Dionne Delli-Gatti, Gov. Roy Cooper’s nominee for state Secretary of Environmental Quality, answered challenging questions from state senators last Tueday. In a committee hearing, Delli-Gatti diplomatically but firmly defended addressing environmental justice concerns and judging biogas permit applications on their individual merits.
Responding to a skeptical question about how she defines “environmental justice,” Delli-Gatti said, “It’s the consideration that no specific group, based on race or economics or other distinguishing characteristics, can be disproportionately impacted. We can’t intentionally or unintentionally burden a specific sector of the population. It can be challenging because there aren’t clear pathways in our laws about how we consider environmental justice. But under Title VI [of the Civil Rights Act] we have to consider it.”
If confirmed, Delli-Gatti will take the post vacated by the highly regarded Michael Regan, who served as Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Secretary during Cooper’s first term. Regan left DEQ to accept President Biden’s appointment as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator. The state Senate committee reviewing Delli-Gatti’s nomination took no vote on her confirmation last week, and will continue hearings at a date to be announced.
Delli-Gatti’s public service includes six years with the EPA Atlanta Regional Office, as well as experience as the Director of Southeast Climate and Energy for the Environmental Defense Fund.
Our Director of Governmental Relations Dan Crawford praised Delli-Gatti’s nomination when it was announced: “There was a big void at DEQ where Michael Regan’s leadership had been, and Gov. Cooper had a monumental task replacing him. But in Dionne Delli-Gatti, he has picked someone who understands both policy and politics. Having worked with Dionne for years, we’re confident she’ll be able to bring regulators, legislators, industry, and community stakeholders together to advance clean energy and environmental justice for every North Carolinian.”