WASHINGTON — President Biden has nominated Ann Carlson, the acting head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to become the agency's full-time administrator, the White House announced this week.
Carlson, the agency's chief counsel since 2021, was named acting head of NHTSA in September, in the wake of the abrupt departure of Steven Cliff after just 78 days in the job.
Confirmed by the Senate on May 26 as NHTSA's 16th administrator, Cliff was filling a post that had been empty since 2017, when Mark Rosekind resigned as the Trump administration took over.
Before joining NHTSA, Carlson focused on climate change and air pollution law and policy at the UCLA School of Law, where she was the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and the faculty co-director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
She also served as the California Assembly's representative to the Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee and won three teaching awards, including the highest honor awarded by UCLA, NHTSA said.
A 1982 graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and Harvard Law School in 1989, Carlson has co-authored a leading environmental casebook, co-edited a book Lessons from the Clean Air Act, and written numerous environmental law publications.
At NHTSA, she has overseen the agency's safety investigations into Tesla as well as efforts to shrink traffic deaths and significantly boost vehicle fuel economy requirements.
The Governors Highway Safety Association, a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, applauded her nomination and urged Congress to confirm her.