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newsclips -- Newsclips for February 14, 2012

Posted: 14 Feb 2012 11:39:12
ARB Newsclips for February 14, 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 tied to stroke, memory loss.  A study published
Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine found a higher risk
of stroke after "moderate" compared to "good" air quality days in
Boston-area residents, especially when traffic-related pollution
was high.  And another report in the same journal documented a
faster long-term decline in thinking and memory skills in women
living in higher-pollution areas of the United States.  Posted


Alexandria power plant fined again. Alexandria’s coal-burning
power plant, scheduled to shut down Oct. 1 after years of local
opposition, must pay a $280,704 fine for violating air-quality
laws, the largest such fine ever imposed against the plant. The
GenOn Potomac River power plant, whose five stubby smokestacks
loom over the north end of Old Town Alexandria, exceeded its
nitrogen oxides limit six times between June 28 and July 18,

U.S. Carbon Emission Rules Could Ultimately 'Send The Message
That Coal Is Dead'. The Obama administration is expected soon to
unveil long-delayed rules limiting carbon emissions from new
coal-fired power stations, possibly helping to slam the door shut
well into the future on building plants that run on the fuel. The
Environmental Protection Agency has dragged its feet on proposing
the new standards on carbon emissions that would hit new coal
plants or facilities undergoing expansion. Posted.


This Valentine's Day, Say It With (Climate) Science. Climate
change isn't lovable. But the people who research its effects
certainly are. And this year has been especially rough on them.
It seems the more scientists and experts provide conclusive
science to show that human-caused climate change is happening
now, the more they are chastised and threatened for it. Take
Katherine Hayhoe, for example. Posted.


Never before have gas prices risen so high so early in the year.
The U.S. average for regular gasoline climbed to $3.523 a gallon
over the last week — and $3.835 in California — a sign that pain
at the pump will rise to some of the highest levels ever this
year. U.S. motorists have seen the national average for regular
gasoline rise above $3.50 a gallon in just three different years,
but it has never happened this early. The national average hit
$3.523 a gallon, the Energy Department said Monday, up 4.1 cents
from a week earlier. Posted.

Ethanol mandate fails economically and environmentally. Mandated
use of ethanol as a partial substitute for gasoline was supposed
to decrease our oil imports and be more environmentally friendly.
 But like many green fantasies, the program has failed on both
counts. While the mandate may be a boon to corn growers,
especially large agribusiness, it is not cost effective for end
users.  Currently, seasonal gasoline is 10% ethanol, but E85 (85%
ethanol, 15% gasoline) is being touted as a solution to our
dependence on foreign petroleum sources.  Posted.

Forthcoming Study Comes Amidst Legal Threat Over Leaded Aviation
Fuel.  A regional air pollution control agency in Southern
California, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), is planning a first-ever comprehensive study of the
air quality levels of Long Beach Airport, according to a
spokesperson for the government agency.  The Business Journal
learned last week that the South Coast Air Quality Management
District (AQMD) is proposing to conduct a “special study” within
the next 12 months, sampling the emission levels of lead,
ultra-fine particles and black carbon…Posted. 


California considers objection to settlement of Honda hybrid
class-action settlement.  California’s Department of Justice is
considering whether to object to a proposed class-action
settlement between Honda and car owners over inflated
fuel-efficiency claims on the automaker’s hybrid vehicles.  San
Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor on Tuesday gave the
attorney general until Feb. 29 to declare any opposition to the
settlement. Posted. 

California’s ‘Clean Car’ Rules Help Remake U.S. Auto Industry.
How likely is it that your next vehicle might be an electric car?
California just increased the odds. On Jan. 27, the California
Air Resources Board, a powerful state agency with a history of
setting first-in-the-nation clean air and climate regulations,
voted 9-0 on a package of sweeping “clean car” rules that are
expected to help reshape the U.S. auto industry. The chairman of
the board, Mary Nichols, oversaw the enactment of these new

Obama seeks to boost electric-car subsidies to $10,000. President
Obama's proposed budget calls for boosting electric-car subsidies
to $10,000, up from the present $7,500, even though plug-ins are
typically bought by the wealthy. That's significant because the
election-year budget attempts to narrow deficits by increasing
taxes on the wealthy. If 10,000 electrics like the Chevrolet Volt
extended-range sedan, a plug-in that qualifies for the subsidy,
were sold a year, the program would cost taxpayers another $100
million a year, reports the Daily Caller points out, via Yahoo
News. Posted.

Why Electric Cars Are More Polluting than Gas Guzzlers — at Least
in China.  It’s unspoken, but every driver gliding around town
behind the wheel of a Prius is thinking the same thing: “I’m
saving the planet. What are you doing, you dirty-fossil-fuel
burner?”  What’s implied is that hybrid or electric-car drivers
are also saving human lives, since the fuel-burning internal
combustion engines that power conventional vehicles emit carbon
dioxide and fine particulate matter including acids, organic
chemicals as well as dust and soil; this pollution has been
linked to respiratory and heart problems and cancer.  Posted. 


Overcapacity could drag on solar for some time.  Solar panel
manufacturers will have a hard time boosting revenues this year
with Germany cutting government incentives at a time when the
market is flush with supply, industry analysts believe.  Solar
shares were among the hardest hit Tuesday in the energy sector,
with the largest U.S. provider, First Solar Inc., tumbling more
than 8 pct.  Even after a rash of factory closures, the solar
industry is on pace to expand production capacity in 2012, said
Maxim Group analyst Aaron Chew. Posted. 

AP Newsbreak:

Nearly $3B in energy loans could default. A report commissioned
by the Obama administration to re-examine the Department of
Energy's loans to clean energy companies after the bankruptcies
of the first two loan recipients, including Fremont-based
Solyndra, found that close to $3 billion in loans could be at
risk for default, which is in line with the department's own
internal estimate. Posted.

SOLAR: Disagreements on proposed plant’s wildlife impacts. At a
workshop for the Rio Mesa facility near Blythe, planned plant
officials and environmentalists clash. Sacramento — Wildlife
experts and representatives of a company seeking to build a huge
solar-energy field in eastern Riverside County sparred Monday
over the extent of surveys to judge the project’s impact on
migrating birds and eagles. The Rio Mesa Solar Energy Generating
Facility southwest of Blythe would consist of three solar fields
and generate 750 megawatts, enough electricity to power 300,000
homes. Posted.

Green energy projects struggled in 2011, but some see hope in
2012. While 2011 saw a swath of green energy failures that cost
taxpayers millions and January isn't starting off much better,
Manish Bapna of the World Resources Institute hopes that 2012
becomes the year of renewable energy. The most recognizable green
energy failure in 2011 came in the form of Solyndra , a
California-based solar panel company that filed for bankruptcy in
September despite having received a $528 million government loan.


Study finds risk to children from coal-tar sealants. Chicago --
Children living next to driveways or parking lots coated with
coal tar are exposed to significantly higher doses of
cancer-causing chemicals than those living near untreated
asphalt, according to a study that raises new questions about
commonly used pavement sealants. Researchers from Baylor
University and the U.S. Geological Survey also found that
children living near areas treated with coal-tar-based sealants
ingest twice as many polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from
contaminated dust tracked into their homes as they do from food.

Supes to consider fumigant options. Staff option: Wait and see on
methyl iodide. Options on the controversial strawberry fumigant
methyl iodide including sending letters to Gov. Brown, adopting a
resolution urging the governor to re-examine the registration of
the fumigant or taking a wait and see position, will presented to
the Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday for possible
action. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
approved the use of toxic fumigant, used to control pests in the


California Rules. California, long a leader on clean air and
other environmental issues, is doing good things again. The
state’s powerful Air Resources Board has issued new rules that,
when finally approved, will lead to many fewer smog-causing
pollutants, fewer greenhouse gases and, in time, encourage the
auto industry to build millions more emissions-free cars and
trucks, including a new generation of all-electric or
hydrogen-powered vehicles. Posted.

OUR VIEW: More evidence PM 2.5 is slowly killing us. Some
question the need to restrict the use of residential fireplaces
and limit diesel exhaust, in some cases questioning the potential
for harm from the airborne particulate matter that those emission
sources create. Yet another study, however, underscores the
importance of reducing PM 2.5, the fine particulate matter that
hovers over the Central Valley most days. U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency research published in the journal Risk Analysis
last month examined 2005 air pollution exposure. Posted.

Carbon market: there’s still time. A few little things separate a
gold medal sprinter from an also-ran. The same applies to the
European Union’s carbon emissions trading scheme. When it
pioneered the idea of a fully fledged carbon trading market in
2005, the EU envisaged that a price of about €40 per tonne of
carbon dioxide equivalent emitted would encourage big polluters,
such as power generators, to invest in clean energy. Posted.


Obama’s Wish List for Energy.  The Energy Department’s budget
request for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1 sounds a
familiar theme. “The United States is competing in a global race
for the clean energy jobs of the future,’’ a cover letter from
the federal energy secretary, Steven Chu, says.  “Do we want the
clean energy technologies of tomorrow to be invented in America
by American innovators, made by American workers and sold around
the world?” he writes. “Or do we want to concede those jobs to
our competitors?” Posted.

A Young Green Innovator Turning Fungi into Jobs Muses on the Path
to Breakthroughs.  On a recent visit to Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute in upstate New York, I broke away to visit Ecovative
Design, a remarkable 40-employee firm creating packaging for Dell
Computer, wine shippers and other clients by turning fungi and
farm waste into a durable and biodegradable substitute for foam.

Air pollution linked to cognitive impairment in older women. So
maybe you don’t care much about air pollution’s effects on
wildlife and such. But would you be more interested if you knew
it might be tied to humans’ cognitive decline? Research published
Monday afternoon in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests
that chronic exposure to airborne particulate matter — small
solid particles suspended in air — is associated with increased
risk of cognitive impairment. Posted.

Obama budget contains nearly $35 billion for passenger rail. The
Obama administration, which has been urging California to push
through growing opposition to its high-speed rail project, asked
Congress on Monday for nearly $35 billion in passenger rail
funding over the next five years. The request in its fiscal 2013
budget includes $1 billion for next year and nearly $8 billion in
2018, a massive funding plan that faces difficult odds of getting
through Congress. Posted.

The clean blue line. California State Senator Joe Simitian
(D-Palo Alto) remembers the day he picked up a local newspaper
and read the shocking news: A 940-passenger cruise ship had
chucked a 18-ton load of sewage, dirty water and oily bilge
perilously near to the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary off the
California coast. Simitian, then serving in the California
Assembly, was outraged, as were many of his constituents: The
ship’s captain had broken a written promise to the city of
Monterey with the dumping, and the city thereafter banned that
cruise line from their port. Posted.

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