Helen Kerstein
(916) 319-8364
Forestry, Parks, and High Speed Rail
Sonja Petek
(916) 319-8340
Water, Coastal Development, and Fish and Wildlife
Frank Jimenez
(916) 319-8324
Highways and Roads, Recycling, Agriculture, and Toxics
Luke Koushmaro
(916) 319-8355
Mass Transportation, Traffic Enforcement, Statewide Planning and Infrastructure
Sarah Cornett
(916) 319-8329
Air Quality, Energy, and Climate Change
Rachel Ehlers
(916) 319-8330
Deputy Legislative Analyst: Environment and Transportation


Environment and Natural Resources

To browse all LAO publications, visit our Publications page.


Overview of the Governor’s 2017-18 Budget Proposal for Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3

March 8, 2017 - Presented to: Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation


The 2017-18 Budget: California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)

February 16, 2017 - In this analysis, we recommend two modifications to the Governor's proposed 2017-18 budget for the California Public Utilities Commission: (1) convert funding for one position in the Consumer Affairs Branch from permanent to two-year limited-term and (2) reject request for one position to publish contract information online.


The 2017-18 Budget: Resources and Environmental Protection

February 15, 2017 - In this report, we assess many of the Governor's 2017-18 budget proposals in the resources and environmental protection areas and recommend various changes. We provide a complete listing of our recommendations at the end of this report.


The 2017-18 Budget: Cap-and-Trade

February 13, 2017 - In this report, we provide comments and recommendations related to the Governor’s proposal. We recommend the Legislature authorize cap-and-trade (or a carbon tax) beyond 2020. If the Legislature approves cap-and-trade, we recommend the Legislature strengthen the allowance price ceiling and provide clearer direction to ARB regarding the criteria that the board should use to determine whether a complementary policy should be adopted. We also recommend the Legislature approve cap-and-trade (or carbon tax) with a two-thirds vote because it would provide greater legal certainty and ensure ARB has the ability to design an effective program. With a two-thirds vote, we recommend the Legislature broaden the allowable uses of auction revenue because it would give the Legislature flexibility to use the funds on its highest priorities. When finalizing its 2017-18 cap-and-trade spending plan, we recommend the Legislature (1) reject the administration’s proposed language making spending contingent on future legislation, (2) consider alternative strategies for dealing with revenue uncertainty, and (3) allocate funds to specific programs rather than providing DOF that authority.


Improving State’s Approach to Park User Fees

January 12, 2017 - The state park system contains nearly 280 parks, serves about 70 million visitors each year, and costs over $400 million a year to operate. These costs are mainly supported by the state General Fund and revenue generated by the parks, including roughly $100 million in fees paid by park users for day use, camping, and special events. In reviewing current fee-setting policies and procedures we find that the current lack of a statewide policy framework and standard process can lead to disparities in fees, infrequent reviews of fees, and inconsistent opportunities for public input. Our recommendations for improving how state park fees are determined and collected include (1) establishing a legislative fee policy that specifies the share of operational costs that should be borne by park users versus the General Fund (or alternative funding sources), (2) directing the State Parks and Recreation Commission to develop and regularly update fee guidelines to be implemented by state park districts in order to provide greater consistency throughout the state, and (3) specifying a fee-setting process that would be consistent statewide and provide greater opportunity for public input.


Key Differences Between Recent Medical Cannabis Laws and Proposition 64: A Preliminary Review

December 20, 2016 - The Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) provides a statutory framework for regulating medical cannabis and Proposition 64 of 2016 provides a statutory framework for regulating nonmedical cannabis. In this web post, we provide a preliminary review of the key differences between MCRSA and Proposition 64. We also describe some overarching issues for Legislative consideration.

(Updated 1/9/17)


Hydraulic Fracturing: How It Works and Recent State Oversight Actions

December 1, 2016 - In 2014, the Legislature passed new laws intended to improve state oversight of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” In this web post, we provide a progress report on the implementation of these new laws and a high-level overview of how hydraulic fracturing is used to stimulate oil and natural gas production.


New Federal Toxics Law Could Have Future Implications for State

October 5, 2016 - On June 22, 2016, the President signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. The new law implements significant reforms to the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. Under the new law, U.S. EPA will have greater authority to evaluate and regulate existing chemicals, as well as new chemicals proposed to be brought to the market. In addition to providing EPA with more authority to enforce restrictions on chemicals, the new law places greater limits on the authority of states to enforce their own laws and regulations restricting the use of chemicals. In the long-run, it is quite possible that the new federal law—and specifically the preemption provisions—could significantly affect California’s chemical safety programs and the implementation of current and future state restrictions.


Overview of Bond Funding for California State Parks

August 5, 2016 - Presented to: Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee


2016-17 Cap-and-Trade Proposals

May 24, 2016 - 2016-17 Cap-and-Trade Proposals


Addressing California’s Convenience Zone Recycling Center Closures

May 16, 2016 - Since January 1, 2016, about 330 (or about 15 percent of all) “convenience zone” (CZ) recycling centers—those generally located within a half mile of supermarkets—have closed. CZ recycling centers are an important part of the state’s Beverage Container Recycling Program (BCRP). They provide a convenient location for consumers to recycle beverage containers and have their deposit—the California Redemption Value, or “CRV”—repaid. The closure of so many CZ recycling centers is problematic because it reduces consumers’ ability to easily redeem their containers. This post examines the causes of these closures. It also provides some options that the Legislature could consider to help prevent additional closures, including statutory changes to recycler payments from the state and elimination of some recycler requirements.


Proposition 1: Statewide Commitments

April 27, 2016 - Presented to: Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation


Overview of the Beverage Container Recycling Program

April 21, 2016 - Presented to Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy, and Transportation


Administration’s Cap-and-Trade Report Provides New Information, Raises Issues for Consideration

April 20, 2016 - Presented to Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation


Administration’s Cap-and-Trade Report Provides New Information, Raises Issues For Consideration

April 15, 2016 - In March, the administration released its annual report on cap-and-trade spending outcomes. In this post, we summarize the information included in the report and, based on our review of the information, identify issues for legislative consideration.