Senate confirms Michael Regan as head of Environmental Protection Agency

The Senate voted to confirm Michael Regan as President Joe Biden's pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday. By Liz Stark, CNN

(CNN) -- The Senate voted to confirm Michael Regan as President Joe Biden's pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday, where he'll join an administration that has pledged aggressive action on tackling the climate crisis.

With a bipartisan confirmation vote of 66 to 34, Regan will become the first Black man to lead the EPA in the agency's 50-year history.

Regan has been serving as the secretary of North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality. He previously led the Environmental Defense Fund's efforts to combat the impacts of the climate crisis and air pollution, according to the state's government website, and also worked at the EPA during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

At the helm of the nation's top environmental agency, Regan is now set to play a major role in the Biden administration's climate efforts.

Biden issued a series of executive actions on the climate crisis within his first weeks in office, undertaking a "whole of government" approach to reducing the country's carbon emissions, spurring job growth and fighting environmental injustices.

During his Senate nomination hearing in February, Regan pledged to "move with a sense of urgency" to address the climate crisis.

"Our priorities for the environment are clear: we will restore the role of science and transparency at EPA. We will support the dedicated and talented career officials. We will move with a sense of urgency on climate change, and we will stand up for environmental justice and equity," he said.

Regan also reflected during the hearing on his environmental career -- which began with an environmental science degree and an internship at the agency he's now tasked with leading.

"I knew I wanted to find a way to serve, and that led to my first summer internship at EPA. I spent nearly ten years at EPA under presidents of both parties," Regan told the Senate panel.

"It's an honor of a lifetime to be invited back," he added.

Regan becomes the latest official to receive Senate confirmation to join the Biden administration. Earlier Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that by the end of the day, the Senate will have confirmed another three nominees -- including Regan, as well as Merrick Garland for attorney general and Rep. Marcia Fudge for secretary of Housing and Urban Development -- totaling 16 Cabinet-level officials.

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