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EPA Nominee Michael Regan Draws Bipartisan Support, Says RFS is a Priority

Wall Street Journal writer Timothy Puko reported this week that, “Michael Regan, President Biden’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, drew bipartisan support at his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, including from North Carolina Republicans who said he has a history of working constructively with businesses.

“If confirmed to the position, Mr. Regan, 44 years old, would be expected to implement Mr. Biden’s campaign promise to push power plants, oil and gas producers, and auto makers to address climate change by drastically reducing their greenhouse-gas emissions.”

The Journal article explained that, “The EPA is often at the center of rifts between Republicans and Democrats, but the comments from the Republican senators and a generally friendly confirmation hearing suggested he is on a path to Senate approval. The committee didn’t take a vote Wednesday.”

Washington Post writer Brady Dennis reported in Thursday’s paper that, “Michael Regan, President Biden’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, told lawmakers Wednesday that he would ‘restore’ science and transparency at the agency, focus on marginalized communities and move ‘with a sense of urgency’ to combat climate change.”

More narrowly on issues relating to agriculture, DTN writer Todd Neeley reported this week that, “During an hours-long hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Wednesday, Regan was quizzed by senators about how he would handle as EPA administrator, the waters of the United States and the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

The DTN article noted that, “Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said when Regan takes the reins at EPA, he will have a number of RFS issues to handle.

“That includes finalizing renewable volume obligations in the RFS for 2021, pending cellulosic ethanol petitions and requests from governors to waive the RFS because of COVID-19.”

Mr. Neeley pointed out that, “Regan told the committee his EPA will need to review how it has handled the RFS and the next steps forward.

‘RFS is definitely a priority for this administration,’ he said.

“‘There are a number of things that are caught up in litigation,’ Regan said. ‘There are a number of things that we need more transparency around how we arrived to those decisions. And we need to be sure that the agency actually applied the latest data, the latest science, and followed the letter of the law in some of the decisions that have been made. So, we plan to do a thorough review of all of the decisions that fit under the umbrella of the RFS.'”

With respect to the Waters of the U.S. Rule, the DTN article indicated that, “Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., asked Regan whether he supports a new WOTUS rule similar to the 2015 rule that agriculture and other industries fought in court.

“‘There are a lot of lessons learned, pragmatic experiences or pragmatic solutions that we’ve learned from experiences,’ Regan said.

“‘I spent a lot of time with a lot of small farmers. I spent a lot of time with a lot of environmental groups, and what I would say is I’m looking forward to convening multiple stakeholder groups on how we chart a path forward. I don’t believe that we have to sacrifice water quality at the expense of making sure that farmers, especially small farmers, have a fighting chance in this economy. I believe that you can do both. So what I’m hopeful for is that we can look for a common ground where we give the farming community and the environmental community some certainty that, as we move forward, we’re going to follow the science, follow the law.”

And Reuters writer Stephanie Kelly reported this week that, “U.S. President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday he will consult with general counsel to understand the options available for a program that exempts small refiners from biofuel blending obligations.

Capehart, Tom, Michael McConnell, Olga Liefert, David Olson, Feed Outlook, FDS-20h, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, August 14, 2020.

“Michael Regan, formerly head of North Carolina’s environmental regulator, said waiting for a ruling from the Supreme Court on a case related to the program was ‘one way to go.’ He also emphasized transparency and communication around the waiver program and committed to following the law.

“A court case last year cast doubt on the program, and the Supreme Court is currently reviewing the case.”

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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