October 2009 Online Update
Research for People and the Planet  

Pacific Institute Testifies before CARB for Stronger Emission Regulations for Cal. Railyards
Cal. Railyards Pose Unacceptable Level of Cancer Risk to Surrounding Communities

CARB rallyOn September 25, Pacific Institute staff testified at a public hearing of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), advocating for stronger environmental regulations to be imposed on California railyards.

More than 100 activists from impacted communities throughout California gathered in Diamond Bar, Cal. to demand CARB use the full extent of its authority to mandate more stringent emission reductions from railyard operations.

According to Health Risk Assessments conducted in 2007 and 2008, the 18 major California railyards pose an unacceptable level of cancer risk to surrounding communities. CARB has been reluctant to require mandatory emissions reductions from railyards, preferring instead to rely primarily on incentive mechanisms.

CARB protestPacific Institute Program Director Swati Prakash testified on the urgency of reducing air pollution in and around the railyards, citing community health impacts in West Oakland and Richmond.

Pacific Institute staff also participated in the morning rally prior to the public hearing as part of a larger contingent from the Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative, which includes organizers from the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, Contra Costa Asthma Coalition, and the Center for Environmental Health.

New Project to Document Impacts of Groundwater Nitrate Contamination in San Joaquin Valley
Institute Kicks Off New Community-based Research Project

Groundwater wellThe Community Strategies Program at the Pacific Institute is kicking off a new community-based research project on groundwater nitrate contamination in the San Joaquin Valley.

 In partnership with the Community Water Center, Clean Water Action, and the California Rural Legal Action Fund, the Pacific Institute will conduct household surveys to document the impacts of groundwater nitrate contamination on underserved rural communities.

These Central Valley communities — largely consisting of Latino farm workers — suffer from unsafe household water supplies as a result of nitrate run-off from nearby farms and dairies. On September 15, Pacific Institute staff met with the Community Water Center in Visalia, Calif. to discuss the overarching project goals, as well as specific sampling and survey methodologies.

In Brief

Heberger Discusses Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation, Water Sustainability
On October 3, Pacific Institute Research Associate Matthew Heberger participated in a panel discussion at University of California, Berkeley, sponsored by UrbanVision, an India-based think tank. The panel discussion –“Climate Adaptation Plans in California and Learning for Developing World Cities”– will be broadcast later in India. On October 10, Heberger is participating in a climate change workshop at Chabot Science Center in Oakland. The workshop, organized by NOAA, is an advanced course in the local impacts of climate change for citizen activists. On October 27, Heberger will give a lecture on water and sustainability at the 37th Sustainable Earth Forum, sponsored by the Environmental Forum of Marin. It is an annual 18-week educational opportunity for adults, focusing on sustainability, ecology, human impacts on the environment, resource management, and citizen-based community action.

Laguna Reach Restoration Project to Get Vote
On October 28, the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program’s steering committee will meet in Laughlin, Nevada to vote on the Laguna Reach restoration project, which the Pacific Institute has been instrumental in developing.

Cooley Presents on Climate Change and Drought
On October 13, Senior Research Associate Heather Cooley will participate on a panel discussing climate change at the National Association of Water Companies’ National Drinking Water Symposium in Orlando, Florida. On October 17 at the Sierra Nevada Alliance’s annual conference in King’s Beach, Calif., Cooley will discuss aspects of drought.

Gleick Addresses National, International Communities on Water Issues
This past month, Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick gave a keynote address on water and business risks at a CLSA Hong Kong meeting. He also addressed the Rabobank Agricultural Board Meeting in Georgia and gave a lecture on the global water crisis at the University of Norte Dame.

Cohen Discusses Potential for Conservation and Efficiency to Augment Municipal Water Supplies
On September 17, Senior Research Associate Michael Cohen participated on the “Augmentation” panel at the Water Education Foundation’s biennial Colorado River Symposium in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he discussed the tremendous potential to augment existing municipal supplies by increasing conservation and efficiency measures.

Upcoming Event: Water and Energy Workshop in Portland, Oregon
Join Heather Cooley on October 26 as she participates in a half-day workshop in Portland, Oregon on the links between water, energy, and climate change. Hosted by the Rivers Network, the half-day workshop, Saving Water, Saving Energy, will cover the intersections between water, energy, and climate change with an emphasis on how grassroots watershed groups can work with utilities and policy makers to apply water-oriented approaches that help communities both minimize and prepare for the impacts of climate change. Interested in attending the workshop or more information? Click here.

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