Friday, April 20, 2018

David Vogel's "California Greenin'"

David Vogel is professor emeritus in the Haas School of Business and the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, California Greenin': How the Golden State Became an Environmental Leader, and reported the following:
Page 99 of California Greenin’ describes the opposition of local governments and business firms to one of California’s most important environmental initiatives, namely the establishment of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. The world’s first coastal development agency which was made permanent in 1969 the Commission was given planning authority over all developments within 100 feet of the Bay’s shoreline. Its enactment by the California state legislature was the culmination of an extensive grassroots campaign by the Save Our Bay Action Committee, comprised of citizens who wanted to stop the beautiful San Francisco Bay from being rapidly filled it. Since western settlement, the amount of open water in the Bay had been reduced by more than 300 square miles while less of a quarter of the original tidal marshlands that had surrounded the Bay remained. Without strong and effective government regulation, one of California’s best known natural features would have continued to shrink.

The Commission’s establishment represents one of several important and innovative environmental initiatives in California that are described and explained in the book. They include the nation’s first protected wilderness area in Yosemite (1864), three large national parks to protect the sequoias in the Sierras, (1890), the nation’s first emissions standards for pollutants from motor vehicles (1964) and the California Coastal Commission (1976). More recently California has led the United States in issuing energy efficiency standards for appliances, buildings and motor vehicles and in addressing the risks of global climate change.

The book argues that California’s long history of environmental policy leadership is linked to three factors. First, many citizens have effectively supported regulations to protect the state’s unusually attractive but also highly vulnerable natural environment from destructive economic developments. Second, these citizen efforts have often been backed by business firms who benefiting by putting California on a “greener” growth trajectory. Thus both steamship firms and the Southern Pacific Railroad lobbied to protect California’s wilderness areas in order to promote tourism in the state, while the real estate industry in Los Angeles supported pollution control regulations to improve the city’s deteriorating air quality. Third, California has developed a regulatory bureaucracy that has enabled the state to develop and enforce its own environmental regulations - often independent of the federal government. Its effective and extensive environmental regulations has enabled California to remain a “golden state.”
Learn more about California Greenin' at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Politics of Precaution.

--Marshal Zeringue