EPA’s Southeast chief taking new agency role

Credit: Christina Matacotta for the AJC

Credit: Christina Matacotta for the AJC

Daniel Blackman will become the EPA’s senior advisor for STEM recruitment and diversity

Daniel Blackman is stepping down from his post as Region 4 administrator for the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where he oversaw key parts of President Biden’s efforts to combat climate change and pollution in the Southeastern U.S.

EPA spokeswoman Davina Marraccini confirmed that Blackman will relinquish the position he’s held since November 2021 in the coming days. But he will not be going far — Blackman has agreed to stay at EPA and become the agency’s new senior advisor for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) recruitment and diversity. He was asked to step into that role by Administrator Michael Regan, Marraccini added.

“This role is part of the larger agency strategy to continue strengthening our institution and build an agency workforce which reflects the diversity of the communities we serve,” Marraccini said in an email. “This is a key priority of Mr. Blackman’s and he looks forward to strengthening our partnerships and recruiting an even more diverse EPA workforce.”

Jeaneanne Gettle, the current deputy administrator for Region 4, will take over as acting regional administrator on June 4. Region 4 includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, as well as six federally recognized Native American tribes.

Blackman, a Georgia native, and an alumnus of Clark Atlanta University, was active in state politics and regional environmental issues for years before he was appointed to the EPA’s leadership ranks.

In 2014, Blackman made his first run for a seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC), the state’s utility regulator tasked with overseeing Georgia Power and other electricity, gas and telecommunications providers. He lost that election handily to Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald (R-Clarkesville).

Six years later in 2020, Blackman ran again, trying to become the only Democrat on the five-member commission, but lost narrowly to McDonald in a runoff.

After his defeat, he served as executive committee chair for the Sierra Club’s Georgia chapter before he was appointed to join the EPA in 2021.

As EPA’s Region 4 administrator, Blackman was a strong proponent of the Biden administration’s environmental justice goals. The administration’s Justice40 Initiative requires that disadvantaged communities receive at least 40% of the benefits from dozens of federal programs.

Biden’s EPA has placed many of those same communities at the front of the line to receive billions of dollars in new federal funds earmarked for safe drinking water projects, hazardous waste clean-ups and electric school buses.

The agency has made has also made a concerted effort to direct its enforcement and regulatory muscle toward issues in underserved communities that have historically been the most affected by environmental threats.

A note of disclosure

This coverage is supported by a partnership with 1Earth Fund, the Kendeda Fund and Journalism Funding Partners. You can learn more and support our climate reporting by donating at ajc.com/donate/climate/

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