President Joe Biden announced Thursday (Dec. 9) his intent to appoint Earthea Nance as the regional administrator for Region 6 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Region 6 includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
The announcement was part of Biden’s appointment plans for multiple regional roles at various federal agencies.
David Gray, acting Region 6 administrator for the EPA, has served the region for more than 30 years. In 2019, he was named to the role after former administrator Anne Idsal left for a job at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Gray was appointed to the acting role until a new administrator was selected. According to E&E News, Gray is set to retire at the end of the year.
Nance is an associate professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University in Houston. She was director of disaster mitigation and planning for the city of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and developed and implemented the city’s first approved plans for hazard mitigation, sustainability and green energy. Over the past 15 years, she has completed research on the impacts of environmental hazards on vulnerable communities in Texas and Louisiana. She earned a doctorate in environmental engineering from Stanford University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of California-Davis. She’s been a civil engineer for 25 years and floodplain manager for 12 years.
“I am excited to be joining the EPA as the regional administrator for Region 6,” Nance said. “The Biden-Harris Administration and (EPA) Administrator (Michael) Regan have developed an innovative set of policies for addressing climate change, environmental justice, massive air and water pollution, and other threats to human health and the environment. My charge is to fully implement environmental policies and laws in the region, and to not only listen, but to partner with distressed communities in order to truly make progress.”
In June, environmental groups and advocates, including Glen Hooks, former director of the Arkansas Sierra Club, sent a letter to Regan showing support for three candidates for the Region 6 administrator position, including Nance.
“Dr. Nance is a longtime environmental justice champion and will do an excellent job,” said Hooks, who recently left the Sierra Club to join Audubon Delta.
“I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Nance to the EPA team having just come back from my Journey to Justice tour, which culminated in Houston and included a visit to Texas Southern University, where Earthea serves as an associate professor,” Regan said. “Earthea knows firsthand how important it is that we finally deliver relief to those underserved communities that have suffered much too long. Her experience fighting for climate justice and equity will be invaluable as we work to protect those that need us most.”