Steven Cliff leaves NHTSA for CARB

August 15, 2022

Mark Schremmer


A little more than two months after being confirmed as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 16th administrator, Steven Cliff is leaving the post.

The California Air Resources Board announced on Friday, Aug. 12, that Cliff has been named its new executive officer.

Cliff was confirmed as NHTSA’s administrator in June. He had served as the agency’s deputy administrator since February 2021.

“Steve brings a deep understanding of the science of air pollution, along with a strong commitment and track record of promoting the solutions that deliver clean air benefits for all Californians, especially those living in communities impacted by persistent pollution,” CARB Chair Liane Randolph said in a news release. “He is the right choice to implement the board’s vision during this crucial decade as we move ahead with the ambitious policies and programs to tackle the state’s climate emergency and continue to prioritize equity both within CARB’s workforce and in the communities we serve.”

After earning a doctorate in chemistry in 1998, Cliff worked for about 10 years as a research professor at the University of California, Davis. In 2008, he joined the staff of the California Air Resources Board and then was appointed as the California Department of Transportation’s assistant director of sustainability in 2014. Cliff returned to CARB in 2016 as senior adviser. He later served as CARB’s deputy executive officer.

“His experience developing programs and incentives to promote zero-emission vehicles that protect communities from harmful air pollution, and his support for sustainable transportation and mobility options ensure a continued focus at CARB on equity that delivers low-carbon solutions where they are most needed,” Randolph said.

Ann Carlson, NHTSA’s chief council, is expected to take over leadership of the agency in an interim capacity. It is unclear whether or not the Biden administration will make another nomination for the permanent role. LL