Former air board nominee lands new job with EPA

A lawyer long opposed by environmentalists and who was rejected by the Senate in 2005 as the state’s top air-quality regulator was appointed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger to another top state environmental job — this time as undersecretary of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The governor announced Tuesday that he appointed Cindy Tuck, 47, to the $128,400-a-year position at the Cal-EPA. On the very day that Mary Nichols, the governor’s new choice to head the air board, apeared before a Senate committee, word of Tuck’s appointment brought up old memories.

Tuck is a product of the pre-special election Schwarzenegger — a time when Pete Wilson loyalists ran the administration, and before Schwarzenegger was a global environmental figure.

Tuck served briefly as chair of the California Air Resources Board in 2005, but she was denied confirmation by the Democrat-controlled Senate. Environmentalists complained that Tuck was too closely tied to industry and building trades unions to serve as an air-quality regulator, and Senate Leader Don Perata agreed.

The fizzled ARB appointment is considered instructive because it reflects the governor’s views on air-quality enforcement before he positioned himself as an advocate of cracking down on carbon emissions. The Senate turned down her appointment in a strict party-line vote, in part reflecting the partisan bickering over the November special election, which was then just weeks away.

For the past two years, Tuck has served as an assistant secretary for policy at Cal-EPA. Her new position, as under secretary, does not require Senate confirmation.

Tuck, of Sacramento, was an attorney and manager of the State and Bay Area Air Quality Committees at the California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance from 2000 to 2005, and before that was a government relations adviser and attorney in private practice. A professional engineer, Tuck holds a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and a Master of Science degree in environmental engineering, both from the University of Illinois.

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