2020 ALL STAR | ENVIRONMENTAL
California Air Resources Board
As tensions escalated between the Trump administration and California over the state’s authority to set its own tailpipe standards for greenhouse gas emissions, Mary Nichols did not falter in efforts to pursue tougher rules.
Instead, California’s top environmental official forged ahead with measures to address air quality problems, including a lawsuit led by California and 22 other states over the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era fuel efficiency standards.
Nichols, as head of the California Air Resources Board, also finalized binding agreements this year with major automakers to cut vehicle emissions in the state, defying the Trump administration’s push to loosen standards.
Automakers that signed the agreements are BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and Volvo. The 13 other states that follow California’s standards have said they’ll also support the agreements. CARB says the deal will cut vehicle emissions and foster innovation to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.
Nichols, 75, is now leading the agency as it develops regulations to mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and light trucks are zero-emission by 2035 — an ambitious target set by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in September. She also is on the short list to lead President-elect Joe Biden’s EPA next year, according to a Bloomberg report.