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newsclips -- Newsclips for March 10, 2011

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 13:08:35
California Air Resources Board News Clips for March 10, 2011.
This is a service of the California Air Resources Board’s Office
of Communications.  You may need to sign in or register with
individual websites to view some of the following news articles.


In Pinedale, Wyo., Residents Adjust to Air Pollution.  Pinedale,
Wyo. — Strong sun, not too much wind, a good thick snow pack:
sounds like a perfect late winter’s day in a remote rural Western
valley rimmed by snaggle-topped mountains.  But that has also
been the stage set for the worst ozone pollution event here in
three years — in one of the places people might least expect. 

As Ozone Decision Looms, EPA Finds Stronger Science. Recent
studies suggest that smog-filled air kills more people and causes
more breathing problems than previously thought, U.S. EPA
scientists say in a new draft paper, but due to a procedural
twist, the findings can't be taken into account as Administrator
Lisa Jackson decides whether to set stricter limits than the
George W. Bush administration chose in 2008. The new research
provides stronger evidence that short-term spikes in ground-level
ozone can cause premature death, according to the 996-page
scientific assessment, which was released late Friday. Posted.

Health Groups Gird For Fight Over EPA's Power-Plant Toxics Rules.
 With the Obama administration required to put its plan for
reducing toxic air pollution from coal-fired power plants on the
table a week from today, the American Lung Association and other
public health groups have started an early push to explain why
U.S. EPA shouldn't flinch on the long-delayed rules.  Posted. 

COACHELLA VALLEY: Environmental Tour Takes In Smelly Problems. 
From sewage-plagued backyards to a sludge mountain to
fuel-contaminated soil piles, government officials got repeated
environmental reality checks Wednesday during a bus tour of Mecca
and nearby communities in the Coachella Valley.  Posted. 

The Midas Touch, The Midas Effect. If politics make for great
live theater, then a Feb. 22 hearing held in Sacramento about the
controversial strawberry fumigant methyl iodide might have been
scripted by Franz Kafka. And much like a Kafka tale, there are
stories behind stories. 

The characters include a state pesticide department that ignored
its own scientists’ warnings; the department’s hired expert and
his band of scientific brothers whom methyl iodide’s manufacturer
claims went rogue and exceeded the scope of their established
mission; a produce industry worth billions of dollars to the
state economy; and the private-equity backed maker of the product
they call MIDAS, whose company tagline reads “Bold, Agile and
Customer Driven.” Posted.


More Americans Believe In Climate Change Than In Global Warming.
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of
Michigan, show that more Americans believe in "climate change"
than in "global warming." The study, which will see its results
published in an upcoming issue of the journal Public Opinion
Quarterly, surveyed 2,267 adult Americans asking them a simple
question regarding the issue of climate change/global warming.
Fifty percent of those surveyed were given the term "global
warming" while the other fifty percent were given the term
"climate change." Posted.

Climate Researchers: Russian Heat Wave Was Natural. Washington
(AP) — Global warming isn't directly to blame for last summer's
deadly — and extraordinary — heat wave in Russia, researchers
said in a report Wednesday that came with a climate warning. "We
may be on the cusp of a period in which the probability of such
events increases rapidly, due primarily to the influence of
projected increases in greenhouse gas concentrations," said the
team led by Randall Dole and Martin Hoerling of the U.S. National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Posted.

New Planning Process Starts For National Forests.  A new national
forest planning process will be unveiled at meetings in
Sacramento County and Redding.  For generations, forest planning
has been largely focused on logging and resource management. But
growing concern about recreation, wildlife and climate change
have added new imperatives.  Posted. 

Global Carbon Capture Projects, Part Of A $40 Billion Effort,
Increased In 2010. The number of global carbon capture projects
surged 10 percent last year with financial help from the U.S.
government and other industrialized countries, a new study finds.
A ripple effect from President Obama's 2009 stimulus package,
combined with similar economic jolt packages in other countries,
helped boost the number of active or planned projects last year
to 234, a net increase of 21 initiatives, according to the
sweeping study from the Global CCS Institute. Posted.

GOP Bill Handcuffing EPA To Win First Victory Today. While the
House approved sweeping cap-and-trade climate legislation last
Congress, a key House subcommittee today is expected to approve
by a wide margin a bill to permanently strip U.S. EPA of its
authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants,
oil refineries and other major stationary sources. It is unclear
whether the Energy and Power Subcommittee vote will break down
strictly along party lines or whether one or more Democrats will
vote for H.R. 910 from Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton
(R-Mich.). Posted.

House Panel Approves Bill Stripping EPA Regulatory Power. A bill
to strip U.S. EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gas
emissions cleared its first hurdle today on the road to likely
House passage. The House Energy and Power Subcommittee approved a
bill by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), which
would prevent EPA from moving ahead with current and planned
climate regulations for electric utilities, oil refineries and
other large stationary emitters. The measure passed on a voice
vote, apparently along party lines. Posted.

Waxman Holds Out Hope To Craft Bipartisan Emissions Bill. Even as
Republicans plan to push a bill through a House subcommittee
tomorrow to limit U.S. EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas
emissions, Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry Waxman
(D-Calif.) continues to float the idea of the GOP and Democrats
working together on a bipartisan measure that would reduce carbon
dioxide emissions. Waxman has said repeatedly in recent days that
he is willing to meet with Republicans "without preconditions" to
craft a bill that both sides could agree on that would include
incentives for low-carbon energy projects and other initiatives.
Posted. http://www.eenews.net/eenewspm/print/2011/03/09/1


Corn Ethanol Tax Credit Under Attack. Ethanol is once again in
the hot seat. 
Dueling bills that would trim government support for the ethanol
industry were introduced in the Senate yesterday. Sens. Tom
Coburn (R-Okla.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) offered a bipartisan bill
yesterday morning that would eliminate the 45-cent tax credit
paid to blenders for each gallon of fuel mixed with gasoline.
Last night, however, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein
introduced competing legislation that would similarly slash the
45-cent tax credit for corn-based ethanol, but would carve out an
exemption for ethanol made from substances like plant waste or
sugar cane. Posted.

Monsanto Invests In Sapphire; Goes Hunting For Yield Traits In
The Wild, Wild Wet. The news crossed the wires early enough
yesterday to have spilled over a considerable portion of the
twitterverse. Items like “Monsanto Backs Algae Startup Sapphire
Energy,” and “Sapphire Energy Anticipates “Significant” Revenue
Stream From Monsanto Alliance.” The New York Times led with
“Agriculture and genetics giant Monsanto has made its bet on
algae. On Tuesday Monsanto announced that it has made an equity
investment in, and developed a partnership with, algae startup
Sapphire Energy.” All of which bemused Sapphire Energy CEO Jason
Pyle, who remarked “that’s not really what the collaboration is
about.” Posted.


U.K. Plans Incentives to Spur $7.2 Billion in Renewable Heat
Programs. The U.K. government set out incentives aimed at
spurring 4.5 billion pounds ($7.2 billion) of investment in
renewable heating systems by 2020, the first program of its kind
in the world. The Department of Energy and Climate Change said it
would grant subsidies worth 860 million pounds for geothermal
heat pumps, solar thermal plants and biomass boilers. The
measures first will be targeted at 25,000 households by July, and
the full program will be in place by October 2012. Posted.

Solar Industry Has Strong Year. A new report by the Solar Energy
Industries Association found that 2010 was a banner year for
solar in the United States. The total size of the U.S. solar
market -- which includes rooftop installations, hot water heating
and utility scale projects -- grew from $3.6 billion in 2009 to
$6 billion, a 67 percent increase. "Solar is growing quickly
across the U.S. at the residential, commercial, and utility scale
levels. It is powering and heating buildings in all 50 states,
and using a variety of technologies to do so," states the
executive summary of the report, which is scheduled to be
released Thursday. Posted.

Offshore Wind Farms Can Generate High Costs And Maintenance
Problems, Vestas CEO Warns. Houston -- The chief of Europe's
largest wind power company advised that project developers in the
United States should be cautious as they move to establish the
nation's first offshore wind farms in the Northeast. Speaking to
an audience of energy executives at this year's IHS CERA Week
energy conference, Vestas Wind Systems CEO Ditlev Engel said he
estimated offshore wind power can cost about twice as much as to
build as compared to land-based systems. But what companies
really have to fear is the weather. Posted.

Utilities, Growers Experimenting With 'Woody Grass' Coal
Alternative. An Oregon utility company is working with growers in
Morrow County to produce giant cane, a woody grass that it hopes
can replace coal at a nearby coal power plant. Portland General
Electric is contracting with growers in the area to produce
between 100 and 250 acres of it, which would be used in a test
burn at the Boardman Power Plant next year. But much still
remains unknown about the fast-growing giant cane, including
questions over its safety and whether enough can be grown to keep
the power plant running. Posted.

With Spending Bills Dead, Clean Energy Supporters Brace Against
Deeper Cuts. Competing plans to fund the government through
September both flopped yesterday, ensuring that deeper cuts to
existing programs, including perhaps clean energy portfolios,
will be proposed to avoid a federal shutdown. The dueling Senate
votes appear to show that lawmakers are unwilling to make large
cuts totaling $61 billion as proposed by the House. It also
reveals that the Democrats' target of $10 billion in reductions
is too low. The yardage between those numbers will decrease, but
it's unclear at what point agreement can be found. Posted.

Light Bulb Law Stokes Fury In Senate Hearing. Light bulbs sparked
heated discussions this morning during a Senate legislative
hearing on two energy efficiency bills. Republicans used the
hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to
blast congressionally approved lighting efficiency standards and
the Energy Department's implementation of them. At issue is a
provision in a 2007 energy law that would phase out the sale of
the most energy-hungry light bulbs over the next few years,
starting at the end of this year. Posted.


Bulli For You!! World’s First Van Returns.  The Volkswagen bus,
like no other car, stands for the spirit of freedom. It debuted
over 60 years ago in 1950 with a contagiously simple design. Its
internal Volkswagen code name was T1 for Transporter 1. The
Germans called it the Bulli, and to Americans it was the
Microbus.  Posted.

20 Electric Cars Will Hit The Road Today As Part Of Test Project.
Los Angeles - A fleet of 20 electric cars will hit the roads
today as part of a project to test how alternative fuel vehicles
handle commuting and to locate possible benefits for Southland
drivers. The research project -- sponsored by the Automobile Club
of Southern California and Smart USA -- may determine roadside
services for alternative- fuel and electric vehicles, Auto Club
CEO Thomas McKenna was quoted as saying in a release. Posted.


UC Davis Domes' Days Numbered As West Village Housing Takes
Shape.  At the University of California, Davis, a funky 1970s
experiment in communal living is closing this year while a 21st
century eco-friendly neighborhood is rising nearby.  The student
housing projects – one homegrown by hippies, the other built by
developers – bookend the environmental movement's journey from
counterculture to mainstream.  Posted. 

Australia's Carbon Warning for Obama. It turns out emissions
restrictions do not grow more popular the more you try to pitch
them. President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency is
fighting a rear-guard action to accomplish via regulation what
voters rejected via Congress: ruinously expensive restrictions on
carbon emissions in the name of fighting "global warming." This
is perhaps partly out of the administration's own convictions,
but also because Mr. Obama knows that a large slice of his
left-wing base is clamoring for such measures. Posted.

GRAY: Clean Air Act’s Past Successes, Potential Pitfalls. The
Environmental Protection Agency last week released the second
prospective analysis of the costs and benefits of the 1990
Amendments to the Clean Air Act ("1990 CAAA"), ordered by
Congress as part of those amendments. The benefits are nothing
short of extraordinary, and deserve serious attention at a time
of equally serious questions about existing EPA authority with
respect to both carbon dioxide, or CO2, and health-related,
traditional pollution. The headline numbers are $2 trillion in
benefits (against $65 billion in costs) as of 2020 and 230,000
lives saved annually as of that date, with the majority of the
benefits already realized. Posted.

In Defense of LEED. You may have already heard, but there's a
lawsuit pending against the USGBC. The plaintiffs claim that they
are "losing customers because USGBC's false advertisements
mislead the consumer into believing that obtaining LEED
certification incorporates construction techniques that achieve
energy-efficiency." If you're looking for an article that jumps
on that train, you're in the wrong place. I think this lawsuit is
seriously misguided, and draws attention away from all of the
positive consequences of the USGBC's work. Posted.

Viewpoints: Clear-Cutting Forests Is Wrong Way For State To Lead
On Climate Policy. California trees have changed my life. I first
came to know them as a little girl hiking with my family, then as
a seasonal waitress in Yosemite, and finally, as a ranger in
Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. Nowhere else in the world
will you find dry, soothing afternoon winds, regular 80-degree
days, loamy soft soil, abundant rivers, pristine alpine lakes and
big, beautiful trees – sugar pines, firs, cedars, hemlocks,
redwoods, sequoias and more. To walk among these giants is to
walk into a living cathedral. Posted.

Crazy Weather: How It's Linked To Global Warming. The story
leading up to the Super Bowl was whether it would happen at all.
For the previous week, Dallas, along with the rest of the Midwest
and Northeast, had been buried in a blizzard that dumped record
amounts of snow, closing airports, clogging highways and causing
rolling power blackouts. Commentators wondered sarcastically
about what had happened to global warming. Actually, even if
counter-intuitively, this major weather event was a confirmation
that global warming is here, and it’s getting more serious all
the time. Posted.

Go Green And Save Some Green With Solar Panels.  Electricity is
increasingly expensive. The primary reason is that the state has
decreed that 33 percent of electrical power in California by the
year 2020 will come from renewable sources. Unfortunately for
those of us in Modesto and Turlock, hydroelectric power from
large dams such as Don Pedro does not count toward this renewable
requirement.  Posted. 


On Our Radar: E.P.A. Calls Foul Over Republican Gas Price Claims.
 In statements circulating on Capitol Hill, senior Republican
leaders cast legislation blocking the Environmental Protection
Agency from enforcing climate change regulations as action that
would help slow the rise of gasoline prices. The E.P.A. calls the
tactic deceptive. “Under the Clean Air Act, E.P.A. is developing
a standard for currently unchecked carbon pollution from the
largest polluting smokestacks,” an agency aide says.  Posted. 

Ethanol Plant Is Switching to Butanol.  High oil prices are
generally bad news for American companies, but one, Gevo of
Englewood, Colo., says that $100-a-barrel oil is opening up a
niche.  The company bought a factory in Luverne, Minn., that
makes ethanol from corn. Ethanol replaces some petroleum but has
only one main use, vehicle fuel, and it yields less energy per
gallon than gasoline.  Posted. 

Climate Change Threatens Great Lakes. In its latest report on
Great Lakes water quality, the International Joint Commission — a
collaboration between the U.S. and Canadian governments —
identifies the re-emergence of eutrophication in the lakes as its
chief concern. Eutrophication is unchecked plant growth caused by
the presence of excessive nutrients, such as nitrates and
phosphorous, in the water. Because that growth can deplete the
amount of oxygen in the water, eutrophication poses a major
threat to the quality and viability of the Great Lakes' massive
water store.  So what causes it? Posted.

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