income and minority communities significantly affected by pollution.

If confirmed by the Senate, Regan would take over the EPA after four years in which former President Donald Trump sought to weaken or eliminate dozens of key public health and environmental protections for clean air, water and climate-changing carbon pollution.

Regan, 44, spent nearly 10 years working at EPA under presidents of both parties. He called it “the honor of a lifetime to be asked to return″ to lead the agency.

Known as a consensus builder, Regan said that throughout his career, “I’ve learned that if you want to address complex challenges, you must first be able to see them from all sides and you must be willing to put yourself in other people’s shoes."