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newsclips -- Newsclips for April 11, 2012

Posted: 11 Apr 2012 11:53:08
California Air Resources Board News Clips for April 11, 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.

Owner pleads not guilty to Sierra mine charges. The co-owner of a
gold mine in the Sierra foothills pleaded not guilty Tuesday to
operating the mine illegally and causing environmental damage.
Joseph Hardesty entered the plea during his arraignment, said El
Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Mike Pizzuti. Hardesty,
55, is charged with grading the Gold Rush-era mine near
Placerville, which is about 45 miles east of Sacramento. He also
is charged with operating heavy equipment without permits,
causing air pollution and allowing hazardous fluids to reach a
nearby creek. Posted. 

Tennessee enacts evolution, climate change law.  Tennessee
enacted a law Tuesday that critics contend allows public school
teachers to challenge climate change and evolution in their
classrooms without fear of sanction.  Republican Gov. Bill Haslam
allowed the controversial measure to become law without his
signature and, in a statement, expressed misgivings about it.
Nevertheless, he ignored pleas from educators, parents and civil
libertarians to veto the bill.  Posted. 

110 in the Shade. Q. Will climate change affect the incidence of
diseases and medical conditions? A. Health experts say that
global warming is already causing more deaths in many regions of
the world. There is increasing evidence of lives being lost both
directly, to causes like heart and respiratory ills, and
indirectly, as the animal vectors of disease spread to newly
warmer areas, according to a review article in the journal Nature
in 2005. Posted. 


Out of Africa (and Elsewhere): More Fossil Fuels. THE world’s
largest energy companies have big plans for Mozambique. Until
recently, the East African country was better known for its long
civil war, and had few energy resources compared with regional
heavy-hitters like Nigeria and Angola.  But in the last 10 years,
companies like Exxon Mobil, the BG Group of Britain and Eni of
Italy have used the latest technologies, including advances in
deep-sea drilling, to find new natural gas resources that are
turning Mozambique into the center of an energy boom. Posted. 


March new-car purchases set new record for average mpg, study
says. The average fuel economy for new vehicles purchased in the
United States rose to a record 24.1 mpg in March, from 23.9 the
previous month, researchers at the University of Michigan said.
The university’s Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor,
Mich., has tracked the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold
each month since October 2007, when average fuel economy was 20.1
mpg. Posted. 

Electric vehicle charging station agreement raises hackles.  A
proposed $100 million settlement with the California Public
Utilities Commission that requires NRG Energy to build a network
of electric vehicle charging stations has caused an uproar within
the electric vehicle community over concerns that NRG will become
the default provider of charging stations throughout the state. 
In late March, California Gov. Jerry Brown announced a landmark
agreement, which is part of a legal settlement stemming from the
state's energy crisis in 2001. NRG will invest $100 million of
its money to build a network of electric vehicle charging
stations, mainly in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego. 



Renewable Sources of Power Survive, but in a Patchwork. JUST a
few years ago, the future of renewable energy looked as bright
and shiny as a white turbine blade coming out of the mold. The
federal government was handing out money under the stimulus
package, states were approving clean energy mandates, young
companies were racing ahead with promising new technologies and
big global developers were planting stakes for ambitious,
utility-scale projects. Now that picture has dimmed. The low
price of natural gas has made renewable power less appealing to
utilities and energy companies. The high price of gasoline —
which has become an issue in the presidential campaign, as
Republican candidates seek to use it against President Obama, has
renewed calls to increase oil exploration and production at the
expense of alternatives. State lawmakers are reconsidering
requirements for utilities to buy green power. Posted. 

Meccas of Shopping Try Hand at Being Misers of Energy. FOR most
people, talking about commercial air filters is a great way to
end a conversation. To Charlie Brantl and Bob Devine, it is an
invitation to an hourlong discussion. They are engineers, in
charge of finding ways to conserve energy and reduce waste at the
Mall of America south of Minneapolis, the country’s largest
shopping and entertainment complex. And they talk excitedly about
everything related to saving energy, including skylights,
low-flush toilets and, yes, commercial air filters. Posted. 

Army lab to develop energy-saving technology. A new Army
laboratory will develop technology such as fuel cells and hybrid
systems for combat vehicles as the Pentagon steps up its push for
cleaner and more reliable energy, federal officials said
Wednesday. The complex near Detroit was opening as the Obama
administration prepared to announce a series of initiatives to
create a greener U.S. military, which officials said is intended
not to just benefit the environment but also to improve fighting
capabilities. Posted. 

Your new offshore energy source: floating algae farms.  Forget
offshore oil drilling. NASA’s working on a project that would
generate clean, renewable offshore energy, by growing algae in
floating plastic bags.  These floating algae farms would take in
wastewater from treatment plants. For algae, wastewater is like
the nectar of the gods: the ammonia and phosphates act as a
fertilizer. So the algae would float happily contained in the
baggies, getting fat with lipid oil, and cleaning up the
wastewater in the process. Eventually, the algae farmers would
harvest the oil, recycle the plastic and start all over again. 


Sonoma County takes another step toward public power agency. The
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to push forward
toward formation of a countywide public power agency. The 4-0
vote marked the most significant move yet on the proposal, which
has been under review since last year. At least an additional 18
months of work is envisioned before a final decision to launch
the effort. Posted. 


Pulling Back From the Exurbs. The view from a helicopter over the
outer edges of Las Vegas in about 2004, at the height of the
housing bubble, was of sprawl overtaking desert as fast as
builders could throw up framing and lay on the stucco and roofing
tiles. People were flooding in. The Clark County School District
was hiring 2,000 teachers a year. Came the recession, and down
went the boom. Las Vegas was the third-fastest-growing metro area
in the country between 2000 and 2010. Between 2010 and 2011, it
fell to 151st place. When the housing market collapsed, so did
growth, particularly where growth had been fastest, in the outer
suburbs, or exurbs. Posted. 

The Other Arab Spring. ISN’T it interesting that the Arab
awakening began in Tunisia with a fruit vendor who was harassed
by police for not having a permit to sell food — just at the
moment when world food prices hit record highs? And that it began
in Syria with farmers in the southern village of Dara’a, who were
demanding the right to buy and sell land near the border, without
having to get permission from corrupt security officials? And
that it was spurred on in Yemen — the first country in the world
expected to run out of water — by a list of grievances against an
incompetent government, among the biggest of which was that top
officials were digging water wells in their own backyards at a
time when the government was supposed to be preventing such water
wildcatting? Posted. 

Cutting our contribution to warming. Based on computer models the
Environmental Protection Agency ruled that atmospheric carbon
dioxide is a pollutant that contributes to global warming. The
most common source of the pollutant is carbon- based fuels. In
addition, with every breath people, worldwide, add about another
10 percent to the 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide produced
yearly by fossil fuels.  An emissions control system such as
cap-and-trade can be applied to control the currently untapped
activities of people. For example, the more people exercise and
breathe more air, the more carbon dioxide they emit. Therefore,
exercise enthusiasts need to find ways to offset their extra
emissions above an average baseline for normal activity. Posted. 


In California, a Fast-Charging First. A Los Angeles-based firm
claims to have installed California’s first public fast-charging
station, which opened for business last week. The unit, which can
recharge the battery pack of a Nissan Leaf in about 30 minutes,
is located at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, adjacent
to Stanford University and about 30 miles south of San Francisco.
Roughly 2,000 public charge stations dot the state, according to
Obrie Hostetter, the regional director of 350Green, the firm that
installed and manages the Palo Alto station. None of those,
however, offered fast-charging capabilities on a self-serve
basis. Posted. 

Is Your Town California’s “Coolest?”  We must’ve missed the
opening ceremonies with the parade of flag-bearing competitors
and giant torch-lighting — or maybe it was canceled to save
energy. Either way, ten California cities are competing over the
next year to reduce their carbon emissions.  Individuals, local
governments and businesses will all be involved in the project,
called the Cool California Challenge. The Cool California website
has a carbon calculator, tips on reducing your footprint and
links to rebates. Plus there’s a social media element, so you can
envy, goad or cooperate with your neighbors as you see fit. 

Is Your State Prepared for Climate Change?  A new report from the
National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that 29 states,
almost 60 percent, are not prepared for water threats caused by
climate change. Only six of the 36 states facing possible water
supply challenges have comprehensive adaptation plans, and only
22 states have formally adopted or established greenhouse (GHG)
emissions reduction targets or goals.  The report, titled Ready
or Not: An Evaluation of State Climate and Water Preparedness
Planning categorizes all 50 states into one of four categories.
Category 1 represents states that have the best and most prepared
plans, while Category 4 includes the most unprepared states.
California, the most populated state in the nation, is one of the
nine most prepared states. California stands out even among the
group of nine states in Category 1 with a comprehensive climate
change preparedness plan, as an NRDC blog post points out.  

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