Monday, September 15, 2003

Yesterday's Times

A smattering of interesting articles from Sunday's LA Times:

"Urban West Collides With Wild West," by Angie Wagner.
Under open-range law, cattle can roam and graze at will. The property owner may fence out cattle if that is his wish, but the owner of the cattle has no obligation to restrain his herd.

Thirteen Western states have some form of open-range law, most similar to Arizona's. At least six California counties have open-range rules — Kern, Trinity, Shasta, Siskiyou, Lassen and Modoc.
Predictably, as more people arrive, there are more oppportuntities for run-ins (literally) with free-ranging cattle.
Home on the range has gotten a lot more crowded as the West undergoes a huge population boom. From 1990 to 2000, the region had the largest growth in the country — 19.7%, to 63.2 million people.
"U.S., State Clash Over Environment," by Gary Polakovic. Two of the contentious issues are vehicle emissions and fuel efficiency.
[D]efenders of the [Bush] administration . . . contend that California lawmakers have overstepped their authority in efforts to regulate such matters as automobile fuel efficiency that should be left to the federal government. Since President Bush took office, the administration has joined with the auto industry in a successful lawsuit to weaken California's mandate to build nonpolluting electric cars. . . .

A federal judge last year blocked the state's so-called zero-emission vehicle mandate, siding with auto manufacturers who charged that the state had exceeded its authority and promoted alternative-fuel cars using fuel economy as an incentive. That authority is reserved exclusively for the federal government, the manufacturers said.

The industry takes a similar view in challenging the AQMD [South Coast Air Quality Management District] fleet rules requiring the conversions to alternative fuels. The Justice Department's intervention bolsters the case for industry, which argues that only the federal government can regulate new-car emission standards. The AQMD says the rule does not set emission standards, but requires that dirty, old vehicles be replaced with new, clean-running models.
Then flip over to the Business section for this article: "Supplier Vulnerability Poses a Threat to U.S. Oil Security," by Warren Vieth. The article gives a brief history of previous "oil shocks" and possible current scenarios, including what might happen if Saudi Arabia's oil production were disrupted.
[F]or U.S. consumers, there are some alarming realities — especially at a time when Saudi oil facilities stand at risk and Iraq's future remains a question mark. In 1973, the United States imported 35% of the petroleum it consumed. U.S. import dependence declined substantially in response to the shocks of the '70s, falling to 27% in 1985. But it began rising again after oil prices collapsed in 1986. The Energy Department expects the import share to hit 55% this year, tying a record set in 2001, and to rise to 68% by 2025.

In addition — in spite of the creation in the mid-1970s of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve — America has only enough oil in storage to replace imports for 132 days. That compares with more than 300 days in 1985, according to James L. Williams of WTRG Economics in London, Ark.
Finally, on the lighter side, a story featuring small houses and apartments in the LA area, "Small Places Fill a Niche," by Diane Wedner. Unfortunately, the picture of a kitchen in the 225-square-foot Santa Monica condo featured (bought for $230,000!) is cropped differently in the online version, so you don't see the wall rack or butcher block island. The article also charts the increase in average house size in the U.S. over the last 100 years.
Year Square Feet
1900 800
1925 900
1950 983
1970 1,500
1990 2,080
2000 2,265
Source: National Assn. of Home Builders

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