This introductory chapter provides a background of California's geography. California's nickname “The Golden State” evokes a distinctive and unusually beautiful natural environment. Throughout its history, California's natural resources have been an important economic asset, with the state benefiting from its mountains of gold and silver, rapidly flowing rivers, thick forests, deposits of oil, and fertile agricultural lands. While its economy has since diversified, California remains the nation's largest agricultural producer and its third-largest oil producer. Compared to all other states as well as the federal government, California has been a national leader in regulatory policymaking on issues ranging from forestry management, scenic land protection, air pollution, and coastal zone management to energy efficiency and global climate change. Its distinctive geography, high degree of citizen mobilization, business support for many environmental measures, and steadily growing administrative capacity have produced a continuous stream of environmental policy innovations in multiple areas over a long period of time. This book draws upon these policies to explain why this particular state has consistently led the United States in adopting new environmental regulations and why being “greener” has become a central part of California's political identity.
Keywords: California, Golden State, natural environment, natural resources, regulatory policymaking, citizen mobilization, environmental measures, environmental policy innovations, environmental regulations, climate change
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