Mary Nichols was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as chairman of the California Air Resources Board in July 2007, returning to the same position she held under Gov. Jerry Brown from 1978 to 1983.
Nichols has devoted her entire career in public and private, not-for-profit service to advocating for the environment and public health. She has previously served as assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Air and Radiation under the Clinton administration, secretary of the California Resources Agency from 1999 to 2003, and director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment.
A graduate of Yale Law School and Cornell University, Nichols was one of California's first environmental lawyers. She initiated precedent-setting test cases under the Federal Clean Air Act and California air quality laws while practicing as a staff attorney for the Center for Law in the Public Interest.
In her return as chairman, Nichols' priorities include moving the state's landmark climate change program ahead, steering the Air Resources Board through numerous efforts to curb diesel pollution at ports and continuing to pass regulations aimed at providing cleaner air for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley.
The California Air Resources Board leads the country in working with the public, the business sector and local governments to protect the public's health, the economy and the state's ecological resources through the most cost-effective reduction of air pollution. The board employs roughly 1,200 engineers, scientists and attorneys, with an annual operating budget of more than $750 million.