Skip Navigation

Website Sections

News Releases

National Air Quality Expert to Deliver Land Use Lecture

January 26, 2010

National Air Quality Expert to Deliver Land Use Lecture
CONTACT: John Cramer, Associate Director of Media Relations

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT -- Mary Nichols, one of the nation's top air quality experts and a leader of California's efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, will present the sixth annual Norman Williams Distinguished Lecture in Land Use Planning and the Law at Vermont Law School at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4, in the Chase Community Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Nichol's lecture, titled "Sustainable Communities for a Sustainable State," will explore California's innovative efforts to curb sprawl and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

One of California's first environmental lawyers, Nichols was appointed chairman of the California Air Resources Board in 2007. She also served as the board chairman from1978 to 1983.

Nichols, who has decades of experience in environmental policy and enforcement, advocates a "new clean energy economy" that rewards investment and innovation, creates jobs and serves as the engine for sustainable economic growth.

"Climate change is a critical global issue and California is taking a number of important steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under Mary Nichol's leadership," said Marc Mihaly, director of the VLS Environmental Law Center. "We're honored to have her present this year's Williams Lecture."

California's landmark efforts to address global warming include a first-in-the-nation strategy to align greenhouse gas emission reduction targets with transportation, housing and land use planning processes. In addition to cutting emissions, this strategic planning approach is intended to create communities with improved public health, accessibility and sustainability.

Nichols, who graduated from Yale Law School, has held a number of prominent positions in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. She has been an assistant administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Air and Radiation program in the Clinton administration, secretary of California's Resources Agency and director of the University of California, Los Angeles Institute of the Environment, where she is a professor in residence.

Nichols initiated precedent-setting test cases under the federal Clean Air Act and California air quality laws while she was a staff attorney at the Center for Law in the Public Interest. She also founded the Los Angeles office of Natural Resources Defense Council and was one of the first female journalists hired by The Wall Street Journal after she graduated from college in 1966.

As chairman of the California Air Resources Board, Nichols' priorities include promoting the state's landmark climate change program, reducing diesel pollution at ports and passing regulations to provide cleaner air for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley.

Nichols, who was considered for the position of EPA administrator in the Obama administration, received the Attorney of the Year award last year from California Lawyer Magazine for her contributions to environmental law.

About the Williams Lecture

Norman Williams came to Vermont Law School in 1975 after a long and distinguished career in public service and teaching, particularly in land use planning. He played a key role in founding Vermont Law School's Environmental Law Center. The Norman Williams Distinguished Lecture in Land Use Planning and the Law series is a gift of Frances Yates, trustee of Vermont Law School, in memory of both Norman Williams and Anya '90 and Charles Yates '90. The lecture is hosted by Vermont Law School's Land Use Institute. For more information, please visit: or contact Jane D'Antonio at 802-831-1217 or

Bookmark and Share