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newsclips -- ARB Newclips for August 22, 2012. Posted: 23 Aug 2012 10:02:56
**Due to computer problems yesterday the ARB Newsclips for August 22, 2012 is being posted today. We apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you 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 Coal Plants’ Victory Over EPA Is Muted by Low Gas Prices. Southern Co. (SO), Edison International (EIX) and rival power companies won a legal fight with the Environmental Protection Agency, gaining more time and leeway to cut pollution from burning coal. The bigger challenges from cheap natural gas may make it a muted victory. “This really is a black eye for the EPA,” James Lucier, managing director at Capital Alpha Partners LLC in Washington, said in an interview. “But for the industry, the critical factor overall has been the low price of natural gas,” which is “the great destroyer.” Posted. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-22/coal-plants-victory-over-epa-is-muted-by-low-gas-prices.html Georgia, Alabama AGs applaud air pollution ruling. Attorneys generals from Georgia and Alabama have applauded a 2-1 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that overturned a regulation clamping down on power plant pollution that contributes to unhealthy air in neighboring states. Alabama and Georgia joined with 13 other states in challenging the rule. The EPA had adopted the rule in an attempt to cut down on downwind air pollution from power plants. Posted. http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Georgia-Alabama-AGs-applaud-air-pollution-ruling-3804886.php#ixzz24IIDXGpq Coal silo collapses at W.Va. power plant. Mon Power says it's investigating what caused the collapse of a coal silo at the Albright Power Plant just 10 days before it was set to be taken offline. No one was injured when the No. 2 silo collapsed. WBOY-TV (http://bit.ly/Nj1FYt) says it's one of three at the site. Albright is an older, inefficient generating station that Ohio-based FirstEnergy is shutting down to comply with new federal air emissions standards. Posted. http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Coal-silo-collapses-at-W-Va-power-plant-3806594.php#ixzz24IPAw97 1 Garfield Co. to help fund oil, gas pollution study. The Garfield County commissioners say the county will commit up to $1 million for a study of air pollution near oil and gas wells. The Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported Tuesday (http://tinyurl.com/8hloawp) that energy companies have agreed to contribute $800,000 toward the three-year, $1.8 million study. The study would be done by Colorado State University and would examine the type and quantity of emissions from drilling…Posted. http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/aug/21/garfield-will-help-fund-oil-gas-pollution-study/#ixzz24IJXWSgg CLIMATE CHANGE California CO2 market players eyeing nuclear plant woes. Newly announced major layoffs and a prolonged outage at a major nuclear power plant have raised concerns that the price of carbon allowances for California's forthcoming cap-and-trade program will rise sharply, market participants said Tuesday. Southern California Edison (SCE), owner of the San Onofre nuclear power plant in southern California, announced on Monday night it will lay off 730 employees this year to cut costs, a move that comes as the plant's owners acknowledged that it will be a long time before the carbon-free nuclear plant will fully return to service. Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/22/us-california-carbon-idUSBRE87L06720120822 Antarctic Peninsula started warming 600 years ago. Temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula started rising naturally 600 years ago, long before man-made climate changes further increased them, scientists said in a study on Wednesday that helps explain the recent collapses of vast ice shelves. The study, reconstructing ancient temperatures to understand a region that is warming faster than anywhere else in the southern hemisphere, said a current warming rate of 2.6 degrees Celsius (4.7 Fahrenheit) per century was "unusual" but not unprecedented. Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/22/us-climate-antarctica-idUSBRE87L0R820120822 China to spend $372 billion on cutting energy use, pollution. China will plough $372 billion into energy conservation projects and anti-pollution measures over the next three-and-a-half years, part of a drive to cut energy consumption by 300 million tonnes of standard coal, the country's cabinet said Tuesday. A report from China's State Council, or cabinet, said the investments will take China almost halfway to meeting its target to cut the energy intensity 16 percent below 2010 levels by 2015. Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/22/us-china-energy-idUSBRE87L01920120822 http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-08-22/china-may-spend-373-billion-for-energy-savings-emissions-curbs Democratic lawmakers move to oppose rewriting California environmental law. In the middle of an end-of-session bid to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act, 33 Democratic lawmakers urged legislative leaders in a letter released Wednesday to oppose any significant rewriting of the law. "Like many important laws, CEQA is not perfect and could probably be improved while retaining its many benefits – but only if such improvements are undertaken in a good faith process and are crafted very carefully," said the letter delivered to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, both Democrats. Posted. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/22/4746549/democratic-lawmakers-move-to-oppose.html#storylink=cpy Effort building to change state's landmark environmental law. Sacramento — In what has become an annual late-summer ritual that coincides with the end of the California Legislature's lawmaking session, a push to make changes in the state's landmark environmental law appears to be picking up steam in the Capitol. A coalition of business groups held a news conference Monday to lay out the principles for what it calls a "modernization" of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Posted. http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/aug/21/effort-building-to-change-states-landmark-law/?print=1 Imperial Irrigation District could profit from cap and trade. California’s soon-to-launch carbon emissions market — referred to as cap and trade — could mean millions in revenue for the Imperial Irrigation District. The IID Board of Directors will meet at 1 p.m. today, with an agenda including a discussion of the projected windfall the utility could reap if the maximum number of emissions credits it is allocated by the state is more than it actually needs. Posted. http://www.mydesert.com/article/20120821/BUSINESS/120821001/California-cap-and-trade-Imperial-Irrigation-District?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFrontpage&nclick_check=1 Calif. universities struggle to pay carbon tax. Large college campuses within the University of California and California State University systems must reduce greenhouse gas emissions or pay up to $28 million a year for offsets as part of the state's Global Warming Solutions Act. Five University of California campuses, one medical center and two California State University campuses qualify for the cap-and-trade program, which will go into effect Jan. 1. Compliance could cost $6.3 million to $25 million for the UC system and $799,000 to $3.2 million for CSU campuses. Posted. http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2012/08/22/6 BY SUBSCRIPTION ONLY FUELS German bioethanol output up as more used in gasoline blend. German bioethanol output rose 21 percent in the first half of 2012 to 295,000 metric tons due to a rise in blending levels in gasoline, bioethanol industry association BDBE said, dismissing criticism that this contributed to higher global food prices. The German government in 2011 raised the maximum permitted level of bioethanol blended in gasoline to 10 from 5 percent as part of a program to protect the environment by cutting carbon dioxide emissions. Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/22/us-germany-bioethanol-idUSBRE87L0QM20120822 San Francisco Diesel at High as Tesoro Said to Cut Output. Spot diesel in San Francisco advanced to a record premium against futures after Tesoro Corp. (TSO)’s Golden Eagle refinery in Northern California was said to cut production of the fuel following a compressor breakdown. Tesoro’s 170,000-barrel-a-day Golden Eagle plant curbed diesel production after one of two compressors at a hydrodesulfurization unit shut following an equipment failure, a person with direct knowledge of the incident said earlier today. Posted. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-21/san-francisco-diesel-jumps-to-record-premium-to-futures.html Strange Bedfellows Debate Exporting Natural Gas. The shale gas revolution is starting to pay small dividends for U.S. consumers. As electrical utilities rush to switch from coal to gas, peak electricity rates have fallen in nearly every market. According to the U.S. Consumer Price Index, utility gas service for things like heating and cooking is now 13 percent cheaper than it was 12 months ago. That’s great and all, but taken together those savings don’t add up to much. Electricity and gas bills account for only about 4 percent of our total spending. Posted. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-08-22/strange-bedfellows-debate-exporting-natural-gas Maryland company asks for Iowa City's trash. A company that converts organic material into ethanol is requesting access to Iowa City's trash. KGAN-TV in Cedar Rapids says (http://bit.ly/Owqray) Fiberight Industries is planning to build a $60 million refinery in Blairstown. The Maryland company is expanding into Iowa, and a top executive asked Tuesday to lease three acres of Iowa City's landfill. Fiberight vice president Steve Gerber says more than 50 percent of the materials that go into landfills is organic and can be turned into ethanol. Posted. http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Maryland-company-asks-for-Iowa-City-s-trash-3806567.php#ixzz24INW8Fx3 Pa.: Okla. energy firm's data filled with errors. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says natural gas drilling company Chesapeake Energy last week filed an important Marcellus Shale production report containing so many errors a state database rejected it. DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday said on Tuesday a previous statement by Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. that suggested state databases were the problem wasn't entirely accurate and omitted important points. Posted. http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Pa-Okla-energy-firm-s-data-filled-with-errors-3804429.php#ixzz24IRj8SUD Ethanol Waiver May Lower Corn But Raise Gas Prices. Calls are growing to suspend the federal ethanol production mandate next year, as the worst drought in more than half a century has devastated the corn crop in the U.S. The question is whether a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS, will actually bring down sky-high corn prices. Georgia is among the states with major livestock production petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency for a waiver, arguing that scarce corn used for ethanol production is making feed prices unsustainably high for the state’s $20 billion poultry industry. Posted. http://www.cnbc.com/id/48751567 As New York nears fracking decision, both sides take to the airwaves. Earlier this week, CBS reported that New York State will roll out new guidelines to allow fracking sometime after Labor Day. It’s a vague story, to be sure, but it meshes with reports from late June about fracking companies getting an early peek at the restrictions. There’s another reason to believe a rule is imminent: both pro- and anti-fracking groups have taken to the airwaves along the state’s southern border with Pennsylvania. Posted. http://grist.org/news/as-new-york-nears-fracking-decision-both-sides-take-to-the-airwaves/ If you’re building a power plant and it isn’t natural gas, you’re not trendy. You’ve heard us say it before: America produces as much electricity from natural gas as from coal. It’s a sea change that has happened incredibly quickly. Today, the Energy Information Administration outlined exactly how the switch happened. Most of the new generators built over the past 15 years are powered by natural gas or wind. In 2012, the addition of natural gas and renewable generators comes at a time when natural gas and renewable generation are contributing increasing amounts to total generation across much of the United States. Posted. http://grist.org/news/if-youre-building-a-power-plant-and-it-isnt-natural-gas-youre-not-trendy/ VEHICLES State rebate program putting drivers in clean-tech vehicles. San Francisco resident Shanthi Rajagopalan used to feel bad about driving to work alone, putting pollutants into the air without even carpooling. Then she learned of California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. The project provides rebates of up to $2,500 for the purchase or lease of a light-duty, zero-emission or plug-in hybrid vehicle. Rajagopalan went with the Mitsubishi i. “It’s really, really fun to drive; I actually look forward to my commute,” she said, adding that, “It feels really good to have less of an impact on the environment.” Posted. http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2012/08/state-rebate-program-putting-drivers-clean-tech-vehicles HIGH-SPEED RAIL A lot riding on California dream of high-speed rail. California is moving ahead with the first link of its massive high-speed rail project, with construction set to begin early next year – even though not one state Republican lawmaker voted to fund it and despite several analyses warning of planning deficiencies. Eventually, sleek trains that can top 220 miles per hour would whiz up and down the state, linking Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, and many cities in between. Posted. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2012/0821/A-lot-riding-on-California-dream-of-high-speed-rail GREEN ENERGY Chinese solar industry faces weak sales, price war. Chinese solar panel makers that grew fast over the past decade are suffering big losses due to slumping global sales and a price war that threaten an industry seen by communist leaders as a role model for hopes to transform China into a technology leader. Another looming challenge: Moves by the United States and Europe toward imposing possible anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels that might further depress sales. Posted. http://www.modbee.com/2012/08/21/2339124/chinese-solar-industry-faces-weak.html#storylink=misearch SUBSCRIPTION ONLY MISCELLANEOUS I-80 carpool lane slows assemblywoman. When it comes to special-interest legislation, it's hard to beat Assemblywoman Fiona Ma's call to eliminate a carpool lane so she'll have an easier time getting to work as a solo driver. Ma, a Democrat who commutes to Sacramento from her San Francisco district, is targeting the eastbound carpool lane on Interstate 80 between the Bay and Carquinez bridges. That freeway is one of the busiest stretches in the state, but the carpool lane has almost no one in it during the morning commute, Ma says, and should be open to all. So she's sponsoring a bill that would make that happen. Posted. http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/I-80-carpool-lane-slows-assemblywoman-3805594.php#ixzz24I8CfcXx OPINIONS Don't rush changes to the California Environmental Quality Act. Lawmakers want to change the California Environmental Quality Act in their session's final days. But it's too late for careful language or public vetting. With a little more than a week remaining in the legislative session, suddenly the big buzz is about CEQA. The Legislature has long neglected to reform the California Environmental Quality Act, even though it needs amending. And now that it's too late for carefully rendered language or a full public vetting, Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) is touting CEQA reform as one of his top priorities. Posted. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-ceqa-reform-20120821,0,4593358.story Herdt: What you don't know about California. An unexpected development seems to have happened on the way to the Great California Train Wreck. The locomotive has gotten itself back on the rails, and although it is not yet exactly speeding forward it has left a legion of naysayers standing along the tracks. The most recent evidence came in the state jobs report released last Friday. It showed a third consecutive month of strong job gains, and a year-to-year increase of 365,100 jobs that was the largest 12-month increase since 2000. Posted. http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/aug/21/herdt-what-you-dont-know-about-california/?print=1 The Bigger Picture on Carbon Emissions. You may have been encouraged to read a widely-circulated story last week that declared “CO2 Emissions in U.S. Drop to 20-year Low.” The report from the Associated Press largely credits cheap natural gas for the change, and says that “many of the world’s leading climate scientists didn’t see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action.” But is that really the full picture? If you read the government report that is the basis for the Associated Press article, you’ll find some more nuance, as well as cause for both optimism and concern. Posted. http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2012/08/21/the-bigger-picture-on-carbon-emissions-in-the-u-s/ Wind Energy Generating A Lot of Mud. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, renewable energy subsidies have exceeded those given to the fossil fuels since 2008. Most green-oriented taxpayer funds started in the 1980s while those tied to oil and gas were begun in 1913. To be fair, oil and gas play a much larger role in the country’s economic productivity than does wind or solar. But therein lay the arguments that the two political foes are making. Romney is saying that the monies given to wind and solar are providing a low-overall return in terms of job creation and economic productivity. Posted. http://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2012/08/22/wind-energy-generating-a-lot-of-mud/2/ How Climate Change Got Caught in the Culture Wars. Climate change is arguably the biggest challenge the nation and the world face right now. There’s a solid scientific consensus that anthropogenic global warming is underway. But in America – to put it gently – there’s a range of beliefs about it, and what if anything to do about it. This lack of social consensus has paralyzed the political system. Nothing much is happening, or likely to happen for a while. Why? Posted. http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnmcquaid/2012/08/21/how-climate-change-got-caught-in-the-culture-wars/ BLOGS Bush Administration 2012 climate emissions goal met. In 2002, the Bush Administration unveiled its climate policy centered around the goal of reducing greenhouse gas intensity 18 percent by 2012. “This step will set America on a path to slow the growth of our greenhouse gas emissions and, as science justifies, to stop and then reverse the growth of emissions,” the Bush White House said. Ten years later (long after most have probably forgotten about it), data indicate the goal has been achieved, at least to an approximate degree. Posted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/bush-administration-2012-climate-emissions-goal-met/2012/08/21/a8c983cc-ebb9-11e1-a80b-9f898562d010_blog.html Romney’s Attack on Clean Energy: True, With an Asterisk. This week, Mitt Romney echoed an accusation made by various conservative bloggers against President Obama — that his administration has spent $90 billion on green energy. “Do you know how much money he invested in so-called green energy companies?” Mr. Romney asked during a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H., on Monday “Ninety billion. Ninety billion!” But is it true? Roughly, yes. In fact, the number appears in a document on the White House Web site and represents the financing available in the 2009 stimulus package. Posted. http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/romneys-attack-on-clean-energy-true-with-an-asterisk/ Lawmakers urge legislative leaders to oppose CEQA changes. Dozens of lawmakers are urging legislative leaders to oppose a last-minute campaign by business and labor groups to make key changes to California's landmark environmental law, asking their bosses to table the issue in the final two weeks of the session and revisit it next year. In a letter to Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), 33 lawmakers said major changes to the California Environmental Quality Act deserved "serious, thoughtful and transparent deliberation," a debate that is unlikely in the harried, final days of a two-year legislative session. Posted. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2012/08/lawmakers-urge-legislative-leaders-to-oppose-ceqa-changes.html LA smog has less of a chokehold than years ago, NOAA study says. If you visited or lived in the Los Angeles area many years ago, you why it was called, unofficially, the City of Smog. In the early 1970s, I attended the LA Zoo with my third grade classmates on one of those given days when the South Coast Air Quality Management District likely issued a smog warning. The sky was gray, thick, and hazy. My eyes were red, my throat was thick and sore and it hurt to breathe deeply. Even though there are more cars on the streets and freeways of LA now than 40 years ago, I haven't experienced that kind of aerial assault lately. Posted. http://green.autoblog.com/2012/08/22/la-smog-has-less-of-a-chokehold-than-years-ago-noaa-study-says/ You Can’t Fly an Airplane with an Algae Pond on It…Or Can You? United Airlines made waves last year when it became one of the first commercial U.S. airlines to use algae biofuel, and it quickly followed up by joining the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative last spring. Now the airline is bumping its commitment to sustainable aviation up another notch through a new partnership with the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group. United’s growing confidence in biofuels calls to mind presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s now-infamous statement that “you can’t drive a care with a windmill on it.” Posted. http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/08/united-airlines-joins-sustainable-aviation-fuel-group/ Fat- and Oil-Burning Plant Could Power 18,000 Homes. A £20-million clean energy plant has been proposed for a site at Shoreham Port in West Sussex, England. Portslade, Southwick, and Shoreham could all be powered by the proposed energy plant if it is approved and becomes operational. (Shoreham has a population of about 19,000–20,000.) Edgley Green Power is the company responsible for the plan and potential construction. They would like to have the new plant running by 2014. It would be built at Fishersgate terminal on a one-acre site next to the Shoreham Power Station. Posted. http://cleantechnica.com/2012/08/20/fat-and-oil-burning-plant-could-power-18000-homes/