Biden EPA Nominee: Not a ‘good idea to kill jobs’ in Energy Sector

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Michael Regan, President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), today agreed with U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), that losing jobs in the energy sector, in the middle of a pandemic-driven recession, is not “a good idea.” The exchange, which occurred in an EPW confirmation hearing for Regan, follows Sen. Sullivan’s concerns about sweeping actions taken by the Biden administration in recent weeks to curtail domestic oil and gas development. On January 28, Sen. Sullivan sent a letter with 25 of his Senate colleagues to the White House requesting a meeting with the president to discuss how the administration’s actions will impact thousands of good-paying middle class jobs across the country.

“In [the energy] sector, though, you're going to have a lot of power,” said Sen. Sullivan. “Do you think it's a good idea to be killing any jobs when we're in this major recession? Chuck Schumer is talking about a $2 trillion stimulus package because of the high unemployment rate. The president of the United States, in his first week in office, is putting thousands of people out of work. Is that a good idea? Do you support that?”

 “You know, I don't think it's a good idea to kill jobs,” said Regan.

In his second round of questions in the hearing, Sullivan argued that the Biden administration’s stated focus on racial equity and environmental justice has not fully considered the welfare of Alaska’s largest minority group, Alaska Native peoples, who have seen great advancements and an increase in life expectancy following the responsible development of resources in the state, including oil and gas. Sullivan cited an American Medical Association study on the changes in life expectancy between 1980 and 2014, a study that showed some of the most dramatic improvements on the North Slope of Alaska during the discovery and development of resources there.

“My state had the biggest life expectancy increases in the country, by far—seven, eight, nine, up to 13 years,” said Sen. Sullivan. “What happened from 1980 and 2014 is resource development. Oil and gas happened, mining happened, and that's why I get so emotional about these issues. These are equity issues. These are environmental justice issues…Can I get your commitment when you're working these equity and environmental justice issues to have my constituents front and center in your mind as well?”

“Senator, I look forward to working with you and your constituents on all of these issues,” said Regan. “I would really love to get the details on the data behind that life expectancy chart. I’d love to study that and have my staff study that. In areas where states are leading, we want to learn from those states. We want to replicate those things, so I look forward to that.

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