California efforts underway to curb greenhouse gases, Nov. 12

California Air Resources Board chairman to discuss efforts to curb greenhouse gases in lecture at URI, Nov. 12

Event is part of URI’s fall Honors Colloquium

KINGSTON, R.I. – November 3, 2008 – Mary D. Nichols, one of the country’s leading environmental lawyers and the chairman of the California Air Resources Board, will discuss how the state of California is trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the University of Rhode Island’s annual fall Honors Colloquium.

Free and open to the public, the lecture will be held Wednesday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in Edwards Auditorium on URI’s Kingston Campus.

The 2008 Honors Colloquium, “People and Planet: Global Environmental Change,” explores human-caused global change, its consequences and potential responses through a series of lectures, films, exhibits and a cabaret. Weekly events run through Dec. 9.

As chairman of the California Air Resources Board – a post she first held from 1979 to 1983 and to which she was reappointed in 2007 — Nichols is responsible for setting air pollution standards for motor vehicles and fuels, as well as for implementing the state’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions legislation. That legislation led to a lawsuit filed by the state of California against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its failure to act on a request for authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for cars and light trucks sold in the state. Rhode Island and 13 other states have joined in the lawsuit.

After graduating from Cornell University and Yale Law School, Nichols practiced environmental law in Los Angeles, bringing cases on behalf of environmental and public health organizations to enforce state and federal clean air legislation. President Bill Clinton appointed her to head the Office of Air and Radiation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she was responsible for the acid rain trading program and setting the first air quality standard for fine particles.

She served as California’s Secretary for Natural Resources from 1999 to 2003 and was professor of law and director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The next Honors Colloquium event will feature Jeremy Jackson, a professor and marine ecologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, discussing human effects on the ocean and its ecosystems on Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

The major sponsors of the 2008 Honors Colloquium are the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation, the URI Office of the President, the URI Honors Program, the URI Graduate School of Oceanography and the College of Arts and Sciences. Additional support came from the Thomas Silvia and Shannon Chandley Honors Colloquium Endowment, the Mark and Donna Ross Honors Colloquium Humanities Endowment, the deans of the remaining URI colleges, the offices of the URI vice presidents, the EPA Atlantic Ecology Division and Rhode Island Sea Grant.

For further details about the colloquium, including an updated schedule and information on parking, go to or contact the URI Honors Center at 401-874-2381 or