Senate panel advances EPA nominee; GOP slams Interior pick

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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 – A Senate committee has endorsed President Joe Biden's nomination of Michael Regan to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, setting up a vote in the full Senate.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced Regan's nomination Tuesday on a 14-6 vote. Four Republicans, including new committee member Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, joined with all 10 Democrats to support Regan.

Regan, who has served as North Carolina's top environmental regulator since 2017, would be the first Black man to run the EPA. Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator in President Barack Obama's first term, was the first African American to lead the agency.

Regan is known in his home state for pursuing cleanups of industrial toxins and helping low-income and minority communities significantly affected by pollution.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the chairman of the environment panel, called Regan the right person to lead EPA, citing his “experience bringing people together to solve our most pressing environmental issues and make sure no community gets left behind in the process.''

Regan is the second Biden environment or energy nominee to win committee approval. Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm was endorsed as energy secretary last week.

A third Biden nominee, Deb Haaland, has not yet had a hearing on her selection to lead the Interior Department. Two Republican senators, Steve Daines of Montana and John Barrasso of Wyoming, have announced they will oppose Haaland, a New Mexico congresswoman. Both lawmakers cite concerns over Biden’s decision to impose a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands, and his rejection of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

Daines said in a statement he will seek to block Haaland's nomination on the Senate floor. “I’m deeply concerned with the congresswoman’s support on several radical issues that will hurt Montana, our way of life, our jobs and rural America, including her support for the Green New Deal and President Biden’s oil and gas moratorium, as well as her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline,'' Daines said.