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
Rachel Ehlers
(916) 319-8330
Deputy Legislative Analyst: Environment and Transportation


Environment and Natural Resources

To browse all LAO publications, visit our Publications page.


An Initial Review of the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program

December 13, 2021 - In recent years, as wildfires have increased in severity and damage, the Legislature has shown growing interest in state support of wildfire prevention efforts, including regional planning for forest health activities. The Regional Forest and Fire Capacity program (RFFC)—created in 2018—provides non‑competitive block grants to state conservancies, resource conservation districts, and other entities to facilitate regional coordination for forest health and wildfire resilience. These grants are intended to support regional planning, project development, demonstration projects, and community outreach. To implement these activities, grant recipients coordinate with and distribute funds to partnering entities within their regions. We prepared this report to provide an early review of RFFC’s implementation.


Cap-And-Trade Auction Update and GGRF Projections

December 6, 2021 - Revenue from quarterly cap‑and‑trade auctions is deposited in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), and the funds are allocated to various climate‑related programs. In this post, we (1) summarize the results from the recent November 2021 cap‑and‑trade auction, (2) estimate future GGRF revenue and the amount available for discretionary spending under three different scenarios, and (3) identify issues for legislative consideration as it begins its 2022‑23 budget deliberations.


The 2021-22 Spending Plan: Natural Resources and Environmental Protection

October 18, 2021 - The 2021‑22 budget package provides a total of $21.7 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 increase of $4.8 billion (22 percent) compared to 2020‑21 estimated expenditures.

Correction 10/22/21: Funding amount for CDFW has been corrected.


Reducing the Destructiveness of Wildfires: Promoting Defensible Space in California

September 30, 2021 - A key strategy for reducing home losses during wildfires is for homeowners to maintain an area free of excess or dead vegetation around their homes, known as defensible space. This report identifies the challenges to improving the number of homeowners in compliance with existing state and local defensible space requirements and provides recommendations to address these challenges in order to reduce the destructiveness of future wildfires.

Executive Summary (PDF)


Wildfire Prevention and Forest Resiliency

August 31, 2021 - This handout provides background information on recent wildfire resilience-related budget actions. It also provides an update on the administration’s progress thus far towards committing the funding provided in the April 2021 Wildfire and Forest Resilience Early Action Package to specific projects and activities.


The 2021-22 Budget: Initial Comments on the Governor’s May Revision

May 17, 2021 - On May 14, 2021, Governor Newsom presented a revised state budget proposal to the Legislature. (This annual proposed revised budget is called the “May Revision.”) In this post, we provide a summary of the Governor’s revised budget, focusing on the overall condition and structure of the state General Fund—the budget’s main operating account. In the coming days, we will analyze the plan in more detail and provide additional comments in hearing testimony and online.


What Can We Learn From How the State Responded to the Last Major Drought?

May 13, 2021 - For the second consecutive year, the state is experiencing extremely low rates of precipitation. As we prepare for what could be an extended period of dry conditions, it is helpful to review how the state responded to the last major drought. Such information can inform—and thereby potentially improve—the state’s current and ongoing response to developing conditions. In this report, we summarize the major activities, spending, and policy actions undertaken by the state to respond to the severe drought that occurred from 2012 through 2016. We also describe current conditions, and highlight some key lessons the Legislature can learn from previous efforts to help guide its response to the emerging drought.


How Did the State Respond to the Last Major Drought?

May 5, 2021 - Presented to: Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife Hon. Eduardo Garcia, Chair


Adoption of April 2021 Wildfire and Forest Resilience Early Action Package

April 16, 2021 - On April 13, 2021, the Governor signed SB 85 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review), which amends the 2020-21 Budget Act to provide additional funding for various wildfire and forest resilience activities. This post provides a brief summary of this funding package.


The 2021-22 Budget: Department of Toxic Substances Control

March 19, 2021 - Discusses the Governor's proposal to implement fiscal and governance reforms for the Department of Toxic Substances Control, as well as the proposal to provide $300 million in one-time General Fund to clean up brownfields across the state.


Overview of Funding for Parks and Open Space

March 2, 2021 - Presented to: Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife Hon. Eduardo Garcia, Chair


The 2021-22 Budget: Transition to Safer Pest Management

February 17, 2021 - This publication discusses the Governor's 2021-22 budget proposal to create a tiered pesticide mill assessment, as well as the proposal for increased spending on regulatory activities and integrated pest management programs administered by the Department of Pesticide Regulation and California Department of Food and Agriculture.


The 2021-22 Budget: Extension of AB 8 Fees and Funding Securitization for Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure

February 16, 2021 - Analyzes the Governor's proposal to extend certain vehicle-related fees to fund air quality and climate programs, as well as securitize a portion of the revenue to support zero-emission vehicle infrastructure.


The 2021-22 Budget: Department of Conservation

February 11, 2021 - This publication provides an overview of the Governor's 2021-22 January budget proposals for the Department of Conservation, including resources for the California Geologic Energy Management Division's regulatory oversight and enforcement, public transparency, and implementation of legislation.


The 2021-22 Budget: Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

February 10, 2021 - This publication analyzes the Governor’s $1.6 billion proposed budget for the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), which reflects a $2.3 billion (60 percent) decrease compared to estimated current-year expenditures. The decrease is almost entirely due to one-time General Fund expenditures in 2020-21 related to wildfire debris removal.