New EPA head warned about “one size fits all” by ND leaders

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 6:56 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Thursday morning, the newly-confirmed administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency Michael Regan (Reegan) toured Bismarck and Mandan.

He was hosted by the federal delegation along with state and industry leaders.

Regan was invited to join in a listening session to discuss the direction North Dakota wants the agency to go.

But the meeting showed differences of opinion on a number of issues.

At times, it seems North Dakota and the EPA are at odds, and that came up frequently during the meeting.

And the man charged with running the agency was invited by one of the 16 Republicans who supported his confirmation.

While Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., invited EPA Administrator Michael Regan for a discussion, Regan spent most of his visit listening.

Political leaders made it clear how they felt he should approach his post.

“Whether it’s energy or ag, we want regulatory certainty, we want some help, we want common sense, and we don’t want one-size-fits-all,” Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said.

Regan was faced with questions and concerns about policies of previous administrations.

On many occasions, North Dakota has sued the EPA over federal regulations applying to the state and its businesses.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, R-N.D., voiced his reasoning for keeping the EPA out when possible.

“This environment matters more to us than it does to anybody else anywhere else in the country. We’re the ones who live here, we farm and ranch here, we’re engaged in industry here, we raise families and get them to school. These things matter,” Stenehjem said.

This visit comes on the heels of North Dakota’s recent expansion of carbon capture initiatives and the introduction of hydrogen production.

Both sides agreed the state could put the needed technology and energy on the main stage for other states to emulate.

“In North Dakota, we believe in innovation over regulation. And why we believe (is) because it’s a faster path to solving the problem,” Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., said.

In an attempt to make the point, they gave Regan a tour of Mandan where they have been using trusts and grants to clean and upgrade the city in a way which gives them more autonomy over the funds.

Regan said he has some issue with one-size-fits-all, but added, some rules are made to ensure nationwide safety.

“For me, it’s about a lot of innovation with the right amount of regulations and regulatory certainty. So, I think we’re close. I think we’re close. But this is just the beginning,” Regan said.

Both Regan and Burgum agreed pursuing greener energy options should be a priority.

Burgum set a goal of being carbon-neutral by 2030. Meanwhile, the Biden Administration has carbon capture goals for 2035 and 2050.

Many entities said agreeing on everything is unlikely, but they added that having a man like Regan in the job could position North Dakota to have a better long-term relationship with the agency.

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