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Airing opinions on Mary Nichols

September 11, 2007

Re "A cloud around the state's air chief," Opinion, Sept. 5

Richard Nemec criticizes Mary Nichols, our new California Air Resources Board chair, for holding stocks in energy companies even though she has already indicated she intends to have her investments placed in a blind trust. As chair of the same agency years ago and as a high-level federal official, Nichols led California into a new era of cleaner air. Now, she returns to the job at the most crucial juncture in its history, leading the agency as it implements California's landmark global warming legislation. Given her record, Nemec's criticism seems like a cheap shot.

Nichols has demonstrated repeatedly that she will take on oil companies, the auto industry and any other large interest if necessary to carry out her regulatory duties. She has served this state and country for more than 30 years as a champion of the environment. The state is lucky to have her.

Ann Carlson

Faculty Director

Environmental Law

Center, UCLA

*

It is a sad state of affairs when someone appointed to spearhead leadership on establishing global warming solutions is a stockholder in the biggest private-sector coal supplier on the planet.

In the current political climate of the United States, it is absolutely crucial to examine the links between corporate interests and government activity. It is integral to maintaining any real semblance of a functioning democratic republic. Nichol's investments with entities such as Peabody Energy Corp. and Chevron Corp. pose a clear conflict of interest with her duties as chief of the Air Resources Board. I hope that the state Senate does not overlook or trivialize the matter during this month's confirmation hearings.

Curry Chandler

Calabasas

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