Cal­i­for­nia Greenin’

How the Golden State Be­came an En­vi­ron­men­tal Leader

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews -

David Vo­gel, Prince­ton Univer­sity Press (MAY) Hard­cover $29.95 (304pp), 978-0-691-17955-1

Mas­ter­fully ex­plor­ing past and present ef­forts to pro­tect Cal­i­for­nia’s nat­u­ral beauty and re­sources, Cal­i­for­nia Greenin’ ar­gues that “No other state has en­acted so many in­no­va­tive, com­pre­hen­sive, and strin­gent en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions over such a long pe­riod of time.” The “green­ing” of Cal­i­for­nia, as David Vo­gel calls it, de­rives from a unique col­lab­o­ra­tion of the state’s cit­i­zenry, busi­nesses, and po­lit­i­cally in­voked reg­u­la­tions, all work­ing to­ward a com­mon goal.

The mag­ni­tude of en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cern is clear in Vo­gel’s evoca­tive de­scrip­tions of such frag­ile re­sources as Cal­i­for­nia’s red­woods, beaches, coast­line, and the San Fran­cisco Bay. Sec­tions of the book cover in de­tail the state’s chal­lenges in deal­ing with the im­pact of oil drilling and air pol­lu­tion, as well as the need to man­age and pre­serve wa­ter.

Per­haps the most no­table en­vi­ron­men­tal protection pol­icy is Cal­i­for­nia’s van­guard au­to­mo­bile emis­sions stan­dards that paved the way for es­tab­lish­ment of fed­eral stan­dards. More re­cently, Cal­i­for­nia has been an en­vi­ron­men­tal leader in re­new­able en­ergy and cli­mate change ini­tia­tives, pro­duc­ing strong back­lash.

With the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal land­scape in mind, Vo­gel sug­gests that Cal­i­for­nia’s ap­proach “may well her­ald the fu­ture of Amer­i­can en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tion” in the sense that “a grow­ing share of en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­i­cy­mak­ing in the United States will be done by states.” Equally sig­nif­i­cant is Vo­gel’s in­sight­ful clos­ing sec­tion, in which he dis­cusses the re­al­ity that Cal­i­for­nia’s en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy has also cre­ated a com­pet­i­tive advantage for the state and con­trib­uted to its eco­nomic suc­cess.

Cal­i­for­nia Greenin’ is a must-read for any­one seek­ing a path to lo­cally driven en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­i­cy­mak­ing.

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