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newsclips -- Newsclips for January 10, 2012 Posted: 10 Jan 2012 13:18:10
California Air Resources Board News Clips for January 10, 2012. 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. AIR POLLUTION Calif. metals recycling company faces new charges from EPA. San Jose, Calif. -- A San Francisco Bay Area metals recycling company that drew widespread attention - and a fine - for a fire that sent a huge plume of black, acrid smoke into the air over Silicon Valley five years ago is facing new pollution charges from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA said Monday that it has issued a notice of violation to Sims Metal Management, located at the Port of Redwood City, for polluting San Francisco Bay with lead, mercury, PCBs, copper and zinc. Posted. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/01/10/4175725/calif-metals-recycling-company.html http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_19708312?source=rss http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_19708314?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com Stronger Valley air pollution alerts to be issued. In the midst of the nation's worst soot problem this season, air authorities are issuing stronger warnings when pollution is at a much lower level than before -- a new protective measure. The San Joaquin Valley has been caught in a seven-week dry spell that shows no sign of relief. The lack of cleansing storms has allowed a haze of tiny debris to build up and violate the federal health standard for 37 consecutive days. Posted. http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/01/09/2676861/stronger-valley-alerts-will-be.html Valley kids head back to school amidst dirty air. FRESNO, Calif. -- Consistently poor air quality is prompting local schools to take extra precautions for children playing outdoors. Monday was the first day back to school from winter break for kids here in Visalia, and already students aren't being allowed to spend long periods of time outside. Every Visalia Unified School had an orange flag hanging outside, warning students and teachers that the air quality is unhealthy. Posted. http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=news/local&id=8497073 New CO2 Sucker Could Help Clear the Air. Researchers in California have produced a cheap plastic capable of removing large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air. Down the road, the new material could enable the development of large-scale batteries and even form the basis of "artificial trees" that lower atmospheric concentrations of CO2 in an effort to stave off catastrophic climate change. Posted. http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/43828 CLIMATE CHANGE Governor Brown Sees $500 Million Cap-and-Trade Fees for California Budget. California (STOCA1) Governor Jerry Brown plans to use half of the revenue from the nation’s first state- run cap-and-trade air-pollution program to help ease a $9.2 billion deficit in the most populous U.S. state. Brown estimates the state will take in about $1 billion in the year beginning July 1 under the landmark legislation, which allows industry to buy and sell carbon credits to reduce greenhouse gases. Posted. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2012-01-10/brown-sees-500-million-cap-and-trade-fees-for-california-budget.html Climate Talks Should Fix CO2 Price, Not Cap, Neuroscientist Says. United Nations climate envoys should set a carbon price rather than fix a global cap on greenhouse- gas emissions, cutting the complexity of international negotiations, said a neuroscientist. Developing nations may accept a global harmonized carbon price as long as they receive the money from setting that amount as well as a portion of funds raised by developed nations that have mostly caused climate change, said David Silverstein, a neuroscientist with an interest in climate negotiations. Posted. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-10/climate-talks-should-fix-co2-price-not-cap-neuroscientist-says.html Governments Get EU Warning on Delays in Carbon Allocation Plans. The European Union urged 17 member states that failed to submit on time their plans on allocating free carbon permits to companies to explain the reasons for delay within 10 weeks or risk infringement proceedings. Only 10 out of 27 EU member states have so far notified their so-called national implementation measures for the period from 2013 to 2020 to the EU, the European Commission said on its website. Posted. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-10/governments-get-eu-warning-on-delays-in-carbon-allocation-plans.html Town faces challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Seems there's a plan for just about everything these days, so it should come as no surprise that Los Gatos must develop a "sustainability plan" by September. In effect, a sustainability plan is a blueprint for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and it's mandated by state law. The idea is that by 2020, greenhouse gas emissions in California will be rolled back to 1990 levels. Posted. http://www.mercurynews.com/los-gatos/ci_19708278?source=rss A Fight for the Future of San Diego. When you ask the people of San Diego what they want in a transportation system, the answer is usually balance. In a 2009 survey [PDF] by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, 75 percent of San Diego residents thought the region should complement its existing highway system by expanding the transit network and implementing programs like congestion pricing. Posted. http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/01/fight-future-san-diego/910/ Carbon dioxide super-scrubber? Potential good news in global warming fight. Using cheap, readily available materials, a team of chemists has developed a new compound for drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. The compound holds the potential to drive down the cost of capturing carbon, although it's too early to say by how much, the scientists say. The results "add to the list of possible materials that can absorb CO2 from the air, and it potentially could be quite a good one," says Klaus Lackner, who heads the department of earth and environmental engineering at Columbia University in New York and was not part of the team formulating the material. Posted. http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2012/0105/Carbon-dioxide-super-scrubber-Potential-good-news-in-global-warming-fight DIESEL EMISSIONS VTA changes could make commuting easier. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority will begin implementing a few changes this month to make commuting in 2012 a smoother process. Various VTA bus routes will experience schedule and frequency changes to improve efficiency and schedule reliability. VTA bus service will see minor schedule changes made to lines 57 and 58 to improve schedule reliability. Both lines end at West Valley College in Saratoga. Posted. http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_19708244?IADID=Search-www.insidebayarea.com-www.insidebayarea.com http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_19708244?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com FUELS A Fine for Not Using a Biofuel That Doesn’t Exist. Washington — When the companies that supply motor fuel close the books on 2011, they will pay about $6.8 million in penalties to the Treasury because they failed to mix a special type of biofuel into their gasoline and diesel as required by law. But there was none to be had. Outside a handful of laboratories and workshops, the ingredient, cellulosic biofuel, does not exist. In 2012, the oil companies expect to pay even higher penalties for failing to blend in the fuel, which is made from wood chips or the inedible parts of plants like corncobs. Posted. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/business/energy-environment/companies-face-fines-for-not-using-unavailable-biofuel.html Ethanol refiners raise corn use 280%. Number of the day. 280 percent. That's how much ethanol refiners have increased their consumption of corn since 2005. The fuel additive took more than 40 percent of the total U.S. crop last year, pushing up corn prices and topping the amount used as animal feed, according to the Agriculture Department. Cattle and chicken producers cut back their output as profits margins narrowed, though the pressure may ease in coming years after a tax credit for ethanol producers expired on Dec. 31. Posted. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/10/BUPV1MMT0R.DTL&type=printable VEHICLES Wanted or Not: Alternative-Fuel Cars Flood Auto Show. Detroit — In the race to claim ever-higher fuel-economy numbers and keep up with government regulations, automakers are rolling out hybrids and electric cars aplenty at this week’s Detroit auto show. If only buyers were arriving as fast as the cars. Hybrid sales waned as gasoline prices ebbed in 2011, declining to 2.2 percent of the market from 2.4 percent a year earlier, according to the research firm LMC Automotive. Posted. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/business/wanted-or-not-alternative-fuel-cars-flood-auto-show.html Toyota shows off new smaller, lighter and cheaper version of the Prius. Toyota on Tuesday unveiled the Prius c, a new smaller and more affordable version of its popular hybrid, aimed at young, city-dwelling buyers. The c, which stands for city, is set to go on sale in March and will be smaller, lighter and more nimble than previous versions. The subcompact hatchback also will also be priced under $19,000, more than $4,000 less than the starting price of the current version of the traditional Prius. http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/toyota-shows-off-new-smaller-lighter-and-cheaper-version-of-the-prius/2012/01/10/gIQAEB0IoP_story.html http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/01/10/financial/f085940S35.DTL&tsp=1 GM likely to recapture global auto sales lead. Detroit -- General Motors Co. is on track to retake the title of world's top-selling automaker, riding strong sales in the U.S. and China to beat Volkswagen and Toyota. GM, which lost the crown to Toyota in 2008 after holding it for more than seven decades, won't release global sales numbers until later this month, but it's on pace to finish 2011 at around 9 million cars and trucks, at least 800,000 more than its German and Japanese rivals. Posted. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/01/09/national/a120644S79.DTL High-speed rail sticks to Antelope Valley route. After months of second thoughts, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has decided it was right the first time: The best northbound path from Los Angeles passes through Palmdale, not over the Grapevine. The authority, which chose a zig-zag route via Palmdale in 2005, ordered a second look at the Grapevine route last May after getting sticker shock over the $15 billion cost estimate for building the train from Los Angeles to Bakersfield via Palmdale. Posted. http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/2012/01/09/high-speed-rail-sticks-to-antelope-valley-route/146140/ MISCELLANEOUS Areva Says Banks Trim Loans for Offshore Wind Farms on Crisis. Areva SA, which is bidding with other companies to build five offshore wind farms in France needing 10 billion euros ($12.8 billion) of investment, said banks are lending less because of the financial crisis. “Where we used to have 15 banks around the table,” Areva now has to invite about 40 banks “to convince everyone to bring a share to the financing,” Philippe Kavafyan, vice president of Areva Wind France, said in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Paris today. Posted. http://sfgate.bloomberg.com/SFChronicle/Story?docId=1376-LXL8EE0D9L3501-7KA5C6NPAO14G862O359DI39R9 California gets new consumer affair chief. Denise Brown, 60, of Fair Oaks, has been appointed director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs by Gov. Jerry Brown. Ms. Brown was an advisor to the executive officer and staff of the California Air Resources Board from 2009 to 2011. Earlier, she served in the Department of Consumer Affairs in multiple positions from 1977 to 2009, including chief deputy director. Posted. http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=20147 Solar lamps replace toxic kerosene in poorest countries. When the sun goes down over large swathes of the developing world, the 1.3 billion people currently living without access to an electricity connection are plunged into darkness. According to figures from the International Energy Agency, at least 20% of the planet's inhabitants are still without the simple luxury of a light-switch. From the shantytowns of Sub-Saharan Africa to the sprawling slums of the Indian sub-continent, night-time brings with it a noxious ritual of candles, gas lamps and open fires. Posted. http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/10/tech/innovation/solar-powered-led-lamps/index.html OPINIONS China's Fake Carbon Tax. Beijing wants to take the moral high ground and stick the West with the bill. Beijing was widely blamed for derailing the 2009 Copenhagen summit and its chances of producing an agreement on climate change. But suddenly last week, state media announced that the Ministry of Finance could soon approve a carbon tax on China's biggest energy consumers before the end of the current Five-Year Plan (2011-2015). Posted. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204257504577152141420308320.html?_nocache=1326223158764&user=welcome BY SUBSCRIPTION Council District 15: Wilmington and the air that it breathes. Sometimes you can smell Wilmington before you see it. It might be the scent of the wells, tucked in between houses and neighborhood streets, pumping the last drops of oil from the giant Wilmington oil field, the third-largest petroleum field in the contiguous United States; it might be the odor of one of the refineries -- either the massive Valero oil plant, turning heavy crude into jet fuel and gasoline, …Posted. http://opinion.latimes.com/opinionla/2012/01/council-district-15-wilmington.html Editorial: Warm weather rules! Not where smog pools. Yes, it's hard to gripe much about weather that allows you to wear shorts in January – a fashion statement that many in California have recently embraced. For people who like mild weather, the numerous dry and sunny days of late have been a blessing, but the lack of wind and rain comes with some downsides. A big one is dirty air, which is a particular health threat for children and people with asthma and other respiratory diseases. Posted. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/01/10/v-print/4175192/warm-weather-rules-not-where-smog.html Our dirty winter air: Natural factors count. After researching the past month's newspapers, I found that we have not been able to burn our fireplaces since Dec. 16. The air pollution board claims that the bad air in the San Joaquin Valley is the result of wood burning. How do they account for the fluctuation of air quality from a low of 102 on the air index to a high of 162 when no wood burning has been allowed? This could not have been caused by wood burning. Posted. http://www.bakersfield.com/opinion/letters/x606215983/Our-dirty-winter-air-Natural-factors-count Fast tracking of major projects worries bullet train critics. Since the recession began, the state Legislature has put some big-ticket construction projects on the environmental fast track in the name of creating jobs. At the behest of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, lawmakers agreed in 2009 to exempt 10 multimillion-dollar highway construction projects from environmental review. Last year, they gave a similar environmental green light to a proposed $800 million, 75,000-seat professional football stadium in Los Angeles. Posted. http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/01/09/v-print/2676894/fast-tracking-of-major-construction.html Just call me a skeptic regarding climate change. Occasionally, I check American mainstream newspapers for stories on climate change. I sometimes find reports from those who have more dire predictions about the devastating consequences of global warming. Most politicians seem to be on board with this concept. They and their administrative agencies keep giving us more and more environmental regulations. Unfortunately, this is costing average folks plenty. Posted. http://www.lodinews.com/opinion/columnists/steve_hansen/article_4a3a23f5-4171-58c9-9461-b209d077b167.html?photo=0 Dodging a gas hike. Judge blocks state's low-carbon fuel mandate. In a victory for consumers and fuel producers over an unreasonable dictate by California regulators, the low-carbon mandate of the state's Global Warming Solutions Act has been put on hold by a federal judge. With challenges pending to similar laws in other states, a Supreme Court showdown on the issue is in the offing, and until then we are hopeful these Draconian, economy-stifling restrictions can be held at bay. Posted. http://www.vvdailypress.com/articles/california-32278-challenge-hopeful.html Welcome end to ethanol subsidy. Sometimes inactivity can be quite productive. Such is the case with Congress' failure to renew the 45-cent-per-gallon subsidy on ethanol or the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol on the eve of the Iowa caucus. The subsidy cost taxpayers as much as $6 billion a year, enriching agribusinesses that used their crops to inefficiently produce ethanol, which then is mixed with gasoline. Posted. http://www.dailybulletin.com/opinions/ci_19705688 Watch Out Cows -- The Siberian Shelf Makes a Lot of Methane, Too. Over the last couple weeks, the climate blogosphere has been lighting up over a recent report that enormous plumes of methane are bubbling to the surface off the coast of eastern Siberia in Russia. (Original article in the Independent online.) So, what does this mean? It's a lot of methane, to be sure. The discovery was first made in 2010 and estimated at over 7 million tons (roughly equivalent to the methane emissions from the rest of the whole ocean). Posted. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-anderson/ocean-methane-emissions_b_1195318.html?ref=green Climate change is happening but it's out of man's control. Yes, global warming/climate change is a fact, but the letter writer from Boca Raton, on Dec. 18, does not seem to understand that the science concerning humans being primarily responsible is far from settled. The writer states that global warming/climate change has been happening for 30 to 100 years, which understates the time frame by about 20,000 years. Starting at the peak of the last Ice Age, which was about 20,000 years ago... Posted. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/fl-readers-view-global-warming-20120110,0,6201898.story Fear and polluting on the campaign trail: Clean energy needs to hit back. I've been writing for years about how renewable energy is "an issue we can all rally around" that shouldn't involve partisan politics. In an ideal world that would hold true. But after seeing the relentless campaign waged by a small-but-powerful group of belligerents determined to marginalize the industry, my opinion changed in 2011. Posted. http://www.grist.org/renewable-energy/2012-01-09-fear-and-polluting-on-the-campaign-trail-clean-energy-needs-to-h The Year That Winter Forgot: Is It Climate Change? As I got off the plane in the Vermont town of Burlington on Sunday, I felt something new: cold. It wasn't that cold — high temperatures in Burlington were hovering around the freezing mark, a little warmer than average for this city of eager ski bums. But after more than a month of unusually mild weather in New York City — where Januarys can sometimes be nothing short of brutal — it was almost a treat to feel a hazy hint of winter. Posted. http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2104040,00.html?xid=gonewsedit BLOGS Coda Electric Car Will Have Two Range Options. Electric-car maker Coda Automotive said its new Coda sedan will give buyers the choice of two battery packs — one that gives the car a range up to 150 miles and another with a range of up to 125 miles. The company made the announcement at the North American International Auto Show, where it displayed a group of the new cars. The new, less-expensive battery lowers the car’s price to less than $30,000 if you include a $7,500 tax credit. Posted. http://blogs.wsj.com/drivers-seat/2012/01/10/coda-electric-car-will-have-two-range-options/ BY SUBSCRIPTION Are electric cars really a disappointment? Lately, much of the press coverage of electric cars has implied that the technology has been a huge letdown. See, for instance, USA Today’s story: “Are electric cars losing their spark?” The angst mostly centers around sales: In 2011, the first year they were available, the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt sold just 17,345 units in the United States — slightly below expectations. Placed in perspective, though, those weak sales don’t look all that apocalyptic. Posted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/are-electric-cars-really-a-disappointment/2012/01/09/gIQArQVWlP_blog.html Biomass and Electricity, Part 2. On Monday, I wrote about a new way to use landfill gas to make electricity from a renewable source. Another pathway for converting gas to electricity is fuel cells, which produce electricity with no byproducts except distilled water and a little bit of waste heat. But their carbon footprint depends on where they get their own fuel, hydrogen. One common source is natural gas, which is made up mostly of methane, a molecule with four hydrogen atoms and one carbon atom. Posted. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/biomass-and-electricity-part-2/ Biomass and Electricity, Part One. Burning natural gas releases less heat-trapping carbon dioxide then burning coal does because it has only about half as much carbon per unit of energy. But it can exacerbate global warming if it escapes unburned into the atmosphere as methane; in a century, a methane molecule will trap as much heat as 21 carbon dioxide molecules would. The easy solution is simply to burn the methane. But some sources emit methane at concentrations too low to burn. What then? Posted. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/09/biomass-and-electricity-part-one/ Songbirds as a Casualty of Warming. As the United States experiences a snow shortage, researchers have released a study showing that declining snowfall in the mountainous regions of Arizona are causing a cascading series of effects that are proving devastating to songbirds . In recent years, scientists have become increasingly intent on understanding how the warming of the earth will affect wildlife populations. A lot of attention has been paid to how climate change has spawned deadly mismatches between animal and plant life cycles. Posted. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/songbirds-as-a-casualty-of-warming/ Dianne Feinstein urges moving high-speed rail to CalTrans. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein this week added her voice to the chorus of those who want the California Department of Transportation to take over the state's increasingly controversial high-speed rail project. In a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown made public Tuesday, Feinstein declared that "deploying the expertise and resources of CalTrans towards this effort over the next six months" could help turn the project around. Posted. http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/01/feinstein-urges-moving-high-speed-rail-to-caltrans.html The Whip Snaps at High Speed Rail... and More. For the man whose Central Valley hometown is supposed to be an anchor point in the first construction phase of high speed rail, Rep. Kevin McCarthy seems intent on doing everything he can do block the project. And given McCarthy is the third highest ranking member of the GOP congressional leadership, he may be able to do a lot. Posted. http://blogs.kqed.org/capitalnotes/2012/01/09/the-whip-snaps-at-high-speed-rail-and-more/ Cruise ships massively pollute our oceans and air. According to a petition being circulated on the activist site Care2.com, the world's ocean liners and cruise ships contribute massively to pollution of not only our air but also our seas. The petition, "Tell Cruise Ships to Stop Spewing Filth Into Our Pristine Oceans!," asserts that "the 15 largest cruise ships produce as much air pollution as the world's 760 million cars" and that they "also generate tremendous waste": Posted. http://www.examiner.com/freethought-in-national/cruise-ships-massively-pollute-our-oceans-and-air EPA's Tough New Air Pollution Rules And The Value of Life And Breath. It might surprise many Americans to learn that, until just a couple of weeks ago, there were no federal standards requiring operators of the nation's roughly 600 coal- and oil-fired power plants to limit the amount of mercury, arsenic other toxic pollutants that they discharge into the air. Posted. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-zeller-jr/epa-air-pollution-rules_b_1195108.html?ref=green Blue Skies for 2012: Cutting Air Pollution and Strengthening Information Transparency in China. Power plant emissions and air quality standards targeting some of the most harmful impacts of coal are coming under greater scrutiny starting this year in China. As of January 1, new thermal power plants have tougher restrictions on soot, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxides (92% of the current fleet is coal-fired). Mercury will be controlled starting in 2015. Small particulate matter and ozone standards will take effect nationwide in 2016; …Posted. http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/bfinamore/blue_skies_for_2012_cutting_ai.html An energy-saving socket concept that's not for the easily startled. The PumPing Tap is a spring-loaded electrical socket that physically ejects plugs belonging to appliances and electronics that are not being used but still drawing small amounts of energy in standby mode. Although I’m not sure if this will ever pan out beyond the conceptual stage — and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to those who are easily startled or have seen “Paranormal Activity” and its sequels too many times Posted. http://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/blogs/an-energy-saving-socket-concept-thats-not-for-the-easily-startled Concerned Scientists Get Real Happy over EPA Standards on Mercury. From the nice people at the Union of Concerned Scientists : Great news! Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the first-ever national standards to limit the amount of mercury and other toxic pollutants that power plants can spew into the environment. Toxic air pollutants from power plants—mercury, lead, arsenic, and others—are linked to health problems such as cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks, and even premature death. Posted. http://www.celsias.com/article/concerned-scientists-get-real-happy-over-epa-stand/ Honda to offer two-motor plug-in hybrid system on 2013 Accord. Honda’s 2013 Accord, the 9th generation of the model, which is due to go on sale this fall, will feature three all-new powertrains, including the first US application of both a 2.4-liter direct-injected engine and two-motor plug-in hybrid system (earlier post) from Honda’s suite of next-generation Earth Dreams powertrain technologies. (Earlier post.) Posted. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/01/honda-to-offer-two-motor-plug-in-hybrid-system-on-2013-accord.html New catalytic process for producing renewable diesel from microalgae oils. A team from the Technische Universität München led by Dr. Johannes Lercher, who is also Director of the Institute for Integrated Catalysis at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has introduced a new catalytic process that allows the effective conversion of diesel-range alkanes from microalgae oils under mild conditions. A paper on the work appears in the journal Angewandte Chemie. Posted. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/01/lercher-20120110.html