Working Paper, University of Utah, Department of Economics 2013-01
Economy: Comparing California before and after the 1970 passage of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and benchmarking against performance in the other 49 states, this study finds that 1) California per capita GDP, 2) California housing relative to population, 3) California manufacturing output and 4) California construction activity grew as fast or faster after the passage of CEQA. Environment: In the specific case of power plant construction, since 1970, California shifted to less polluting natural gas electrical generation sooner and went farther in this direction compared to the rest of the U.S. California also shifted sooner (in the 1980s and thereafter) and has gone farther in its reliance upon renewable and other non-traditional energy sources to generate electricity compared to the rest of the U.S. Case Studies: Three case studies are presented. First, CEQA's role in the ending of proposals to build coal-fired power plants in California helped introduce the first significant corporateutility commitments to non-hydroelectric renewable energy generation in the U.S. Second, CEQA's role in helping shift the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach from a model of dirty growth to a model of green growth, first through the land-side electrification of docked ships (beginning in 2003), and then, as one legal basis for the ports' Clean Air Action Plan (2006), resulted in reversing a projected doubling of port pollution from 2000 to 2020 to a 40% to 80% reduction in port pollution from 2005 to 2011. Third, CEQA's role in stimulating a California Energy Commission policy (2003) of discouraging wet cooling and encouraging the dry cooling of inland natural gas power plants helped stop a licensing practice which over the decade 1996 to 2005 had committed 100,000 acre feet of fresh and recycled water to wet cooling of inland thermal power plants.