The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted to confirm Michael Regan as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which will play a central role in the Biden administration climate change agenda.
The bipartisan tally in the Democratic-led Senate was 66-34 to confirm Regan.
President Joe Biden’s executive orders has set goals to zero out emissions from power plants by 2035, revamp vehicle efficiency standards, accelerate the deployment of electric cars, and address methane emissions from oil and gas operations.
Regan, 44, was the head of North Carolina’s environmental regulator.
At his confirmation hearing, he was introduced by North Carolina’s two Republican senators and stressed that he will work with every state to ensure that their concerns about the transition to cleaner energy are heard.
Republicans have said they are worried a rapid shift away from fossil fuels would kill jobs and stunt economic growth in the world’s top producer of oil and gas and have already criticized some of Biden’s early moves like canceling the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, and pausing new leases for oil drilling on federal land.
West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, ranking Republican on the Senate energy panel, said she is concerned that Biden’s National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy will have more control over policy than the EPA.
“I hope Secretary Regan can cut Gina McCarthy out of power and let her know who is calling the shots for environmental policy in the Biden administration,” she said on the Senate floor.
Environmental groups praised the confirmation.
“And as he did in North Carolina, I know (Regan) will work quickly to restore morale and achieve real results,” Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp said in a statement.
By Valerie Volcovici