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3 Environmental Laws Where California Leads the Way

By George Khoury, Esq. on September 13, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When it comes to states experimenting with expansive and progressive environmental laws, no other state is as environmentally conscious and curious as California.

What's more is that Californians' efforts have made a significant impact throughout the country. It has gotten to the point where California basically sets the national standards, since corporate entities that wish to do business in California simply find it more cost effective to follow California's environmental laws than to create separate product lines for California and the rest of the country.

Below, you can read about three important California environmental laws that set the standard for other states to follow.


The California Air Resources Board was founded in 1967 and quickly became the scourge of the auto industry within a few short years. The board made the whole industry take notice by setting the first standards for NOx emissions for cars. However, these new stringent standards ended up leading to the use of catalytic converters, which make a huge impact on reducing vehicle emissions.

Coastal Access for the Public

For individual Californians, one of the most important environmental protection laws involves the public's access to the California coastline. The public's access to the beach is a codified right, and there have been countless high-profile cases of individuals seeking to cutoff public access. And fortunately for state's residents, those high-profile cases rarely work out well for the individuals seeking to stop the public from accessing the coast.

Clean Water Is a Human Right

Another law where California has set a high bar involves water rights. Even before the Flint water crisis in Michigan made national news, in 2012 the state of California passed a law declaring that clean water is a human right. The statute specifically states that:

"Every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes."

Given the state's residents' need for fresh water, particularly in the hottest and driest parts of the state, recognizing clean water as a human right makes quite a bit of sense.

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