Ag groups supportive of EPA nominee

Incoming EPA staff not requiring Senate confirmation loaded with litigation experience in advancing environmental justice agenda.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

January 25, 2021

14 Min Read
TAGGED FOR EPA: Michael Regan has been named by the Biden Administration to head EPA. His confirmation hearings are to begin soon. A large group of ag organizations are supporting his nomination.Joshua Roberts/Getty Images News

A diverse group of 23 agricultural groups wrote Senate Environment and Public Works leaders in support of Michael Regan who’s been nominated to serve as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Currently, a nomination hearing date has not been set for Regan. 

“As Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Michael Regan has an established record of listening to all stakeholders, including farmers and ranchers,” states the letter to incoming EPW Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del., and Ranking Member Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va. “During his tenure, he has worked to find practical, sound solutions to myriad environmental issues in the state, while ensuring science and data guided his decisions. He also understood the impact those decisions would have on rural communities and the families that live and work there.”

Related: Biden takes quick action on climate

The letter was signed by many leading agricultural groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation, Agricultural Retailers Association, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives as well as soy, corn, cotton, wheat, rice, pork, turkey, egg and dairy commodity associations.

“We believe the same qualities that Secretary Regan has exhibited in his current position will be carried over to his leadership at EPA,” they say.

EPA has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to pause all litigation over regulations issued under former President Donald Trump, writing in a letter that the agency's new administration would be reviewing the underlying rules.

Incoming staff

While Regan awaits a Senate confirmation vote, President Joe Biden has named Jane Nishida as acting EPA administrator. The Senate will consider Biden's nomination of former Democratic Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to lead the Energy Department on Wednesday. Granholm will face questions from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which is led by Democrat Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Republican John Barrasso, R-Wyo.

“We are proud to join the EPA team of dedicated career professionals,” says Dan Utech, EPA’s incoming chief of staff. “EPA will be at the heart of President Biden’s commitment to protect public health and the environment while building a clean energy future that creates good paying jobs. We will be guided by science as we work together to achieve these goals on behalf of all Americans.” 

The team was sworn in on January 20. Members of the incoming EPA leadership team are listed along with their intended new role and brief biographies.

Related: What does Biden’s climate team mean for farmers?

Radha Adhar, deputy associate administrator for Congressional Affairs, joins EPA from the Office of Senator Tammy Duckworth where she served as senior policy adviser for Energy, Environment and Science. In 2016 and 2017, Radha was an adviser to the Jobs Strategy Council in the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy. She has also worked at the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, focusing on the Beyond Coal Campaign and the 2012 Earth Summit. Adhar holds a Energy Policy and Climate Change Science from Johns Hopkins University and a Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Victoria Arroyo, associate administrator for policy, returns to EPA after having served as executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center for 12 years, leading work on climate law and policy and supporting leading states and cities in their efforts to address and prepare for climate change. Previously she served at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change as vice president for policy analysis and general counsel where she directed Pew’s policy analysis, science, adaptation, economics and U.S. policy programs for a decade and was managing editor of the Center’s book, Climate Change: Science, Strategies and Solutions. She was recently chair of the Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and has served on numerous other boards and committees advising the National Science Foundation, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the California Air Resources Board. Vicki previously served in two offices at EPA, the Office of Air and Radiation and the Office of Research and Development, where she reviewed development of standards under the Clean Air Act. Vicki also served as policy director for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, drafting legislation that reduced toxic air pollution by 50% and linking tax breaks to firms' environmental records. She was elected to the American College of Environmental Lawyers in 2018 and holds a B.S. in biology from Emory and a M.P.A. from Harvard and a J.D. from Georgetown.

Related: President-elect Biden loads up on lawyers to review EPA

Tomás Elias Carbonell will serve as the deputy assistant administrator for stationary sources, Office of Air and Radiation. Since 2012, Carbonell has held a number of positions at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), most recently as senior counsel and director of regulatory policy for EDF’s U.S. Clean Air program. His work included leading EDF’s litigation and regulatory advocacy in defense of the Clean Power Plan and carbon pollution standards for new, modified and reconstructed power plants; defending Clean Air Act protections for hazardous air pollution from power plants and industrial sources; and advocacy in defense of EPA’s use of rigorous health science and economic analysis. From 2008 until 2012, Carbonell was an associate at Van Ness Feldman, LLP, where he counseled diverse clients on federal legal and regulatory matters related to climate change, clean energy, and environmental and electricity regulation. He has a J.D. from Yale University, degrees in Environmental Change and Management and Development Economics from the University of Oxford, and bachelors’ degrees in Chemical Engineering, Economics, and Multidisciplinary Studies from North Carolina State University.

Alison Cassady, deputy chief of staff for policy, most recently served as the deputy staff director for the U.S. House of Representatives, Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, where she managed a team of lawyers and scientists to conceptualize, draft and deliver a congressional policy roadmap for achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and building a clean energy economy that values workers and advances environmental justice. From 2017 – 2019 she was the managing director of the Energy and Environment Team at the Center for American Progress, providing strategic planning and managerial support to a team working on climate change policy, public lands conservation and ocean protection. She holds a Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

Chaudhary will serve as deputy general counsel for Nationwide Resource Protection Programs. Chaudhary joins EPA after serving as deputy litigation director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Her work included litigation and advocacy to protect communities from drinking water contamination and exposure to toxics. Dimple was lead counsel for community groups in Flint, Michigan, in a case brought to address lead contamination in the city's drinking water, which led to a settlement requiring the replacement of all Flint's lead service lines within three years. Prior to joining NRDC, she was an associate at WilmerHale and a law clerk for the Honorable Carol Bagley Amon of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. She holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard University, a master's degree in urban planning from the London School of Economics, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.

Rosemary Enobakhare, associate administrator for Public Engagement and Environmental Education, returns to EPA where she served as the deputy associate administrator for Public Engagement and Environmental Education, leading the agency’s community outreach and strategic engagement plans. Since then, she has been the Director of Campaigns at The Hub Project, developing and managing large-scale advocacy campaigns that shift the conversation around top progressive policies. She also worked for two years as the campaign director at the Clean Water for All Campaign, serving as the principal point of contact for stakeholders and overseeing all aspects of the campaign’s daily operations. Rosemary is a graduate of Spelman College with a degree in Economics.

Philip Fine, principal deputy associate administrator for policy, joins EPA after a 15-year career at the South Coast Air Quality Management District in Southern California. He most recently served as the deputy executive officer for the Planning, Rule Development & Area Sources Division, where he oversaw all activities of the Division, including development of State Implementation Plans and Air Quality Management Plans, strategies and regulations for air pollution control, meteorology and forecasting, air quality evaluation, air toxics risk assessment, emissions inventories, socioeconomic analyses, transportation programs, and enforcement for area sources. Prior to this role, Fine’s previous responsibilities at South Coast AQMD included oversight of ambient air monitoring, laboratory services, quality assurance, and source testing. Fine served on the California Air Resources Board’s legislatively-mandated Research Screening Committee, and has also served on several EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee expert panels. He received his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in Environmental Science & Engineering, and his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Prior to her appointment at EPA as principal deputy assistant administrator, Office of Water, Radhika Fox was the chief executive officer of the US Water Alliance, a national nonprofit organization advancing policies and programs that build a sustainable water future for all. She has more than 20 years of experience in developing, policies, programs and issue-based advocacy campaigns on the most salient water issues facing the nation including climate change, affordability and innovative finance, water infrastructure investment, equity, and the evolution of the One Water movement. Previously, Radhika directed policy and government affairs for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which is responsible for providing 24/7 water, wastewater, and municipal power services to millions of Bay Area residents. She also served as the federal policy director at PolicyLink, where she coordinated the organization’s policy agenda on a wide range of issues, including infrastructure investment, transportation, sustainable communities, economic inclusion, and workforce development. Fox has a M.A. in city and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.A. in religion and philosophy from Columbia University.

Michal Ilana Freedhoff, principal deputy assistant administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, joined the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee as its minority director of oversight in February 2017. She has more than 20 years of government experience, beginning in 1996 in then-Congressman Ed Markey’s office as a Congressional Science and Engineering fellow after receiving a Ph.D. in physical chemistry at the University of Rochester. She has also served on the staffs of the House Science Committee, the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee. Her legislative work includes the fuel economy provisions in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, a law requiring the creation of an online database of dangerous consumer product safety defects, the 2016 re-authorization of the Toxic Substances Control Act, and 2019 legislation to address PFAS contamination.

Joseph Goffman, principal deputy assistant administrator, Office of Air and Radiation, returns to EPA after serving from 2009 – 2017 as the associate assistant administrator for climate and senior counsel in the Office of Air and Radiation, where he provided policy and legal counsel on a wide range of climate policy and Clean Air Act regulatory and implementation issues and rulemakings. Since 2017 he has served as the executive director of the Environmental and Energy Law Program at Harvard Law School where he led a team of attorneys and communications specialists providing information and analysis to stakeholders, government decision makers and the media, and offering innovative responses on emerging issues in the areas of federal, state and municipal energy and electricity law and environmental and administrative law as well as in selected areas of corporate law. Goffman also worked on the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works as the Democratic chief counsel and majority senior counsel. He holds B.A. and J.D. degrees from Yale University.

Lindsay Hamilton, associate administrator for Public Affairs, comes to EPA from Climate Nexus, a communications non-profit, where she was senior director of national media strategy. She also spent time as the chief spokesperson for The George Washington University, the chief of staff and a vice president with the Center for American Progress, and she served in roles in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Early on in her career, she worked for ABC News. Lindsay earned a B.A. in international affairs and political science from The George Washington University. She earned her master’s degree from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. She is originally from Omaha, Nebraska.

Sinceré Harris, White House liaison, joins EPA with years of senior-level experience in developing strategies to define, communicate and achieve political goals. Since 2015 she has served as the executive director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, where she was at the forefront of successful statewide coordinated campaigns, approving and managing multi-million dollar coordinated budgets, and led the formation of the 2020 organizing team. In 2020, Harris was named the Pennsylvania senior adviser for Joe Biden for President, including advising a team of over 200 on digital organizing, voter protection, political and coalition building and communications. She previously worked as the assistant deputy for legislative affairs for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Harris has a degree in Psychology from Temple University.

Prior to joining EPA, Melissa Hoffer, principal deputy general counsel, was with the Massachusetts attorney general’s office where she served as the chief of the Energy and Environment Bureau and oversaw the work of the Bureau’s attorneys on matters including prosecuting civil and criminal enforcement of environmental laws, energy policy, ratepayer advocacy, defensive cases, and affirmative advocacy, including litigation in support of EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. She holds a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, an M.Ed. from the University of Massachusetts, and a B.A. from Hampshire College with a focus on education.

Casey Katims, deputy associate administrator for intergovernmental affairs, most recently served as director of federal and inter-state affairs for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, working as his primary adviser on federal policy issues and directing the state of Washington’s engagement with Congress, the White House, federal agencies, fellow governors’ offices and various other stakeholders in D.C. Prior to this role, he spent five years as a policy adviser in the U.S. House of Representatives for Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., developing bills and amendments on a range of issues and helping manage her responsibilities on the House Ways and Means Committee. Katims has a degree in political science from Vassar College and grew up in Edmonds, Washington.

John Lucey, special assistant to the administrator, joins EPA from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), starting as a legislative analyst in 2015. He has served since 2019 as the chief strategy officer, helping create and manage the strategic implementation of both North Carolina’s Clean Energy Plan and Risk and Resiliency Plan. He also provided guidance to the Department on significant State initiatives including the Duke Energy Coal Ash Settlement, the North Carolina Environmental Justice and Equity Board and the Chemours Consent Order. Lucey holds a B.A. in political science from North Carolina State University and an associate of arts degree from Central Piedmont Community College.

As the incoming chief of staff, Utech has over 20 years of experience in the federal environmental and energy sectors., including as a Presidential Management Fellow in 1997/1998 with assignments at EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Forest Service. From 2014 – 2017 he served at the White House Domestic Policy Council, including as deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, where he led the White House and cross-governmental teams to implement and coordinate communications for President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, oversaw the Administration’s energy and climate change strategy, and promoted the President’s agenda in Congress. Utech also served as senior adviser to the secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy, where his responsibilities included budget development and management of key initiatives such as nuclear waste. Prior to his federal agency experience, Utech was senior adviser to former Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., advising the senator on all energy and environmental issues, including climate change, clean diesel, and energy efficiency, as well as air and water quality, toxic substances and endangered species. He has been a lecturer at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, from which he received an M.E.S. degree. He also holds degrees from the Yale School of Management and Amherst College.


About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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