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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for August 9, 2012

Posted: 09 Aug 2012 13:12:19
ARB Newsclips for August 9, 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.

Md., Del. make list of worst power plant polluters. Maryland and
Delaware are among the nation's top 20 power plant polluters,
according to new rankings by the Natural Resources Defense
Council. Maryland ranked 19th in the rankings released Thursday,
an improvement from fifth place the year before. Delaware rose
one spot from 21st the year before to make it onto the top 20
list. The new rankings are based on 2010 figures, and the NRDC
says new standards imposed by the federal Environmental
Protection Agency mean power plant pollution should drop over the
next few years. Posted.

Spare the Air alert issued for Thursday. A Spare the Air alert
has been issued for Thursday by the Bay Area Air Quality
Management District, which is advising residents to avoid outdoor
activities during the hottest part of the day, when air quality
is unhealthiest. "With five Spare the Air Alerts already this
summer and the hottest weather of the season likely yet to come,
we need to do more to reduce air pollution," said Jack Broadbent,
executive officer of the air district. The district is
encouraging people to carpool, work from home or bike to work to
cut down on air pollution that creates smog in the summer heat.


US Magnesium loses pollution appeal. A federal appeals court is
closing a loophole that let Utah industries exceed pollution
emissions and escape sanctions by blaming malfunctioning
equipment. Utah regulators say they were moving to close the
loophole anyhow and make all unexpected pollution releases a
potential Clean Air Act violation. The U.S. Environment
Protection Agency is forcing the change and says Utah is on the
right track. The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
upheld the new regulation earlier this week by rejecting a
challenge from U.S Magnesium. Posted.

Air Pollution Linked With Stillbirth Risk.  Air pollution has
been linked to a number of breathing problems, mainly in
developing countries, and now a new preliminary study looking at
pollution levels in New Jersey has found an increased risk of
stillbirths among women exposed to specific pollutants.  "We
found that different pollutants are harmful in different
trimesters of pregnancy," said Dr. Ambarina Faiz, an instructor
at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. For example, exposure to a
high level of nitrogen dioxide was particularly harmful during
the first trimester, she said.  The study was published online
July 18 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.  Posted. 

NOAA, partners find 50-year decline in some Los Angeles
vehicle-related pollutants.  In California’s Los Angeles Basin,
levels of some vehicle-related air pollutants have decreased by
about 98 percent since the 1960s, even as area residents now burn
three times as much gasoline and diesel fuel. Between 2002 and
2010 alone, the concentration of air pollutants called volatile
organic compounds (VOCs) dropped by half, according to a new
study by NOAA scientists and colleagues, published in the Journal
of Geophysical Research yesterday.  “The reason is simple: Cars
are getting cleaner,” said Carsten Warneke, Ph.D., a NOAA-funded
scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in
Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado
Boulder.  Posted. 


Effect of Chevron refinery fire on gas prices is unclear. The
market is waiting for Chevron to report on the severity of damage
to its refinery. The expected run-up in gasoline prices after a
major fire at a Bay Area refinery may not come as quickly as
expected, but it's coming. What isn't known at this point,
analysts said, is how bad it will get. The market is waiting for
Chevron Corp.to report on the severity of the damage to its
2,900-acre refinery in Richmond, Calif., which opened in 1902.
Chevron said Wednesday that the refinery, which was shut down
because of the fire at one of its units, was now partially
operating. Posted.

Refinery fire highlights pollution concerns.  A massive Chevron
oil refinery fire that sent hundreds of people rushing to
hospitals and is pushing West Coast gas prices higher was just
the latest pollution incident at the facility that records show
has increasingly violated air quality rules over the past five
years.  The refinery is one of three such facilities near San
Francisco that rank among the state's top 10 emitters of toxic
chemicals, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency's Toxic Release Inventory.  Chevron's Richmond
refinery—the scene of Monday's fire that shrouded the area in
black smoke—has been cited by San Francisco Bay area regulators
for violating air regulations 93 times in the past five years. 






Tests reveal safe toxics levels near Chevron refinery fire, but
airborne particulates data not available. The Bay Area air
district declared toxic chemical levels were safe after Monday
night's Chevron refinery fire in Richmond, so why did nearly
1,700 people go to hospital emergency rooms complaining of
stinging eyes, wheezing and difficulty breathing?  Experts note
the tests analyzed chemicals in the air, but not the particulate
matter -- soot -- that turns smoke black and can irritate the
eyes, nose, throat and lungs Posted. 

How an oil refinery can pollute the air (infographic). Nearly
1,700 Bay Area residents went to hospital emergency rooms
complaining of stinging eyes, wheezing and difficulty breathing
after Monday night's Chevron refinery fire in Richmond. This
simplified diagram of an oil refinery shows how and where
hazardous chemicals and gases get into the air. Posted.

Chevron refinery fire in California highlights the site's ongoing
air pollution violations. A massive refinery fire that sent
hundreds of people rushing to hospitals and is likely to increase
West Coast gas prices was just the latest pollution incident at
the facility that records show has increasingly violated air
quality rules over the past five years. The Chevron oil refinery
is one of three such facilities in Contra Costa County that are
among the state's top 10 emitters of toxic chemicals, according
to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release
Inventory. Posted.

Chevron Fire Triggers Calls for Tougher Controls. The explosion
and hours-long fire at Chevron’s large oil refinery in Richmond,
California has triggered calls for tougher regulation of toxic
chemicals. The Chevron fire reportedly released toxic chemicals
including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in unknown amounts,
sending hundreds of local residents to local hospitals with
breathing and eye complaints. California’s Department of Toxic
Substances Control claims it has little to no oversight of
dangerous substances produced in refinery accidents. Posted.


Regulator urges change in California cap-and-trade program. A
federal regulator asked California's governor to suspend a
section of the state's cap-and-trade regulations that addresses
power imported from out of state, warning that it threatens to
destabilize its power supply and disrupt the world's eighth
largest economy. Phillip Moeller, one of five commissioners of
the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which oversees
electric reliability, said in a letter to Governor Jerry Brown
that California's prohibition of and lack of clarity about
"resource shuffling" may disrupt its electricity market. Posted.

Carbon Credits Gone Awry Raise Output of Harmful Gas. When the
United Nations wanted to help slow climate change, it established
what seemed a sensible system. Greenhouse gases were rated based
on their power to warm the atmosphere. The more dangerous the
gas, the more that manufacturers in developing nations would be
compensated as they reduced their emissions. But where the United
Nations envisioned environmental reform, some manufacturers of
gases used in air-conditioning and refrigeration saw a lucrative
business opportunity. Posted.

What Cornfields Show, Data Now Confirm: July Set Mark as U.S.’s
Hottest Month. It may come as little surprise to the nation’s
corn farmers or resort operators, but the official statistics are
in: July was the hottest month in the lower 48 states since the
government began keeping temperature records in 1895. The average
temperature last month was 77.6 degrees — 3.3 degrees above the
average 20th-century temperature, the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration reported on Wednesday. Posted.

Climate change not a presidential election issue yet.  Barack
Obama promised to tackle climate change when he first ran for the
White House four years ago, but - battling this summer for a
second term - he speaks little of the issue even as the United
States suffers through a drought of historic proportions, wild
storms and punishing heat that topples temperature records almost
daily.  As late as April, Obama told Rolling Stone magazine
climate change would be a central campaign issue.  Posted. 

Seeking hardier breeds for drought, climate change.  Cattle are
being bred with genes from their African cousins who are
accustomed to hot weather. New corn varieties are emerging with
larger roots for gathering water in a drought. Someday, the
plants may even be able to "resurrect" themselves after a long
dry spell, recovering quickly when rain returns.  Across American
agriculture, farmers and crop scientists have concluded that it's
too late to fight climate change. Posted. 


6 shipping carriers become inaugural participants in Port of Los
Angeles Environmental Ship Index.  Six shipping carriers have
become the inaugural participants in the Port of Los Angeles
Environmental Ship Index (ESI), an international clean air
program that rewards ocean carriers for bringing their newest and
cleanest vessels to the Port. Developed through the International
Association of Ports & Harbors’ World Ports Climate Initiative,
the ESI program is the first of its kind in North America and the
Pacific Rim.  The web-based ESI program, already underway at 14
European ports, offers immediate and significant clean air
benefits by rewarding vessel operators …Posted. 


Livestock farmers seek pause in ethanol production. Livestock
farmers and ranchers seeing their feed costs rise because of the
worst drought in a quarter-century are demanding that the
Environmental Protection Agency waive production requirements for
corn-based ethanol. One-third of House members have also signed
onto a letter urging EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to relax
ethanol production targets in light of corn supply concerns and
spiking prices. The EPA says it is working with the Agriculture
Department and is keeping a close eye on crop estimates and how
they might relate to the biofuel program. Posted.

New biofuels offer hope to hungry world.  The poorest people in
the world face additional hunger as the price of staple foods
soar.  The growth of crops in 2012 has been badly affected by
drought in the US and Russia and prices have risen 50% since
June.  According to a report about the hike in food prices, from
the international agency Oxfam, 40% of US corn stocks are
currently being used to produce fuel.  The US Renewable Fuel
Standard mandate requires that up to 15 billion gallons of
domestic corn ethanol be blended into the US fuel supply by 2022.
 Posted.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19179419   

CaFCP report concludes California needs 68 hydrogen fueling
stations by end of 2015 to support first commercial wave of fuel
cell vehicles.  To support the planned commercial launch of fuel
cell electric vehicles by automakers in 2015 (FCEVs), California
needs 68 hydrogen fueling stations in five clusters in which most
early adopters are expected, according to a new report issued by
the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP). These 68 stations
should be in place by the end of 2015 in order to serve
adequately the first approximately 20,000 FCEVs, the report
finds.  Posted. 

Coal's hard times are felt by the nation's railroads. Coal-to-gas
fuel switching by U.S. electric utilities is proving to be a game
changer for the nation's railroads, many of which derive
significant revenues from hauling coal from mine sites in
Appalachia, the Midwest and the West to power plants across the
country. CSX Corp., the nation's largest hauler of coal with a
base of operations in the East, said in a conference call with
investors yesterday that coal revenues for the first half of 2012
are down 10 percent, while total volumes delivered are down 14
percent from the same period in 2011. Posted.
http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2012/08/09/1  BY


Electric vehicle supplier expands manufacturing operation in
Dixon. A Palo Alto-based developer and marketer of drivetrain
systems for electric vehicles is expanding its operations in
Dixon. Efficient Drivetrains Inc., said it has added a second
research and development facility, growing Dixon operations from
4,000 square feet to about 12,000 square feet. The expansion will
used, in part, to construct vehicles being designed for the
global marketplace. Company CEO Joerg Ferchau said the company
currently employs 18 but anticipates adding three or four more
hires this year. Posted.

Fallbrook Technologies raises $20.1M. Fallbrook Technologies Inc.
has raised $20.1 million in an equity offering, the company
stated in an SEC filing Wednesday. Founded in a garage in
Fallbrook by inventor Don Miller, the privately held company
makes a continuously variable planetary gear called NuVinci that
can be used in bicycles, electric vehicles and off-road vehicles.
The company says NuVinci eliminates jarring and shocks caused by
shifting gears, and saves energy. A total of $30.7 million is
being sought in the offering, leaving $10.6 million left to be
raised, the company stated in the filing. Posted. 

Battery-switchable electric Commodore breaks 24-hour world EV
distance record.  The battery-switchable fully-electric Holden
Commodore developed by EV Engineering in Australia (earlier post)
recently unofficially broke the distance record for a production
electric car, achieving 1,886 (1,172 miles) kilometers of driving
over a 24-hour period.  A team of 16 engineers and technicians
from EV Engineering and its member companies began the attempt at
1 pm on Saturday 21 July, supported by a team in the workshop
operating the semi-automated switch station that switches a
depleted battery for a fully-charged one. Posted. 

EV Batteries: cell costs down, but not enough - insights of Uwe
Wiedemann, AVL.  We know for more than 120 years that electric
vehicles are technologically feasible, but when it comes to being
able to replace ICEs without a premium price, it is still very
difficult, especially because of the battery. Uwe Wiedemann,
Product Manager in the Global Battery Competence Team at AVL,
give his insights on battery systems cost and market development.
 Posted.  http://cars21.com/news/view/4850 


High-Speed Rail Authority sets disadvantaged business goal for
contracts.  The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board has
set a goal to ensure that 10 percent of federal rail contracts
and other construction contracts are awarded to businesses that
have been certified as disadvantaged.  A Disadvantaged Business
Enterprise is a small business that is at least 51 percent owned
by at least one person who is both socially and economically
disadvantaged.  Posted. 


Geothermal energy industry stalls in California, officials tell
Sacramento summit. The core of the U.S. geothermal energy
industry came to Sacramento this week with a message: California
is not paying enough attention to this underground power source.
"There's no question the industry is stalled in California," said
Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy
Association in Washington, D.C. The association's members wrapped
up their National Geothermal Summit on Wednesday at the Hyatt
Regency Sacramento. Posted.

EASTVALE: City Council discusses manure-to-energy project. Norco
city officials Wednesday night, Aug. 8, spoke at Eastvale’s City
Council meeting to ease their neighbors’ concerns about a
proposed manure-to-energy project within Eastvale city
limits.Norco City Manager Beth Groves assured Eastvale City
Council members that if Norco goes ahead with its plan to build a
plant where manure and green waste would be incinerated and
turned into energy, it would go through the Eastvale planning
process. Posted. 


Chicago Delay Fuels Concern About New York Bike Sharing. An
ambitious bike-share program, trumpeted as a transformational
initiative by a powerful big-city mayor, has been pushed back to
the spring.  No, not in New York — but in Chicago.  The program
in Chicago, operated by Alta Bicycle Share, will not meet its
initial target of late summer and will be delayed until next
year, officials there announced this week. Alta is also in charge
of New York City’s program, which was supposed to begin last
month. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has attributed the delay here
to software problems, and no new starting date has been
announced. Posted. 

US, Mexico Sign Agreement Addressing High Priority Border
Environmental Issues. Today U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson joined Mexico’s Secretary for
the Environment and Natural Resources Juan Elvira Quesada to sign
the Border 2020 U.S.-Mexico Environmental program agreement.


George F. Will: Despite its high-ranking supporters, high-speed
rail is no boon for California. State Sen. Joe Simitian's
district office near Stanford's campus is nestled among shops
sporting excruciatingly cute names ("A Street Bike Named Desire,"
"Mom's the Word" maternity wear) intended to make the progressive
gentry comfortable with upscale consumption by presenting it as
whimsical. This community surely has its share of advanced
thinkers who believe trains are wonderful because they are not
cars (rampant individualism; people going wherever and whenever
they want, unsupervised). 
Nevertheless …Posted.



The Power of Images: California Maps Greenhouse Gases. One of the
most significant political problems facing campaigns against air
pollution these days is this: by and large, you can’t see it. You
can track its molecules, watch emergency room admissions go up
and down as it waxes and wanes and estimate the number of lives
shortened by it. But none of that provides the jolt of, say, a
picture of a tornado’s path or a river on fire. Back in 1948,
when killer smog descended on Donora, Pa., it was a visible
scourge. But carbon dioxide is odorless and colorless, so the eye
is no judge of gauging when pollution is better or worse. Posted.

Climate Change Adaptations: How To Prepare For Global Warming. 
Wild geoengineering schemes may aim to reverse global warming by
reflecting sunlight into space or storing excess carbon dioxide,
but they won't spare humanity from living through climate change
in the next several decades. That means humans must adapt to life
in a world where droughts hit harder, floodwaters rise higher and
entire island nations may sink beneath the waves.  'Some
adaptation ideas resemble science fiction made real — growing
crops inside city buildings, floating villages and genetically
engineered crops. Posted. 

Mazda's SkyActiv technology driving hefty weight loss goal. You
may have noticed that Mazda hasn't released a lineup of electric
vehicles, hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles. So, how will the
automaker reach the demanding 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025
federal mandate? By going lightweight and utilizing its Skyactiv
technology. As part of its Skyactiv program, Mazda dropped 575
pounds off its CX-5 crossover from its similar-sized predecessor,
the CX-7. Now the goal is shed at least 220 pounds every time it
redesigns one of its models. Posted. 

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