| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Dec 29 A lawyer with deep
experience fighting climate change will lead California's
Department of Justice until the next attorney general takes
office, as the state and several others vow to combat global
warming despite skepticism from President-elect Donald Trump.
Current California Attorney General Kamala Harris was
elected to the U.S. Senate, and Governor Jerry Brown said
earlier this month he will nominate U.S. Representative Xavier
Becerra to take her place. The choice of Becerra drew widespread
praise in California.
In the meantime, Kathleen Kenealy will become acting
attorney general when Harris is sworn in to the Senate early
next month and while the state legislature mulls Becerra's
nomination, according to a memo sent to state employees last
week and seen by Reuters.
Kenealy previously served in the department's natural
resources section, and defended California regulations on carbon
dioxide emissions from motor vehicles. She then led the office's
Kenealy said in an email to Reuters she was honored by the
appointment and looked forward to working on the transition to a
Trump has expressed skepticism toward the science behind
climate change. Since his election, governors of
California, Oregon and Washington said they joined a group of
U.S. states and countries dedicated to reducing rising acidity
in the oceans, a phenomenon tied to climate change that
threatens fish, coral reefs and other marine life.
Brown has been particularly outspoken, vowing to launch a
satellite from California to track climate change data if the
federal government suspends its efforts.
"We got the scientists, we got the lawyers, and we're ready
to fight," Brown said in a speech earlier this month.
Becerra's office did not respond to questions about what
position Kenealy would occupy if Becerra is confirmed.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Nathan Barankin said Harris
informed Becerra of her decision to elevate Kenealy, and Becerra
did not object.
"She's one of the best managers we have in the entire
department and deeply knowledgeable," Barankin said.
(Editing by Peter Henderson and Matthew Lewis)