IMAGE: SCHWARZENEGGER AND BLAIR
Jonathan Buckmaster  /  AP
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, right, has made global warming a key policy, even focusing on that when he met British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London on June 26, the day before Blair left office.
updated 7/3/2007 4:47:00 AM ET 2007-07-03T08:47:00

The executive director of a California agency charged with implementing a landmark global warming law resigned, saying Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office made it impossible for her to do her job.

Catherine Witherspoon's resignation comes days after the California Air Resources Board's chairman, Robert Sawyer, was ousted by Schwarzenegger.

"I think they're trying to control it, and they don't have a very cogent vision for what's needed," said Witherspoon, who has managed the agency since 2003.

Witherspoon said she felt some of the governor's top aides were trying to keep information from him so he would not endorse more far-reaching action to put the global warming law into effect.

The law, America's first limit on greenhouse gas emissions, calls for a 25 percent reduction by 2020.

Witherspoon painted a picture of a governor who was being misled and micromanaged by a staff that was trying to weaken the global warming law out of fear that it would harm businesses.

The picture is at odds with the governor's carefully tended public image as an environmental champion.

Echoing a complaint that both Democratic legislative leaders have made, Witherspoon said the governor's top aides were single-mindedly focused on using market-based mechanisms to implement the law, even though other methods, particularly regulation, are needed to meet the law's tough standards.

At a news conference Monday, Schwarzenegger insisted he was "in sync" with his staff on how to implement the global warming law. He said his goal is to implement the law.

"I don't get caught up in all this dialogue," Schwarzenegger said.

Schwarzenegger said Monday that he rescinded Sawyer's appointment because the retired University of California at Berkeley engineering professor had voted to grant a delay on new air standards for the San Joaquin Valley in central California.

That move contradicted the state's push to get a federal waiver to regulate tailpipe emissions under the Clean Air Act, the governor said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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