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New California Regulators Have Labor, Environmental Backgrounds

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday named two of his close advisors to positions on the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

Brown's choices are Martha Guzman Aceves, a deputy legislative affairs secretary in the governor's office since 2011, and Clifford Rechtschaffen, a senior advisor in Brown's office since 2011. They replace CPUC members Mike Florio and Catherine Sandoval, whose six-year terms expire with the start of the new year.

The two outgoing CPUC commissioners are attorneys, as is newcomer Rechtschaffen. He comes from an environmental law background, while Guzman Aceves holds a master's degree in economics and is a former legislative coordinator for the United Farm Workers union.

In Brown's office the past six years Guzman Aceves has focused on issues related to natural resources, environmental protection, energy, and food/agricultural topics. For the past 11 years, she has been sustainable communities program director for the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and is a co-founder of Communities for a New California.

Rechtschaffen, a Yale Law School graduate, has worked on climate, energy and environmental issues in Brown's office the past six years, and at one time served as acting director of the state Department of Conservation, which includes the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR). Along with the CPUC, DOGGR has beenthe state agencyoverseeing the aftermath of the Aliso Canyon underground gas storage facility methane leak.

Rechtschaffen also served as a special assistant attorney general (2007-2010) when Brown was California's Attorney General. Prior to that, he taught environmental law at Golden Gate University in San Francisco and founded the law school's environmental law and justice clinic.

In underscoring his environmental priorities, Brown stressed that both new regulators "have sound judgment and a commitment to protecting ratepayers and ensuring safe, reliable and climate-friendly energy in California."

During 2016, Brown has pushed programs for accelerating the state's response to climate change that promote a lessening of reliance on fossil fuels, including natural gas.

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