The Leaders We Need to Address the Wildlife Crisis and the Climate Crisis are Here

Our wildlife and lands face unprecedented challenges from the effects of climate change, toxic pollutants flowing into our air and water, energy development, mismanagement of natural resources, and worsening natural disasters. But we now have the leaders we need to oversee 450 million acres of the nation’s public lands and direct the agency in charge of protecting our environment.

With Deb Haaland serving as Interior Secretary and Michael Regan as Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, we have leaders with demonstrated experience and exceptionally strong commitments to addressing both the wildlife crisis and the climate crisis. Their confirmations also signify a long overdue and historic inflection point that will put our nation on a path to restoring equity and opportunity for all Americans. 

Woman standing outdoors.
Deb Haaland will lead an agency that manages more than 450 million acres of public land across the nation. 

As a Congresswoman from New Mexico, Haaland has centered her work on restoring our public lands, recovering wildlife and expanding outdoor recreation opportunities. She played a key leadership role in the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act and America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, which will conserve wildlife habitat and provide funding to combat wildlife diseases such as chronic wasting disease.

She also championed the Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act, which would support tribal efforts to identify and maintain key habitats on tribal lands that fish and wildlife species rely on to move safely through the landscape, such as migration corridors for pronghorn, mule deer, and other wildlife. This bill acknowledges that Indigenous communities have been leaders when it comes to maintaining habitat connectivity, and provides resources for more on-the-ground projects and better land management coordination with federal and state agencies. Finally, Haaland was a co-sponsor of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, a landmark bill that will help reverse the decline of one-third of the nation’s wildlife.

As Interior Secretary, Haaland will restore balance to land management instead of prioritizing energy development at every turn. The National Wildlife Federation looks forward to working with her to reform oil and gas leasing so that fossil energy development doesn’t threaten wildlife habitat, cultural treasures, and clean air and water.

Man standing outdoors.
Michael Regan is committed to restoring the Environmental Protection Agency under his leadership. Credit: Michael_S_Regan/Twitter

In his role leading North Carolina’s top environmental agency, Michael Regan championed one of the biggest toxic waste clean-ups in the country. He reached a settlement that requires Duke Energy to excavate more than 80 million tons of coal ash—a byproduct of burning coal—from open, unlined pits near neighborhoods to lined landfills where it can’t leach into groundwater. He also was successful in compelling the chemical company Chemours to prevent dangerous “forever chemicals” that are linked to cancer and the dysfunction of liver, thyroid and immune systems from contaminating a North Carolina river. 

Regan blocked extension of a controversial natural gas pipeline, and put his commitment to addressing climate change into action by spearheading North Carolina’s clean energy plan to meet net-zero emissions goals by 2050 while fostering affordability for residents and businesses. He brings to the table important experience at ensuring environmental enforcement and pollution clean-up is conducted equitably. He was tasked by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to include communities that are the most harmed by pollution and the climate crisis in the decision-making process.

Michael Regan is taking the reins of an agency severely crippled under the leadership of former coal company lobbyist Andrew Wheeler and Scott Pruitt. Both appointees to the Environmental Protection Agency from the previous administration denied science, fast-tracked the rollback of key environmental protections, and widened loopholes for polluting industries.