Environment and Natural Resources Publications

To browse all LAO publications, visit our Publications page.



The 2021-22 Budget: Department of Water Resources

January 27, 2021 - This publication provides an overview of the Governor's 2021-22 January budget proposals for the Department of Water Resources, including $284 million for flood management and $60 million to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.


The 2021-22 Budget: Overview of the Governor's Budget

January 10, 2021 - This report provides a brief summary and initial assessment of the proposed 2021-22 Governor’s Budget.

Correction 1/11/21: Totals for immediate and early action proposals have been corrected.


A Framework for Evaluating State-Level Green Stimulus Proposals

January 5, 2021 - This report is intended to provide guidance for the Legislature on how to evaluate the merits of state-funded green stimulus proposals. When reviewing such proposals, the Legislature faces two basic questions to evaluate whether they are worth pursuing: (1) what effects is the proposal likely to have on certain short-term economic conditions, such as employment and economic output; and (2) what short- and long-term environmental benefits could the proposal achieve?


Overview of Plastics in California

November 16, 2020 - Presented to: Assembly Natural Resources Committee Hon. Laura Friedman, Chair Select Committee on Waste Reduction and Recycling Hon. Kevin McCarty, Chair


Expanding Access to Safe and Affordable Drinking Water in California—A Status Update

November 10, 2020 - In 2019 the Legislature passed and the Governor signed Chapter 120 (SB 200, Monning) establishing the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water (SADW) Fund, which provides up to $130 million annually for efforts to provide safe drinking water for every California community. The legislation tasked the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) with administering the funding and overseeing efforts to implement both short‑ and long‑term solutions to persistent drinking water problems. One year later, SWRCB has made good progress in establishing spending priorities, beginning to allocate funds and execute projects, and collecting essential data to identify the communities that should be targeted for improvements. However, the state is still in the very early stages of implementation. Given the serious threats to public health, safety, and environmental justice posed by existing drinking water deficiencies, the Legislature will want to continue conducting robust oversight over how efforts to rectify these conditions proceed.


State Spending on Wildfire Prevention and Mitigation

October 20, 2020 - Presented to: Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation Hon. Richard Bloom, Chair


State Wildfire Response Costs Estimated to Be Higher Than Budgeted

October 19, 2020 - This post discusses the administration’s recent notice to the Legislature, which estimates state emergency costs of $1.3 billion to fight this year’s wildfires. Provides context on the extreme wildfire season of 2020, as well as implications for the state budget.


The 2020-21 Spending Plan: Resources and Environmental Protection

October 5, 2020 - The budget package provides a total of $10.9 billion from various fund sources—the General Fund, bond funds, and various special funds—for programs administered by the California Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agencies. This is a net decrease of $4.4 billion (29 percent) compared to 2019‑20 estimated expenditures.


What Threat Does Sea-Level Rise Pose to California?

August 10, 2020 - Encroaching seas and waves could result in negative impacts along California’s coast not only through increased flooding, but also by eroding beaches and cliffs, and by raising coastal groundwater levels. This report describes available research on how rising seas threaten California’s coast in seven categories: public infrastructure, private property, vulnerable communities, natural resources, drinking and agricultural water supplies, toxic contamination, and economic disruption.


Improving California’s Response to the Environmental and Safety Hazards Caused by Abandoned Mines

August 4, 2020 - This report consists of three sections. First, in the background section, we describe (1) historical mining practices, (2) the risks AMLs pose to the environment and the physical safety hazards they cause, (3) the coordination across the many state and federal agencies to address AML issues, and (4) laws and programs governing the remediation of AMLs. In the second section of the report, we discuss key challenges to systematically remediating AMLs, such as a lack of a centralized statewide approach, land ownership issues, and lack of funding. In the third and final section, we recommend steps the Legislature could take to improve California’s approach to addressing the threats to public health and the environment caused by AMLs.


The 2020-21 Budget: Addressing Revenue Uncertainty in the 2020-21 Cap-and-Trade Expenditure Plan

June 4, 2020 - The 2020-21 May Revision includes a $965 million Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) discretionary expenditure plan, plus a budget provision to make spending contingent on the amount of revenue collected in 2020-21. In this post, we (1) discuss a few potential 2020-21 revenue scenarios, (2) summarize the Governor’s May Revision GGRF expenditure plan, and (3) identify key issues for the Legislature to consider as it develops a 2020-21 GGRF spending plan in a period of high revenue uncertainty.


Overview of Governor’s May Revision Proposals for Resources and Transportation Programs

May 21, 2020 - Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 On Resources and Transportation Hon. Richard Bloom, Chair

5/24/20: Updated proposed appropriations from Proposition 68 (2018).


Assessing California’s Climate Policies—Transportation

March 4, 2020 - Presented to: Senate Environmental Quality Committee Hon. Benjamin Allen, Chair and Senate Transportation Committee Hon. Jim Beall, Chair


The 2020-21 Budget: California Public Utilities Commission

February 27, 2020 - The Governor’s budget proposes $1.7 billion for the California Public Utilities Commission. In this post, we provide our recommendations on the proposed budget for the California LifeLine Program.


The 2020-21 Budget: Resources and Environmental Protection

February 25, 2020 - In this report we assess several of the Governor's 2020-21 budget proposals in the natural resources and environmental protection program areas. This includes reviews of the Governor's proposals related to the Department of Toxic Substances Control, Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Environment and Natural Resources Staff

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
Sarah Cornett
(916) 319-8329
Air Quality, Energy, and Climate Change
Rachel Ehlers
(916) 319-8330
Deputy Legislative Analyst: Environment and Transportation