Alan Lloyd has spent much of the past six years giving auto makers headaches.
As chairman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Mr. Lloyd oversaw efforts to mandate production of more electric vehicles.
Last year Mr. Lloyd guided CARB's adoption of landmark limits on vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. The industry responded with lawsuits.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a rising star in the Republican Party, has named Mr. Lloyd, a Democrat, to run California's Environmental Protection Agency. But that need not mean more headaches for the industry, Mr. Lloyd insists. ``I've got tremendous respect for the auto industry,'' he said.
Mr. Lloyd cites innovations by auto makers that have reduced dramatically the impact of vehicles on the environment. But he clearly expects more.
Car companies ``can find the governor, I think, a good friend in trying to grow the business, in trying to be a spokesman for the clean technologies,'' Mr. Lloyd said. But, he added: ``He's not going to back off his commitment to clean air. He's not going to back off his leadership role on greenhouse gases.''
Auto makers and car dealers are challenging California's greenhouse gas rules in federal court. Those rules would require a 30 percent cut by 2016 in vehicle emissions that are thought to cause global warming.
The main target is carbon dioxide (CO2), a byproduct of burning fuel and a natural part of the atmosphere. The industry said the rules amount to an illegal state attempt to regulate fuel economy. Only the federal government has that power.
Mr. Lloyd calls the litigation a mistake.
``Why not say, `Look, we may not like this, but let's see how we can work together'?'' he said. ``Detroit is missing a bet in not recognizing that we need to do something to reduce greenhouse gases.''
He defends California's role in making policy on climate change-even though it is primarily a national and international issue. ``Clearly, it would be better if in fact there was a more aggressive national approach,'' he said.
Mr. Lloyd contradicts the stereotype of a bloodless regulator. The 63-year-old Welshman comes across as genial and professorial, patiently trying to guide industry leaders to what he considers a more enlightened path.
``There's no substitute for what the auto companies can accomplish when they put their minds to it,'' he said.
An advocate of hydrogen as a vehicle fuel, he's encouraged that car companies see a commercial future for cars and trucks powered by fuel cells.
Auto makers, however, did not see such a future for full-sized battery-powered electric vehicles. ``I came to appreciate that,'' Mr. Lloyd said.
Mr. Lloyd has a doctorate in chemistry from the University College of Wales. He was chief scientist for the air quality agency that serves the Los Angeles area before he chaired the state Air Resources Board from 1999 until the end of last year.
As secretary of California's EPA, Mr. Lloyd retains responsibility for clean air. He adds to his portfolio a full range of water, waste and other environmental issues.
Gov. Schwarzenegger seeks sharp cuts in pollution, especially from the transportation sector. But he wants to make those gains in a business-friendly way, Mr. Lloyd said.
``We're reminded every day that this governor wants action, action, action,'' Mr. Lloyd said. ``On the areas that I care about, he's just tremendous.''