National Scenic Byway, California Susan Brooks-Dammann/Offset

Home to the world's oldest known trees, majestic mountains, and vibrant ocean life, the Golden State has embraced visionary policies to protect its air, water, and climate. California's standards for energy-efficient appliances, clean cars, and consumer safety are leading the way for entire industries—as well as other states, the whole country, and even other nations—to make important changes.

NRDC has helped spur California’s environmental leadership since opening our San Francisco office in 1972, joined by a Los Angeles office in 1989.

Some of our accomplishments:

  • For more than three decades, our policy experts have provided technical analysis and political backing for efficiency standards that allow California to reduce its energy use even while its population and GDP grow. We adapt and promote these standards in other states and rapidly developing countries like China.
  • NRDC has helped officials adopt ambitious local laws that cut carbon pollution from power plants, cars, and fuel, spurring action in other regions and Washington, D.C.
  • We helped generate political support for a network of marine protected areas stretching along California’s coast, a model that can be brought to other coastal states.
  • To ensure safe homes, we cosponsored a bill requiring furniture manufacturers to label products containing flame-retardant chemicals, which are associated with cancer and other serious health issues. Because one in eight U.S. consumers live in the state, we expect companies will phase these chemicals out in other markets, as well.
  • We protect the state’s unique treasures, from negotiating safeguards for the wild grasslands of Tejon Ranch to restoring the San Francisco Bay-Delta and keeping dirty storm water out of beaches.
  • As the state faces record-breaking drought, we champion the water-conservation strategies that will help its residents become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Find out how NRDC helped the Golden State protect its oceanfront and all the plants and animals that call it home.


Thanks to a long-overdue industry update and a new labeling law, shoppers can finally find nontoxic furniture.


An NRDC lawsuit has led to the comeback of the Golden State’s second-largest river (and its salmon).


Recurring drought in the Golden State has convinced most of us that there’s simply not enough water to go around. But that’s actually not true.

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