There is no single explanation as to the source of California’s regulatory problems. But one common complaint is that California’s environmental agencies are organized with too exclusive a focus on a given environmental medium, such as water or air, and that they do not coordinate with each other effectively.

“If you were going to design our regulatory system today, it wouldn’t look much like it looks like now,” Boren said. “We’re a lot more knowledgeable right now about how issues in the environment affect each other. Water and air are all involved, as you know. But in California, a lot of these agencies are siloed.”

That arrangement is a major reason for policies that conflict and duplicate requirements, she said.

“(Environmental agencies and legislators are) putting in place very well-intentioned regulations, but they’re not really thinking about how it relates to the regulations already existing for other (environmental resources) – how they interact, how they might conflict,” she said.

McGavern with Sierra Club California also identified isolation between agencies as a major complaint of his organization.

“The silo-ization in California of environmental agencies has been a big concern of ours, and anyone who spends time (working with the California Environmental Protection Agency) is aware of it,” McGavern said. “You have separation and turf battles and overlapping that doesn’t make sense.”