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California Greenin’: How the Golden State Became an Environmental Leader, David Vogel

Reviewed by Leah C. Stokes

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After a long career, David Vogel has brought us another important work that gets to the heart of environmental policy and politics. In California Greenin’ he builds on his well-known concept of the “California effect” by trying to answer a thorny preceding question: why did California become an environmental leader in the first place? In just over 300 pages, he outlines his answer: environmental threats plus fragility and beauty leads to environmental leadership, particularly with citizen action, business support, and a strong regulatory state.

California Greenin’ traces the history of citizen mobilization on environmental issues, from the formation of the Sierra Club onward, showing how direct contact with California’s unique geography galvanized activists. As in his earlier books, Vogel also argues that businesses are important players. He shows that environmental problems often split the business community into opponents and supporters of environmental policy. Finally, he highlights that California’s strong regulatory capacity was key to making progress on several problems.

The book is an exceptional work of historical institutionalism. It is written in a style that is simultaneously vivid and accessible and full of colorful stories. And not all these tales are beautiful. For example, Vogel con

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