By quickly appointing a new chair with the stature and experience of Mary Nichols, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken a strong first step toward rebuilding confidence in his administration’s global warming and air quality efforts.
The governor has also issued clear marching orders by saying that he wants CARB “to push for aggressive action to implement our landmark climate change law and to meet tough air quality standards.”
Now the governor needs to tell his own staff to get out of the way and let Nichols and her board members and staff fulfill CARB’s vital mission of protecting public health. Interference from the governor’s staff, often working too closely with industry lobbyists, has threatened CARB’s tradition of independence and even its ability to fulfill Schwarzenegger’s own ambitious agenda. The governor also should work with the legislature to give CARB the resources and the statutory authority it needs. CARB has a first-rate staff, and they should not be handcuffed by political interference or underfunding.
State policymakers should take several important steps to move forward on protecting our air and atmosphere from pollution: