Opening Statement of Incoming Chairman Carper: “Hearing on the Nomination of Michael S. Regan to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held the hearing titled: “Hearing on the Nomination of Michael S. Regan to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.” Below is the opening statement of incoming Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

“Good afternoon, everyone. We’ve gathered here today to consider the nomination of Michael Regan to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. I want to begin by thanking each of our colleagues for your participation today. I would especially like to salute our outgoing chairman, our friend, Senator John Barrasso, for his leadership over these past four years which has helped us build a record of achievement that every one of us can be proud of.

“I also want to thank our incoming Ranking Member Shelley Capito and her staff for your assistance in bringing this hearing together and to congratulate you, Senator Capito, on your new leadership position! As we have discussed last month, and as recently as last week, there is a lot of important work ahead for our committee, and I look forward to our working together, as partners, in tackling the challenges facing our nation and our planet.  

“With that, I want to welcome Mr. Regan and thank him for being here with us today. We are delighted that your wife Melvina and son Matthew have joined us, too. We thank both of them, not only for coming, but we thank you even more for your willingness to share your husband, and your dad, with the people of this great nation! Mr. Regan and his family hail from the state of North Carolina, the birthplace of my wife Martha, who Michael may recall is a graduate of Appalachian State University where her dad taught math and physics for 40 years. She sends her very best wishes to you and your family on this special day!

“Martha and I had the privilege of meeting Michael a year ago. As I’ve gotten to know him in the time since I have become convinced that he is the right person to lead EPA during this critical time in our nation’s history. He is a man of deep faith who believes, as we all do, that we have a moral obligation to be good stewards of this planet on which we live together. I believe that Michael Regan is someone 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 in our efforts to do so.

“Currently, Mr. Regan serves as Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality—a role where he has demonstrated over the past 4 years the power of effective leadership in improving the quality of the air North Carolinians, and their neighboring states, breathe and the water they drink. For proof of this, we need only look to some of his accomplishments during his tenure there. They include leading the negotiations that resulted in the cleanup of the Cape Fear River, not far from where my wife lived and worked following college. He also negotiated and oversaw what’s considered to be the largest coal ash cleanup settlement in U.S. history. And, he created North Carolina’s first-ever Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board.  Mr. Regan has been able to do these things—and much more—by bringing people together in common cause, while never compromising on his principles. The presence of Senators Burr and Tillis here today bears testimony to that, and we warmly welcome each of you.

“In the Tar Heel State, Michael Regan developed a reputation as a leader who works with Democrats and Republicans to forge practical solutions—solutions that protect the air we breathe and the water we drink, while supporting job creation and economic growth. As we struggle to put the current recession behind us, that kind of leadership is what we need now more than ever at EPA.

“It’s no secret that the next EPA Administrator has his work cut out for him. In addition to addressing the serious environmental issues that are affecting Americans, the next EPA Administrator will also be tasked—along with the members of this committee—in helping to rebuild an agency badly damaged at times in recent years by flawed leadership, and an agency suffering from organizational drift and low morale. One of the keys to accomplishing this will be restoring scientific integrity as the foundation of policymaking at EPA. Michael Regan understands this well. 

“The men and women of EPA need to work with purpose and dispatch to address the climate crisis facing our nation and our planet. It is real, and the threat it poses to our planet is growing worse, not better. The EPA team can do so, in part, by working with the US DOT, the auto industry and others to restore vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards. The EPA team also needs to implement our new HFC phasedown law and the Toxic Substance Control Act—both authored by members of this committee—as well as to reverse and replace the oil and gas methane rules and begin work on the next phase of climate rules for power plants, vehicles and refineries.

“In addition, EPA needs to ensure cleaner air by reestablishing the legal basis for Mercury and Air Toxic Standards. And, it must better protect human health—as North Carolina has done—by taking action on certain so-called ‘forever chemicals’, such as PFOA and PFOS, that also foul the groundwater of states like West Virginia, Delaware and hundreds of other communities across America. Moreover, in doing this work, EPA must curb the influence of special interests within its scientific advisory bodies.

“Our new President is calling on Americans to Build Back Better. To do that, we’ll need to redouble our efforts to address the climate crisis, safeguard our air and our water, as well as our other natural resources and ensure environmental justice in all of our communities. We must rebuild our infrastructure, with a focus on making smart and badly needed investments in our transportation and our water systems, both of which are in the purview of this committee. Doing so will not only improve the quality of life for all Americans, but it will also help get our economy back on its feet and put millions of people back to work as we take on—together—the daunting challenges before us. 

“I believe that Michael Regan is the partner we need at EPA to do these things. He has a good heart and a good mind. He knows how to assemble, retain and inspire a team of talented men and women. He has what it takes to help us make progress on many fronts as we seek to protect our planet and all of its inhabitants while creating a more nurturing environment for job creation and job preservation. That is why President Biden has nominated him for this important position.

“So Mr. Regan, welcome! Thank you for appearing before us this afternoon and for your willingness to serve our nation as we take on some of the most serious challenges in our history. We look forward to hearing from you today and—if confirmed—to working with you and those you will lead in the years to come. 

“Before turning it over to Senator Capito, let me close with these words of Albert Einstein: “In adversity lies opportunity.” There’s no doubt that we face plenty of adversity in our nation and on our planet as we gather here today, but along with that adversity come extraordinary opportunities to do great things for the people whom we are privileged to represent, along with their neighbors, whether those neighbors live on the other side of the street, on the other side of town or on the other side of the world. 

“Senator Capito, you are recognized for your statement. Please proceed.”