Knowing Mary Nichols

Source: BY KELSEY TAMBORRINO, Politico • Posted: Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Mary Nichols, a Yale-trained lawyer who first helmed the California Air Resources Board in the 1970s, has made a career of bringing industry on board with groundbreaking environmental policies in ways that others have struggled — and failed — to replicate. One reason is that she’s better than most at negotiating with industry.

California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols looks on during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif.

California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols looks on during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Nichols’ ability to convince wary policymakers and industry executives that the environment and economy are not at odds lies at the heart of her success in forging a bipartisan consensus on climate change action in California. And it may be the reason that Nichols, who is termed out as chair of the state air pollution agency at the end of the year, tops the list of Biden’s potential picks to head the EPA, although she’s not a slam dunk for the job.

Under Biden, EPA will need to reverse the Trump administration’s rollbacks of climate policies and go even farther. Getting businesses on board and convincing them that environmental progress doesn’t come at the expense of economic gains — during a deep recession and pandemic-induced economic anxiety, no less — will be key.

Even if she doesn’t wind up heading the EPA , whoever does is likely to use her playbook going forward as the incoming Biden administration races to make up time lost during the Trump years, Debra reports. “The way I have operated and the way I’ve been successful is because I’ve been able to bring in the affected stakeholders and also maintain the momentum of the agencies themselves,” Nichols said.

Related: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has told the the Biden transition team he supports nominating Nichols to lead EPA, a person with direct knowledge of the conversation tells Pro’s Anthony Adragna.

 

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