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Joe Biden. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/Getty Images

Michael Regan, the top environmental regulator in North Carolina, has emerged as a leading candidate to head the Environmental Protection Agency, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: If nominated and confirmed, Regan, the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, would be the first Black male to head the agency and is yet another example of Biden assembling one of the most diverse Cabinets in U.S. history.

The big picture: Regan could be part of a slate of nominees expected to be announced later this week, including former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm for Energy Department head and Gina McCarthy as domestic climate czar.

  • Regan emerged as the leading candidate after civil rights groups objected to the nomination of Mary Nichols, who led the California Air Resources Board.
  • Regan's interview with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris went well, according to a person familiar with the matter.
  • A transition official declined to comment.

Our thought bubble via Axios' Ben Geman: Regan brings EPA experience to the job, having served in multiple air quality roles there under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

  • If confirmed, he'll be leading an agency slated to play a key role in Biden's climate change agenda — managing the tricky task of unwinding Trump-era rules and writing new ones to fit an agenda that Biden's campaign said would be more aggressive than Obama-era policies.
  • The North Carolina regulator brings ties to the environmental movement, having served in several senior roles with the Environmental Defense Fund in the 2010s, per his LinkedIn bio.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Jan 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden-Harris, Day 1: What mattered most

President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrive at the North Portico of the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

The Axios experts help you sort significance from symbolism. Here are the six Day 1 actions by President Biden that matter most.

Driving the news: Today, on his first full day, Biden translates his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into action — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives, Caitlin Owens writes.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.