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House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, greets attendees of the second regular session of the 72nd Colorado General Assembly as it convenes at the Colorado Capitol on Jan. 8, 2020 in Denver. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

KC Becker, the former speaker of the Colorado House, has been appointed by President Joe Biden to serve as the regional head of the Environmental Protection Agency, the White House announced Thursday.

Becker will be the Region 8 administrator, a position based in Denver.

“With her background on critical climate change and environmental justice issues, KC is an excellent choice to lead our Region 8 team,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in a written statement. “She is experienced in stakeholder engagement and will ensure voices from throughout the region are heard on key issues.”

Becker, who lives in Boulder, served four terms in the Colorado legislature, spending her last two years in the House as speaker. Her term ended in January.

The Democrat was a prime sponsor of Senate Bill 181 in 2019, a measure that rewrote Colorado’s oil and gas regulations. The legislation was panned by the industry and Republicans as being too restrictive and killing jobs. Becker and other supporters, including Gov. Jared Polis, said the bill protects the environment and public safety by putting badly needed safeguards in place and giving more regulatory control to local governments.

Before entering politics, Becker worked for the the Interior Department, where she practiced administrative and natural resources law.

In a written statement released by the EPA, Becker said she was “so honored.”

“The aggressive and critical agenda that President Biden and Administrator Regan have announced to address climate change, repair aging water infrastructure, and drive down methane emissions requires an ‘all hands on deck’ approach,” Becker said in the statement. “I am ready to use my experience to help states, Tribal governments, businesses, and communities in Region 8 implement these important pieces of the Biden agenda.”

House Speaker KC Becker, left, and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, both Boulder Democrats, discuss their oil and gas regulation legislation. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

“These regional appointees will be critical to the president’s efforts to rebuild communities most impacted by the pandemic, the economic recovery and climate change,” the White House said in a written statement. “They bring deep expertise in their issue areas as well as critical relationships with federal, state, tribal and local leaders. And, consistent with the president’s commitment to building an administration that looks like America, these regional appointees represent the diversity of American and the communities they serve.”

In addition to Colorado, Becker will oversee the EPA’s work in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and 28 Tribal Nations.

The Region 8 administrator position can be a stepping stone to senior leadership positions at the EPA. Under President Donald Trump, Doug Benevento went from holding the job to being the agency’s No. 2 leader.

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Biden on Thursday also appointed Armando Valdez to be state director of rural development. Valdez is an assistant professor of management and the director of the Health Care Administration Program in the School of Business at Adams State University in Alamosa.

Meanwhile, Kent Peppler, a farmer in Mead, was appointed to lead the Farm Service Agency in Colorado.

The Colorado Sun — Desk: 720-432-2229 Jesse Paul is a political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is...