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newsclips -- Newsclips for April 9, 2012

Posted: 09 Apr 2012 11:32:19
ARB News Clips for April 9, 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.


Field to families: Tehama County neighbors worry about chemical
drift.  Pesticide drift from a commercial strawberry field in the
Bend area has a group of residents actively concerned about how
the chemicals used will affect their health.  When Sam Sleezer,
37, and his father-in-law Manuel Silveira, 65, installed new
scientific devices to measure air quality on their neighboring
properties in the Bend area, they hoped that they would find
their concerns were unwarranted.  I'm not against farming,
Silveira said.  However, results came back that levels of a toxic
chemical found were far above safe levels beyond the time frame
that it was supposed to be in the air.  Posted. 

Houseplants can help clean the air in your home. Indoor air can
be hazardous to your health. But you can breathe easier with the
help of your green friends: houseplants. Common houseplants such
as philodendron, peace lily, corn plant, Gerbera daisy, spider
plant, golden pothos, English ivy, Marginata and others can pull
chemicals from the air and break them down through their leaves,
roots and soil. Posted. 


California Climate Change Study: Golden State Most Likely To
Survive Global Warming.  As if we needed another reason to love
California, the Golden State has been named most likely to
survive the tolls of climate change.  A recent study done by the
Natural Resources and Defense Council highlights the best and
worst states equipped with plans to combat water shortage and
other problems expected to occur from globally increasing
temperatures due to climate change. One of only nine, California
was given top awards for an integrated and comprehensive
preparedness plan that addresses all relevant water sectors and
state agencies.  Posted. 

Windfall of cash could hit state treasury from global warming
program.  For the past 10 years, California has struggled with
huge budget deficits and wrenching cuts. Suddenly, however, the
state is poised to raise billions from an unusual new source: the
proceeds from its landmark global warming law.  The windfall
could come as soon as this fall, when state officials are set to
begin auctioning off pollution credits to oil refineries, power
plants and other major polluters as part of a new "cap-and-trade"
system.  The amounts are potentially enormous: from $1 billion to
$3 billion a year in 2012 and 2013, jumping to as high as $14
billion a year by 2015, according to the nonpartisan state
Legislative Analyst's Office. By comparison, the state's current
budget deficit is $9 billion.  Posted. 


It's already been a very record-breaking hot year. It's been so
warm in the United States this year, especially in March, that
national records weren't just broken, they were deep-fried.
Temperatures in the lower 48 states were 8.6 degrees above normal
for March and 6 degrees higher than average for the first three
months of the year, according to calculations by the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That far exceeds the old
records. Posted. 

Berkeley researchers tackle California’s carbon footprint.  A
newly launched UC Berkeley-powered state program aims to shrink
California’s bulging carbon footprint at the grassroots level by
helping individuals make better energy-related choices in the
home, on the road and at the store.  Sponsored by the California
Air Resources Board, the Cool California Challenge, which kicked
off April 1, brings together 10 cities in a yearlong
community-based competition to cut carbon emissions — with the
winner crowned California’s Coolest City.  “Most Californians
believe that climate change is a problem and that we should take
action to reduce our carbon impact,” says Christopher Jones, head
researcher at Cool Climate Network, an applied-research
consortium at Berkeley’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab, or
RAEL.  Posted. 


Shale gas exploration raises hope, fear in Poland.  A slender
shale gas rig rising from the midst of plowed fields and farm
houses in Poland has inspired both hope for a local community's
prosperity and fears it will ruin bucolic and peaceful village
life.  The rig in the central Polish village of Szymkowo belongs
to Canadian-based Talisman Energy Inc., one among some two dozen
international companies across Poland exploring thousands of
meters (yards) underground for hidden deposits of natural gas
hailed as a vast new source of fuel.  Posted. 

AP Newsbreak:



Biofuel firms face uncertainty over future government help.  As
one of the Bay Area's hottest biofuel businesses, Solazyme
exemplifies to many everything that is right -- or wrong -- with
the federal government's efforts to wean the nation off foreign
oil.  The South San Francisco firm has deals with the likes of
Chevron and Honeywell. Its algae-based fuel was used in October
for an unprecedented commercial airline flight. And in December
it won a piece of a $12 million contract to supply biofuel for
the Navy.  But critics contend the fuel costs the Navy too much,
arguing that the contract amounts to at least three times what
the military typically pays. And despite the subsidies Solazyme
and other biofuel companies have received from the federal
government, they argue, the nation appears nowhere close to
meeting a congressional mandate to produce 36 billion gallons of
biofuel by 2022.  Posted. 


SHANNON GROVE: California legislature should keep an open mind on
climate change policy.  A few weeks ago I had the great privilege
of hosting the Honorable Christopher Monckton, one of the world's
leading man-made climate change skeptics, at a legislative
hearing at the state Capitol as well as at community events in
Sacramento and Bakersfield. Monckton is a former advisor to
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and was among the first
to advise her about the issue of global warming caused by
fossil-fuel related emissions. While Thatcher was originally
outspoken in warning of the dangers of global warming, she
eventually saw the flaws in climate change research and orthodoxy
and came to question its main scientific assumptions due in part
to Monckton's influence. Posted. 

SKELTON: First, find the bucks for bullet train. The bullet train
boondoggle is looking more like a bullet bull's-eye. But one big
question lingers: Where are the bucks? And even if the state can
find the bucks, should it spend them on building a high-speed
rail line, a cool choo-choo? Especially when higher education in
California is such a train wreck? Education — kindergarten
through college — should be our No. 1 priority, for both moral
and economic reasons. Producing an educated, skilled workforce
for the increasingly competitive global economy is even more
important than creating temporary track-laying jobs. Posted. 

Contra Costa Times Your Turn: Hydrogen highway is a long way from
reality.  Your March 26 front-page story, "Hydrogen highway gets
back on track" suggests that the only impediment to a brave new
world of hydrogen-powered vehicles is a lack of refueling
stations. To the contrary, the problem is in the production of
hydrogen.  There are basically two ways to produce hydrogen. One
is a process called steam reforming of natural gas in which steam
reacts with natural gas (methane) at an elevated temperature to
produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The other is by electrolysis
of water. Only the second method of production will accomplish
the California Air Resources Board's goal of reducing or
eliminating carbon emissions.  Posted. 

Thomas Elias: California consumers stiffed.  There was applause
from environmentalists when Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Public
Utilities Commission late last month accepted a $120 million
settlement from NRG Energy Inc. for the part it and the bankrupt
former electric generator Dynegy Inc. played in the power crisis
that afflicted California 11 years ago.  To be paid over four
years, that settlement will see NRG spend 80 percent of the money
on a network of electric car charging stations along major
highways and in the state's biggest cities. Only 20 percent will
go to consumers in the form of very small rate reductions. 


A Fresh Look at How Humans Are Loading Climate ‘Dice’.   James E.
Hansen, the longtime climate scientist who has turned
increasingly to activism in recent years, has updated his
analysis of how the buildup of human-generated greenhouse gases
is loading the climate “dice” so that hotter extremes are ever
more likely. I talked with him in 2008 about his use of this apt
metaphor. Here’s the video of our chat, followed by the abstract
of his latest draft paper, “Public Perception of Climate Change
and the New Climate Dice”. Posted. 

What happens to America’s coal if we don’t burn it?  Coal is
slowly receding as America’s top power source. Thanks to a flurry
of new air-pollution rules and cheap natural gas, the Energy
Information Administration (EIA) projects that U.S. coal
consumption will fall this year to its lowest level since 1996. 
But if the United States isn’t going to use its own coal, what’s
going to happen to the stuff? Since coal-burning is a major
contributor to global warming, this is a crucial question. One
possibility is that the United States will simply export coal
abroad, for other countries to consume. There are signs this is
starting to happen: Gregor McDonald flags a chart from the EIA,
noting that U.S. coal exports soared last year to their highest
levels in two decades…Posted. 

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