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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

Jan 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Rhode Island governor emerges as leading candidate for Commerce Department

Gov. Gina Raimondo. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has emerged as a leading candidate to be President-elect Joe Biden's commerce secretary, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: Raimondo, a Rhodes scholar who co-founded a venture capital firm in Rhode Island earlier in her career, has prioritized good relationships with the business community, the target audience of commerce.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.