Calif. clean air chief expected to keep job overseeing landmark climate policies

In 1979, Gov. Jerry Brown tapped Mary Nichols, then an up-and-coming environmental lawyer, to lead the state's top clean air agency. Decades later, Brown is widely expected to reappoint Nichols as chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board as he pushes ahead with the state's landmark greenhouse gas reduction policy.

As head of the ARB under Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nichols is credited with keeping the state's ambitious climate change policies on track, just as those policies came under attack from a rollback initiative funded largely by out-of-state oil interests. That voters rejected the rollback measure, Proposition 23, in November by 22 points showed that the "public recognizes that we are on the right course," she said.

Under the Brown administration, Nichols said California's green energy and climate change policies will remain on the same course. But she noted that the agency will have to make do with less.

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