CARB board member who criticized Chairman Nichols resigns

| 6/7/2011

A member of California’s controversial California Air Resources Board who has been openly critical of the agency’s procedures and leadership recently resigned.

John Telles, a cardiologist from Fresno, CA, resigned in late May.

In a brief letter sent to California Gov. Jerry Brown, Telles said upcoming changes to healthcare require Telles to spend more time at his cardiology practice and the hospital he works at.

“I no longer have adequate time to serve in these positions,” Telles said. “I thank you and Governor Schwarzenegger for giving me the opportunity to serve on these important committees.”

The letter’s brevity stands in stark contrast to emails Telles wrote following the unveiling of a lie and cover-up by the researcher behind CARB’s most expensive truck rule to date. The cover-up later involved Chairman Mary Nichols, who publicly apologized a year after the fact.

In December 2009, one year after CARB approved the on-road truck and bus regulation, which is expected to cost trucking companies billions of dollars to comply with, Nichols revealed that CARB researcher Hien Tran had lied about his scientific credentials. It was later discovered that Tran had ordered his doctoral degree from a diploma mill.

Nichols told some CARB board members about the lie shortly before the board approved the truck and bus rule, but hid the information from about half the board for nearly a year.

“I believe the legitimacy of the (truck and bus rule) vote to be in question,” Telles wrote in 2009 email to CARB’s chief counsel.

Later, Telles wrote that a “fundamental violation of procedure,” combined with the agency’s failure to reveal that information to the board before it voted to approve the truck and bus measure “not only casts doubt upon the legitimacy of the Truck (and Bus) rule, but also upon the legitimacy of CARB itself.”

His name may not be familiar with truck drivers, but Telles will be missed, said Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA director of regulatory affairs.

“Dr. Telles was the only voice of reason on the CARB board to recognize how the Hien Tran affair damaged the agency’s reputation,” Rajkovacz said. “In the aftermath of the scandal, he called on the agency to suspend the rule until work performed by Tran could be redone. Instead, the tainted work was used to justify the most far-reaching regulation of the trucking industry in decades.”

“As an industry, we’re still waiting to see how these emissions rules will shake out.”
Rajkovacz pointed out that the U.S. EPA is working with CARB to develop national greenhouse gas  and fuel mileage standards for heavy-duty vehicles. When CARB loses voices of reason, Rajkovacz said, the agency isn’t better for it.

“The seasonal wildfires in California are not the only source of smoke emanating from that state,” Rajkovacz said. “A lot of it comes from a certain building in Sacramento.”