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No. 3: Capitol Weekly’s Top 100

Illustration by Chris Shary

3. Mary Nichols
Mary Nichols, California’s top air-quality enforcer and Gov. Brown’s longtime environmental adviser, has overseen California’s cap-and-trade program since its beginning. As chair of the California Air Resources Board, she is a more than a state leader in the fight against air pollution: She is a national figure whose recognition has only increased since the recent battle in the Legislature over extending California’s cap-and-trade program – a battle that the Brown administration won after a no-holds-barred political fight. For Nichols, a former lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, battles over the environment are not new. She’s been on the front lines against smog since Jerry Brown’s early years as governor, and from 1979 to 1983 she headed the ARB. She served as Resources Secretary under Gray Davis, and was appointed – again – chair of the ARB in 2007 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. She is still in that position as Brown approaches the final year of his fourth term as governor, and she is likely to play a role in any future administration that proclaims an interest in keeping California’s air clean or in curbing greenhouse gases.

Updated Aug. 29, 2o17


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