US Senate confirms Regan as new EPA administrator
The U.S. Senate confirmed Michael Regan, former secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, as the new head of the EPA March 10. Regan replaces former President Donald Trump’s picks, Andrew Wheeler and, previously, Scott Pruitt, both of whose ties to the fossil fuels industries appeared to have swayed how they administered the Renewable Fuel Standard. The EPA administers the RFS program and plays a major role in various decisions affecting biofuels.
Under Pruitt and Wheeler, small refinery exemptions (SREs) to the RFS, which absolve oil companies from complying with the program, soared. A lower court ruling that reins in the ability of agency to issue SREs will soon be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In December, then-President-Elect Joe Biden tapped Regan to fill the top position at EPA. During his confirmation hearing last month, Regan said “the RFS is definitely a priority for this administration.”
“The Renewable Fuel Standard is a vital supportive policy for U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel producers,” said Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board. “Every year, these fuels meet more than 90 percent of the RFS’s goals for advanced biofuel production and use, achieving measurable reductions in transportation sector carbon emissions. As our industry pursues a vision to sustainably increase production over the next decade and support emergence of sustainable aviation and marine fuels, we look forward to working with Administrator Michael Regan.”
Monte Shaw, executive director for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, congratulated Regan and said, “We look forward to a fresh start at EPA after the past four years of unpredictability. It is our hope that this new administration will bring stability to the RFS program and provide growth opportunities to the biofuels sector. American biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel are ready to help reduce our nation’s carbon emissions, but we need stable policy and market opportunity in order to do so.”
The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industry supports 65,000 U.S. jobs and more than $17 billion in economic activity each year. They reduce carbon emissions by an average 74 percent compared to petroleum along with lowering particulate matter and hydrocarbon emissions, and their associated health impacts, leading to lower healthcare costs.