Subject: Studies in the News 07-14 (March 28, 2007)

Studies in the News
Environment, Growth Management and Transportation Supplement

Contents This Week

   Judge halts sale of biotech alfalfa seeds
   Pollution effects near busy highways
   Call for building moratorium in the Delta
   Delta collapse could cause major water shortage
   Reducing carbon emissions through efficiency and renewables
   Less aggressive carbon reduction could be enough
   Few utility companies addressing global warming
   Intergovernmental panel conclusions on climate change
   Industry calls for climate action plan
   More droughts in Colorado River basin
   Colorado River water guidelines
   Environmental justice in San Francisco
   Salt pond restoration project
   Transportation departments and invasive species
   Los Angeles River revitalization plan
   Landslide danger in Bay Area
   Many raw sewage spills in LA County not reported
   Leaking underground storage tanks
   Company cites problems with Klamath Dam removal
   Commission backs Klamath dam removal
   Teen drivers face extra distractions
   Review of graduated driver licensing
   Trends in transportation funding
   Public transportation use and household savings
   Transportation security issues for Congress
   Passenger rail security
   New concepts in parking management
   Studies in the News, December 2006 - March 2007
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.

  • California State Employees may contact the State Information & Reference Center (916-654-0206; with the SITN issue number and the item number [S#].

  • All other interested individuals should contact their local library - the items may be available there, or may be borrowed by your local library on your behalf.

The following studies are currently on hand:



Geertson Farms Inc., et al. v. Mike Johans, et al. U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. C 06-01075. Preliminary Injunction Order. March 12, 2007. 5 p.

Full Text at:

[“A federal judge overturned the Bush administration's 2005 approval of genetically engineered alfalfa seeds and stopped their sale for now, in what activists hailed as the first ban on selling such crops. The judge found that the U.S. Department of Agriculture failed to adequately conduct an environmental impact study before approving them for sale. The ruling grew out of the judge's decision last month that the USDA failed to take seriously concerns that genetically altered seeds could migrate to other alfalfa crops.” Los Angeles Times (March 13, 2007) 1.]

[Request #S71401]

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“Effect of Exposure To Traffic on Lung Development From 10 to 18 Years of Age: A Cohort Study.” By W. James, Gauderman and others. IN: The Lancet, vol. 369, no. 9561 (January 26, 2007) pp. 571-577.

[“In the largest and longest study of its kind, researchers have found that children living near busy highways have significant impairments in the development of their lungs that can lead to respiratory problems for the rest of their lives. The new study found that by their 18th birthday, children who lived within 500 yards of a freeway had a 3% deficit in the amount of air they could exhale and a 7% deficit in the rate at which it could be exhaled compared with children who lived at least 1,500 yards, or nearly a mile, from a freeway. All the researchers conceded that there is little that can be done to mitigate the effects of the traffic pollution now. But when local governments are planning new schools and new housing developments, ‘this should be taken into account.’ “ Los Angeles Times (January 26, 2007) 1.]

[Request #S71402]

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ReEnvisioning the Delta: Alternative Futures for the Heart of California. By William Eisenstein and others, Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, University of California, Berkeley. (The Department, Berkeley, California) March 2006. 28 p.

Full Text at:

["A team of researchers is calling for a temporary halt on new construction in most of the Delta, saying rapid urbanization is threatening water supplies and restricting the ability of state officials to solve a water supply and environmental crisis. The researchers said the Delta is facing extremely high growth pressures, even by California standards.... The authors recommended a moratorium until a new, two-year 'Delta Vision' process plays out. The planning effort was ordered last year by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in response to the Delta's unraveling ecosystem and the failure of state water officials to stabilize and improve water supplies from the Delta." Contra Costa Times (March 16, 2007) F4.]

[Request #S71403]

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East Bay Water Sources and A Pilot Study of User Response To A Potential Supply Disruption. By Richard H. Courtney, Center for the Regional Economy, St. Mary’s College, and others. (The Center, Moraga, California) September 2006. 53 p.

Full Text at:

[“The foretold collapse of the Delta could prove damaging not only for Southern Californians who rely on water pumped to their homes but also for the majority of the East Bay. Levee breaches during an earthquake or flood could draw salty water from the Bay to the Delta, tainting water that is sent to cities in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.... Though some large-volume water users such as oil refineries have considered what might happen if their supply is cut off, they are not ready to contribute to a regional solution; businesses that use water in their products could see reduced revenue and employment, or even complete shut-downs.” Stockton Record (January 21, 2007) 1.]

[Request #S71404]

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Tackling Climate Change in the U.S: Potential Carbon Emissions Reductions From Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 2030. By the American Solar Energy Society. (The Society, Washington, DC) January 2007. 204 p.

Full Text at:

[“Most, if not all, of the reductions in U.S. carbon emissions needed to limit the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide to 450-500 parts/million (ppm) -- the level at which it has been determined that global warming would be arrested -- can be achieved by adopting more aggressive energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. To meet that goal, the report suggested that industrialized nations will have to reduce their CO2 emissions from today's levels by 60-80% before 2050.” Foster Electric Report (February 7, 2007) 14.]

[Request #S71405]

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"A Critique of the Stern Report: Is There a Case for Aggressive, Near-term, Mitigation of Greenhouse Gases?" By Robert O. Mendelsohn. IN: Regulation, vol. 29, no. 4 (Winter 2006-2007) pp. 42-46.

Full Text at:

["The Stern Report shows, given certain assumptions, that adopting an aggressive near-term policy may be better than never doing anything at all. However, the question policymakers should be asking is how aggressive do policies need to be in the near term. Society needs to weigh a number of alternatives besides just stabilizing concentrations at 550 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalents. The risks of climate damages go up with ever-higher stabilization targets, but the mitigation costs fall rapidly. Society needs to settle on the best tradeoff."]

[Request #S71406]

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Carbon Disclosure Project Report 2006: Electric Utilities 265. By Simon Thomas, Trucost. (California Public Employees Retirement System, Sacramento, California) January 29, 2007. 59p.

Full Text at:

["Despite the looming threat on the financial bottom line, few electric power companies around the world are confronting the burning issue of greenhouse gas emissions. Only six of 25 major generators have taken significant steps that ultimately would create long-term wealth for their shareholders.... The results showed Pacific Gas and Electric Co. with the highest ranking, with an economic value of $404 million. PG&E fared well because it doesn't rely on coal-fired plants for its electricity. " Sacramento Bee (January 27, 2007) 1.]

[Request #S71407]

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Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis: Summary for Policymakers. By Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, World Meteorological Organization. (The Panel, Geneva, Switzerland) February 2007. 21 p.

Full Text at:

["Researchers are more confident than ever about the causes of global warming, how they're changing Earth and what might be in store as the heat-up continues. Their confidence is reflected in a landmark document that is expected to shape discussions of global warming for years to come -- from national capitals, statehouses and city councils to university lecture halls, corporate board rooms and media outlets everywhere.... Four San Diego scientists are among 3,750 researchers who reviewed or helped write the report which is made up of four volumes. The colossal effort drew on climate-change experts from more than 130 countries and took six years to complete." San Diego Union-Tribune (January 28, 2007) B1.] "

[Request #S71408]

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A Call for Action: Consensus Principles and Recommendations from the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. By the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. (The Partnership, Washington, DC) January 2007. 16 p.

Full Text at:

["Much of the pressure on Congress and the administration is coming from outside organizations. Industry groups are pressuring policymakers. Ten leading companies -- including Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar, DuPont, General Electric, Pacific Gas and Electric and even Duke Energy, one the nation's leading users of coal -- joined with four environmental groups to call for sweeping legislation, modeled on California's climate change laws, to limit emissions from every sector of the economy." San Francisco Chronicle (January 27, 2007) A1.]

[Request #S71409]

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Colorado River Basin Water Management: Evaluating and Adjusting to Hydroclimatic Variability. By the Committee on the Scientific Bases of Colorado River Basin Water Management, National Research Council. (National Academies Press, Washington, DC) 2007.

["The Colorado River Basin is more prone to drought than had been thought and as the climate warms and the population in the region grows, pressure on water supplies will become greater.... Scientists have concluded that historically the Colorado River system, which supplies water to 25 million people and several million acres of crop and ranch land, has been drier and more prone to severe drought than was the case in the early 20th century, when the river's flows were divvied up among the seven states in the basin. That period, it turns out, was unusually wet, prompting an overly generous estimate of how much water would be available to farms and cities." Los Angeles Times (February 22, 2007) B2.]

Report. 218 p.

Executive Summary. 22 p.

[Request #S71410]

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Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead: Draft Environmental Impact Statement. By the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of the Interior. (The Bureau, Boulder City, Nevada) February 2007.

["Drought in the Colorado River basin could soon force a cut in water deliveries, but Southern California is unlikely to be affected. The document examines the effects of four proposals for handling shortages on the river, which is suffering from the worst drought in a century and one of the most severe in 500 years. Arizona agriculture would be the first to face a cut in deliveries to the lower basin.... The Department of the Interior, which oversees the Colorado's management, is expected to adopt a drought-management plan by the end of the year. Of the four proposals evaluated in the reclamation report, the one made by the seven basin states is considered to have the best chance of approval." Los Angeles Times (March 1, 2007) 1.]

Draft EIS. Various pagings.

Executive Summary. 24 p.

Press release. 3 p.

[Request #S71411]

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Still Toxic After All These Years: Air Quality and Environmental Justice in the San Francisco Bay Area. By Manuel Pastor, Center for Justice, Tolerance and Community, University of California, Santa Cruz, and others. (The Center, Santa Cruz, California) February 2007. 24 p.

Full Text at:

[“Poor and minority residents in the Bay Area breathe and live with far more than their share of industrial and traffic pollution, according to the first analysis of the region's environmental disparities. Residents in neighborhoods closest to the pollution have higher lifetime cancer risks, greater rates of asthma and other breathing ailments, and, typically, less access to health care. Two-thirds of residents living within one mile of a pollution source regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — refineries, power plants, factories and other large industrial polluters — are minorities. But of those living 2-1/2miles away or farther, two-thirds are white. Given equal incomes, minorities are still more likely to live closer to pollution sources than whites.” Oakland Tribune (February 18, 2007) 1.]

[Request #S71412]

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South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project: Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report. By Philip Williams and Associates and others. Submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, and the California Department of Fish and Game. (South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, San Francisco, California) March 2007.

["In this unusual back-to-nature experiment, it will take more than $1 billion and 50 years of close supervision to roll back the clock to the Bay's pre-industrial conditions.... The project - the largest wetlands restoration ever conducted on the West Coast - would set aside habitat for endangered wildlife, while providing flood protection and places to play for South Bay residents.... Fifty to 90 percent of the former Cargill ponds should be allowed to revert to wild freshwater marshland over the five-decade span of the project, the report recommends." San Jose Mercury News (March 8, 2007) 1.]

Draft EIR/EIS. Various pagings.

Executive Summary. 42 p.

[Request #S71413]

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Control of Invasive Species: A Synthesis of Highway Practice. By Marie Venner, Venner Consulting. Prepared for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Transportation Research Board. (The Board, Washington, DC) 2006. 126 p.

Full Text at:

["The report explores the extent to which state departments of transportation are identifying actions that affect the spread of invasive species, preventing introduction, tracking status and locations of 'invasives' in a timely and ongoing manner, controlling found populations, restoring invaded habitats, conducting research, and sharing lessons learned.... It also synthesizes the state of the practice in developing Integrated (Roadside) Vegetation Management, along with physical, chemical, biological, and cultural control mechanisms." TRB Newsletter (February 13, 2007) 1.]

[Request #S71414]

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Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan: Draft. By the Los Angeles Ad Hoc River Committee, City of Los Angeles. (The Committee, Los Angeles, California) March 2007.

["The Draft plan provides a vision for the future of the river and discusses various elements of planning and development along the river including, Governance, Water quality, Open Space, Housing, Economic Development and Land Use.... While the Master Plan itself deals only with portions of the river within the boundaries of the City of LA, the process has inspired many neighboring jurisdictions to take a second look at re-imagining the River." TLUC Newsletter (March 21, 2007) 1.]

Plan. Various pagings.

Executive Summary. 19 p.

[Request #S71415]

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Riding the Storm: Landslide Danger in the San Francisco Bay Area. By Karen Adams and others, U.S. Geological Survey. (The Survey, Menlo Park, California) 2007.

Full Text at:

["This one-hour video explores how a combination of steep slopes, weak rocks, and intense winter storms in 1982 made San Francisco bay area uplands an ideal setting for landslides. The video examines what USGS scientists have discovered about landslide dynamics, which slopes are most susceptible to sliding, and the danger signs that might signal the potential for a slide. The video can be downloaded or viewed online. An 11-minute 'trailer' for the video is also available." TRB newsletter (March 6, 2007) 1.]

[Request #S71416]

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Board Requested Review of Failed Protocols That Delayed Notification of the County Public Health Officer of a Sewage Spill on August 8, 2006. By J. Tyler McAuley, Los Angeles County Department of Auditor-Controller. (The Department, Los Angeles, California) January 24, 2007. 38 p.

Full Text at:

[“Los Angeles County public health officials failed to document more than 90% of raw sewage spills that have occurred since 2002, largely because city, county and state agencies did not report them. Most of the 208 potentially health-threatening sewage spills between January 2002 and July 2006 were neither officially recorded nor cleaned up. The results point to a long-standing failure in communication among local wastewater managers, county public health officials and regional water quality officials, who are responsible for monitoring and reacting to water quality problems." Los Angeles Times (January 25, 2007) 1.]

[Request #S71417]

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Leaking Underground Storage Tanks: EPA Should Take Steps to Better Ensure the Effective Use of Public Funding for Cleanups. By the U.S. Government Accountability Office. GAO-07-152. (The Office, Washington, DC) February 2007. 112 p.

Full Text at:

["After surveying states, the GAO said that $12 billion in public funds is needed to clean up about 54,000 spill sites. Tank owners are responsible for paying to clean up the 63,000 other known leaks, but some lack adequate insurance coverage to pay the cleanup bill.... The federal government has been too slow to tap the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund, or LUST, a federal cleanup pool set aside in 1986 to aide state cleanups. ... Costs can also rise dramatically if sites are contaminated with methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, a fuel additive no longer in widespread use that has contaminated water supplies in dozens of states, rendering it undrinkable. Over half of the 14,800 sites on California's cleanup backlog involve MTBE contamination." Reuters (February 23, 2007) 1.]

[Request #S71418]

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Evaluation of the Klamath Project Alternatives Analysis Model. By Daniel L. Hansen and others, Christensen Associates Energy Consulting, LLC. (The Company, Madison, Wisconsin) March 2007. 53 p.

Full Text at:

["The power company that owns four Klamath River dams blocking the migration of imperiled salmon launched a counterattack against a recent government study that declared it cheaper to remove the structures than to keep them.... The company said the commission's review was marred by errors and inconsistencies in the pricing of replacement power, failure to include future carbon emission taxes as part of replacement-energy costs and an inappropriate discount rate for financing." Los Angeles Times (March 13, 2007) 1.

[Request #S71419]

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Energy Commission Analysis Says Klamath Dam Removal, not Upgrades, More Beneficial than Earlier Projected. By the California Energy Commission. (The Commission, Sacramento, California) March 26, 2007. 2 p.

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["Firing the latest salvo in a battle over the future of the Klamath River, the California Energy Commission reaffirmed its stand that removing four hydroelectric dams that block salmon migration would cost less than trying to keep them.... The Commission's consultant ran the numbers anew, taking in numbers PacifiCorp said it ignored. The results were far different from PacifiCorp's. The commission's latest report said that dam removal would be even more cost-effective than its consultant originally determined — about $114 million less than relicensing the dams and installing the fish ladders." Los Angeles Times (March 27, 2007) 1.]

[Request #S71427]

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Driving: Through the Eyes of Teens. By Flaura Koplin Winston, Center for Injury Research and Prevention, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (The Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) 2007. 24 p.

Full Text at:

[“A report found that nearly all of the more than 5,000 teens surveyed nationwide have witnessed behavior that takes their inexperienced eyes off the road. The study found that one in five respondents in the 11th grade crashed in the past year, 8 percent of whom required medical attention. As cars become more powerful, inexperienced drivers become more dangerous. Well-meaning parents who put nascent drivers into large sport-utility vehicles or luxurious hand-me-down sedans hand over horsepower to drivers unaccustomed to the perils of the road.” Los Angeles Daily News (January 25, 2007) 1.]

[Request #S71420]

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Nationwide Review of Graduated Driver Licensing. By Susan P. Baker and others, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Prepared for the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety. (The Foundation, Washington, DC) February 2007. 86 p.

Full Text at:

["During the past decade, 44 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation for Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs.... The objective is to provide novice drivers with supervision during their initial months on the road, and then to reduce their exposure to certain more-hazardous situations.... Evaluations in various states have consistently shown that GDL is beneficial, with reported impacts as great as 34% reduction in the involvement rate of 16-year-old drivers in injury crashes and 19% reduction in their fatal crash involvement rate."]

[Request #S71421]

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Comparative Review and Analysis of State Transit Funding Programs. By ICF International. National Cooperative Highway Research Program. Report 569. (Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC) 2006. 103 p.

Full Text at:

["This report examines the levels and types of state funding provided for public transportation. The report provides supplemental analyses of information collected in the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ annual survey of state public transportation funding and explores a framework for conducting peer analyses and offers ideas on how the annual survey of state public transportation funding might be enhanced so that states could conduct additional analyses." TRB Newsletter (January 3, 2007) 1.]

[Request #S71422]

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Public Transportation and Petroleum Savings in the U.S.: Reducing Dependence on Oil. By Linda Bailey, ICF International. Prepared for the American Public Transportation Association. (ICF International, Fairfax, Virginia) January 2007. 35 p.

Full Text at:

["Public transportation usage reduces U.S. gasoline consumption by 1.4 billion gallons each year - or the equivalent of 108 million cars filling up, almost 300,000 each day. These savings result from the efficiency of carrying multiple passengers in each vehicle; the reduction in traffic congestion from fewer automobiles on the roads; and the varied sources of energy for public transportation.... Households that are likely to use public transportation on a given day save over $6,200 every year, compared to a household with no access to public transportation service. These households have two workers, one car and are within three-quarters of a mile of public transportation."]

[Request #S71423]

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Transportation Security: Issues for the 110th Congress. By David Randall Peterman and others, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. (The Service, Washington, DC) January 3, 2007. 21 p.

Full Text at:

["This report explores how best to construct and finance a system of deterrence, protection, and response that effectively reduces the possibility and consequences of another terrorist attack without unduly interfering with travel, commerce, and civil liberties.... While hardening the transportation sector from terrorist attack is difficult, measures can be taken to deter terrorists." TRB Newsletter (February 27, 2007) 1.]

[Request #S71424]

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Passenger Rail Security: Enhanced Federal Leadership Needed to Prioritize and Guide Security Efforts. Testimony of Cathleen A. Berrick, Director Homeland Security and Justice Issues, Government Accountability Office, before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, U.S. Senate. GAO- 07-225-T. (The Office, Washington, DC) January 18, 2007. 31 p.

Full Text at:

["U.S. and foreign passenger rail operators GAO visited have taken actions to secure their rail systems. Most had implemented customer security awareness programs, increased security personnel, increased the use of canines to detect explosives, and enhanced employee training programs. GAO also observed security practices among foreign passenger rail systems that are not currently used by U.S. rail operators or by the U.S. government, which could be considered for use in the U.S."]

[Request #S71426]

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Advanced Parking Management Systems: A Cross-Cutting Study. By Intelligent Transportation Systems, U.S. Department of Transportation. (The Department, Washington, DC) January 2007. 60 p.

Full Text at:

["Frustration with parking is becoming a major concern. Parking patrons often do not know where the best parking locations are, what the facility operating hours are, what the expected costs are, and, most importantly, whether a parking place will be available when they arrive. Advanced parking management systems help people find parking spots quickly, thereby reducing frustration and enhancing the visitor’s experience.... This study examines advanced parking management systems in three venues: airports, central business districts, and transit park-and-ride locations."]

[Request #S71425]

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[This section links to items in Studies in the News since the last Environment, Growth Management and Transportation Supplement.]


"Environment and Natural Resources", "Transportation" IN: Studies in the News, 06-52 - 07-13, December 2006 - March 2007.

[Includes: "Pollution from construction equipment," "Global warming, local initiatives," "Land trusts increase," "Asbestos in El Dorado Hills," "Less danger for top sea predators," "Forest Service curbs environmental scrutiny," "Off-highway fuel tax study urges park funding cuts," "As Atlantic warms, more fires predicted in West," "New plan for San Joaquin Valley air," "Warning of Sacramento delta crisis," "Auburn dam cost update," "Financing California transportation," "Transit and highway finance," "Highway and transit financing options," "Public-private partnerships on transportation," "Conservation may limit global warming," and "Primer on congestion pricing."]

[Request #S71428]

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