Newsom picks utility regulator to lead CARB

Source: By Anne C. Mulkern, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, December 10, 2020

A utility regulator will head the California Air Resources Board, a key agency for rules targeting climate change.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) yesterday named Liane Randolph, 55, as the chair of the air board. Randolph is a member of the California Public Utilities Commission, where she’s held a post focused in part on climate change adaptation. She has also led proceedings on long-term electric and gas resource planning, energy market design, and utility infrastructure.

“Cleaner air is essential for California’s families and Liane Randolph is the kind of bold, innovative leader that will lead in our fight against climate change with equity and all California’s communities at heart,” Newsom said in a statement. “By committing to achieving carbon neutrality and a clean economy, my Administration is fighting for a healthier and more vibrant future for our families and our economy.”

Mary Nichols, 75, leaves as chair of CARB at the end of this year, after 13 years heading the board. She’s considered a front-runner for EPA administrator under President-elect Joe Biden.

“Through her extraordinary tenure as Chair, Mary has done more than any other Californian to boldly reduce air pollution through both innovation and tenacity,” Newsom said. “Thanks to Mary and her excellent staff, CARB now stands as a beacon for how to lead with responsible public policy toward cleaner air.”

Randolph, an Oakland resident, has been at the CPUC since 2015. Before that she was deputy secretary and general counsel of the state Natural Resources Agency. Before that, she worked as a private practice attorney and served as chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission. She previously worked as city attorney in San Leandro, Calif.

Newsom also reappointed CARB board member John Balmes, a Democrat, and appointed three new members, all of whom are Democrats. They are Davina Hurt, member of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and member of the Belmont, Calif., City Council; Gideon Kracov, an attorney and member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District in the Los Angeles area; and Tania Pacheco-Werner, a member of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

All of the positions require state Senate confirmation.