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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for February 3, 2012.

Posted: 03 Feb 2012 13:56:11
ARB Newsclips for February 3, 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.


First Energy gets boost from closing coal plants. Instead of
complaining about clean air rules, maybe utilities should cheer
them. Sometimes, the rules lead to big gains. First Energy, a
utility based in Ohio, got such a boost Thursday, a week after
the company announced it would close six coal-fired plants,
blaming new federal rules aimed at slowing emissions of mercury
and other toxins.

AP Newsbreaks



High-speed rail tapped state funds for unusual lobbying contract.
Taxpayer money used to hire PR firm to solicit support of
lawmakers. In an extremely unusual use of taxpayer money, the
leaders behind California's $99 billion high-speed train quietly
hired a lobbyist to sway the Legislature -- the same politicians
who appointed them to build the project in the first place.

Stockton truck plant grows. Electric Vehicles International is
expanding its Stockton assembly plant and has opened a Michigan
office to support national marketing and sales efforts, company
officials announced this week. A visit to the plant on Army Court
north of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard revealed
computerized machine tools being installed and a
30,000-square-foot plant expansion being readied for an assembly
line where EVI will produce electric-powered, walk-in vans for
delivery giant UPS. Posted. 

Hyundai reveals details of its Hybrid lifetime battery guarantee.
Hyundai today shared details of its Lifetime Hybrid Battery
Replacement Guarantee, expanding the benefits of Hyundai
Assurance, the industry’s most comprehensive warranty program.
Initially announced at the North American International Auto Show
in Detroit earlier this month, the Hybrid Battery Replacement
Guarantee applies to all U.S. 2012 model year Sonata Hybrids and
is the first-of-its-kind in the industry. Posted. 


Feds: Mid-Atlantic wind farms take step forward. The view off the
mid-Atlantic shore in the next decade could include giant wind
turbines generating electricity for homes in several states if
federal efforts to speed approval for the projects shave years
off the process as officials intend. It usually takes at least
five years from the time contractors say they want to lease a
site to the turbines being installed, an offshore wind developer
official said. Posted.  

Energy mythbusting: The truth about those energy-saving tips.
You've read the energy-saving tips. You've armed yourself with
caulk. You're ready to do some serious damage to your gas and
electric bills. Not so fast. Some common recommendations for
cutting energy use don't save as much as we're led to believe,
said Michael Blasnik, a building-science consultant from the
Boston area. Blasnik analyzes and evaluates energy efficiency
claims, and he's found that some widely cited savings don't hold
up to scrutiny. Posted. 

Could Cheap Gas Slow Growth Of Renewable Energy? The boom in
cheap natural gas in this country is good news for the
environment, because relatively clean gas is replacing dirty
coal-fired power plants. But in the long run, cheap natural gas
could slow the growth of even cleaner sources of energy, such as
wind and solar power. Natural gas has a bad rap in some parts of
the country, because the process of fracking is not popular. But
many people looking at cheap natural gas from the global
perspective see it as a good thing. Posted.


Environmental groups laud Calif. pesticide chief. Environmental
groups are applauding the naming of a former conservation
official as California's new chief pesticide regulator. Gov.
Jerry Brown appointed Brian Leahy on Thursday to head the
Department of Pesticide Regulation. Leahy is the former assistant
director at the California Department of Conservation, as well as
a former organic farmer. Posted.

House panel bans high-speed rail funding in transportation bill.
A key House panel late Thursday gave the back of its hand to
California's embattled high-speed rail program. In another sign
of the project's political travails, the House committee writing
a massive transportation bill included an amendment that
prohibits new federal funds from going to the state's proposed
$98 billion project during the five-year life of the bill.

Forest industries of Amador, Calaveras getting $16 million boost.
Economically depressed Amador and Calaveras counties are about to
receive millions of dollars in forest-restoration funding from
the federal government. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
announced Thursday a 10-year commitment of up to $16 million to
revive the health of forest-related industries on national forest
lands in the two counties. The Cornerstone Project in the
headwaters of the Mokelumne, Calaveras, Stanislaus and Cosumnes
rivers will receive $730,000 this year. Posted. 


In the House, a transportation train wreck. House Republicans are
playing games again by introducing a thoroughly partisan
transportation bill. After Congress pushed the nation to the
verge of catastrophe last year by delaying a deal to raise the
debt ceiling until the eleventh hour, our capacity to be
surprised by that body's irresponsible gamesmanship was somewhat
diminished. Posted.

Fran Pavley and Dan Logue agree on AB 32, sort of.  Re "Brown's
backdoor tax hike is a business shakedown," (Viewpoints, Jan.
31): It's not often that Assemblymember Dan Logue and I agree.
But in his recent opinion piece on AB 32, California's clean,
secure energy law, he makes a simple point worth restating:
carbon pollution fees must be used to reduce carbon pollution.
The California Supreme Court, in Sinclair Paint v. State Board of
Equalization, found that the California Constitution forbids
unrestrained spending of polluter's fees. Posted.

Head to Head: Are California's emission rules for new cars
reasonable? THE ISSUE: The California Air Resources Board last
week approved sweeping new vehicle efficiency rules requiring,
among other things, that 15 percent of cars sold in the Golden
State by 2025 are "zero-emission vehicles," such as a plug-in
electric. Are California's emission rules for new cars
reasonable? CARB's mandate that one in seven new cars sold by
2025 be "zero-emission" is utopian public policy fueled by green
fantasies housed in a frame of pure crony capitalism. But think
of the savings! Posted.

Can Californians afford cleaner cars? The California Air
Resources Board has pushed the envelope yet again. The most
aggressive clean air rule-making body in the country unanimously
approved regulations last week that mandate car manufacturers cut
smog emissions from new vehicles by 75 percent by 2025 and
greenhouse gases by 34 percent. To produce that level of emission
reductions, CARB has set an ambitious target. Posted. 

EDITORIAL: The U.N.’s new, big, scary report. The United Nations
is raising the alarm that unless the world’s governments take
drastic action to impose strict development controls, humanity is
in grave peril. So what else is new? On Jan. 30, the U.N.
High-level Panel on Global Sustainability issued a report
entitled “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth
Choosing.” Posted. 

Why aren't we paying attention to Shai Agassi? New boss needs to
be the same as old boss, only cleaner. Some people spend a lot of
time lamenting that early in the last century, electric vehicles
lost the race to petroleum-fueled models, that the past somehow
irrevocably broke the future. The fact of the matter is, the
future isn't broken. It will just be different, as the future
always is. Posted.


Federal Government Opens More Ocean to Wind Projects. Enthusiasm
for offshore wind projects may have cooled among developers in
the United States these days, but the Obama administration is
still trying to make a ribbon of wind farms off the Atlantic
Coast a reality. On Thursday, Ken Salazar, the secretary of the
interior, and Tommy P. Beaudreau, the director of the Bureau of
Ocean Energy Management, said the government had completed an
environmental review and found that selling leases for wind
energy …Posted. 

The worst air pollution in the world. You may think the air is
bad in Los Angeles, but researchers say it's worse in India and
Bangladesh. A new study released at the World Economic Forum in
Davos, Switzerland, found that India had the worst air pollution
in the world, followed by Bangladesh and Nepal. The United States
ties with a slew of other countries for first place, including
Japan and Argentina. Other interesting tidbits from the rankings
include: Posted.

With the notable exception of the Tesla Roadster, electric cars
and hybrids have rarely been seen as sexy. Take the Nissan Leaf.
Cute? Yes. Cool? Yes, in that dig-my-new-smartphone way. Sexy?
Not a chance. But perhaps that isn’t the fault of the cars so
much as the way we think of them. We focus on their eco
credentials, their benefits to the environment, their ability to
save us money at the gas pump. It doesn’t even occur to most of
us that these cars could be considered sexy. Posted.

Insurance Industry Awakening to Climate Risks. California will
require all major insurers to survey and report climate risks.
Insurance commissioners in three states, including California,
are now requiring that insurers report on how they’re preparing
for climate change. Insurers will fill out a survey, which was
adopted by The National Association of Insurance Commissioners
(NAIC) in 2009, but was never implemented by commissioners in all
fifty states. Instead, it’s been a piecemeal approach. Posted.

AB 32 was not Intended to be a Revenue Raiser. This weekend, Gov.
Jerry Brown proclaimed that revenue from the cap-and-trade system
under AB 32 will go toward the construction of California’s High
Speed Rail project. AB 32 was not intended to be a revenue raiser
for the state of California.  We dug up then-Assembly Speaker
(and bill author) …Posted.

DOE's David Sandalow defends Obama's auto record. One of the
differences between the Washington Auto Show and car shows in
other cities is the almost overwhelming appearance of politicians
and government officials. Whether they come to learn or to
lecture (or both), these folks create a well-worn trail from the
Hill to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center every January.

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