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newsclips -- Newsclips for May 2, 2012 Posted: 02 May 2012 14:32:50
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 Spare the Air smog season starts Tuesday in the Bay Area. The Bay Area's Spare the Air smog season begins Wednesday, opening the weather window for hot smoggy days when the public may be asked to drive less and avoid strenuous outdoor exercise. The Bay Area Air Quality Management issues the Spare the Air advisories when it forecasts that smog will violate federal public health standards somewhere in the nine-county region. The district issued an average of 11 smog advisories annually the last four years. Posted. http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_20524576/spare-air-smog-season-starts-tuesday-bay-area?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_20524576/spare-air-smog-season-starts-tuesday-bay-area?IADID=Search-www.insidebayarea.com-www.insidebayarea.com http://blog.sfgate.com/incontracosta/2012/05/01/summer-%E2%80%9Cspare-the-air%E2%80%9D-season-starts-on-wednesday-may-2nd-tomorrow/ Group's lawsuit targets coal-fired power plant. An environmental group has filed a federal lawsuit claiming a Texas coal-fired power plant violates the Clean Air Act. The suit filed Tuesday in Waco federal court claims Luminant's Big Brown coal-fired plant exposes the public to harmful air pollution. The suit says the company's own data shows the power plant near Fairfield violated its particulate matter limits at least 370 times in the past 3 1-2 years. Asthma and other respiratory ailments are associated with particulate matter, commonly known as dirt and soot. Posted. http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/may/01/groups-lawsuit-targets-coal-fired-power-plant/#ixzz1tj97rQTE CLIMATE CHANGE Clouds’ Effect on Climate Change Is Last Bastion for Dissenters. For decades, a small group of scientific dissenters has been trying to shoot holes in the prevailing science of climate change, offering one reason after another why the outlook simply must be wrong. Over time, nearly every one of their arguments has been knocked down by accumulating evidence, and polls say 97 percent of working climate scientists now see global warming as a serious risk. Yet in recent years, the climate change skeptics have seized on one last argument that cannot be so readily dismissed. Their theory is that clouds will save us. Posted. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/01/science/earth/clouds-effect-on-climate-change-is-last-bastion-for-dissenters.html?_r=1 An Underground Fossil Forest Offers Clues on Climate Change. In the clammy depths of a southern Illinois coal mine lies the largest fossil forest ever discovered, at least 50 times as extensive as the previous contender. Scientists are exploring dripping passages by the light of headlamps, mapping out an ecosystem from 307 million years ago, just before the world’s first great forests were wiped out by global warming. This vast prehistoric landscape may shed new light on climate change today. Posted. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/01/science/underground-fossil-forest-in-illinois-offers-clues-on-climate-change.html South Korea approves carbon trading scheme. South Korea's lawmakers approved a national emissions trading scheme on Wednesday to tackle its growing greenhouse gas emissions, overcoming strong industry opposition and joining a growing number of nations to put a price on carbon. Of the 151 lawmakers who voted, 148 approved the scheme, underscoring bipartisan support for a cap on carbon emissions, in stark contrast with the United States and Australia where emissions trading has been deeply divisive. Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/02/us-carbon-korea-idUSBRE8410TN20120502 Critics say Discovery Channel’s ‘Frozen Planet’ sidesteps climate change issue. The Discovery Channel’s popular “Frozen Planet” series states that global warming is harming arctic habitats. But it doesn’t mention what the majority of the world’s scientists believe: Accelerated warming is caused by carbon pollution from humans. On Tuesday, a group devoted to spreading the news on climate change complained about the network’s decision to omit that information. Calling it “dangerous self-censorship” that only satisfies climate deniers, Forecast the Facts delivered an online petition with what it said were 10,000 signatures to the network’s Silver Spring headquarters. Posted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/critics-say-discovery-channels-frozen-planet-sidesteps-climate-change-issue/2012/05/01/gIQAGBfXvT_story.html FUELS Fracking 'Health Challenges' to Be Examined by U.S. Advisers. The Institute of Medicine will examine whether the process of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from rock "poses potential health challenges," a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said. Health concerns related to fracking, in which millions of gallons of chemically treated water are forced underground to break up rock and free gas, include the potential for water contamination and air pollution, Christopher Portier, director of CDC's National Center for Environmental Health, said at a workshop in Washington today. Posted. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/04/30/bloomberg_articlesM3AM0B6S972901-M3B99.DTL Biogas Takes a Hit. Many environmentalists hope that biogas will help California meet its renewable-energy goals. Also called biomethane, it's sourced from landfills, dairies, and machines known as digesters that turn decomposing organic material into combustible-fuel sources for power plants. But in a little-noticed decision that could impact the future of some types of biogas statewide, the California Energy Commission on March 28 suspended the certification of new pipeline biogas suppliers. The suspension targets methane gas that is injected into regional pipeline systems and mixed with other gas sources intended to fuel power plants that supply the state's electricity grid. Posted. http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/biogas-takes-a-hit/Content?oid=3192006 Cruise-ship industry fights cleaner-fuel rule. The heavy fuel that oceangoing vessels burn adds so much to air pollution hundreds of miles inland that the United States joined with Canada during President George W. Bush's administration to ask the International Maritime Organization to create an emissions-control area along the coasts. Large ships would be required to reduce pollution dramatically in a zone 200 miles out to sea along all the coasts of North America, mainly by using cleaner fuel. The cargo-shipping industry supported the stringent emission reductions. The cruise-ship industry, however, wants an emissions-averaging plan that would allow it to burn the same heavy fuel it always has used in some areas, and it's lobbying Congress for help. Posted. http://www.modbee.com/2012/05/01/2181792/cruise-ship-industry-fights-cleaner.html SUBSCRIPTION ONLY Fighting coal export terminals: It matters. As I wrote in my last post — and have been writing for years — coal is on the decline in the U.S. The biggest driver of this trend is the current low cost of natural gas from fracking, but it also has to do with increasing competition from renewables, the aging of the U.S. coal fleet, organized grassroots opposition, new EPA regulations, and slowing demand for electricity [PDF]. The rapid move away from coal is hitting U.S. coal-mining companies where it hurts. Posted. http://grist.org/coal/fighting-coal-export-terminals-it-matters/ VEHICLES Auto sales stay strong in April. Americans bought 1.18 million cars and trucks in April, up 2.3 percent from a year earlier. Sales were still strong, but growth slowed a bit from earlier in the year. Analysts said there's no sign that the auto sales recovery is faltering. Toyota made a comeback while General Motors and Ford stumbled. WHAT THEY BOUGHT: There were bright spots and lows in just about every corner of the market. Fuel-efficient cars were still hot sellers. Sales of Toyota's Prius gas-electric hybrids more than doubled, and the Camry midsize car was up 21 percent. Ford, Chrysler and General Motors all sold more pickups during the month. Ford's F-Series sales rose 4.4 percent. WHAT'S NEXT: Automakers and analysts are optimistic for the rest of the year as consumer confidence continues to rise. General Motors raised its full-year forecast for the whole U.S. market by 500,000 cars and trucks, to a range of 14 million to 14.5 million. Posted. http://www.modbee.com/2012/05/01/2181876/summary-box-auto-sales-stay-strong.html SUBSCRIPTION ONLY Incentives: EV and PHEV sales projected to take off in Israel next month. Given that the purchase tax on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in Israel is one of the highest in the world reaching the rate of 83%, the lowered purchase tax on electric, plug-in hybrid and other hybrid cars introduced within the Tax Authority’s green taxation policy will be a huge financial incentive for potential EV buyers. The Finance Ministry said in a statement that it hopes to strike a long-term balance in the way it taxes different technologies, allocating tax credits to vehicles according to how much they pollute. The officials say the benefits for Israeli car buyers who take advantage of the incentives are collectively worth NIS 130 million (around € 26 million) over the next several years. Posted. http://beta.cars21.com/news/view/4618 GREEN ENERGY Supercomputing Power Could Pave the Way to Energy-Efficient Engines. Neon lines and dots of aqua, violet, crimson, and pink dissolve into smoky swirls—that's what the burning of fuel looks like when it is simulated on one of the world's most powerful supercomputers. These psychedelic snapshots could pave the way for the development of cars that use 25 percent to 50 percent less fuel than the autos of today. But the problem of improving upon the 150-year-old internal combustion engine is so complex that the scientists who work on it are eager for a major development in the supercomputing world to occur later this year. Posted. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/04/120430-titan-supercomputing-for-energy-efficiency/ Santa Rosa readies its electric vehicle charging stations. Santa Rosa finally is ready to start charging people to charge their electric vehicles. For $1 an hour, eco-conscious drivers of Nissan Leafs, Chevy Volts and similar vehicles soon will be able to plug in to some of the 13 charging stations the city installed in 2010. The stations are a key component of the Sonoma County’s growing “Electric Trail,” which aims to create a regional network of public and private chargers that will encourage wider adoption of all-electric vehicles. Posted. http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20120501/ARTICLES/120509937/1350?Title=Santa-Rosa-readies-its-electric-vehicle-charging-stations OPINION Air-pollution studies important for health. Steve Milloy’s recent Op-Ed (“Did Obama’s EPA relaunch Tuskegee experiments?” Commentary, April 25) makes allegations about critical scientific research into how air pollution might contribute to abnormal heart rhythms. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) research into the health impacts of air pollution has helped to build healthier communities, provide new technology and develop new solutions to protect and manage air quality. In the case of research into fine-particle pollution, more than 50 clinical studies over the past decade involving human volunteers have been published by scientists from the EPA, many U.S. universities and medical centers. These describe cardiac effects in humans exposed to this harmful pollution. Posted. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/may/1/air-pollution-studies-important-for-health/ FEULNER: Behind ‘Fakegate’. What could be more American than encouraging a robust debate on one of the most controversial issues of the day? The answer - for some on the left, anyway - is: Lie about your opponents, and make a pathetic effort to discredit them. That, at least, is what an activist named Peter Gleick decided to do in a backward attempt to promote his view that global warming is unquestionably and primarily a man-made phenomenon - one that will cause calamitous changes in the environment. Posted. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/apr/30/behind-fakegate/ Jose Solorio: Don't let CARB pick our cars. What if your favorite place to buy a coffee was expected by the state, without being compensated, to sell a new product that may provide a more effective caffeine-fueled energy boost than their specially grown and brewed, traditional coffee beverages. Or, worse yet, what if your favorite coffee place had to carve out shelf space for a product not on the market yet, but will be – maybe, someday? Outrageous, unfair, right? Government can't make a store sell something – or can it? The California Air Resources Board thinks the answer to that question is yes. It is on a mission to finalize a rule that would require certain gasoline producers/importers to build and operate as many as 500 hydrogen fuel stations, at a cost to them of over $1 billion. It is called the Clean Fuel Outlets Program and could move forward despite the fact that there are no publicly available, reliable figures as to how many of those vehicles will be on the road in the foreseeable future. Posted. http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/hydrogen-352135-fuel-cars.html July Fourth laser show? Sounds like fun. Here's an idea whose time seems to have come: Enjoy Fourth of July "fireworks" with something other than fireworks. Celebrate the color and spectacle of a dramatic showcase in the night sky without the sulfuric aftertaste and cascading ash. That's the plan for at least three San Joaquin Valley cities this summer, thanks to a planned experiment by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. Traditional Independence Day fireworks displays fill the air with smoke and metals like magnesium, copper and barium, which can lead to skin irritations and muscle weakness. Between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. each July 4, particulate readings often soar many times beyond federal standards. Posted. http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/opinion/our-view/x1942474098/July-Fourth-laser-show-Sounds-like-fun BLOGS Climate Change and the Body Politic. The latest installment in our Temperature Rising series, just published, is about an argument between mainstream climate researchers and contrarians over how clouds will change on a warming planet. As their many other objections to climate science have been undermined by the growing evidence, the contrarians have settled on clouds as a kind of last-resort reason that the scientific majority just has to be wrong. In the course of reporting the article, I had some intriguing conversations with scientists who had thought hard about how to frame the problem of climate change in the public mind. Posted. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/01/climate-change-and-the-body-politic/ A Grim Portrait of Palm Oil Emissions. Indonesia ranks right behind the United States and China in the lineup of the world’s top 10 greenhouse gas emitters. It’s not because of smokestacks or freeways, but massive deforestation starting in the 1990s — driven In large part by the expansion of plantations for palm oil, an edible vegetable oil used in cookies, crackers, soap and European diesel fuel. In January, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed finding that biofuels derived from palm oil feedstocks failed to meet the standards set by the agency’s 2007 renewable fuels mandate. While they were found to have lower life-cycle emissions than conventional gasoline and diesel, palm oil came up short of the 20 percent reduction in related emissions that is required for inclusion in the new biofuel blends. Posted. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/01/a-grim-portrait-of-palm-oil-emissions/ Chevy Volt sales drop to 1,462 in April, Nissan Leaf sales fall to 370 *UPDATE. For anyone playing close attention to the month-to-month sales results from the two leading plug-in vehicles in the U.S., the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf, April had some depressing news. After selling a record number of Volts in March – 2,289 – Chevrolet managed to move just 1,462 in April. This is more inline with previous recent months (1,023 sales in February, 603 sold in January, 1,529 in December) and is almost three times the 493 sold in April 2011. Posted. http://green.autoblog.com/2012/05/01/chevy-volt-sales-drop-to-1-462-nissan-leaf-sales-fall-to-370/ America's obesity problem equals a billion gallons of gas per year. Newsflash: Americans are fat. And no, we're not just big boned. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions over the past couple decades, and as a result diabetes, heart disease and just about every other health issue are on the rise. The Atlantic reports that the amount of fuel we're using is on the rise as well, as heavy occupants need more fuel to get from Point A to *insert drive-thru joke here*. A 2006 study shows that Americans weigh so much more than they did in 1960 that we're using up almost an additional billion gallons of petrol every year. Posted. http://green.autoblog.com/2012/05/01/americas-obesity-problem-equals-a-billion-gallons-of-gas-per-ye/ Are e-Readers Really Green? The Millions has a great write-up of the real impact of e-readers. Despite the notion that if you read enough books on them, they'll have a lighter footprint than printed books, the reality is something less appealing altogether. "Necessarily, the increased consumption of print and digital books has led to an ever-increasing demand for the materials required to create, transport, and store them. In the case of eBooks, though, vast amounts of materials are also necessary for the eReaders themselves, and this is something typically overlooked by proponents of digitization: the material costs are either ignored, or, more misleadingly, they’re classified as the byproduct of the tech industry instead of the book industry... In other words: the carbon footprint of the digital book industry is mostly growing in addition to, not to the detriment of, the growing carbon footprint of the print book industry." Posted. http://www.treehugger.com/gadgets/are-e-readers-really-green.html NADA Should Be Smiling: Auto Dealer Profits Are Up as Fuel-Efficient Models Grow. Consumers shopping for a new car have more fuel-efficient options and auto dealers are seeing a “renaissance” at their stores. The model year 2012 cars in showrooms today are the first to meet fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards first announced in 2009. Since then, the number of fuel-efficient models has more than doubled. Auto dealers are among the winners of the focus on efficiency. AutoNation, the largest dealer group in the U.S., posted a 5 percent jump in first quarter profit compared to last year. Mike Jackson, the CEO of AutoNation, recently told the Washington Post, “The renaissance in auto retail is well under way.” Jackson continued, “The American consumer has more choices than ever with improved fuel efficiency, better technology, and accelerated product offerings.” Posted. http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/ltonachel/nada_should_be_smiling_auto_de.html