Former North Caroline environmental chief Michael Regan was sworn in as the 16th U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator in a ceremony on March 11, following Senate confirmation on March 10.

The Senate’s 66-34 vote to make Regan the head of the EPA reflects widespread support from Democrats and concerns by some Republicans he would advance regulations that stifle economic growth.

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said Regan would help bolster scientific integrity and morale at the agency.

“Michael Regan is the kind of person who can help unite us in common purpose as we respond to the climate crisis we face as well as to clean our air and water and strive to make sure that we don’t leave some of our communities and neighbors behind,” Carper said.

During his February confirmation hearing, Regan said his priorities at the EPA would include restoring science and transparency, supporting career officials, and acting with “urgency” on climate change.  He also said he would operate with a “clean slate” on regulating emissions from coal-fired power plants.

He further pledged to take action on a class of cancer-linked chemicals known as PFAS, but didn’t say whether he would set a standard for what constitutes a safe level of the contaminants in drinking water.

At the EPA, early action is expected to include writing new measures limiting methane emissions from oil wells and greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, though policies governing chemical safety, water pollution and power plants also are on tap. The agency is already reviewing more than four dozen Trump-era policies for possible rewrites.

(Bloomberg 3/10/21, The Hill 3/10/21)

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