01/08/17 — Goldsboro native joins Gov. Cooper's Cabinet

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Goldsboro native joins Gov. Cooper's Cabinet

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on January 8, 2017 2:29 AM

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Michael Regan, Gov. Roy Cooper's pick for secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality, has roots in Wayne County.

A Goldsboro native has been tapped to join Gov. Roy Cooper's Cabinet.

Michael Regan, Cooper's nominee for secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality, grew up in Goldsboro. He attended Goldsboro High School, and his parents, other family and friends still live here.

Regan said his father was a 4-H extension agent and his mother was "one the best nurses Wayne Memorial Hospital has ever seen." He said his parents instilled in him a drive for public service early in life.

"My first job was actually as a lifeguard at Mina Weil pool," he said. "And I eventually became pool director there, so that call for public service was there early on."

Regan also spent time outside hunting and fishing in nearby Bladen County, where his family still has a small farm. He said his experiences there brought about his appreciation for the environment.

Cooper chose Regan, 40, for his nearly 20 years of experience in environmental protection.

"Michael Regan has the environmental background to know that protecting state resources is vital to our state's health and economic climate," Cooper said in a statement Tuesday. "He also has the government experience and diplomacy to understand that working together is the way to get things done."

Regan graduated from North Carolina A&T State University in 1998 with a degree in earth and environmental sciences, and later earned a master's degree in public administration from George Washington University. His resume includes a decade-long stint as an air quality specialist with the Environmental Protection Agency, followed by eight years as a national director and then associate vice president and southeast regional director of the Environmental Defense Fund.

In 2016, Regan founded M. Regan & Associates, a private policy consulting firm focused on environmental and economic issues.

Regan must now be confirmed by the N.C. General Assembly before he can begin work. He would replace DEQ head Donald van der Vaart, who recently demoted himself to the position of environmental regulator to avoid being fired by the incoming Cooper team.

A clean energy advocate who has experience working with the energy industry, Regan said he plans to spend his early days in office learning from the people already there.

"My goal is to really take time to learn from the men and women who have dedicated their lives to the agency," he said. "There's a deep talent pool there, so I want to make sure to take advantage of that."

In what continues to be a rocky time for N.C. politics, Regan also said he hopes to establish a solid working relationship with the General Assembly.

"It is an honor and a privilege to serve Governor Cooper, and I want to do everything I can to provide the people of North Carolina with environmental protection with a focus on civil service," he said. "I'm ready to rock and roll."