President-elect Joe Biden chosen Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) for secretary of the interior and Michael S. Regan as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Both appointee confirmations will be monumental firsts. Haaland will be the first Native American cabinet secretary and head of the Department of the Interior. Regan will be the first Black man to head the EPA.
Representative Deb Haaland is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna. She has used her knowledge of green energy, and commitment to environmental protection to deliver in her role as vice chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources. She will be in charge of overseeing one-fifth of the land in the US as interior secretary.
Haaland has been a favorite for activist young and old during her short time in congress. Haaland traveled to the Standing Rock Sioux’s reservation in North and South Dakota to join tribal leaders in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016. The fact that she will be the first Native American cabinet secretary and head of the Department of the Interior is just the start of how monumental this moment is. The Department of the Interior has a long, fraught history with 574 federally recognized Native American tribes and the nomination has marked “a historic and unprecedented day for all Indigenous people,” according to Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.
Michael S. Regan currently heads the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and was praised by the Washington Post for several of his accomplishments in the position: “During that time, he forged a tough multibillion-dollar settlement over a coal ash cleanup with Duke Energy, established an environmental justice advisory board, and reached across the political divide to work with the state’s Republican legislature. In another high-profile case, the ordered the chemical company Chemours to virtually eliminate a group of man-made chemicals from seeping into the Cape Fear River.”
The Environmental Protection Network said about Regan (via Electrek): “As EPA alumni who did the daily work of the agency under multiple administrations, we understand the challenges ahead. Michael has the background and experience needed to tackle ongoing threats to people’s health and the environment, the profound challenges of climate change, and systemic environmental injustice. We congratulate and look forward to working with him to reset the course of EPA.