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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for July 16, 2012.

Posted: 16 Jul 2012 14:23:15
ARB Newsclips for July 16, 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.


Sacramento area choking on smoke from Robbers fire. Smoke from
the Robbers fire in the Placer County foothills has fouled the
air around the Sacramento region, officials say. The cities of
Sacramento, Auburn, Elk Grove, Placerville and more received a
rating of "unhealthy for sensitive groups" Friday, said Heather
Kuklo, air quality specialist for the Placer County Air Pollution
Control District. Those ratings can change quickly, Kuklo said.
"Smoke doesn't just stay in one place; it's dynamic, it can
always move." The smoke from wildfires contains small particles
that are harmful to people, she said. Posted.

3 W.Va. groups sue Alpha over selenium pollution.
Environmentalists are again suing Alpha Natural Resources over
selenium pollution, this time from nine southern West Virginia
operations. The complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in
Huntington targets mines in Logan, McDowell, Boone, and Kanawha
counties. The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia
Highlands Conservancy and Sierra Club say Virginia-based Alpha is
violating the federal Clean Water Act and state-issued discharge
permits. Posted.

County's kids with asthma more likely to visit ER.  Children with
asthma are far more likely to visit the emergency room if they
live in Imperial County - an alternative that costs taxpayers and
may result from dust and poverty, experts suggest.  One in five
children ages 5 to 17 in the county has been diagnosed with
asthma, which can be managed with medication. The rate of
youngsters visiting the emergency room for asthma treatment is
three times higher than the state average, according to the
California Department of Public Health.  Posted. 

Crews continue to battle growing Mendocino National Forest fire. 
The Mill fire in Mendocino County grew by more than 6,500 acres
on Friday as crews battle rugged terrain and high temperatures. 
The fire has burned 25,534 acres since it started July 7 in the
Mendocino National Forest northeast of Letts Lake.  Fire
officials estimated the blaze, which has destroyed five
outbuildings, was 50 percent contained Friday night.  Steep
terrain and the fire's behavior made it too dangerous for
firefighters to work directly along the fire's uncontained edge,
officials said.  Posted. 

Carbon causes extreme weather; in other news: Smoking causes
cancer.  Smoking causes cancer. Carbon pollution causes extreme
weather.  It really doesn’t have to be more complicated than
that.  We dump billions of tons of carbon pollution into the
atmosphere each year. As a result, the concentration of carbon
dioxide has increased by 40 percent. Excess carbon dioxide traps
excess heat in the atmosphere. Excess heat causes extreme heat
waves, droughts, and storms.  Posted. 

REGION: Air pollution agency launches online complaint system. 
The regional air quality authority has set up an online reporting
system that allows citizens to register complaints about
everything from dust and stench to illegal burning and paint
overspray.  The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s new
tool also lets users track the status of their complaints, all of
which are investigated, said Sam Atwood, the district’s
spokesman.  “We have over 100 field inspectors, but they’re
responsible for well over 10,000 square miles in our


Merkel warns of global warming if no climate accord. Chancellor
Angela Merkel warned on Monday that global warming will
accelerate at a dramatic rate unless leaders reach a deal on
limiting greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.  After
marathon talks in Durban last December, countries agreed to forge
a new deal by 2015 that would for the first time force all the
biggest polluters to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Critics said
at the time, however, the plan was too timid to slow global
warming.  Posted.

Fugitive Methane Caught in the Act of Raising GHG. It may turn
out that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are higher from using
natural gas to produce electricity than from using coal. Or are
they? The possible culprit of these GHG emissions is fugitive
emissions of methane. Since methane is a far more potent GHG than
CO2, this is bad. Fugitive losses include loss of methane from
the well-head during flow-back return of the fluids, during
drill-out following fracturing and during well-venting…Posted.

Residents share opinions on how to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions via county action plan. Richmond resident Cordell
Hindler is already taking shorter showers and turning off the
lights. He said he’s tired of seeing his water and heating bills
shoot through the roof. “I live in a house where everything is
not up to date,” Hindler said about his heater, stove and light
fixtures. “My bills are getting out of control. I’m here trying
to learn how to keep my utility bills down.” About a baker’s
dozen of residents like Hindler attended the Contra Costa County
Climate Action Plan Open House on Thursday night. Posted.

Cornell professor: Switching from coal to natural gas would cut
greenhouse gases 40 percent. Switching from coal to natural gas
will cut greenhouse gases 40 percent, even if getting the natural
gas requires hydrofracking, a Cornell University professor said
in a recently published paper. Lawrence M. Cathles said switching
to natural gas is a smart move because it’s a “natural transition
fuel.” “From a greenhouse point of view, it would be better to
replace coal electrical facilities with nuclear plants, wind
farms and solar panels, but replacing them with natural gas
stations will be faster, cheaper,” and achieve 40 percent of the
benefits of doing away with fossil fuels, he said. Posted.


Graveyards weigh requests to drill for gas. Columbus, Ohio --
Loved ones aren't the only thing buried in the 122-year-old
Lowellville Cemetery in eastern Ohio. Deep underground, locked in
ancient shale formations, are lucrative quantities of natural
gas. Whether to drill for that gas is causing soul-searching as
cemeteries - including veterans' final resting places in Colorado
and Mississippi - join parks, playgrounds, churches and
residential backyards among the ranks of places targeted in the
nation's shale drilling boom. Posted.


TRAFFIC COLUMN: Which new hybrid cars qualify for car-pool lane
privileges?  Q: Robert Vincent said he’s driving a 2012 hybrid
after recently trading cars.  “So, I’m really enjoying the better
gas mileage with the hybrid,” the Corona resident said in a phone
message. “Also, several people have told me I probably could
apply for a sticker (for the car) so I can use in the car-pool
lanes even when I’m the only person in the car. I can’t get an
official answer on this. Can you give me one?”  Posted. 


Why we pay double for solar in America (but won’t forever).  I
often get flak when I publish research on the cost trajectory for
solar (my “Rooftop Revolution” report estimates 100 million
Americans reaching grid parity by 2021). About half think I’m too
conservative, and half think I’m too overconfident that solar
will continue to drop in price by 7 percent per year
indefinitely.  But I’m not alone in perceiving an enormous cost
reduction opportunity for solar in the United States. An article
in Forbes last week suggested that we can “Cut The Price Of Solar
In Half By Cutting Red Tape.”  Posted. 

Clean Energy from Simulating the Leaf: Artificial Photosynthesis.
At the very bottom of the food chain there are the producers,
converting light energy from the sun into chemical energy through
photosynthesis. Artificial imitation of this process has
intrigued many researchers, as it is an ideal alternative energy
source to fossil fuels with low carbon emissions and energy
costs. Moreover, conventional solar energy has its biggest
weakness: when the sun is not available, energy cannot be
harvested as well. Artificial photosynthesis redeems this
weakness, as it is able to store converted chemical energy in
liquid form to be used when the sun is not available, just like a
battery. Posted.


The EPA is carefully considering jobs vs. pollution.  George F.
Will’s July 8 op-ed column [“What price clearer air in parks?”]
omitted and distorted significant facts.  Mr. Will’s economic
analysis missed the fact that upgrades at the Navajo Generating
Station (NGS) in Arizona, while slashing air pollution, also
stand to create jobs. The costs are investments in
pollution-control technology and in workers who put that
technology in place and keep it running. The Environmental
Protection Agency has not yet acted on the NGS. Our work to date
has consisted of consultation with the power industry and Native
American tribes on a plan that protects health, follows the law
and benefits tribal economies.  Posted. 

Editorial: Speak your mind on health of your lungs. Lydia Rojas'
15- year-old daughter suffered an asthma attack so severe she
died. Even though he had never smoked, 33-year-old Robert Linkul
of Sacramento contracted a rare from of cancer that forced the
removal of the lower lobe of his left lung. Vallejo fifth-grader
Jaxin Woodward is an avid runner, but severe asthma forces her to
curtail her passion for the sport. These are just a handful of
California residents who are set to testify before federal
Environmental Protection Agency officials in Sacramento on
Thursday. Posted.

Santa Monica residents still irked by leaf blowers, despite long
standing ban. Santa Monica College's groundskeepers are being
honored at the 2012 Eco Hero Awards for transitioning away from
gas powered gardening equipment. Another green triumph for Santa
Monica, mecca of hybrid SUVs and reusable bags. But to those of
us who live here, we know there's still a dark side to the city's
eco-friendly heart. And lately, I've been hearing it raging
outside my windows more wildly than ever. What is it? The
two-stroke roar of the gas-powered leaf blower. Posted.

CARB exempts itself from public meeting laws.  The modus operandi
of CARB (California Air Resources Board) goes against legitimate
ways of conducting business in public state agencies.
Specifically, CARB runs its business in private without the
prying eyes of the public it serves.  California’s state budget
was passed in the first week of July. Hidden in the bowels of the
budget was a bill, SB 1018, that exempted CARB from open meeting
rules in upcoming cap-and-trade auctions. The provision would
allow Western Climate Initiative, Inc. (WCI), a company that CARB
created, to manage carbon trading auctions without public
scutiny. Such private proceedings would impose hidden taxes on
energy consumers and small businesses without accountability or
public knowledge.  Posted. 

INLAND: Air-district stealth.  Cloaking smog-reducing projects in
secrecy does little to ensure public confidence that air quality
regulators will spend the money wisely. Southern California’s air
quality agency should end the needless confidentiality about
proposals to cut air pollution in the Coachella Valley. The
public should have sufficient time to thoroughly study and review
the pitches before any the agency makes any decision.  The South
Coast Air Quality Management District is seeking proposals for
spending $53 million to improve air quality in the valley.

Talking the talk on the environment doesn’t equal walking the
walk.  People who advocate green behavior aren’t more likely to
engage in it, at least in Hungary, according to recent research
from Corvinus University in Budapest [PDF].  A survey was carried
out in order to measure the difference between the ecological
footprint of “green” and “brown” consumers. No significant
difference was found between the ecological footprints of the two
groups — suggesting that individual proenvironmental attitudes
and behaviour do not always reduce the environmental impacts of
consumption.  Posted. 

Is denial of Global Warming based on faith or science? In the
last month or so, we have broken over 1,000 temperature records
in the US. We have also seen a big increase in extreme weather
and in weather related episodes in unusual places. Is this a
manifestation of Global Warming? Could be. The National Climatic
Data Center has reported that the last 12 consecutive months have
been the hottest since recording started in 1895. Back in
engineering school in the early 1970s, we were introduced to a
new theory, then called the “Greenhouse Effect.” Posted.

The Great American Drought: Climate Change? The New Dust Bowl?
It’s difficult to deny that large areas of the US are undergoing
drought conditions at the moment. But should we be assuming that
this is a portent of climate change? Or even that it is a
harbinger of a new Dust Bowl, as in the 1930? We cannot
completely rule out either of those possibilities but the correct
answers as yet are no and no. That there are drought conditions
in many places is not in doubt: In a monthly report to be
released Monday, the National Climatic Data Center is expected to
announce that this year’s drought now ranks among the ten largest
drought areas in the past century. Posted.

California Air Resources Board cap and trade program circumvents
state open meeting laws with a Moonbeam assist. Strong headline,
I know, but I didn’t believe this was true until I researched it
myself. First some background; I once served as an elected
official on my local school board. During orientation and
virtually every annual CSBA meeting after that, along with
numerous public meetings and letters to the editor where people
constantly reminded us of the Brown Act, it loomed large as the
most important law that we had to follow.  Posted. 

Dr. Frank Bures: Diesel particulates really do matter.  Exhaust
from diesel engines has long been known to be a large contributor
to air pollution. It also has been labeled by various U.S.
government agencies a “potential or reasonably anticipated or
likely” carcinogen or cancer-causing agent.  On June 12, the
International Agency for Research on Cancer declared it to be a
definite lung cancer carcinogen after a weeklong meeting
reviewing much data. The IARC is part of the World Health
Organization. Diesel exhaust shares a Group 1 status along with
smoking, asbestos, ultraviolet light and alcohol. It also was
said to be a possible cause of bladder cancer.  Posted. 


Shell Seeks to Weaken Air Rules for Arctic Drilling.  Shell has
asked the Environmental Protection Agency to loosen air pollution
requirements for its Discoverer drill rig, which is planning to
begin exploratory drilling operations off the North Slope of
Alaska early next month.  In its application to the agency, dated
June 28, Shell said the Discoverer cannot meet the requirements
for emissions of nitrogen oxide and ammonia of an air permit
granted by the E.P.A. in January. The company also asked for a
minor air permit modification for its Kulluk drill ship, which is
also supposed to begin work in the Arctic in the coming weeks. 

Problems With G.E.’s WattStation Charger for Some Nissan Leafs. 
After reports that its WattStation home charger had damaged the
on-board charging system of some Nissan Leaf electric cars, G.E.
Energy issued a statement Friday conceding that some Leaf owners
had encountered problems and that the company was “actively
working with Nissan to help determine the source of this issue.”
The G.E. subsidiary said it had not encountered similar issues
with other electric car models.  Posted. 

A jail goes green.  I’ve been in many jails and prisons — as a
reporter, not as a resident — and I can testify that advanced
electronic components are in short supply, so I was surprised to
see the following three words appear together in the same story:
solar, power, jail.  The Frederick News-Post reports: The
Frederick County Adult Detention Center is going green as work
has begun on the installation of a solar power array that
officials hope will save the county money in the long run. 

How states are regulating fracking (in maps). Armed with new
drilling techniques, companies are spreading out across the
United States, cracking open shale rock in search of vast new
stores of natural gas. It’s not an exaggeration to say that
hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has revolutionized the U.S.
energy industry. Cheap natural gas has become America’s top
source for electricity, displacing coal and bringing back jobs to
once-decaying states like Ohio. Here there be shale gas. Posted.

How Do Companies Do Business in a Carbon Constrained World.  Most
of the top 500 companies in the world are now benchmarking
themselves against their peers on climate change and carbon
performance. Ernst & Young  has examined how companies  prepare
for a transition to a low-carbon economy and the  challenge of
making sustainable growth compatible with business models?  Key
findings of the Ernst & Young Report   report include the

Turning a Coal Mine’s Gas Problem Into a Ski Resort’s CO2 and
Energy Solution.  Earlier this week, Climate Progress posted an
interesting essay, “Climate Change is Fracking Society,” written
by Auden Schendler, who is vice president of sustainability at
the Aspen Skiing Company and the author of “Getting Green Done:
Hard Truths from the Front Lines of the Sustainability
Revolution.”  Schendler’s summation of the science pointing to
dangerous human-driven climate change is pretty overheated.

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