Subject: Studies in the News 04-16 (March 9, 2004)

Studies in the News
Environment, Growth Management and Transportation Supplement

Contents This Week

   San Joaquin Valley given worst-offender status
   Risks and responses to climate change
   Climate change and soot
   Commission denies border fence
   Courthouses at risk in quakes
   Midvalley fairy shrimp ruled not endangered
   Final EIS on Sierra forest plan
   Court strikes county logging law
   Biotech seeds in general seed supply
   Growth without sprawl in upstate New York
   Predicting future land and housing supply
   Metropolitan decision making in transportation
   Suburban mountain lions
   MTBE absorbed through skin
   Coho salmon recovery plan
   Contaminants in farmed salmon
   The costs of sewage pollution
   Hormones leaked into streams
   Water conditions survey
   Valley farmers win in court over water loss
   Report on California wildland fires
   Unfair competition between transit and highways
   Fuel economy standards vs gasoline tax
   Transportation and people with disabilities
   Measuring transportation system performance
   Freeway bottlenecks
   Studies in the News, December 2003
   Studies in the News, January 2004
   Studies in the News, February 2004
   Studies in the News, March 2004
Introduction to Studies in the News

Studies in the News is a very current compilation of items significant to the Legislature and Governor's Office. It is created weekly by the State Library's Research Bureau to supplement the public policy debate in California’s Capitol. To help share the latest information with state policymakers, these reading lists are now being made accessible through the State Library’s website. This week's list of current articles in various public policy areas is presented below.

Service to State Employees:

  • When available, the URL for the full text of each item is provided.

  • Items in the State Library collection can be checked out to state officials and staff.

  • Access to all materials listed will be provided by the State Information Reference Center, either by e-mail to or by calling 654-0261.

The following studies are currently on hand:



"Clean Air Act Reclassification, San Joaquin Valley Nonattainment Area: Proposed Rule." IN: Federal Register, vol. 69, no. 35 (February 23, 2003) pp. 8126- 8128.

Full Text at:

["The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce plans for dropping the San Joaquin Valley into the country's worst-offender status for smog pollution, alongside Los Angeles.... More Valley businesses will have to get the special permit as a result of the new status.... The Valley air district last year reluctantly made an unprecedented request for the extreme status. Officials said the district cannot achieve the standards without cleaner vehicles." Fresno Bee (February 13, 2003) B1.]

[Request #S1449]

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Climate Change and Human Health: Risks and Responses: Summary. By the United Nations World Health Organization. (The Organization, Geneva, Switzerland) 2003. 36 p.

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["Global climate change is a newer challenge to ongoing efforts to protect human health.... This summary seeks to describe the context and process of global climate change, its actual or likely impacts on health, and how human societies and their governments should respond, with particular focus on the health sector."]

[Request #S1450]

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"Soot Climate Forcing Via Snow and Ice Albedos." By James Hansen and Larissa Nazarenko. IN: The Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, vol. 101, no. 2 (January 13, 2004) pp. 423-428.

["Dirty snow containing tiny amounts of soot may cause up to one-fourth of the global warming that scientists have attributed to greenhouse gases, NASA researchers reported.... the good news is that we are within reach to reduce the amount of soot from diesel engines and burned wood that finds its way into the Earth's large snowpacks.... But the scientists also cautioned that the main force driving global warming is the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere." Sacramento Bee (December 23, 2003) A8.]

[Request #S1451]

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Revised Staff Report and Recommendations of Consistency Determination. By the Staff of the California Coastal Commission. CD-063-03. (The Commission, San Francisco, California) February 18, 2004. 78 p.

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["California regulators denied a Department of Homeland Security request to fortify the westernmost stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, setting the stage for a possible legal battle between the state and the Bush administration.... Much of the environmental concerns stem from the Border Patrol's plans to fill a deep, half-mile long canyon known as 'Smuggler's Gulch' with 2.1 million cubic yards of dirt -- enough to fill 300,000 dump trucks.... If the two sides can't reach a compromise, the issue is likely to land in federal court, officials said. The U.S. government, however, holds a trump card: Under federal law governing coastal management, the president has the power to override an unfavorable court ruling." Associated Press (February 19, 2004) 1.]

[Request #S1452]

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Superior Courts of California: Seismic Assessment Program: Fact Sheet. By the Administrative Office of the Courts, Judicial Council of California. (The Office, San Francisco, California) February 2004. 5 p.

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["Dozens of Courthouses Found at Risk in Quakes: State Officials Are Not Surprised, Saying That Many of the Buildings Inspected by Structural Engineers Predate Current Safety Rules: Of 300 court buildings evaluated by structural engineers, 147 could pose a substantial risk to life and sustain substantial structural damage. Only 72 reached the state's seismic safety bar." Los Angeles Times (February 6, 2004) 1.]

[Request #S1453]

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"12-Month Finding for a Petition to List the Midvalley Fairy Shrimp as Endangered." IN: Federal Register, vol. 69, no. 16 (January 26, 2004) pp. 3592- 3598.

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["The midvalley fairy shrimp apparently will not get the same federal protection as its cousins. The decision spares the University of California at Merced another potential environmental snare.... In 2001, officials had to throw away their plans and pick a new building site about 1 1/2 miles away -- all because of federal protection of four other fairy shrimp species." Modesto Bee (January 24, 2003) A1.]

[Request #S1454]

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Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment: Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. By USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region. (The Service, Vallejo, California) January 2004.

["Under the new plan, logging levels will climb in the Sierra to roughly three times what is now allowed.... Regional Forester Jack Blackwell said the changes were necessary to step up forest thinning that would lessen the threat of forest fires.... The latest plan ... loosens habitat protections for rare species." Los Angeles Times (January 23, 2004) B1.]

Environmental impact statement. Various pagings.:

Summary. 22 p.:

[Request #S1455]

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Big Creek Lumber Co. et al. vs. County of Santa Cruz et al. California Court of Appeal, Sixth Appelate District. H023778. February 17, 2004. 47 p.

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["County law banned logging on any land not zoned specifically for 'timber production' -- meaning no logging on property zoned for homes, farms or other uses. The justices prohibited that restriction, ruling that state forestry laws take precedence.... Although it won't immediately affect other counties, the ruling also raises the possibility that the laws of counties such as San Mateo and Marin with restrictive forest policies could be threatened." San Jose Mecury News (February 18, 2004) B1.]

[Request #S1456]

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Gone to Seed: Transgenic Contaminants in the Traditional Seed Supply. By Margaret Mellon and Jane Rissler, Union of Concerned Scientists. (The Union, Cambridge, Massachusetts) February 2004. 70 p.

["A new study has found low levels of genetically engineered seeds mixed in with traditional seed varieties of some major crops, raising the possibility of widespread contamination of food grown in the United States.... The study warned that the contamination problem could represent a serious health threat if traditional seeds should become contaminated with new food crop varieties engineered to produce industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals and vaccines. While the study did not test for those kinds of engineered contaminants, it did find others that suggested the potential was there." San Jose Mercury News (February 24, 2004) B1.]

Report. 70 p.:

Executive Summary. 4 p.:

[Request #S1457]

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Sprawl Without Growth: The Upstate Paradox. By Rolf Pendall, Center of Urban and Metropolitan Policy, The Brookings Institution. (The Institution, Washington, DC) 2003. 12 p.

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["Sprawl has many harmful effects. By many definitions, sprawl has been shown fairly consistently to degrade wildlife habitat, threaten agricultural productivity, and raise the cost of public services at all levels of government. Measuring sprawl, identifying where it is worsening, and moving ahead with measures that will reduce it are thus all important public policy issues for Upstate (New York). This report discusses these issues, and in doing so hopes to encourage the gradual development of better state and local policies to reduce unnecessary land consumption and sustain Upstate’s cities, villages, hamlets, and suburban towns."]

[Request #S1458]

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Monitoring Land and Housing Markets: An Essential Tool for Smart Growth. By Gerrit J. Knaap, National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education. Prepared for the National Center for Housing and the Environment. (The Center, Washington, DC) January 2004. 43 p.

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["While most communities generally agree that Smart Growth goals are laudable, they often find they lack the necessary tools to make sophisticated, well-founded land use decisions that are likely to stand the test of time.... The paper points out that the ability to better predict future housing supply is especially important in areas with growth restrictions. In these areas, understanding land and housing markets is crucial to keeping housing prices stable and not deflecting growth to less preferred locations that could exacerbate sprawl."]

[Request #S1459]

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Improving Metropolitan Decision Making in Transportation: Greater Funding and Devolution for Greater Accountability. By Robert Puentes and Linda Bailey, Center of Urban and Metropolitan Policy, The Brookings Institution. (The Institution, Washington, DC) 2003. 20 p.

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["This brief examines recent metropolitan-level spending and finds that local control produces a more balanced and holistic transportation network. It also argues for specific policy recommendations to boost that performance while increasing accountability."]

[Request #S1460]

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Southern California Puma Project: Final Report of Interagency Agreement Between California State Parks and the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center. By Walter Boyce, UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, and others. (The Center, Davis, California) January 2004.

["A three-year study that tracked 15 mountain lions in the hills of San Diego found they are much closer to humans than previously thought... Despite recent attacks, the study done for the state department of Parks and Recreation confirmed that encounters between mountain lions and people are rare." (January 22, 2004) 1.]

Press release. 1 p.:

Report. 25 p.:

Figures and appendicies. Various pagings.:

[Request #S1461]

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"Dermal, Oral, and Inhalation Pharmacokinetics of Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) in Human Volunteers." By James Prah, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and others. IN: Toxicological Sciences, vol. 77 (2004) pp. 195-205.

["Fuel Additive Absorbed Through Skin, EPA says: A federal study concludes that a controversial fuel additive found in drinking water nationwide can be absorbed through the skin, a discovery that could lead to more health studies and tighter regulations. Researchers at the Environmental Protection Agency, which conducted the study, caution that they do not yet know the health risks associated with MTBE being absorbed through the skin."]

[Request #S1462]

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Recovery Strategy for the California Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch): Report to the California Fish and Game Commission. And Response to Comments on the Draft Recovery Strategy for the California Coho Salmon. By the California Department of Fish and Game. (The Department, Sacramento, California) August 2003; January 2004.

["The California Fish and Game Commission ... adopted a plan to restore the habitat of the increasingly scarce fish. The commission's decision capped years of deliberations on how to best help replenish stocks of coho -- or silver -- salmon, which have been depleted by extensive fishing and water diversion as well as muddy runoff, often triggered by land development and logging operations." Los Angeles Times (February 7, 2004) B6.]

Recovery Plan. 382 p.:

Responses to Comments. 229 p.:

Other recovery strategy documents. Various pagings.:

[Request #S1463]

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"Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed Salmon." By David O. Carpenter, State University of New York at Albany, and others. And "Salmon Survey Stokes Debate About Farmed Fish." By Erik Stokstad. IN: Science, vol. 303, no. 5655 (January 9, 2003) pp. 154-155; 226-229.

["Salmon raised in ocean feedlots, the main source of supply for American consumers, contains such high levels of PCBs, dioxins and other toxic chemicals that people should not eat it more than once a month, according to an extensive study.... Researchers say the culprit is salmon feed: pellets of ground up small fish, which are rich in fish oil, that help farmed salmon grow fat fast but also contain concentrated amounts of pesticide residues and industrial byproducts that have spread widely in the environment." Los Angeles Times (January 9, 2004) A1.]

[Request #S1464]

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Swimming in Sewage: The Growing Problem of Sewage Pollution and How the Bush Administration Is Putting Our Health and Environment at Risk. By Mark Dorfman, Natural Resources Defense Council. (The Council, Washington, DC) February 2004. 75 p.

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["Sewage pollution costs Americans billions of dollars every year in medical treatment, lost productivity and property damage, and Bush administration policies are compounding the problem, according to a report issued by two national conservation groups....The report features seven case studies from around the country (including California) that illustrate how exposure to sewage pollution has killed or seriously injured people and harmed local economies." NRDC press release (February 19, 2004) 1.]

[Request #S1465]

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"Endocrine-Disrupting Effects of Cattle Feedlot Effluent on an Aquatic Sentinel Species, the Fathead Minnow." By Edward F. Orlando and others. IN: Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 112, no. 3 (March 2003) pp. 353-358.

["Changes in Fish Tied to Feedlots: Hormones that leak into streams from cattle feedlots are altering the sexual characteristics of wild fish, demasculizing the males and defeminizing the females, according to a study.... The scientists said they did not know whether the damage was caused by natural hormones in cattle or by synthetic ones administered to the animals. Either way, their report says, the findings 'clearly demonstrate' that effluent from feedlots is hormonally active." Los Angeles Times (December 11,2003) 1.]

[Request #S1466]

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Water Conditions in California. By Frank Gehrke, Department of Water Resources, The Resources Agency. California Cooperative Surveys. Bulletin 102-1-04. (The Department, Sacramento, California) February 1, 2004. 17 p.

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["Water year 2004 has been remarkably similar to last year, although not as wet. December precipitation was much above average again, followed by a well below average January. This season too has been wetter in the north, drier in the south. But there are important differences.... As of now forecasts call for slightly below average snowmelt overall, but a subnormal water year. About 40 percent of the rainy season is left, so there is still a large range in posssible outcomes."]

[Request #S1467]

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Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District, et al. vs. The United States. United States Court of Federal Claims. 98-101L. December 31, 2003. 12 p.

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["Valley Farmers Win in Court Over Water Loss: In a major victory for California farmers, a federal judge has said the U.S. government must compensate a group of San Joaquin Valley growers for diverting some of their water to protect endangered fish." Sacramento Bee (January 14, 2004) A3.]

[Request #S1468]

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Southern California Firestorm 2003: Report For the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center. By Mission Centered Solutions and Guidance Group, Inc. Prepared for the National Advanced Resource Technology Center. (The Center, Marana, Arizona) December 8, 2003. 70 p.

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["The most exhaustive report to date on the October firestorms says traditional methods of Southern California firefighters were futile against a blitz of multiple, fast-moving blazes, and warned that it could happen again.... It concluded that emergency service agencies that trained, planned and prepared together for major wildfires fared better than those that did not." San Diego Union Tribune (January 15, 2003) 1.]

[Request #S1469]

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Highways and Transit: Leveling the Playing Field in Federal Transportation Policy. By Edward Beimborn, University of Wisconsin, and Robert Puentes, Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, Brookings Institution. (The Center, Washington, DC) December 2003. 20 p.

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["Federal transportation policy is essentially an unfair competition between highways and transit.... This brief compares how new transit and highway programs are treated differently by federal legislation and policy and how those differences lead to an unlevel playing field, distorting good local planning, management, and decision making."]

[Request #S1470]

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The Economic Costs of Fuel Economy Standards Versus a Gasoline Tax. By David Austin and Terry Dinan, Microeconomic and Financial Studies Division, Congressional Budget Office. (The Office, Washington, DC) December 2003. 24 p.

["A Congressional Budget Office study—prepared at the request of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works—compares the economic costs of two methods for reducing gasoline consumption: raising the corporate average fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles and increasing the federal tax on gasoline." Transportation Research Board (January 7, 2004) 1.]

Full Text at:

[Request #S1471]

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Freedom to Travel. By the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation. (The Bureau, Washington, DC) December 2003. 41 p.

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["The survey was designed to identify the impact of transportation on the work and social lives of people with disabilities, and the extent to which such impact is unique to that population. The report summarizes the survey findings and serves as an information resource for transportation planners and policy makers in developing national, state, and local policies and programs for people with disabilities."]

[Request #S1472]

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Characteristics and Performance of Regional Transportation Systems. By the Development, Community and Environment Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (The Agency, Washington, DC) January 2004. 49 p.

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["The study looks at transportation systems in 13 metropolitan areas to see: 1) whether drivers have many route choices; 2) if it is easy to walk places; 3) whether transit is frequent and available; and 4) how much roadway there is per person. The study then examines if these characteristics have an impact on transportation and environmental performance."]

[Request #S1473]

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Unclogging America's Arteries: Effective Relief for Highway Bottlenecks, 1999-2004. By American Highway Users Alliance. (The Alliance, Washington, DC) February 2004. 94 p.

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["The San Fernando Valley's notorious 101-405 interchange linking the Ventura and San Diego freeways -- long seen as ground zero for the region's gridlock -- has received a dubious distinction: being named the worst bottleneck in the nation.... Among the top 10 bottlenecks are Southern California's intersection of the Santa Monica and the Golden State freeways in downtown Los Angeles (No. 8), and the San Diego and San Gabriel River freeways in Long Beach (No. 9)." Los Angeles Daily News (February 19, 2004) N1.]

[Request #S1474]

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[This section links to items in Studies in the News since the last Environmental Supplement.]


"Environment and Natural Resources." IN: Studies in the News, 03-83 (December 2003)

[Includes: "Klamath River water flow;" "National parks bring economic gain;" and "Forecast for wildfire severity," "Shortfalls in transportation funding," "Guidance on drivers' license security," "Drivers license legislation update," "Status of identification security," and "Motor vehicle administrators' guidelines."]

03-83, Environment
03-83, Transportation

[Request #S1475]

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"Environment and Natural Resources." IN: Studies in the News, 04-1 04-3 (January 2004)

[Includes: "State liable for levee break," "Cell phone recycling," "Mercury in Sierra Nevada fish," "Private use of public water," "GMOs and public policy in New Zealand," "Global climate change," "Survey of environmental justice policies," and "Integrated Waste Management Board."]

04-1, Environment
04-3, Environment

[Request #S1476]

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"Environment and Natural Resources." IN: Studies in the News, 04-7 04-10 04-13(February 2004)

[Includes: "Suit against wind turbines," "Earthquakes in a three-year cycle," "Court rules against environmental regulation," "EPA can overrule state agencies on air quality," "Joshua Tree Park threatened," "Pesticide use banned to protect salmon," "Government must compensate for diverting water," "Equity of transportation funding," "Climate change and species extinction," "State protection sought for salamander," "Cell phones and highway safety," "Federal funding stacked against transit," "DUI related deaths," "States' highway construction costs," "Fewer, bigger farms," "The future of CALFED," "Promoting investment in green technologies," "Supressed and distorted scientific analysis," and "Commuter and freight rail access."]

04-7, Environment
04-7, Transportation
04-10, Environment
04-10, Transportation
04-13, Environment
04-13, Transportation

[Request #S1477]

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"Environment and Natural Resources." IN: Studies in the News, 04-15 (March 2004)

[Includes: "Tracking disease and environmental hazards," "Toxic flame retardants," "Calculating open space," "Cell phone use by New York drivers," and "Privatization of highway maintenance."]

04-15, Environment
04-15, Transportation

[Request #S1478]

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