MAY 2007

Highway Collapse, Local Street Detour Highlight
Ongoing Environmental Injustices in West Oakland

The April 29 explosion of a gasoline tanker truck in Oakland and subsequent collapse of a portion of I-580 captured national attention. In the wake of the accident, officials detoured highway traffic onto Oakland’s West Grand Ave., sending up to 5,000 cars per hour through the heart of the West Oakland neighborhood. The Pacific Institute and West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP) jumped into action, providing research on diesel pollution and truck traffic in West Oakland. This information enabled leaders and reporters to put the collapse and detour in context with the neighborhood’s ongoing air pollution problems.

Truck Count

“This intensity is very bad … but it is a concentrated snapshot of what we have in West Oakland all the time,” Institute program director Swati Prakash told a local radio station (MP3). Due in large part to the high concentration of diesel pollution, West Oakland residents were already five times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than other California residents. The Institute and WOEIP will be meeting with Oakland city staff to address the ongoing issues that the freeway collapse has helped bring to light. Learn more about West Oakland.

Related Press:

Institute Study: Water Reporting Misses Risks

Although many large global corporations are providing information on their water use, much of this information fails to address real water risks. A new Pacific Institute analysis of corporate non-financial reports suggests that most of these reports do not provide stakeholders and shareholders with useable water-risk information. These findings are detailed in the new study Corporate Reporting on Water: A Review of Eleven Global Industries.

Peter Gleick

“Water scarcity, contamination, and rising water-related costs are factors that can impact a company’s bottom line,” said Mari Morikawa, Pacific Institute research associate and lead author of the report. “This analysis shows that companies are not providing risk-relevant information to investors and stakeholders. It may also indicate that some companies and sectors are failing to pay attention to their most important water risks.”

The Institute evaluated how global companies recognize, address, and report their water-related risks and practices. Using a framework of ten key components for managing water risks, the authors reviewed 121 reports from 11 water-dependent industry sectors. They found that while 75% of the reports address freshwater use, few offer insight into many water-related risks facing businesses. Most reports lack context, quantitative data, supply chain information, and consistent methods and definitions. More

Learn More:

Earth Day 2007: Reason for Optimism

From inner-city stoops to Fortune 500 board rooms, individuals everywhere are making daily progress tackling environmental problems. That was the Pacific Institute’s message on Earth Day 2007. The challenges are all around us: trucks, trains, ships, and airplanes pollute some of our most vulnerable communities in the process of delivering foreign imports; wasteful water use impedes our ability to meet water needs; short-term profit motives compete with long-term economic and environmental sustainability; and climate change exacerbates all of these problems.

But with 20 years of interdisciplinary analysis under our belt, the Pacific Institute has shown that solutions abound. More

Videocast: Sound Science in an Ideological Era

Where does sound science stand in today’s environment of truthiness? Pacific Institute president Peter Gleick addressed this question and more at last month’s Lewis and Clark Law School conference Law, Science, and the Environment Forum: A Meeting of Minds.


Gleick delivered the keynote address “Sound Science in an Ideological Era” on April 19. His talk included categorizations of deceitful tactics and abuse of the scientific process, along with several examples.

Watch the videocast (note: scroll down and click the gray box)

Learn More:


“The Salton Sea blends water and environment into a looming crisis that will require billions of dollars to fix.”

Michael Cohen, in
Support a phased approach to saving the sea


5/10/07. California Water [Sacramento, Calif.] Peter Gleick will debate Lester Snow, California Department of Water Resources Director, on the subject of dams in California. The debate is in conjunction with the Association of California Water Agencies Spring Conference: Water and Politics: The Sacramento Connection.

5/11/07. Healthy Cities [Oakland, Calif.] Presentation of a study assessing the current and potential health criteria used in Oakland land-use and city planning processes. Conducted by graduate students from the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy for the Institute. Open to the public. Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room #4, at noon.
RSVP to Swati Prakash, 510-251-1600 x108.

mid-May. Salton Sea [Sacramento, Calif.] The California Resources Agency will release the Secretary’s Preferred Alternative for the Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Program.

5/24/07. Salton Sea [Gunnison, Colo.] Michael Cohen will present “Solutions for the Salton Sea?” at the 32nd Colorado Water Workshop.

Institute Leaders Recognized

On April 19, West Harlem Environmental ACTion (WE ACT) honored Swati Prakash along with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York State Senator Bill Perkins, and others for their efforts in preserving the environment and improving environmental health in New York City’s communities of color. WE ACT hailed Prakash “for her vision and work as emerging leader in the environmental justice movement.”

On April 28, Margaret Gordon was inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame for her efforts to curtail air pollution in West Oakland. Gordon was the subject of a San Francisco Chronicle column earlier that week: Air quality crusader learned craft from the ground up.

On April 29, Peter Gleick was formally inducted into the U.S. National Academy of Sciences at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Save the Date!

The Pacific Institute’s 20th Anniversary Party will take place during the evening of Thursday, October 4 at the Oakland Museum of California. More details to come. Mark your calendar!

Integrity of Science blog

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With increased focus on climate-change causes, impacts, and adaptation techniques, the Institute continues to be a trusted source for well-considered research on climate change, particularly as it relates to water resources.

Reports From the Four Fronts in the War on Warming New York Times, 4/3/07

Study to affirm climate change warnings Sacramento Bee, 4/3/07

The Future of Water in a Warmer World The Environment Report, 4/16/07 (download MP3)

Global Warming May Put U.S. in Hot Water Time, 4/17/07

Singing the desalination global warming paradox blues Salon, 4/18/07


Managing California’s Natural Resources: Water more precious as state grows San Francisco Chronicle, 4/14/07

Thirst for bottled water may hurt environment Seattle Post Intelligencer, 4/19/07

Whose Water is it Anyway? Mail & Guardian online, 4/20/07

Support a phased approach to saving the sea Riverside Press Enterprise, 4/21/07


4/9/07. World’s Water [Berkeley, Calif.] Peter Gleick gave seminars on the World’s Water and Water and China at the University of California at Berkeley.

4/10/07. Environmental Justice [Sacramento, Calif.] Swati Prakash and Bay Area community partners took part in an Environmental Lobby Day, sponsored by the California League of Conservation Voters.

4/10/07. Port of Oakland [Oakland, Calif.] Margaret Gordon and Swati Prakash participated in the kick-off event for the Port of Oakland Maritime Air Quality Improvement Plan. Gordon co-chairs the process for developing this plan, and Prakash presented a proposal for strengthening the process’ inclusion of community participation. Stakeholders, especially West Oakland residents, are invited to join the Port of Oakland Maritime Air Quality Task Force, which will have a formal role providing input into the Improvement Plan. Prakash has been nominated to the Task Force. The deadline for submitting a nomination is May 10. For further information on joining the task force, go to

4/10/07. Water and Conflict [Bowling Green, Ohio] Peter Gleick gave the 2007 Edward Lamb Peace Lecture “Water and Conflict in the 21st Century: Fears and Hopes” at Bowling Green State University. Related press:

4/11/07. Colorado River Delta [Tucson, Ariz.] Michael Cohen participated in the annual binational workshop of NGOs working to protect and restore the Colorado River Delta.

4/12/07. Colorado River Delta [Tucson, Ariz.] Michael Cohen organized and participated in an NGO briefing for IBWC/CILA on restoration and hydrologic modeling efforts in the Delta.

4/12/07. Water and Climate [Ann Arbor, Mich.] Peter Gleick gave a lecture at the University of Michigan: “Water and Climate Change: From Good Science to Good Policy.”

4/19/07. Scientific Integrity [Portland, Ore.] Peter Gleick gave the keynote address “Sound Science in an Ideological World” at the Lewis and Clark Law School’s Law, Science, and the Environment Forum. See headlines Watch the videocast.

4/20/07. Earth Day [Berkeley, Calif.] The Pacific Institute joined several noted University of California educators, the mayor of Berkeley,, and student groups at a UC Berkeley Earth Day event.

4/25/07. World’s Water [Beijing, China] Peter Gleick delivered the keynote address “Water and China: From the Global to the Local” at a conference convened by JP Morgan.

4/30/07. Colorado River [Interweb] Michael Cohen worked with other NGOs to craft and release comments on the Bureau of Reclamation’s shortage guidelines.

4/30/07. Freight Transport [Oakland, Calif.]  Students from the University of San Francisco working with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project presented findings that addressed community-generated research questions pertaining to trucks, trucking, construction, and indoor air quality in West Oakland, as well as ongoing policy work by local, state, and federal agencies. The presentations were well-attended by community members and staff from BAAQMD, CARB, and EPA.

Water pipe image courtesy of the Town of Leesburg, Virginia

All other material © 2007 Pacific Institute,

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