Collaborative Moves Leaders on Freight Transport

Nineteen members of the Bay Area Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative converged on Sacramento on August 22 to educate California lawmakers on the effects of diesel pollution on their communities. The Collaborative members urged these lawmakers to protect the health of California residents and clean up California’s goods movement industry. The day was an unequivocal success, as the Coalition persuaded legislators to move an important bill out of committee. The bill would implement a fee for all containers coming into the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach in order to fund community mitigation, infrastructure, and security. The full Assembly passed the bill on August 30.

Rail contributes to freight transport, air pollution
Train Idling

“The container bill was considered dead when we arrived in Sacramento. But 19 Bay Area residents and 6 Long Beach mothers got Speaker Fabian Núñez to breathe life into it,” said Meena Palaniappan, Senior Research Associate for the Pacific Institute. “The Speaker’s office told us that the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations had been lobbying Núñez consistently to oppose the bill. Our visit made a huge difference.”

Residents from West Oakland, Richmond, San Leandro, and Bay View Hunter’s Point joined health and environmental groups to meet with more than 20 legislators over the course of the day. In addition to the container bill, they urged the legislators to vote yes on two other pending goods movement bills: AB 1101 would begin to address “magnet sources” that attract pollution, such as ports, railyards, and distribution centers; and SB 459 would begin to regulate rail in the South Coast of California. Bay Area advocates also asked for support in co-sponsoring bills in the next session to expand these bills to the Bay Area.

Citizen activists with
Sen. Lowenthal, author of the container fee bill
DDD Members with Senator Lowethal

“Assemblymembers don’t often hear directly from impacted residents. We’re not lobbyists. We’re grandmothers and grandkids and we’re having trouble breathing because of this pollution,” said Margaret Gordon of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project. “But we were a breath of fresh air to the legislators and their staff. They applauded our efforts.”

The movement of goods through the state by ship, truck, rail, and plane produces tons of diesel exhaust, affecting millions of California’s residents. With the projected expansion of freight transport, the health impacts of diesel exhaust are going to worsen in the state’s most impacted environmental justice communities. Learn more about freight transport.

Institute President Takes to the Airwaves

From cable television to public radio, Pacific Institute President Dr. Peter Gleick took to the airwaves in August, enlightening millions of viewers and listeners on the issues of water scarcity, the potential for water-related conflict, the impacts of climate change on water resources, and more.

Dr. Peter Gleick
Dr. Peter Gleick

“We’ve seen conflicts over water throughout history,” Gleick told CNBC Morning Call‘s Liz Claman. “We fight over water. We fight with water resources during wars that start for other reasons. The Middle East is a classic place where water is scarce and the political competition is, as we know, very fierce. So I think that we will see growing disputes over water. Whether or not it’s a full-blown war over water, I think there are some serious political difficulties ahead of us.”

Many of the stories were sparked by to Stockholm’s World Water Week (August 20-26), which touched off a flurry of water-related news stories throughout the month. Although Gleick and the Institute did not attend the event, numerous media outlets turned to the Institute for its insight. For a full list of the Institute’s World Water Week-related radio, television, and newspaper stories, see “2006 World Water Week Press Highlights” below.

Reporters interested in interviewing a Pacific Institute expert on topics related to environment, development, and security should contact Ian Hart at 510.847.1981 x106, or via e-mail at the Institute’s Media Email Hotline.

Institute to Release Freight Transport Report

Diesel-powered freight transport impacts local communities

The Pacific Institute is busily preparing its next report, which will examine the health and social costs of freight transport (otherwise known as goods movement) in California. Lead authors Meena Palaniappan and Swati Prakash find that, despite businesses’ claims to the contrary, there are ample funds to support trade growth in California and mitigate the negative impacts of freight transport. The report is scheduled for release on October 12. If you would like to receive notice of its release, e-mail


The container bill was considered dead when we arrived in Sacramento. But 19 Bay Area residents and 6 Long Beach mothers got Speaker Fabian Núñez to breathe life into it.

- Meena Palaniappan, on the Ditching Dirty Diesel Coalition’s successful trip to Sacramento (see Headlines).


9/9/06. Desalination [San Antonio, Tex.] Pacific Institute affiliate Dr. Gary Wolff will present “The Economics of Desalination” at the Sierra Club’s Water for People and the Environment Conference. The event is cosponsored by Environmental Defense and the National Wildlife Federation.

9/13/06. Energy, Water, and Climate [Washington, D.C.] Peter Gleick will be one of the four panelists at an Environmental and Energy Study Institute-hosted Congressional briefing on the connections between water use in the energy sector, energy use in the water sector, and climate change. The briefing will take place from 3–4:30 PM, at 485 Russell Senate Office Building. It is open to the public and no reservations are required. Click here for more information.

9/21/06. Climate Change [San Francisco, Calif.] Peter Gleick will be speaking at a press conference launching the Future Sea Level Rise Project. The conference will occur 11 AM (note the change in time) at the Aquarium of the Bay located near Pier 39 in San Francisco (directions). The project is a joint effort between the San Francisco Department of the Environment, the Sierra Club, and the Aquarium of the Bay. The art project is designed to raise awareness of smart energy solutions to global warming and the consequences to future generations if we don’t act now.

9/28-9/29/06. Water Conservation and Efficiency [San Francisco, Calif.] Heather Cooley will participate in a briefing to discuss the potential of conservation and efficiency for the San Francisco Public Utility Commission’s retail and wholesale customers.

War on Science

Returns to Bay Area

Last September, the Pacific Institute hosted Chris Mooney’s first talk and signing of his new hardcover book, The Republican War on Science. A year later, that book is a New York Times bestseller, and Mooney is returning to the Bay Area to promote the updated paperback edition. He currently has two scheduled Bay Area talks and signings:

Mountain View
Monday, September 11
7:30–9:00 PM
Books Inc.
301 Castro Street

San Francisco
Tuesday, September 12
7:00–8:30 PM
1644 Haight Street

For more information on the paperback edition and additional tour dates, click here. Learn more about the Institute’s Integrity of Science Initiative.

“According to the Pacific Institute, California used less water in 2001 than it did in 1975, despite population growth of 60% and a 2.5x increase of gross state product. The ‘soft path’ to avoid catastrophe in water supply is not only possible, it is already being done in some places.”

- Jeremy Faludi in Saving the World, Drip by Drip


Stockholm’s World Water Week (August 20-26) sparked a flurry of news stories on water in August. Although the Institute did not attend the event, on issues from water shortages to climate and conflict, numerous media outlets turned to the Institute for its insight.

Water: What’s the Question? Women Matter radio, 8/1/06

The Water Cycle and Global Climate Change 7th Wave Network’s Exploring Water’s Essence, 8/3/06 (MP3 Audio, 13 MB)

Saving The World, Drip By Drip World Changing, 8/6/06

Sipping Seawater: Desalination in a Thirsty World A World of Possibilities, 8/15/06 (audio file)

Waves of Change, Rivers of Doubt: Global Water Issues and Solutions Making Contact, 8/23/06

The Cruel Irony of the Thirsty Rich WorldChanging, 8/23/06

Morning Call water and conflict discussion CNBC, 8/24/06

The Global Politics of Water To the Point, 8/24/06

Regulating Water ENN Radio, 8/30/06


Editorial: Funds good news for backers of local plan to save Salton Sea The Desert Sun, 8/2/06

The Complicated Task of Saving the Salton Sea California Report, 8/10/06

Marshlands considered for port Contra Costa Times, 8/13/06

By using less water, valley residents can cut greenhouse gases San Jose Mercury News, 8/17/06

Still awash in doubt: Delta residents fear storms — and now climate change too Sacramento Bee, 8/28/06

Micro Pollution Discussion Commonwealth Club of California/KQED, 9/1/06 (Real Audio file)


8/29/06. Salton Sea [San Diego, Calif.] Michael Cohen participated on a Salton Sea panel at the 13th Annual Urban Water Conference.

8/29/06. World’s Water [Cincinnati, Ohio] Peter Gleick gave a keynote address on “The State of the World’s Water and New Thinking for the Future” to the 8th Annual WDSA Water Distribution Systems Analysis Symposium.

8/22/06. Freight Transport [Sacramento, Calif.] The Bay Area Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative hosted a lobby day in Sacramento (see HEADLINES).

8/14/06. Freight Transport [Oakland, Calif.] Margaret Gordon along with the Coalition for Clean Air hosted a training on lobbying on goods movement at the state capitol.

8/10/06. Ditching Dirty Diesel [Oakland, Calif.] Meena Palaniappan and Margaret Gordon hosted a Bay Area Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative Steering Committee Meeting at the Pacific Institute.

8/9/06. Micro Pollution [San Francisco, Calif.] Meena Palaniappan spoke before the Commonwealth Club of California as part of a statewide panel on micro pollution. She was joined by a director of the California Air Resources Board and a representative from the Port of Oakland. Palaniappan spoke about the impacts of freight movement pollution on communities of color and low-income communities in California. You can listen to the discussion here.

8/3/06-8/4/06. Sierra Watershed [Western Sierras, Calif.] Heather Cooley attended the Water Education Foundation tour to learn about water issues in the Sierra Watershed.

“No Trucks Over 4 1/2 Tons” photo courtesy of Brian Beveridge.

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