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newsclips -- Newsclips for February 29, 2012 Posted: 29 Feb 2012 15:43:29
ARB News Clips for February 29, 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 China orders more accurate air-quality measure. China's cabinet ordered on Wednesday new air-quality standards to measure the most dangerous form of particulate matter, following a public outcry over worsening air pollution. The State Council told 31 major regional capitals including Beijing and Shanghai to begin monitoring PM2.5 particulate, or fine particles measuring 2.5 microns in diameter, this year, the cabinet said on its website. The new measure -- which had been demanded by environmental campaigners -- would be compulsory for 113 more cities in 2013, it said. Posted. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j5ZtmyH-RaJJuSuxROXSfzM0MxPw?docId=CNG.a2c6398d74224e219834c94f0a38051c.7c1 GenOn Will Shut Plants Through 2015 on Environmental Rules. GenOn Energy Inc. (GEN), the third-largest U.S. independent power producer by market value, expects to shut about 13 percent of its generating capacity by May 2015 because of environmental regulations. Shutdowns will begin in June at the units, which don’t generate enough profit to cover the costs of complying with the rules, Houston-based GenOn said today in a statement. Posted. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2012-02-29/genon-will-shut-plants-through-2015-on-environmental-rules-1-.html Utilities announce closure of 10 aging power plants in Midwest, East. Two separate utilities announced the closure of 10 aging U.S. power plants Wednesday, a move environmental groups hailed as a major victory in their ongoing effort to phase out the nation’s coal-fired electricity generation. Midwest Generation, which had come under intense pressure from environmental activists, Chicago residents and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said it would retire its Fisk power plant in 2012 and Crawford plant in 2014. Posted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/utilities-announce-closure-of-10-aging-power-plants-in-midwest-east/2012/02/29/gIQANSLEiR_story.html EPA’s San Joaquin Valley smog actions challenged. A Fresno-based health group and environmental advocates are asking the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to come up with a tougher plan to scour the smog from the San Joaquin Valley’s air. Federal law set a limit on the amount of ozone emissions allowed during a one-hour period and required that the Valley attain the standard by November 2010. Posted. http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=20517 New real-time measurements suggest that black carbon emissions from light-duty gasoline vehicles are significantly underestimated. A study by researchers from Environment Canada making real-time measurements of black carbon (BC) using two laser-induced incandescence techniques has found that BC emission factors from light-duty gasoline vehicles are at least a factor of 2 higher than previous North American measurements, and a factor of 9 higher than currently used emission inventories in Canada, which are derived with the MOBILE 6.2C model. Their study appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. Posted. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/02/liggio-20120229.html CLIMATE CHANGE Arguments preview fight on EPA greenhouse gas rules. Heavy industry groups and states argued in a federal court on Tuesday that U.S. environmental regulators had used faulty science in determining that greenhouse gas emissions endangered human health in the latest attempt to dismantle the Obama administration's rules on the emissions. Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/29/us-usa-epa-court-idUSTRE81S01U20120229?feedType=RSS EPA Greenhouse Gas Rules Under Scrutiny in Two-Day Hearing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s limits on vehicle and industrial emissions of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide are being scrutinized by U.S. judges as a two-day court hearing began in Washington. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals is considering challenges to the agency’s finding that greenhouse gases are pollutants that endanger human health, and to rules determining when states and industries must comply with regulations curtailing their use. Posted. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2012-02-28/epa-greenhouse-gas-limits-face-appeals-court-challenge-over-public-danger.html Rethinking Carbon Dioxide (CO2): from a pollutant to a moneymaker. Three startup companies led by prominent scientists are working on new technologies to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. The scientific community is skeptical, but these entrepreneurs believe removing CO2 can eventually be profitable and help cool the planet. With global greenhouse gas emissions still on the rise, despite decades of talk about curbing them, maybe the time has come to think differently about the climate crisis. Posted. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/Change-Agent/2012/0229/Rethinking-Carbon-Dioxide-CO2-from-a-pollutant-to-a-moneymaker DIESEL EMISSIONS California bill would end smoke testing requirement for certain trucks. California truck drivers will likely welcome the news about a new bill at the statehouse that would keep some money in their pockets. An Assembly bill would do away with a mandate that certain trucks based in the state undergo smoke testing. The state’s Air Resources Board now requires owners or operators of at least two California-based trucks, with gross vehicle weight ratings of at least 14,000 pounds, to undergo annual inspections of their vehicles for excessive emissions of smoke. Posted. http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryID=23287 VEHICLES Toyota Prius plug-in cleared for Calif. rebate, carpool lanes. Toyota Motor Corp. said the 2012 Prius plug-in hybrid has been approved for California's Clean Vehicle Rebate Program and for use in the state's carpool lanes. California's zero-emission vehicle subsidy for consumers, the rebate program offers a $2,500 rebate for buyers of eligible electric, plug-in hybrid or fuel-cell vehicles in California. Posted. http://www.autonews.com/article/20120227/OEM05/120229903#ixzz1nnLsdAvU GM-backed startup reports battery breakthrough. A startup backed by General Motors claims it has developed a breakthrough lithium ion battery that could slash the cost of electric vehicles. Envia Systems said today that it has produced lighter, more powerful battery cells than cells now used in EVs. The Newark, Calif., company said the technology could reduce by more than half the cost of a battery pack in an EV with a 300-mile electric range. Posted. http://www.autonews.com/article/20120227/OEM05/120229905#ixzz1nnMDKtAN Fuel cell vehicles investigated for military use. The United States Army is looking at hydrogen fuel cell vehicles hoping that sometime in the near future they'll play an important military role, maybe even on the battlefield. The military has been looking at alternative fuels like this because the difficulty, expense and danger of securing oil and gasoline supplies among other reasons. Hydrogen fuel cells, in particular, seem promising because of their design flexibility, said Major General Roger Matthews, Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Pacific. Posted. http://www.fox19.com/story/17024190/fuel-cell-vehicles-investigated-for-military-use Filling up an electric car battery like a gas engine. Check out this idea: a next-generation electric car where you could refuel the battery’s electrolyte in the same way you’d fill up an internal combustion car at the gas station. Sound crazy? Well, a startup called Eos Energy Storage is researching a next-generation hybrid flow battery made from zinc and air that could provide such a scenario. The refillable flow electric car battery isn’t the company’s first target product —Posted. http://gigaom.com/cleantech/filling-up-an-electric-car-battery-like-a-gas-engine/ GREEN ENERGY Projects to Add Wind Power for City Gain Momentum. Despite Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s long-expressed dream of putting wind turbines on skyscrapers and bridges, the constraints of an urban landscape have so far proved too challenging for reliable wind power in the city, energy experts said. As a result, New York City has been largely inactive — and behind the national curve — in embracing wind power. But that is about to change. Posted. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/29/nyregion/new-york-to-renew-push-for-wind-power.html Myhrvold finds we need clean energy yesterday (and no natural gas) to avoid being cooked. Several years ago, Nathan Myhrvold — former Microsoft exec, kajillionaire, inventor, founder of Intellectual Ventures, author of the world’s most high-tech cookbook, and all-around polymath genius type — was quoted in the book SuperFreakonomics saying dismissive things about climate activists. He was worried they might get “a real head of steam” behind their “immediate and precipitous anti-carbon initiatives.” (In retrospect, he needn’t have worried.) Instead, Myhrvold said, we should be … researching geoengineering. Posted. http://grist.org/climate-change/climate-safety-requires-massive-clean-energy-transition-with-no-natural-gas-myhrvold-finds/ Making Solar Power Competitive with Coal. By the end of the decade, manufacturers in the United States could make solar panels that are less than half as expensive as the ones they make now. That would be cheap enough for solar power to compete with electricity from fossil fuels, according to a new study in Energy & Environmental Science. The cost reductions will come via technology that's already being demonstrated in research labs at startups, universities, and major solar manufacturers, and could involve silicon, the material most solar panels are made from today. Posted. http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/39771/?p1=A6 OPINIONS Canada's carbon lesson: Just put a price on it. Five years ago, the province of British Columbia launched a quest to slash its carbon emissions. Here's what it has learned. California's implementation of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, is meeting stiff resistance from greenhouse gas emitters and other opponents of climate change regulation. After one (unsuccessful) attempt to gut it at the ballot box, there remain roadblocks to enforcement and dire predictions of economic ruin if the state goes the whole distance. Posted. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-wood-bcaction-plan-20120229,0,6166154.story Michael Mann's counterstrike in the climate wars. Climate change may have dropped off the national political agenda, but unfortunately that doesn't mean the problem has gone away. As of January, the Earth's atmosphere contained 393 parts per million of carbon dioxide. And rising. To understand why that's a very sad number, it helps to know that from the dawn of human civilization until the 19th century, the concentration was about 275 parts per million, and that many scientists believe 350 parts per million is a sort of tipping point: …Posted. http://opinion.latimes.com/opinionla/2012/02/mann-climate.html Subterfuge vs. propaganda in global warming debate. Environmental advocate Peter Gleick's admission that he obtained Heartland Institute documents, including its plan to fight global warming policies, has the wrong side answering questions. Peter Gleick is about the last person you'd expect to put himself in the position to be labeled a thief, a faker, and a crook. Posted. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20120229,0,1163347.column Climate Change May Alter Earth's Rotation. The basic premise behind man-made climate change is a simple one: Earth's atmosphere naturally contains greenhouse gases that keep our planet warm enough to be liveable. When we burn fossil fuels, though, we increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, disrupting Earth's ideal balance nature had developed. The result is global warming (an increase in the planet's average annual temperature) which, in turn, triggers climate change. Posted. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/neil-wagner/climate-change-earth-rotation-_b_1289596.html Gas price spikes aren't Obama's fault. George W. Bush wasn't to blame when gas prices surged above $4.50 a gallon in summer 2008, and President Barack Obama is not responsible for the 30-cents-a-gallon spike we've seen since December. During Bush's second term, speculative trading, a weak dollar and growing demand from China and India were the culprits. Today, once again, Wall Street speculators are part of the reason, along with the uncertainty of supply from Iran and an increase in demand from the improving economy. Posted. http://www.modbee.com/2012/02/29/2090866/gas-price-spikes-arent-obamas.html BY SUBSCRIPTION Why Californians pay more. California has the highest gas prices because of the blended fuel requirement. Gasoline in our state and the country must put all the oil companies on an equal footing nationwide. Open up competition by having the whole country use the same fuel! Let each refinery compete nationwide! There is no shortage of oil or gasoline, just no incentive to drop the price! Think about it. Oil companies are not expanding refining capacity because they are perfectly happy the way it is! Posted. http://www.modbee.com/2012/02/28/2090476/why-californians-pay-more.html BY SUBSCRIPTION BLOGS New York and Wind Power: Can It Take Off? As we report in Wednesday’s Times, New York is finally pursuing wind power by planning a few projects that take advantage of the city’s coastal features. In the meantime, many city residents can buy wind power through their utility companies. Paul Thomas, chief executive officer of Green Mountain Energy, a provider that offers a “pollution free” blend of wind and hydropower through Con Edison, said that tens of thousands of New Yorkers who buy from his company do not mind paying a small premium for wind power. Posted. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/29/new-york-and-wind-power-can-it-take-off/?scp=7&sq=air%20pollution&st=cse Counting the Family Carbon. Which has the lower carbon footprint — our life in the New Jersey suburbs or our life in a cabin in the woods of Maine? We recently hit the halfway mark for our year in the woods, so I now have enough data to answer the question. As a social scientist at the Nature Conservancy, I collect data compulsively. It’s not my only compulsion, but it’s on par with drinking fine beers. (Sadly, the two do not mix well — unless I’m counting beers.) Posted. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/29/counting-the-family-carbon/?hp Energy Field’s Long Shots Show Off Their Stuff. ARPA-E, the Energy Department’s program for betting on long-shot technologies, is holding a convention in Washington this week, and several dozen teams working on unusual ideas showed up to hobnob with potential investors and potential government customers. None of the technologies are ready for the market, but that is as it should be, said Arun Mujamdar, the program’s director. Posted. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/28/energy-fields-long-shots-show-off-their-stuff/?scp=10&sq=climate%20change&st=cse Nissan Leaf available nationwide in March. The wait is over. After the initial launch in limited markets at the end of 2010 and a methodical rollout in 2011, the Nissan Leaf will finally be available to order all around the U.S. starting pretty much immediately. Nissan recently sent out an email that reads, in part: Your time has arrived. Orders for the 2012 Nissan Leaf will begin in March, making the Nissan Leaf available nationwide. we are officially a 100% electric nation. Posted. http://green.autoblog.com/2012/02/29/nissan-leaf-available-nationwide-in-march/ BMW releases video promoting i3 and i8 electric-drive vehicles. BMW has released a video that shows both its i3 and i8 concept electric-drive vehicles tooling around the Chicago area, as the German automaker looks to drum up interest in its battery-electric vehicles. The video, titled "BMW i. Born Electric," runs one-minute ten seconds and doesn't include any voiceover or any facts about the cars' performance or other details, but you can still see it after the jump. BMW said late last year that it would debut a production version of its battery-electric i3 four-door next year and would start making the plug-in hybrid-electric i8 two-door sports car in 2014. Posted. http://green.autoblog.com/2012/02/28/bmw-releases-video-promoting-i3-and-i8-electric-drive-vehicles/