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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for April 18, 2012.

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 12:23:02
ARB Newsclips for April 18, 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.


Halt California funds for high-speed rail: budget watchdog.
California lawmakers should not approve Governor Jerry Brown's
budget proposals to provide additional funds for the state's
pricey planned high-speed rail system, the state's budget
watchdog agency said in a report on Tuesday. The report by the
nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said the California
High-Speed Rail Authority has "not made a strong enough case for
going forward with the project at this time." Posted. 

Analyst: Calif. high-speed rail plan still vague. Sacramento,
Calif. -- The legislative analyst's office said Tuesday that the
latest plan to build a $68.4 billion high-speed rail system
linking Northern and Southern California still relies on highly
speculative financing, and it urged the state Legislature to
reject funding until more details are ironed out. The California
High-Speed Rail Authority "has not provided sufficient detail and
justification to the Legislature regarding its plan to build a
high-speed rail system," the LAO said. Posted.

Stop California bullet train, state's top analyst urges.  The
state's top analyst on Tuesday urged lawmakers to slam the brakes
on California's $68 billion bullet train, cautioning that the
newly overhauled plan simply isn't "strong enough" and relies on
"highly speculative" funding sources.  The report from the
nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office is especially
significant as the state Senate and Assembly on Wednesday begin a
debate on whether to start building the high-speed rail line, a
decision officials revealed Tuesday will likely be delayed into
the summer. Posted. 


AP Newsbreak: EPA issues first-ever rules to control air
pollution from fractured gas wells.  The Obama administration is
issuing the first-ever standards to control air pollution from
gas wells that are drilled using a method called hydraulic
fracturing, or fracking, but not without making concessions to
the oil and gas industry.  The regulation is expected to be
officially announced later Wednesday.  President Barack Obama in
his State of the Union address strongly backed natural gas
drilling as a clean energy source, and recently announced an
executive order calling for coordination of federal regulation to
ease burdens on producers. Posted. 

Oakbio aims to make plastic from plant's pollution. At a
sprawling cement plant near Cupertino, researchers are trying a
kind of eco-friendly alchemy, turning carbon dioxide into
biodegradable plastic. The researchers, from startup company
Oakbio Inc., take carbon dioxide from the plant's exhaust and
feed it to specially selected microbes, along with some hydrogen.
The microbes create a kind of plastic from the gas. They also
make compounds that can be used in cosmetics, food, perfume and
industrial lubricants. Posted.

Santa Rosa's drive-thru dilemma. Drive-thru windows may be a
popular convenience for those on the move, but Santa Rosa's
rejection of a Chick-fil-A on Mendocino Avenue shows they remain
a hot topic for those worried about global warming. The city has
struggled for years with how to handle requests for businesses
with drive-thrus given the county's goal to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions to 75 percent of 1990 levels by 2015. Posted. 


Majority believe role of warming in weather.  Scientists may
hesitate to link some of the weather extremes of recent years to
global warming -- but the public, it seems, is already there.  A
poll due for release Wednesday shows that a large majority of
Americans believe that this year's unusually warm winter, last
year's blistering summer, and some other weather disasters were
likely made worse by global warming. And by a 2-1 margin, the
public says the weather has been getting worse, rather than
better, in recent years.  Posted. 

Obama and Romney on energy, environmental issues. A look at where
President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt
Romney stand on energy and environmental issues: OBAMA: Ordered
temporary moratorium on deep-water drilling after the massive BP
oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico but has pushed for more oil and
gas drilling overall. Approved drilling plan in Arctic Ocean
opposed by environmentalists. Now proposes that Congress give oil
market regulators more power to control price manipulation by
speculators and stiffer fines for doing so. Posted. 


Benefit of electric cars found to vary by location. Electric cars
are only as green as the power plants that fuel them. As a
result, they are far greener in some parts of the country than in
others, according to a report issued Monday by the Union of
Concerned Scientists. In California - which derives most of its
electricity from natural gas plants, nuclear reactors, renewable
power sources and hydroelectric dams - an electric car produces
the same amount of global warming emissions as a gasoline-burning
car that gets 79 miles to the gallon. Posted.


Cleaner 'clouds' needed at tech giants, Greenpeace says. San
Jose, Calif. - In their race for the cloud, tech companies are
leaving a trail of pollution from dirty energy sources,
Greenpeace said Tuesday in a report that accused some of the
world's biggest tech companies of failing to make clean energy a
priority.  Cloud computing allows users to store and access data,
programs and more on remote servers, preserving computing power.

Geothermal heating system draws on limitless fuel: sewage.
Philadelphia -- Among the many renewable energy sources - wind,
solar, hydroelectric, biofuels - there is one to which we all
contribute that has not yet managed to attract the romantic
advocates who have embraced other forms of green energy.  We're
speaking about the gray river of warmth flowing right beneath our
feet: sewage.  A Philadelphia company, NovaThermal Energy LLC,
wants to heat and cool buildings by tapping into the constant,
guaranteed heat contained in wastewater. The process is called
sewage geothermal. Posted.

Solar Company to Cut 2,000 Jobs and Close a German Factory. Five
months ago, First Solar was celebrating making the millionth
solar module at a plant it had built in Frankfurt, to double its
production in Germany, the world’s largest market for solar
power. The party did not last long. On Tuesday, the company,
which is based in Arizona, announced that it would stop all of
its German production as part of a broad restructuring plan that
will cut its global work force by 30 percent, or 2,000 workers,
and sharply reduce its global production capacity. Posted. 


Dan Walters: California bullet train still lacks valid data. The
Maloof family, which owns the Sacramento Kings, is being
excoriated by fans and local politicians for pulling out of a
tentative deal to build a new basketball arena. It's at least
possible, however, that the Maloofs are doing Sacramento a favor
by killing a project that could have been a financial albatross
for taxpayers in the long run. Christopher Thornberg, a
well-known economist hired by the Maloofs to evaluate the complex
deal, concluded that the ticket sales and other underlying
revenue assumptions of the deal were unrealistically optimistic
and in the end, it didn't pencil out. Posted.


Clean Technology on the Brink. Clean energy technology has grown
robustly and come down in price in recent years, driven by hefty
government stimulus spending, expectations of future regulation
and substantial private investment. But that technology is going
to fall off a cliff unless government steps in quickly to
revitalize the solar, wind, nuclear, battery and clean vehicle
sectors with new spending and federal policy, according to a new
study from three research groups. Posted. 

Frito-Lay Pledges a Major Shift Toward Natural-Gas Trucking. On
Tuesday, Frito-Lay announced it would add 67 trucks that would
run on compressed natural gas, known as C.N.G., to its fleet.
Eventually, the company said, a majority of its longer-range
vehicles would run on C.N.G., as well as liquefied natural gas
for longer-distance hauls. The C.N.G.-powered trucks would save
the equivalent of $2.50 a gallon compared with diesel at current
prices, as well as reduce greenhouse emissions by 23 percent when
compared with diesel rigs, the company said. Currently, 18 trucks
burning natural gas in 8.9-liter Cummins Westport engines are
undergoing a pilot test. Posted. 

GM battery lab explosion cost could reach $5M. Last week, a fire
broke out at the General Motors Technical Center battery research
lab in Warren, Michigan. General Motors has since said the fire
was caused by a battery that was being tested under "extreme
stress." Engineers were trying to get the pack to fail, which it
did, but not to ignite, which it also did when gases leaked out
and somehow caught fire. There's one detail we have not heard
yet, and that's how much the fire could end up costing GM: up to
$5 million, the The Detroit News reports, based on information
that the automaker's representatives submitted in a police
report. Posted. 

Legislative Analyst: High-speed rail funding “speculative”.
Despite of lowering the proposed cost of California’s high-speed
rail project to $68 billion, the Brown administration still
relies on “highly speculative” funding for the project, the
Legislative Analyst’s Office said in a report today recommending
that constructing funding not be approved. Posted.

Clean-energy subsidies are vanishing. What should replace them? 
Clean tech has enjoyed quite the party these past few years.
Solar, wind, plug-in vehicles — they’ve all benefited from
billions of dollars in subsidies from Congress, through various
energy and stimulus bills. As a result, many industries, like
solar, have taken lengthy strides.  But that party’s about to
shut down. As an extensive new report (pdf) out Wednesday
details, clean-energy subsidies are disappearing fast, as the
stimulus winds down and various laws and tax credits expire.

Advanced vehicle battery costs dropped 14% in the past year; down
30% since 2009.  Electric-vehicle lithium-ion battery-pack costs
fell 14 percent during the past year and are down 30 percent from
three years ago because of technological improvements and
increased production capacity, Bloomberg News reports, citing a
study from its sister entity Bloomberg New Energy Finance.  EV
battery costs fell to $689 per kilowatt hour (kWh) during the
first quarter, down from $800 per kWh a year earlier. Posted. 

STUDY: Climate Coverage Plummets On Broadcast Networks. A Media
Matters analysis finds that news coverage of climate change on
ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX has dropped significantly since 2009. In
2011, these networks spent more than twice as much time
discussing Donald Trump as climate change.  Time Devoted To
Climate Change Has Fallen Sharply Since 2009. Despite Ongoing
Climate News, Broadcast Coverage Has Dropped Significantly. Since
2009, when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a climate
bill and a major climate conference …Posted.

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