So Much for “Go West, Young Man”
The U.S. has long imported French cuisine, Italian fashion, and German cars; now, California wants to import Old World environmental regulations. The Golden State has historically been on the cutting edge of environmental politics here in the U.S., but the European Union, with its strict controls on food, water, and chemicals, boasts even more eco-friendly policies. California environmentalists hope to introduce stringent, E.U.-like regulations on the state level, then use the state’s considerable clout to get them onto the national stage. So far, they’re having some luck with the first part of the equation: San Francisco recently became the first U.S. city to adopt Europe’s “precautionary principle,” which calls for regulatory bodies to err on the side of caution when approving new technologies; and the state senate just passed a ban on two chemical flame retardants that was modeled after an E.U. prohibition set to take effect next summer.