WASHINGTON – Michael S. Regan, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, confirmed Monday that the agency is preparing new regulations for the electricity sector to meet President Biden’s aggressive climate change goals.
Mr Regan said his immediate priorities for the EPA are “restoring morale” to the agency, restoring the role of science – and scientists – in developing air and water regulations, and ensuring that new environmental policies are disproportionate affected communities do not further damage toxic sites.
He wasn’t fully aware of the exact new guidelines the EPA will be taking to curb carbon dioxide emissions to warm the planet or when they will be released. However, Mr Regan said the agency will “absolutely” develop new rules for power plants and automobiles, and EPA staff are currently working on those plans.
“We’ll be hearing the details from the staff very soon,” said Regan.
Reducing carbon emissions from power plants and vehicles, which are the largest sources of planet warming pollution in the United States, is critical to meeting Mr Biden’s goal of zero net carbon emissions by 2050 cause.
Unless Congress passes legislation – an unlikely scenario – it is up to the EPA to create new regulations for both sectors. The Obama administration sought to reshape the electricity sector by pushing utilities away from coal and towards electricity made from natural gas, sun, wind, and other low or low carbon sources. That rule, the Clean Power Plan, has been stopped by the Supreme Court.
But the efforts of the Trump administration also ran into difficulties. The replacement of the Clean Power Plan – a far weaker rule according to which energy suppliers only had to make modest efficiency changes to individual power plants – was completely put down by a federal court earlier this year.
That District of Columbia Court of Appeal ruling confirmed that the EPA has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide from the energy sector. Mr Regan said he intended to take advantage of this.
“We’re starting with a clean board, but we’re not starting from scratch,” he said. In addition, market forces have changed, Regan said. Coal-fired power plants are already retiring rapidly, and according to the International Energy Agency, renewable energies could outperform coal as the world’s largest energy source by 2025.
“We don’t look back; We’re looking forward to it and I’m very happy about it, ”he said.
Republicans from fossil fuel states have said they are ready to fight any general regulations targeting coal. West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who opposed Mr. Regan’s endorsement, said she did so because “he was not committed to any political agenda other than that of the Obama administration” – which she said “Absolutely devastated my state and others” energy-producing states. “
The agency is under time pressure. President Biden has a global climate summit scheduled for April 22nd, at which the United States will announce a new national emissions target. Foreign leaders also expect the government to show the world how it intends to achieve the goals set.
Regan said it was too early to promise that proposals for regulations would be published by the time of the summit. But he said, “I believe we will have the scientific credibility to support the direction the president wants to go.”
Currently, Regan said, he is focused on employee morale who suffered under a Trump administration that often ignored professional scientists and scientific knowledge. He made explicit reference to the Trump administration’s approach to climate change, as well as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a toxic family of substances found in common household products.
“Morality is not where we want it to be, not nearly where we want it to be. We’ll spend some time there, ”he said.
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He also said he intends to appoint an environmental justice advisor who will revise the agency’s approach to civil rights and help build closer relationships with communities that are closest to pollution pressures and the effects of climate change. “That will be a major priority,” he said.
Mr. Regan had kind words to his immediate predecessor, Andrew Wheeler, saying that Mr. Wheeler left “a very kind letter” on his desk in the administrator’s office.
Mr Regan, who was sworn in on Friday, said he is still learning about the building. One place it probably won’t find much use for is the soundproof phone booth that Scott Pruitt, President Donald J. Trump’s first EPA administrator, installed at a tax rate of $ 43,000.
“I don’t even know where it is or what it looks like. I think the first thing I should do is take a look, “said Mr. Regan, adding,” I used the phone on my desk. “