Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Liane Randolph as the new chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), succeeding Mary Nichols. Ms. Randolph has served in a number of positions, including San Leandro city attorney, chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission, deputy secretary and general counsel to the California Natural Resources Agency, and, most recently, commissioner with the California Public Utilities Commission. She will lend her vast knowledge of California government as she fills the role that Mary Nichols has held for the past 13 years.
Ms. Nichols will leave Ms. Randolph with big shoes to fill. Ms. Nichols has aggressively led California’s efforts to battle climate change. Mobile sources (cars, trucks, airplanes, farm equipment, etc.) account for over half of the greenhouse gas emissions in California and were a significant focus of Ms. Nichols. Ms. Nichols employed a multi-pronged approach to reducing carbon emissions, consisting of forcing carmakers to produce cars that limit carbon emissions, promoting electric cars, and implementing incentives for low-carbon fuels. She also spearheaded the first cap on carbon emissions at power plants, which President Obama attempted to expand to a national level. Ms. Nichols is probably best known for California’s bold cap-and-trade program that limits the amount of greenhouse gases facilities and businesses in California are allowed to emit.
President-elect Biden is considering Ms. Nichols to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. As many have pointed out, California often incubates climate policy and programs that eventually become national policy. Ms. Randolph is poised to follow in Ms. Nichol’s footsteps in promulgating policies and regulations aimed towards reducing carbon emissions and, ultimately, helping California to achieve a carbon-free grid by 2045 in compliance with the Governor’s order. President-elect Biden’s climate change policies likewise call for steep reductions in carbon emissions. All eyes will continue to look towards California for innovative solutions, and it seems likely that those solutions will come from Ms. Randolph.