California is amassing an enviable record as an environmental leader. Governor Schwarzenegger, proto-Republican though he might be, has enacted or pushed for many fairly radical concepts, among them AB32 enacting a cap on global warming gases; a carbon standard for transporting fuels, and suing car companies for contributing to global warming. California also has a policy of indentifying toxic chemicals and warning you about them (oddly, as over 2,000 chemicals fall into this category, practically every place of business has the sign "this facility has been identiied by the state of California as having toxic chemicals," and the sheer ubiquitousness of the signs make them useless.) From Environmental Health:
When it comes to ecological diversity, California has it all: snow-capped mountains, wide deserts, scenic beaches, and some of the worst environmental problems in the country. Six of the country's ten most polluted cities -- Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fresno-Madera, Visalia-Porterville, Merced, and Sacramento -- are found in California, where children face fivefold greater risks of reduced lung function compared with children who live in less-polluted areas. Beyond its air pollution problems, California could also face catastrophic consequences from climate change. Assuming warming trends continue at their present rates, experts generally agree that the Sierra snowpack -- which is crucial to the state's drinking water supply -- could decline by 50-90 percent by the century's end.
Coming from one of the world's largest economies, these preemptive legislative efforts have impressive clout. "California provides an example [for other states]," says Cympie Payne, associate director of the California Center for Law and Policy at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. "Other states find it easier to model their own laws on those that another state has already put into effect."
[emphasis added] And of course, for the environmental bottom line. California's lawmakers have apparently decided that sacrifices made now to achieve environmental goals are worth the future benefits, not just for health and ecology, but for the long-term sustainability of the state's industries. Ultimately, California's paving a road forward on which others may inevitably follow