Southern California environment news and trends

Chrisman out at Resources; Gov taps Lester Snow to replace him

Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman has been one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's closest allies in the last seven years. Guess that's enough: he's leaving the department, as of February 1.

Climate change has given Chrisman a higher profile: he was with Schwarzenegger in Copenhagen, for example, and has featured prominently in the Governor's global climate summits the last couple of years. (Apparently he had trouble getting credentialed in Copenhagen, so he met with state-level officials about forestry issues.) So has ocean protection: just recently, following the completion of the South Coast region's Marine Life Protection Act process, Chrisman denied a [ed. 4:28 pm] second extension request from Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Commissioner Pat Higgins on behalf of the North Coast Local Interest MPA Workgroup to lengthen the time for considering and gathering data. Chrisman said the region had more data than anyone else so far has had, at that point in the process; just get on with it.

Anyone who's paid attention to CALFED or to water politics generally in California knows who Chrisman's intended replacement, Lester Snow, is. Here's what the Governator said about him in the press release:

"Throughout the course of my Administration, Lester has used his high-level expertise in public resource management to protect California's water supply. With his skills and knowledge, Lester served a key role in developing the historic comprehensive water package to reform and rebuild our state's water infrastructure that will benefit future generations of Californians," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "I am confident that he will bring that same level of commitment and dedication to managing the agency in this new role and I look forward to working with him to preserve California's invaluable natural resources."

AB 32, the climate legislation, has created a lot of work for the state's EPA, air board, and resources agencies to deal with - usually in the form of mandates. Those mandates are really beginning coming to fruit this year and next. It'll be interesting to see how Snow handles all that.

AND ANOTHER THING:Accompanying the Chrisman-Snow announcement, Schwarzenegger announced his pick a new DFG chief: John McCamman. McCamman is the second this year. Earlier, Schwarzenegger picked another guy as Fish and Game director; his appointment got stuck in turnaround, as they say in the movie industry. Or, as they say in the political industry, the state Senate.

Lester Snow may not have trouble getting over the Senate-confirmation hurdle. Hard to know if the same is true about McCamman, though. It's been a tough few years for the DFG. The warden's union is apoplectic about diminishing numbers and flat salaries. Outdoorsmen aren't fond of Schwarzenegger and Chrisman's steady progress on building marine protected areas. If I were a robot, perhaps with serial number P7QFAK33MK4C, I'd say, "bleep-boop." Which means, "more data needed."

AND FINALLY: Mark Cowin may bump up a step from deputy to director of the Department of Water Resources, if the governor gets his way on all three appointments. That'll keep him reporting to Snow, so maybe those guys already have a shorthand worked out. Signals for ending long meetings. that sort of thing.

UPDATE: Guess this will go smoothly. At 4:40 pm, from Modesto Republican Dave Cogdill:

I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working closely with both Lester Snow and Mark Cowin on the comprehensive solution to improve the state’s water supply.

“Lester is a tireless public servant and his expertise on managing the state’s resources is unparalleled. I have no doubt that Lester will be a successful new leader of the Resources Agency.

“I am also glad that the transition will be seamless with the appointment of Mark Cowin as the new Department of Water Resources Director. Together, we’ve made tremendous strides to ensure clean and safe water is available for all Californians and I look forward to working with Mark and Lester on the additional work that lies ahead to protect our state’s natural resources.”

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