Senate Confirms Biden Admin Pick to Head EPA

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
senate confirms biden admin pick to head epa

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted 66-34 to confirm Michael Regan as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Biden campaign had signaled that it wanted to clean house following appointments from the Trump administration well before the election, noting that the EPA was of particular importance since it needs to be in line with the bold energy strategy. Regan’s role as administrator is essential since he’ll have the ability to encourage the United States to reduce emissions wherever possible.

Whereas the Trump administration sought to undo Obama-era policies it deemed untenable and soften the power of highly influential independent executive agencies, Biden and company are bent on restoring those policies while strengthening some of its own. Regan (44) is presumed to pursue greenhouse gas emissions reductions for automobiles, powerplants, and oil refineries by any means available. He began his career as an environmental regulator for the EPA during the Clinton administration, stayed on through the Bush years, and later joined the Environmental Defense Fund — a nonprofit environmental advocacy group that frequently partners with multinational companies to create “market-driven” solutions to climate change.

Democrats have claimed this background as ideal, suggesting it showcased Regan’s commitment to the environment. But a minority of Republicans argued that his background indicated he’d only move one direction on the issues. The big concern was how this might impact America’s workforce, however. The Biden administration’s green policies have already resulted in the loss of 11,000 jobs when it nixed the Keystone XL pipeline by executive order, according to TC Energy Corp. But Republicans have argued the actual number is much higher when the big picture is taken into account (drilling bans) and caution against similar actions in the future. They’re arguing that shifting away from oil is just going to make fuel prices higher and make us more dependent on the whims of foreign nations. Dems have claimed this is bunk and that millions of new jobs will eventually be created via environmental focused initiatives.

Automotive issues are a bit more nuanced. Most seem to think the United States should absolutely be a leader in battery technologies. But many are also worried that transitioning toward EVs will reduce the number of American jobs since they require fewer man-hours for final assembly.

There are likewise growing concerns that the U.S. could paint itself into a corner by enacting emission targets that some powerplants cannot meet — resulting in more renewable sources of energy production. While Democrats argue this is a good thing, Republicans are once again fretting about the likelihood of rising energy prices. It’s a valid concern, frankly. Energy prices are already rising and there’s a fear that the U.S. could end up like Germany or China — both of which signaled that they would strive for carbon neutrality and joined the Paris Climate Accord, but ultimately ended up increasing their emissions by building a slew of coal-fired powerplants after renewables failed to produce sufficient energy.

Then again, the Biden administration has set goals to totally eliminate emissions from powerplants by 2035 and Democrats have said that’s not possible without there being major changes to the infrastructure and strengthened environmental policies. For all the strides national gas and oil companies have made to enhance carbon capture and greenify their facilities, it would be next to impossible for them to emit no carbon in a little over a decade. That really only leaves nuclear power and/or a total shift toward renewables and with an updated energy grid capable of storing vast amounts of energy — the latter being to be the general trajectory Michael Regan is assumed to take.

While this opens us up to the ecological impact of renewables and building an almost unfathomable number of bus-sized batteries, we’ve seen the focus stay on carbon (or hydrocarbon) emissions for the most part. The same is true for electric vehicles, which have some ecological problems of their own. But since they don’t pollute at the tailpipe, they’ve become a popular alternative with lawmakers and Wall Street.

Regan has already indicated his unbridled support for EVs and the Biden administration wants to normalize them as quickly as possible. But we imagine there will be some limitations. As tempting as EVs are, most examples of governments utilizing them serve as an example of what not to do (e.g. the LAPD’s fleet of BMW i3s). The current level of the technology sort of makes them ideal for certain situations and terrible for others. They also cost substantially more than a similarly capable internal combustion car — something we’ve seen manifest with the USPS recent truck purchase from Oshkosh Defense — and are anticipated to recoup the added expense by requiring less maintenance and boasting lower operating costs.

It’s the usual political drama with members on one side claiming Regan was an ideal candidate while the other suggests he lacks an objective perspective. West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito (the top Republican on the Senate’s energy panel) even went so far as to claim the new head of the EPA won’t matter much with Gina McCarthy serving as the White House National Climate Advisor. As a former EPA administrator under Obama, McCarthy has a long history of supporting green initiatives and Biden used an executive order to create an entirely new position so she could head the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.

“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,” Capito told the legislature.

[Image: The White House]

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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Mar 11, 2021

    When Mr. Regan was first nominated I recall we reviewed him and his qualifications were impeccable. However I am concerned how he will approach this obsession with emissions, since "cutting emissions" below historic levels is code for "destroy industry". I really do think it is a good idea to improve processes and I think there are many on the other side who would be willing to partner in order to make reasonable changes or implement effective technologies. However all too often elements of his party take an extreme and authoritarian approach which is often destructive.

    • See 6 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Mar 14, 2021

      @28-Cars-Later - People have been sold on post secondary education but they haven't been told to look at that education based on outcome. The whole "you can do anything you want as long as it makes you happy" pitch catches many people. I've told my sons that they should also look at marketability. Kinda hard to be happy with a PhD standing at the doors of Walmart greeting people. Skilled trades are valuable post secondary education. In my part of the world many tradesmen make incredible wages. I do agree that experience should count. My brother is a capital projects manager and all he has is a "tech" diploma. The PhD types in his office whine about it all the time. They've threatened to complain. He laughed at them, went to his office and came back with his contract. He showed them the names of those who signed off on it. They were the top executives in the corporation. He pointed out that he answers to them not the managers in his office.

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Mar 11, 2021

    Thanks almighty, finally. Americans had cheap gas and everything else for too long. It is time to wake up and join the rest of the humanity.

    • See 18 previous
    • Slavuta Slavuta on Mar 16, 2021

      @Art Vandelay I remembered you said, "Too bad for you we won’t accept that Russian Vaccine." I think, you're correct for once. 14 countries in Europe are stopping using AstraZeneca vaccine due to people developing blood clots. European regulator accelerating certification of Russian vaccine while several European countries went on to use it without waiting for the certification. CDC reports 1637 deaths after taking US vaccines. For the historical reference, immunology has started in Russian Empire as medical science and had been strong ever since. It is interesting that you've mentioned Novichok. Using your logic, Pfizer's vaccine (Pfizer is mass producer) which is developed by German BioNTech must have Zyclon-D... Here is interesting comparison but it is missing 2 other important vaccines - CoviVac and EpiVacCorona. With scientists salivating about EpivacCorona NOTE: deception when it says Moscow Times. This publication is a foreign agent. Lancet measures effectiveness at 94%

  • YellowDuck Thank goodness neither one had their feet up on the dash....
  • Zerofoo I learned a long time ago to never buy a heavily modified vehicle. Far too many people lack the necessary mechanical engineering skills to know when they've screwed something up.
  • Zerofoo I was part of this industry during my college years. We built many, many cars for "street pharmacists" that sounded like this.Excessive car audio systems are kind of like 800 HP engines. Completely unnecessary, but a hell of a lot of fun.
  • DedBull In it to win it!
  • Wolfwagen IIRC I remember reading somewhere that the Porsche Cayenne was supposed to have a small gasoline-powered block heater. There was a loop in the cooling system that ran to the heater and when the temperature got to a certain point (0°C)the vehicle's control unit would activate the heater. I dont know if this was a concept or if it ever made it into production.