‘United States of California’: L.A. Times Series Examines the Impact of the State’s Agenda on the Country

Text that says "United States of California"
(Los Angeles Times)

Today, the Los Angeles Times published the first installment of a new series, “The United States of California.” Reported by Staff Writer Evan Halper, the series will focus on California’s role in guiding the policy direction of the nation, and what that has meant for the state and the country.

“California plays an outsized role in Washington and its policies shape the nation,” said Washington Bureau Chief Kimbriell Kelly. “Through this series we will document that influence and show how the state’s current successes and struggles impact the future of the nation.”

At a time when California is dealing with its own troubles – homelessness, economic inequality and raging wildfires among them – the stories will examine how far Washington is willing to go to spread the Golden State’s agenda and its standing as the nation’s prolific incubator of ideas.


“The Biden administration agenda leans heavily on California as a think tank for innovative policy,” said Halper, a Washington, D.C., based reporter who covered the 2020 presidential campaign and previously served as The Times’ Sacramento bureau chief. “The pitched battle over what cars should be permitted on the roads in America is rooted in California’s push for cleaner air. The state’s approach to workplace rules, to health care, to issues of race and gender is copied by lawmakers all over the nation, especially in Congress.”

In the first story of the series, Halper examines how California’s electric car revolution was designed to combat climate change, but it is also inflicting a big toll on the environment. Amid the sprint to supply automakers with heavy duty lithium batteries, international regulators are under pressure to fast-track huge extraction projects that threaten environmental fallout in fragile areas – from the unexplored deep-sea floor to pristine federal land. California’s car revolution, designed to save the planet, also unleashes a toll on it is online now.