Through four governors, two Obama terms and the Trump administration, Mary Nichols has led the charge to clean up California’s smog and fight climate change. In the process, she has earned herself a reputation as one of the most influential environmental regulators in the country.
So with Joe Biden headed to the White House, it was no surprise that Nichols quickly emerged as his top candidate to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
But Nichols, who cultivated a national reputation as chair of the California Air Resources Board, appears now to have had her nomination derailed by critics at home.
The landmark truck rule was “extremely important” for environmental justice, said UCLA environmental law professor Ann Carlson. One of the biggest health problems that poor, predominantly Latino and Black communities face is pollution from diesel trucks on heavily trafficked freeways.
“To single out cap and trade as the only thing Mary Nichols has done is just wrong,” Carlson said. “There’s policy after policy after policy on both climate change and air pollution.”