Mary Nichols.


Air Board Chief One-on-One

My experiment in audience participation falls short

I had the chance to sit down for a few minutes with California’s top air regulator today. Mary Nichols, who chairs the state’s Air Resources Board joined us by satellite from Sacramento. The seven-minute interview will air on KQED’s This Week in Northern California, Friday evening.

Nichols after a day-long public hearing in December of last year. (Photo: Craig Miller)

On Wednesday, blogger Jon Brooks posted a call for questions on “News Fix,” the KQED News blog. It was a worthwhile experiment but the results speak to the extent to which Nichols has become a lightning rod for opponents of environmental regulation in general and cap & trade in particular — and to some degree the state of public policy discourse in America today. The comments, some emailed and some posted on the comments thread at News Fix were largely a stream of invective directed at Nichols and the Air Board. Some questions were a bit technical for a seven-minute TV interview. Others were valid but off-topic. As the latest installment in our series of “Climate Watch Conversations,” I tried to keep to the climate-related business of the Board (with one exception: I felt I needed to have her address events unfolding in Japan and concerns here about radioactive drift).

Nonetheless I was able to cull a few for this brief interview. Continue reading