Governor Newsom names Esquivel SWRCB Chair, appoints Lauren Firestone

Former CDFA Secretary Bill Lyons appointed Agriculture Liaison in the Office of the Governor

In his first two months of office, Governor Newsom has made several appointments to his cabinet and various agencies that have a direct impact on the agricultural industry.

On February 12, 2019, the Governor delivered his first State of the State Address during which he announced two key water appointments. Joaquin Esquivel will replace Felicia Marcus as Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. Additionally, water activist and attorney Laurel Firestone is a new member of the Board.

Esquivel was appointed to the Board by Governor Brown in 2017. He previously served as assistant secretary for federal water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency from 2015 to 2017. Prior to that, he served in the Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer from 2007 to 2015 as a research assistant, legislative aide, and legislative assistant for water and agriculture issues.

Firestone is a co-founder and co-director of the Community Water Center. She served on the Tulare County Water Commission from 2007 to 2012 and co‐chaired the Governor’s Drinking Water Stakeholder Group from 2012 to 2014.

We are hopeful, given these appointments as well as the addition of Sean Maguire last December, that there will be greater opportunity to engage with the Board productively than has been the case in the past.

The Governor also announced on Wednesday that he has appointed Bill Lyons to the newly created position of Agriculture Liaison in the Office of the Governor. Lyons has been chief executive officer of Lyons Investments Management, LLC since 1976. He previously served as Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture from 1999 to 2004 and has extensive background in matters of water policy.

Lyons is a welcomed addition to the Governor’s cabinet and will certainly be a necessary voice for the agricultural industry in this position.  CCM enjoyed a very positive working relationship with Lyons during his tenure at CDFA and we look forward to working with him again.

Other appointments of note include:

CalEPA – Jared Blumenfeld has been appointed Secretary of CalEPA. Blumenfeld previously served eight years as Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Pacific Southwest (Region 9) during which time he worked with the agricultural industry to access incentive funds for farm equipment upgrades to comply with air quality mandates. Prior to that, he served as Director of the San Francisco Department of Environment for nine years under then-Mayor Newsom.

California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) – Brian Leahy is no longer the Director of DPR.  Teresa Marks, chief deputy director since 2016, has taken over as DPR’s acting director. Marks formerly worked as a lead adviser at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where she specialized in oil and gas regulations.

CDFA – Karen Ross has been reappointed Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.  Secretary Ross has served in this position for 8 years under Governor Brown.  We are excited to continue working with Secretary Ross, particularly as the industry moves forward in establishing a new citrus division within CDFA.

California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) – Wade Crowfoot has been appointed Secretary of the CNRA. Crowfoot was chief executive officer of the Water Foundation from 2016 to 2018. He was deputy cabinet secretary and senior advisor to Governor Brown from 2013 to 2016. Crowfoot also served as deputy director for Governor Brown’s Office of Planning and Research from 2011 to 2013. He was West Coast political director at the Environmental Defense Fund from 2009 to 2011 and senior environmental advisor to former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom from 2004 to 2007.

Governor Newsom has not yet made any undersecretary appointments.