President-elect Biden nominated Michael S. Regan for EPA administrator. The top spot at EPA is possibly more consequential than even USDA Secretary (Biden recently nominated Tom Vilsack for that position). It’s an agency that’s often butted heads with agriculture.
So who is Regan and what can agriculture expect?
Regan is originally from North Carolina. But he actually cut his teeth at the EPA where he worked for a solid decade. He started as an environmental regulator under the Clinton administration in 1998.
He then moved over to the Environmental Defense Fund for the next 8 years. This is the part that makes me nervous. EDF is probably one of the more benign environmental groups out there, even partnering with the National Corn Growers Association. It champions conservation tillage, cover crops, and precision agriculture. And it doesn’t categorically oppose biotechnology in agriculture. But it’s still one of those organizations, and I approach them with some skepticism.
After his stint with EDF, Regan led North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality. His major policy goal was to make North Carolina carbon neutral by 2050. He also tried to include more diverse groups within the department and its goals.
And those are goals Regan will likely pursue at EPA. Biden promised to get the U.S. to carbon neutrality by 2050. And he reportedly nixed his first EPA choice because she didn’t have a great relationship with minority groups. So Regan seems like an almost-obvious choice considering the circumstances.
Ironically, his critics’ biggest complaint is that Regan doesn’t stand “tough” against agriculture interests. That’s music to my ears. Maybe—hopefully—he recognizes that most radical environmental groups are misguided on agriculture policy. My hope is that he’ll want to work with agriculture to meet the administration’s goals, not just shove regulations down our throats.
American Farm Bureau’s President Zippy Duvall echoed those sentiments:
AFBF congratulates Michael Regan on his nomination to lead the EPA. As secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, he reached out to farmers and ranchers to better understand the challenges facing agriculture. He has a reputation for making decisions guided by science that also take into account input from the people who would be impacted the most.AFBF President Zippy Duvall
If Regan is confirmed to lead the EPA, I’ll be watching him closely. But at this point he feels like a safe pick for the position. And someone we can work with, not against.