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newsclips -- Newsclips for March 17, 2011.

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 11:41:58
California Air Resources Board News Clips for March 17, 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.


Small Amounts Of Radiation Headed For California, But No Health
Risk Seen. Very low levels of radioactive isotopes from the
damaged Japanese nuclear plant are expected to reach California
as soon as Friday, but experts say the amount will be well within
safe limits. A network of radiation monitors is keeping close
watch. Small amounts of radioactive isotopes from the crippled
Japanese nuclear power plant are being blown toward North America
high in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean and will reach
California as soon as Friday, according to experts. A network of
sensors in the U.S. and around the world is watching for the
first signs of that fallout, though experts said they were
confident that the amount of radiation would be well within safe
limits. Posted.

EPA Proposal Aims At Pollutants From Coal-Fired Plants.
Washington – Toxic air pollutants such as mercury, which can
lower the IQ of children who get high doses early in life, would
be reduced from coal-fired power plants under a major air
pollution regulation that the Environmental Protection Agency
announced Wednesday. 
The proposed rule also would reduce other forms of air pollution
that cause heart attacks, asthma attacks and other serious health
conditions. The EPA estimates that 17,000 lives would be saved by
the new rule every year, and thousands of people would avoid
missing work and visiting an emergency room. Posted.


Driving Climate Change.  The fate of the planet rests to some
small extent on whether Sacramento County supervisors decide to
approve more sprawl. It depends, too, on how close office
buildings are to light-rail stations, and how many bike lanes are
built in new subdivisions. These don’t seem like such big choices
when it comes to climate change. But it all adds up.  Posted. 

Scripps Study: 50 Million Years Ago, A Warming Planet. Intense
bouts of global warming lasting tens of thousands of years
gripped the planet some 50 million years ago, a new study shows,
offering insights into the potential environmental effects of the
present warming episode. The most powerful of these bouts, called
the "thermal maximum," was already known to scientists. But the
new findings by researchers at the Scripps Institution of
Oceanography show it was just the biggest in a chain of
temperature spikes. Posted.

Senate Dems Push Back Vote On EPA Amendments Again. Efforts to
pre-empt U.S. EPA's authorities to regulate greenhouse gas
emissions were always expected to be an easier sell in the
Republican-controlled House than in the Democratic Senate, but
they are causing plenty of havoc in the upper chamber too. Senate
Democratic leaders have been delaying a vote since Tuesday on a
measure that would pre-empt EPA's climate change rules, but they
have now acknowledged that it is unlikely to receive a vote until
after next week's recess. "We don't have any comment about why
this is being moved back," said Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Posted.

Congress Emits Half-Truths In Spin War Over Mass. V. EPA. In the
continuing political battle over the Obama administration's
efforts to regulate greenhouse gases, Democrats and Republicans
rarely take aim at the most deserving target: the Supreme Court.
As Democrats are fond of noting, it wasn't the Obama
administration but the Supreme Court that decided in its 2007
Massachusetts v. EPA ruling that greenhouse gases could be
regulated under the Clean Air Act. The court told U.S. EPA to
conduct the analysis that led to the so-called endangerment
finding -- in which EPA concluded that greenhouse gases were
harmful -- that triggered rules that Republicans in particular
are now railing against. Posted.


EPA Toxics Report Sparks Fight Over Diesel Emissions. A U.S. EPA
report suggesting that Americans have significantly higher cancer
risks because of toxic emissions from motor vehicles has reopened
the debate over dangers posed by outdated diesel engines. At
issue is the National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA). Released
Friday, the report draws on 2005 data to examine potential health
risks from airborne toxics (Greenwire, March 11) and concludes
that vehicle emissions -- including diesel exhaust -- pose
significant health risks. Posted.


As GOP Ratchets Up Attacks On EPA, Dems Blast Oil Speculators. As
Republicans aim to unite two incendiary energy issues by warning
that U.S. EPA could drive up gas prices, Democrats are turning to
their own dual argument -- one that links oil-futures markets to
fuel costs and attacks the GOP for proposing to cut the
regulation of "speculators." Pinning an increase in gas prices on
oil speculation is not a new maneuver for Democrats, who made
similar calls for stricter regulation by the Commodity Futures
Trading Commission (CFTC) when gasoline hit $4 per gallon in the
summer of 2008. Posted.

Governors Urge Change in Corn for Ethanol Reporting. U.S.
governors from Washington to New York to Texas are asking
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to change the way USDA
reports the use of corn for ethanol production. In a letter sent
to Vilsack this week, the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition urged the
change to reflect the fact that corn for ethanol usage produces
livestock feed in the form of distillers grains in addition to
ethanol. They argue that USDA’s current reporting methods distort
the actual picture and provide ammunition for food versus fuel
attacks on ethanol. Posted.


Dublin Considers, Puts Off, Mandatory Recycling For Businesses.
Dublin -- City leaders briefly considered making Dublin the first
city in Alameda County with mandatory business recycling, but has
opted to wait for a new state law. The City Council spent more
than an hour Tuesday discussing whether to develop a mandatory
recycling program for businesses and multifamily housing
complexes or to continue to have its solid waste contractor,
Amador Valley Industries, work with businesses to recycle
voluntarily. Council members opted to have city staff members
develop an ordinance to require multifamily complexes without
recycling to begin providing it, and to wait for state lawmakers'
proposal for a commercial recycling lawPosted.

Report Says Green Economy Producing Jobs, But Urges Work Quality
Improvement.  Berkeley — To achieve the state’s energy efficiency
goals and provide better career opportunities for Californians,
the state should modify its clean energy programs and its
extensive but fragmented training and education programs,
according to a report led by researchers at the University of
California, Berkeley, released today (Thursday, March 17). 


Google Maps Adds Electric Vehicle Charging Stations. If electric
cars are going to ever capture anything more than a tiny sliver
of the U.S. auto market, not only does a robust EV charging
infrastructure need to be developed, there has to be an easy way
to find those stations. Until recently, there has only been a
fragmented collection of maps, usually based on charging networks
or business and association partnerships. But as of last week,
you can now get the location of EV charging stations on the
Google Maps platform. Posted.

Honda Recalling New Models Of Civics To Prevent Fuel From Leaking
From Car’s Fuel Tank. Washington — Honda Motor Co. is recalling
new models of the Honda Civic to prevent fuel from leaking from
the car’s fuel tank. The recall covers about 18,000 Civics from
the 2011 model year. Honda says a plastic case that covers a
valve in the fuel pump module could break or crack. That, in
turn, could lead to a fuel leak in a roll-over crash, and the
leaking fuel could lead to a fire. Honda dealers will inspect the
fuel pump module and replace it if necessary at no cost to the
owner. Posted.


Prices Of Vehicles From Japan Likely To Climb. Earthquake-related
production shutdowns in Japan are reducing the supply of popular
hybrid and fuel-efficient cars amid rising demand for the
imports. New-car shoppers could see prices for some of the more
popular hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles such as the Toyota
Prius and the Honda Fit rise in the coming weeks. The cost of the
imports is likely to go up because earthquake-related production
shutdowns in Japan are reducing supply of the autos at a time
when consumers are increasingly shopping for gas-sipping models

Infrastructure is Challenge for Electric Vehicle Owners. Auto
experts say electric vehicles are a practical alternative to
gasoline-powered cars, at least for some drivers.  The biggest
challenge for the auto industry is expanding the infrastructure
for recharging the vehicles. With last year's release of the
Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf, some say the day of the electric
vehicle has arrived.   The Volt uses a rechargeable battery, and
for additional range, can switch to a small gasoline engine to
recharge the battery.  The Leaf is an all-electric vehicle that
is designed for short commutes. Posted.


NYC Charity Auction Pledges To Benefit Environment.  New York --
A day of golfing and lunch with former president Bill Clinton,
flying with Harrison Ford on his private aircraft and sailing off
the coast of Maine with the Rockefellers are just a few of the
celebrity and luxury items being offered at an auction to benefit
four leading environmental organizations.  Posted. 


FORUM: There's an Encinitas Environmental Commission?  On Feb.
16, the Encinitas City Council failed to agree on the
Environmental Action Plan presented by the city's Environmental
Commission. It instead voted to shelve the plan and revisit it in
small doses in the coming months. Council members blamed the
plan's lack of focus and attainability, but if we are to point
fingers, a lack of public awareness, and consequently, support,
were the real perpetrators.  Posted. 


U.S. Official Affirms Nuclear Loan Guarantees. European
Pressphoto Agency Construction vehicles and workers excavate a
site for a nuclear reactor at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Ga.,
that is to be built with help from a federal loan guarantee.
With many riveted on Japan’s reactor crisis, the head of the
Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program has affirmed that
it will continue to finance nuclear projects in the United
States. “Assuming there is a desire in the Capitol to move
forward, nuclear remains an important part of the energy mix,”
Jonathan Silver, executive director of the Energy Department’s
loan programs office, said on Wednesday in a presentation at the
Cleantech Forum conference in San Francisco. Posted.

U.K. Ponders Nuclear Option in Carbon Price Floor Move. The U.K.
government could be asking for trouble in next Wednesday’s budget
if it goes ahead with plans to set a carbon price floor, which
could result in a £3.4 billion windfall for the country’s nuclear
industry. As footage from Japan depicts helicopters dousing
reactors at the Fukushima complex in a last ditch attempt to
prevent a full meltdown and large release of radioactivity, it’s
hardly the time to be seen to be rewarding existing nuclear
generators for simply producing power. The Treasury wants to put
a floor under the carbon price to stimulate investment in
low-carbon electricity such as new nuclear power stations and
offshore wind farms. Posted.

Audi Rolls Out 333 Limited-Edition R8 GTs (Slideshow). Audi of
America released details about its coming 2012 R8 GT, which has
560 horsepower and a starting price of $196,800. That’s a big
premium over the basic R8′s $114,200 sticker, but well
below the cost of other carbon-heavy exotic cars like the
$379,700 Lamborghini Aventador and $1.6 million Pagani Huayra.
Audi, a luxury unit of German auto giant Volkswagen AG, says it
will build 333 R8 GTs, including 90 for the U.S. market. The 2012
R8 GT’s lightweight structure includes a lot of carbon fiber that
helps cut the car’s weight by about 180 pounds compared with the
Audi R8 Coupe 5.2 quattro. Posted.

What Would You Ask California Air Resources Board Chair Mary
Nichols? On Friday, Climate Watch Senior Editor Craig Miller will
sit down with Mary Nichols for a one-on-one interview, which will
later be broadcast on This Week in Northern California. As chair
of the California Air Resources Board under both Arnold
Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, Nichols has presided over the
nation’s most ambitious assault on the greenhouse gases that
cause climate change. She’s charged with implementation of the
state’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), which has
survived well-funded attacks from industry and is now fending off
a lawsuit from environmentalists. Posted.

Hydrogen Is Down, But Not Out.  For all the love battery-electric
vehicles and plug-in hybrids get these days, you’d think hydrogen
is dead. It isn’t.  Oh sure, the Obama administration, smitten by
cars with cords, wants to cut funding for hydrogen by 40 percent.
California’s hydrogen highway has gone nowhere. We have no
fueling infrastructure to speak of. And critics argue it could
take decades for hydrogen to have an appreciable impact on
gasoline consumption or CO2 emissions.  Posted. 

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