Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tapped five appointees to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's Board of Commissioners, including three prominent current and former environmental regulators and a local transportation expert.

The selections are described as part of the mayor's stated goal of prodding the agency to adopt more environment-friendly policies.

Villaraigosa's picks for the DWP board include Mary Nichols, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator and former California Resources Agency chair. Nichols was also longtime staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. She now teaches at UCLA.

Also named to the board of commissioners:

  • William A. Burke, board member and former chair of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and a board member of both the California Air Resources Board and California Coastal Commission. Burke, who is married to L.A. County Supervisor Yvonne Braithwaite Burke, started the Los Angeles Marathon.
  • David Nahai, three-time chair of the L.A.-area Regional Water Quality Control Board. Nahai is currently vice chair of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and serves on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Environmental Task Force.
  • Nick Patsaouras, former board member of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority who is president of Polis Builders, which develops mixed-use projects around transit centers. Earlier this month, Villaraigosa named Patsaouras' wife, Sylvia, to the airport commission.
  • Edith Ramirez, partner in the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges LLP and former board president of the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice.

Under the administration of former Mayor James Hahn, the DWP escaped fallout of the state's disastrous electricity deregulation law, but became the focal point for ethics and contracting investigations, including repeated extensions of a multi-million dollar public relations contract with Fleishman-Hillard International.

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