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.


The 2012-13 Budget: Strategies to Maintain California's Park System

March 2, 2012 - The 2012-13 Governor’s Budget includes proposals to address some of the funding challenges currently faced by parks, including the continuation of the plan to close up to 70 state parks by July 2012. However, the Legislature and stakeholders have expressed interest in identifying alternative ways to prevent park closures and, more importantly, help ensure that the park system is adequately maintained and operated in the future. In this report, we evaluate various options that could be adopted to reduce costs or increase revenue for the state park system. Based on this analysis, we recommend specific steps to help maintain the park system, such as transferring the ownership of some state parks to local governments, eliminating the use of peace officers for certain park tasks, allowing private companies to operate some state parks, and increasing park user fees.


The 2012–13 Budget: Cap–and–Trade Auction Revenues

February 16, 2012 - This report examines the Governor's budget proposal regarding the use of revenues expected to be generated from the cap-and-trade auctions that the California Air Resources Board (ARB) will hold in 2012-13. These auctions are part of the state's plan to meet the goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (commonly referred to as AB 32). In this report, we recommend that the Legislature first use the revenues in 2012-13 to offset General Fund costs of existing programs designed to mitigate GHG emissions. Since the Legislature will need to decide which General Fund costs to offset as part of the 2012-13 budget process, such decisions are best made this spring. In addition, the Legislature will need to begin the process of determining how effectively to allocate the remaining auction revenues on new or expanded programs.


Evaluating the Policy Trade-Offs in ARB's Cap-and-Trade Program

February 9, 2012 - This report analyzes the design of the cap-and-trade program as adopted by the California Air Resources Board (ARB). This new, complex program is part of the state's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide to 1990 levels by 2020—a goal set by the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (commonly referred to as AB 32). The report examines in detail the specific policy choices made by the ARB in the design of the program, some specific policy trade-offs inherent in those decisions, and options for program design changes that the Legislature may wish to make depending on its policy priorities.


Governance and Funding Options for Restoring the Salton Sea

November 29, 2011 - Presented to: Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation


Potential Funding Alternatives for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Planning Process

October 19, 2011 - Potential Funding Alternatives for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Planning Process


Funding Timber Harvest Regulation

September 28, 2011 - Presented to Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee


Fish and Wildlife Agency Structures and Best Practices: A Study of Florida, Texas, Washington, and New York

September 14, 2011 - Presented to Fish and Wildlife Strategic Vision Executive Committee and Blue Ribbon Citizen Commission


Department of Fish and Game: Budget and Policy Overview

July 21, 2011 - Presented to Fish and Wildlife Strategic Vision, Blue Ribbon Citizen Commission


Cap-and-Trade Market Issues

June 29, 2011 - Presented to Senate Select Committee on the Environment, the Economy,and Climate Change


Funding Public-Purpose Water-Related Activities

May 3, 2011 - Presented to Water Plan Finance Caucus


The Renewable Resource Trust Fund

March 30, 2011 - Presented to Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications


Funding Public Benefits of Water Investments

March 22, 2011 - Presented to Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee


Resources Bond Overview

February 10, 2011 - Presented to Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection,Energy and Transportation


Overview of the Beverage Container Recycling Fund

February 4, 2011 - Presented to Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation


Public Interest Research Program Review, Letter to Senator Padilla

February 3, 2011 - This responds to Senator Padilla's request that we conduct an independent review of the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program at the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (CEC). This program, which will automatically expire unless extended through legislative action, provides grants for research to develop energy technologies that benefit the environment, provide greater electricity system reliability, and lower system costs. We find that (1) the CEC has not demonstrated that there has been a substantial payoff to date from the state’s investment of more than $700 million in ratepayer funds, (2) there is a role for the state to continue to support public interest energy research, and (3) if the Legislature decides that there should be a continuing state role in this area of research, improvements could be made to the implementation of this role, including tightening funding eligibility parameters and changing the process by which research funding is allocated.