In California there is growing recognition among government, the private sector, and the public interest community that the existing environmental protection “framework” is inadequate to deliver the levels of environmental protection that will be needed in the future. The state currently faces many serious environmental and natural resource challenges, such as water supply and quality, smog, biodiversity, and preservation of open space. These challenges, among others, will only become more severe with the state’s increasing environmental pressures.
Growth projections indicate that the state’s population will increase by 30 percent in the next two decades. Without effective plans for managing this growth, we will face significant negative impacts to the environment, as well as to our quality of life in areas such as traffic congestion, air quality, and the availability of affordable housing. Sustaining environmental quality, natural resources, and quality of life for all segments of our diverse population are prerequisite components underlying a vibrant economy. This raises the question of whether California is equipped with the policy framework and instruments that are capable of delivering the quality of our environment, society and economy that we desire for the future.