Governor poised to name new environmental team

With Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger expected to take action this year to reduce
carbon emissions, the governor is once again reassembling his environmental
team. On Wednesday, the nomination of Robert Sawyer to head the Air
Resources Board cleared the Senate Rules Committee, and the governor is
expected to name a new secretary and undersecretary of the state
Environmental Protection Agency in the coming weeks.

Most of the speculation about the new head of CalEPA has focused on Mary Ann
Warmerdam. Warmerdam, a former Farm Bureau lobbyist who now heads the
Department of Pesticide Regulation, has received a tentative thumbs-up from
environmentalists, a sign that she would likely sail through the
confirmation process were the governor to pick her to be the new secretary.

“She has started to turn DPR into the type of department that it should be,”
says the Sierra Club’s Bill Magavern. “She has been inclusive and attentive
to public participation. She’s been more aggressive on enforcement. She’s
recognized the importance of urban pesticide use. I think she’s capable and
accessible and someone we could work with as secretary.”

Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, who chairs the Assembly Budget
subcommittee on resources, says that whomever the governor picks, it’s
important that he choose somebody soon.

“We’re beginning to hold hearings in the budget sub [committees], and its
important for us to have the administration’s voice” at the hearings as the
budget is being assembled.

CalEPA has been without a leader since the end of February, when Secretary
Alan Lloyd resigned.

The governor is also expected to name a new undersecretary. The governor’s
deputy cabinet secretary, Dan Skopec, is expected to move over to EPA to
work under the new secretary.

The reaction to Skopec’s potential selection has been less well received in
the environmental community, says Magavern. “We would hope, if we do get a
secretary with an industry background, that we would get an undersecretary
with strong environmental credentials,” he said. “That doesn’t appear to be
the case.”

The governor’s office refused to comment on any potential future

Last year, Schwarzenegger issued an executive order establishing greenhouse
gas emission targets for California. The governor wants the state to reduce
emission levels to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Last month, the governor’s
climate action team released a controversial draft report on how the state
might reach those goals, including a new per-gallon tax on gasoline.

The governor has not formally embraced any of the report’s findings, but
business leaders and environmentalists expect there to be some movement on
carbon emissions this year.

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