Institute Spotlights Potential Salton Sea “Hazard”

The Salton Sea is shrinking, and without a restoration project it will transform from California’s largest lake into an economic, health, and environmental hazard. The Sea’s 75-year crash-course is detailed in the Pacific Institute’s new report “HAZARD: The Future of the Salton Sea without a Restoration Plan,” available in print and on-line.

Man Installing Efficient Showerhead (Photo courtesy DOE)“Failing to act on behalf of the Salton Sea will have dire consequences,” said Michael Cohen, lead author of the report. “California must implement a restoration plan to combat the future problems of a shrinking Sea. Failure to do so will mean nothing less than disaster for the health of the region’s inhabitants, wildlife, and growing economy.”

The Institute released the report on May 16, in anticipation of California’s report on Salton Sea restoration options and alternatives. You can download the report for free at the Pacific Institute’s Web site. Hard copies can be ordered by calling 510-251-1600 or clicking here.

Standardizing Corporate Social Responsibility

Morrison at the ISO meeting
Morrison, speaking at the ISO meeting

From May 15 to 19, Jason Morrison attended the third plenary meeting of the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility in Lisbon, Portugal. The meeting focused on addressing the more than 3,000 written comments submitted on the first Working Draft of the ISO standard on Social Responsibility (dubbed ISO 26000). One key outcome of the meeting was provisional text for the standard’s scope, which now has the International Standard providing “guidance to organizations on:

  • The principles, practices and issues relating to social responsibility,
  • Integrating and implementing social responsibility throughout the organization and its sphere of influence including its supply chain,
  • Identifying and engaging with stakeholders,
  • Communicating commitments and performance relating to social responsibility, and
  • The contribution of the organization to sustainable development.”

Reflecting on the outcome of the meeting, Morrison said, “If this tentatively agreed-upon scope for the standard remains unchanged, and if the guidance provided in the subsequent clauses of the document delivers on this scope, ISO 26000 will be the most significant and meaningful standard ISO has ever produced.”

Wolff Appointed to State Water Board

Dr. Gary Wolff
Jason Morrison

It was with mixed emotions that the Pacific Institute learned on May 20 that Pacific Institute program director Gary Wolff had been appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the State Water Resources Control Board. The position requires Senate confirmation. It is also full-time, which means Gary will be saying good-bye to the Institute in June.

“This appointment is an honor,” said Wolff. “I’m looking forward to working with the Governor, State and Regional Board members, staff, and stakeholders to create solutions for California’s water problems.”

In his five years with the Institute, Wolff has served as program director, principal economist, and engineer.

Congratulations Gary, and do good work!

Additional Staff Updates

The Institute wished a fond farewell to two outstanding staff members at the end of May. Office manager Shirley Brown, a constant source of help and smiles in her five years with the Institute, has retired. Outreach coordinator Emily Lee, a vital contributor to the Institute’s Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice program, will be doing progressive organizing over the summer. Good luck, Emily and Shirley!

The Pacific Institute was happy to add new administrative assistant Asha Nordwall to the staff in May. Welcome Asha!


“Today, we are seeing hundreds of years of scientific discovery being challenged by people who simply disregard facts that don’t happen to agree with their agenda. Some call it ‘pseudoscience,’ others call it ‘faith-based science,’ but when you notice where this negligence tends to take place, you might as well call it ‘political science.’”

– New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, addressing the graduates of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, more


The Pacific Institute has a position open for a Research Associate/ Senior Associate in resource economics.

We seek an individual to work on ongoing projects related to sustainable water management and use (cost/benefits of water-use efficiency programs and technology, agricultural economics), economic globalization (trade, international economics), and environmental economic assessment. Interest and experience in one or more of these areas is an important advantage.

For the full job posting, and information on how to apply, click here or go to www.pacinst.org.


6/21/06. Summer Solstice

6/22/06. Privatization [San Francisco, Calif.] Gary Wolff will present his recent report Beyond Privatization at the national WaterKeepers Alliance meeting. More than 200 Keepers from around the country will be attending the conference.

6/26/06. Colorado River [Phoenix, Ariz.] Michael Cohen will meet with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and other NGOs to discuss plans to construct new re-regulating reservoirs near the All-American Canal.

6/27/06. Desalination [online] The Pacific Institute will release “Desalination, with a Grain of Salt,” its highly anticipated analysis of the current state of desalination with a focus on California. If you are interested in receiving an announcement on the report, please e-mail publications(at)pacinst.org. Members of the media interested in desalination and the Institute’s findings should contact Ian Hart at 510-251-1600 x106.

AB2515 Clears Assembly

The Pacific Institute-sponsored AB2515, a water conservation bill (see May Headlines ), cleared the California Assembly on May 31. The vote was 47 to 32. The state senate will soon take the bill up. Check the bill’s status and download text.


HAZARD coverOur last chance to save the Salton Sea? (op-ed) San Diego Union Tribune, 5/25/2006

Salton Sea forecast dire Riverside Press Enterprise, 5/16/2006

Report: Sea’s future in peril The Desert Sun, 5/16/2006

California’s biggest lake also a big problem MSNBC, 5/16/2006

Study Outlines Problems in Salton Sea San Francisco Chronicle, 5/16/2006

Report says Salton Sea may become environmental hazard KESQ, 5/16/2006


Small Towns Tell a Cautionary Tale About the Private Control of Water Los Angeles Times, 5/30/2006

A warmer world may, or may not, be wetter USA Today, 5/29/2006

Misconduct Taints the Water in Some Privatized Systems Los Angeles Times, 5/29/2006

Castro Valley man appointed by governor to water board San Jose Mercury News, 5/23/2006

Gas prices, infrastructure bonds and pander politics Sacramento Bee, 5/10/2006

Doubts Still Swirl to Surface Los Angeles Times, 5/7/2006


6/2/06. Environmental Indicators [San Francisco, Calif.] Meena Palaniappan and Margaret Gordon attended the BREATHE California 16th Annual Clean Air Awards 2006 Luncheon.

6/2/06. Western Water [Portland, Ore.] Peter Gleick will present a keynote address on Water in the West for the Illahee Oil, Water, and Oregon Symposium.

5/24/06. Climate Change and Water [Los Angeles, Calif.] Heather Cooley gave an address on climate change and water at the Southern California Water Dialogue.

5/22-5/24/06. Colorado River [Rio Rico, Ariz.] Michael Cohen moderated a panel on institutions at the Southwest Consortium for Environmental Research and Policy’s 8th annual border environment conference.

5/22/06. California Water [Washington, D.C.] Peter Gleick briefed senior staff of Senator Feinstein on the potential for water conservation and efficiency in California.

5/16/06. Salton Sea [online] The Pacific Institute released its report depicting future conditions of the Salton Sea, if a restoration project is not implemented (see HEADLINES).

5/15-5/19/06. Social Responsibility [Lisbon, Portugal] Jason Morrison attended the 3rd plenary meeting of the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility (see HEADLINES).

5/14/06. Social Responsibility [Miami, Fla.] Jason Morrison attended a working meeting of the American Chemistry Council’s Strategic Review Board (SRB), a seven person panel of both industry employees and external stakeholders charged with evaluating the chemical industry’s Responsible Care Program and providing recommendations regarding its future direction. The following day SRB members provided their perspectives on the future of the ACC’s sustainability initiative at the opening plenary session of the 2006 Responsible Care Conference and Expo.

5/11/06. Facility Reporting [Atlanta Ga.] At the National Environmental Performance Summit, Jason Morrison co-facilitated a Facility Reporting Project (FRP) workshop that brought together U.S. EPA’s Performance Track members and other companies to examine the relationship between comprehensive environmental reporting, data quality, and continual environmental improvement. The half-day meeting engaged FRP pilot study participants and other stakeholders (e.g., state performance-based program staff and NGOs) in discussing how sound measurement and stakeholder engagement practices can be useful for identifying and publicly disclosing the environmental impacts of facilities’ operations.

5/8/06. Freshwater Future [Ottawa, Can.] Peter Gleick gave the luncheon keynote at the “Freshwater for the Future” conference in Ottawa, Canada, a conference aimed at federal and provincial ministers and other senior Canadian environmental policy makers. He talked about Water for the 21st Century.

5/4/06. Human Right to Water [Washington, D.C.] Peter Gleick addressed a gathering at the Library of Congress of NGOs, policymakers, and the public on the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2006, including Senator Bill Frist and Congressman Blumenauer, the bill’s leading sponsors and supporters.

5/2-5/4/06. Global Governance [New York City, N.Y.] Jason Morrison attended a conRockefeller Brothers Fund global governance retreatvening of key grantees under the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s global governance portfolio. The meeting, which took place at the RBF’s Pocantico Conference Center just north of New York City, was organized as a precursor to a formal review of RBF’s full Democratic Practice Program by the foundation’s board of trustees later this year. The retreat sought to foster greater coherence and collaboration among RBF’s global governance grantees and also to help program staff develop suggestions for areas for future emphasis in RBF’s work in this field.

5/1/06. Environmental Management Systems [Washington, D.C.] Jason Morrison attended joint Stakeholder Advisory Committee and Appeals Board meeting of the National Biosolids Partnership’s Environmental Management System certification program.

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