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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. AIR POLLUTION 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. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/14/4630400/sacramento-area-choking-on-smoke.html 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. http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/3-W-Va-groups-sue-Alpha-over-selenium-pollution-3710421.php 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. http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/07/16/2910599/imperial-county-asthma-kids-more.html#storylink=misearch http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_21084904/imperial-county-asthma-kids-more-likely-hit-er?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com 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. http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20120713/ARTICLES/120719818/1042/opinion?Title=Crews-continue-to-battle-growing-Mendocino-National-Forest-fire 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. http://grist.org/climate-change/carbon-causes-extreme-weather-in-other-news-smoking-causes-cancer/ 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 jurisdiction…Posted. http://www.pe.com/local-news/topics/topics-environment-headlines/20120713-region-air-pollution-agency-launches-online-complaint-system.ece CLIMATE CHANGE 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. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/16/us-germany-environment-idUSBRE86F0R220120716 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. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/07/15/fugitive-methane-caught-in-the-act-of-raising-ghg/ 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. http://richmondconfidential.org/2012/07/13/residents-cast-opinions-on-how-to-reduce-greenhouse-gas-emissions-during-countywide-action-plan/ 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. http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/07/cornell_professor_switching_fr.html FUELS 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. http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Graveyards-weigh-requests-to-drill-for-gas-3707987.php VEHICLES 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. http://www.pe.com/local-news/columns/on-the-road-headlines/20120715-traffic-column-which-new-hybrid-cars-qualify-for-car-pool-lane-privileges.ece GREEN ENERGY 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. http://grist.org/solar-power/why-we-pay-double-for-solar-in-america-but-wont-forever/ 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. http://ucs.berkeley.edu/energy/2012/07/solar/clean-energy-from-simulating-the-leaf-artificial-photosynthesis/ OPINIONS 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. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-epa-is-carefully-considering-jobs-vs-pollution/2012/07/14/gJQAQXQkkW_story.html 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. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/16/4632996/speak-your-mind-on-health-of-your.html 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. http://www.scpr.org/programs/madeleine-brand/2012/07/16/27415/santa-monica-irked-by-ineffective-leaf-blower-ban/ 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. http://www.examiner.com/article/carb-exempts-itself-from-public-meeting-laws 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. Posted. http://www.pe.com/opinion/editorials-headlines/20120715-inland-air-district-stealth.ece 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. http://grist.org/news/talking-the-talk-on-the-environment-doesnt-equal-walking-the-walk/ 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. http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/21st-century-pacifist/2012/jul/14/denial-global-warming-based-faith-science/ 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. http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2012/07/16/the-great-american-drought-climate-change-the-new-dust-bowl/ 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. http://truthiscontagious.com/2012/07/14/california-air-resources-board-cap-and-trade-program-circumvents-state-open-meeting-laws-with-a-moonbeam-assist 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. http://www.winonadailynews.com/news/local/features/article_544b2c2a-cd27-11e1-b4d7-001a4bcf887a.html BLOGS 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. Posted. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/shell-seeks-to-weaken-air-rules-for-arctic-drilling/ 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. http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/problems-with-g-e-s-wattstation-charger-for-some-nissan-leafs/ 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. Posted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/rosenwald-md/post/a-jail-goes-green/2012/07/16/gJQA8ErQoW_blog.html 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. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/07/16/how-states-are-regulating-fracking-in-maps/ 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 following…Posted. http://www.celsias.com/article/how-do-companies-do-business-carbon-constrained-wo/ 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. Posted. http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/turning-a-coal-mines-gas-problem-into-a-ski-resorts-co2-and-energy-solution/