US President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate North Carolina’s top environmental regulator as US Environmental Protection Agency chief and a Democratic congresswoman as interior secretary as he pursues policies to combat climate change and safeguard the environment.
Biden intends to select Michael Regan as EPA administrator, three sources with knowledge of the discussions said on Thursday.
If confirmed by the Senate, Regan would become the first Black person to run the EPA, adding to a historically diverse incoming Democratic administration.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Regan was in the final stages of being vetted by Biden’s team.
A source confirmed on Thursday that Democratic Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico has been picked to be Biden’s interior secretary.
If confirmed, she would become the first Native American cabinet secretary. The department’s jurisdiction includes tribal lands.
They are among the key officials, also including the secretaries of energy and transportation and the head of a new office leading domestic climate policy co-ordination at the White House, in Biden’s bid to make US policy greener after four years of Republican Donald Trump’s presidency.
Biden plans to pursue a goal of moving the United States to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – a once-unimaginable task that would require the world’s second-largest emitter to overhaul major parts of its economy.
Biden’s focus on climate change marks a sharp change from Trump’s administration, which had the United States exit the Paris climate accord and the federal government work to soften or dismantle climate regulations deemed harmful to the economy.
Biden, who is set to take office on January 20, has also vowed to make the fight against the coronavirus that has killed nearly 310,000 Americans a top priority. He will be contending with the logistical challenges of a mass inoculation as well as overcoming some scepticism about the vaccine’s efficacy and safety among the general public.
A vaccine made by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE is expected to become widely available next year.
Biden will publicly get vaccinated next week, according to transition officials. At age 78, Biden is in the high-risk group for COVID-19.