Schwarzenegger Shows Greener Side In Overhauling Air Resources Board
By LAURENCE DARMIENTO
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is showing few of his Republican stripes in overhauling the California Air Resources Board, one of the state's most powerful environmental bodies.
With almost no fanfare, the governor has replaced five members of the 11-member board, shifting the balance of the board toward Democrats, 7 to 4. Schwarzenegger also has reappointed the Democratic Chairman Alan Lloyd, who is well respected among environmentalists.
The personnel moves, including the appointment of prominent air quality researcher Dr. Henry Gong, are expected to bring about an even greener board than during Democrat Gray Davis' administration.
"The board looks really strong and may be the strongest air board in more than a decade," said Tim Carmichael, executive director of the Coalition for Clean Air. "It's very consistent with his rhetoric about his personal commitment to reducing air pollution in the state."
Though tricky to predict board decision-making, the overhaul could affect one of the body's most significant decisions in years: adoption of new regulations to reduce green-house gas emissions by 30 percent in the face of litigation threats by the auto industry.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District is also petitioning the board to help it overturn a U.S. Supreme Court decision negating regulations that cut emissions from diesel fleets. The local board seeks additional authority from the federal government.
The state board, formed in 1967, is responsible for improving California's air quality through the regulation of vehicles, fuels and consumer products. Its decisions have had a major impact on federal emissions guidelines because of the size of California's automobile market.
Schwarzenegger spokesman Terri Carbaugh said there would be no comment on the board changes other than a previously prepared release in which the governor notes that the state has led the nation in clean air efforts and that the new appointees will "work diligently to build upon the significant strides already made."
Despite his fondness for huge SUVs, Schwarzenegger has made a series of high-profile commitments to environmental issues, including a plan to create a "hydrogen highway" of alternative fuel stations. He also has petitioned the federal government to buy out offshore oil leases.
Aside from Lloyd, the governor reappointed two Democratic and two Republican members of the board, while appointing five new members four Democrats and one Republican.
The new appointments are Sandra Berg, president of Ellis Paint Co., a Los Angeles industrial paint and coating manufacturer; Dr. Henry Gong, chief of environmental health service at Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center; Lydia Kennard, former executive director of Los Angeles World Airports; Ron Loveridge, Riverside mayor and a member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District; and Patrician Pineda, a vice president at New United Motor Manufacturing, the joint General Motors-Toyota plant in Fremont.
Carmichael said many environmentalists pushed to have Lloyd reappointed, although he also was supported by business groups. "He has been pretty consistent about taking the scientific high road whenever there was data available," Carmichael said.
The appointment of Gong, a renowned diesel exhaust researcher, and Loveridge, a member of the South Coast board whose Inland Empire city is in one of the most polluted regions in the country, also drew praise.
"We are generally pleased with the appointments, and we are particularly pleased with the appointments of Gong and Loveridge," said Craig Nobel, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Stephanie Williams, senior vice president of the California Trucking Association, agreed that the new board appeared to be even more environmentally sensitive than the one Davis appointed.
"This is a green administration," she said. "They are going to have to use balance. Anything they do to squeeze us will bring in out-of-state and Mexican trucks. California truckers are kind of an endangered species right now."
Of particular concern to the trucking industry are attempts by the South Coast board to gain additional authority to promote the use of alternative fuels in Los Angeles-based truck fleets.
Kennard, who has experience running a significant pollution source in LAX, said she believes she brings a lot to the air board in efforts to cut pollution.
"We had a huge fleet of alternative vehicles. We had extensive electrification of gates and ground-handling equipment. In general we tried to cut down the number of vehicles coming to the airport," said the Democrat.
Lloyd was out of the country on vacation, and the other new members of the board did not return telephone calls or could not be reached for comment.
The appointments come amid a recommendation by the governor's California Performance Review panel to fold the California Air Resources Board into a proposed environmental department, eliminating its independence.
Schwarzenegger has not specifically supported that recommendation and Carmichael said he doubts the governor favors it.
Air Board Overhaul: Following appointments by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the California Air Resources Board now has a majority of Democrats.
Sandra Berg, R, paint company executive
Dr. Henry Gong Jr., D, medical researcher
Lydia Kennard, D, former LAX executive director
Ronald Loveridge, D, mayor of Riverside
Patricia Pineda, D, car company vice president
William Burke, D, chairman South Coast air district
Joseph Calhoun, R, air quality consultant
C. Hugh Friedman, R, law school professor
Dr. William Friedman, R, medical school professor
Matthew McKinnon, D, labor union executive
Alan Lloyd, D, board chairman
Dorene D'Adamo, D, congressional aide
Mark DeSaulnier, D, Contra Costa County
Barbara Patrick, R, Kern County supervisor
Barbara Riordan, R, board member Mojave air
*Ron Roberts, a Republican San Diego County supervisor, has not left the board but was not reappointed, apparently pending the outcome of his San Diego mayoral bid in November.
Source: California Air Resources Board
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