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Environmental Governance

Bixby Creek Bridge Central California Coast

Bixby Creek Bridge along California's central coast. Photo by George Cox on Unsplash.


The American West features a diverse set of natural resources and cities. To support a vibrant regional economy, an efficient, integrated transportation system is needed to ensure that both goods and people can get to their destinations. Reliable water and energy systems are also needed to provide a steady supply of clean water and energy for current and future generations. These infrastructure systems often rely on regional collaboration.

Yet robust regional governance remains an elusive goal. The provision and regulation of water, energy and transportation services are fragmented institutionally and jurisdictionally, with numerous city, county, special district, state and federal government actors, as well as private and non-profit sector interests, all exercising some decision-making authority. Such fragmentation in governance can lead to a silo mentality, inefficient resource sharing, and ineffective coordination across systems that ultimately fall short of meeting the region's diverse needs.

Our projects study the inner working of regional water, energy and transportation agencies. We examine how different interests are represented in regional collaboration, with the goal of balancing these interests, strengthening the collaboration, and improving efficiency in decision-making and service delivery. By providing sound policy recommendations, our hope is also that we can achieve these goals with climate resilience top of mind. 

Affiliated Researchers

Center Researchers
Iris Hui
Mary Sprague
Other Researchers
Nicola Ulibarri


Bixby Creek Bridge along the California coast on Highway 1

The California Coastal Commission Project

An interdisciplinary collaborative that explores the history, operation, policies and impact of the Commission. It has two main components: the history of the Commission and how it changed over time; and empirical analysis of the Commission's record.