A former regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was appointed Friday as the acting executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Wayne Nastri will fill the seat left vacant by last month’s ouster of Barry Wallerstein, who had been the executive officer since 1997. His firing was criticized by some environmental activists who accused the AQMD board of trying to weaken pollution-control policies to make them more business- friendly.

Nastri was the regional administrator for Region IX of the EPA from October 2001 to January 2009. He previously served on the AQMD board and as a member of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control Site Mitigation External Advisory Committee.

“Wayne brings a strong environmental record and decades of experience at the local, state and federal level working on clean air solutions and myriad environmental issues with the community and stakeholders,” said William A. Burke, AQMD board chairman.

County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, a member of the AQMD board, said Nastri “will be a proactive advocate to protect Porter Ranch residents’ public health in the wake of the Aliso Canyon gas leak and throughout the entire SCAQMD region.”

As executive director, Nastri will oversee a staff of about 800 people and an annual budget of $137 million.

–City News Service

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