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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for August 23, 2012. Posted: 23 Aug 2012 12:53:36
ARB Newsclips for August 23, 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 County not impacted by federal air sanctions. Recent federal sanctions freezing highway transportation funds for projects won’t impact the county, an Imperial County Transportation official said Wednesday. The sanctions, announced by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month, were placed as the EPA found the county out of compliance in applying so-called best available control measures for particulate matter 10 under the Clean Air Act. PM10 can be a variety of materials including smoke or dust, and is considered hazardous to humans by the EPA. Posted. http://www.ivpressonline.com/news/ivp-county-not-impacted-by-federal-air-sanctions-20120822,0,838121.story CLIMATE CHANGE Green Climate Fund to discuss $100bn pledged by rich countries. A new global fund on climate change that aims to channel $100 billion a year in aid to poor countries selected officials from South Africa and Australia as its leaders at its first meeting Thursday. The Green Climate Fund, created as part of a deal struck in December 2011 at the 194-nation climate talks in Durban, South Africa, will be led by Zaheer Fakir, head of international relations for South Africa’s environment agency, and Ewen McDonald, deputy head of Australia’s international development agency, the fund said in a statement. Posted. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/aug/23/un-green-climate-fund-climate-change?newsfeed=true http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/first-meeting-held-to-organize-creation-of-100-billion-un-green-climate-fund/2012/08/23/1e237da8-ed1d-11e1-866f-60a00f604425_story.html Drought hits Mississippi: Ol' Man River just keeps limping along. Even in the best of times, the Mississippi River is a slow and torpid thoroughfare. But when an extended drought persists and the muddy waters recede, squeezing barges through the narrow channels becomes an expensive, and sometimes impossible, chore. The great summer drought of 2012 has closed lower sections of the river, shut down harbors and forced barges to run aground as river levels drop to near-record lows. With no significant rains in sight, authorities responsible for keeping the Mississippi open for commerce say things are likely to get worse before they get better. Posted. http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-mississippi-water-level-drops-20120822,0,871316.story California environmental law faces changes. A proposal to loosen California's landmark environmental protection law is expected to be introduced at the Capitol as soon as Thursday, giving the public and lawmakers only about a week to debate and consider the controversial legislation's fate. Backers of the proposal, largely from the business community, say the California Environmental Quality Act passed in 1970 needs to be updated because it has become cumbersome, and some individuals and groups misuse the law to stop or delay development for non-environmental reasons. Posted. http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/California-environmental-law-faces-changes-3808467.php#ixzz24OLTXWRv Nuclear woes raise concerns that prices will rise for carbon allowances. Layoffs and the shutdown of a California nuclear power plant have raised concerns that the price of carbon emission allowances for the state's cap-and-trade program will increase sharply. Southern California Edison (SCE) announced that it will lay off 730 employees this year to cut costs at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California. The plant has been idle since Jan. 31, when a radiation leak in one of the plant's two units was discovered. On Tuesday, futures for California Carbon Allowances (CCAs) traded between $17.50 and $17.75, up from the week before. Posted. http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2012/08/23/11 BY SUBSCRIPTION ONLY DIESEL EMISSIONS Union Pacific unveils cleaner, less-powerful locomotives. In an effort meet new federal requirements for cleaner-burning freight engines, Union Pacific unveiled at its Roseville yard Wednesday the UP 9900 – an experimental locomotive utilizing three different filtering technologies. The UP 9900 – which sacrifices one-quarter of the standard engine's power to make room for the three onboard filters – is part of a $20 million Union Pacific investment toward meeting the Environmental Protection Agency's requirements. Posted. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/23/4749885/union-pacific-unveils-cleaner.html#storylink=cpy Truck Inspection At Border Aimed At Reducing Pollution. Some Fines Issued For Trucks That Violated New State Emissions Standards. SAN DIEGO -- Inspectors cracked down on one of the biggest sources of air pollution in the state Wednesday. Hundreds of tractor-trailers were stopped and inspected by the California Air Resources Board near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. Inspectors were making sure all of the big rigs abided by new emissions standards that kicked in at the beginning of 2012. "The bad news is that California has the worst air pollution in the nation," said Air Resources Board spokeswoman Beth White. Posted. http://www.10news.com/news/31376880/detail.html FUELS Ethanol-maker gets USDA backing for NC fuel plant. A company that wants to turn grasses grown on North Carolina hog farms into motor fuel on Wednesday got the federal backing it wanted before building an ethanol plant supporters think could mark a milestone in the state's rural economy. The U.S. Agriculture Department said Wednesday it has approved a loan guarantee worth $99 million for Wilmington-based Chemtex International Inc., backing a larger bank loan for the $170 million project. Production is expected to start in 2014. Posted. http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/aug/22/ethanol-maker-gets-usda-backing-for-nc-fuel/ CEC hires Gas Tech Institute for biogas, natural gas-fired CHP. The Gas Technology Institute has been awarded two new contracts totaling $3.5 million from the California Energy Commission, in order to develop new combined-heat-and-power (CHP) and waste heat-recovery technologies at industrial facilities in California. A $1.8 million grant will go toward developing and demonstrating a fuel-flexible, hybrid-generation CHP system that can run on biogas produced by anaerobic digesters at wastewater treatment plants and landfills, as well as natural gas. Posted. http://biomassmagazine.com/articles/7986/cec-hires-gas-tech-institute-for-biogas-natural-gas-fired-chp Scientists engineer bacteria to make fuel from CO2. Researchers have developed a new pathway to get one of the tiniest forms of life to make fuel. By breathing in carbon dioxide and hydrogen, an engineered version of the bacterium Ralstonia eutropha produced branched alcohols, compounds that can be blended with gasoline or serve as an energy source on their own. This could help repurpose carbon emissions in a way that can generate money. The researchers, who published their findings earlier this month in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, initially studied this bacterium because it can form polymers under stress. Posted. http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2012/08/23/4 BY SUBSCRIPTION ONLY VEHICLES Survey of California plug-in vehicle owners highlights charging behavior. Californians own more than 12,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), roughly 35% of all plug-in vehicles in the United States. As of July 2012, approximately 1,000 new plug-in vehicles are being sold in the state every month. The more than 12,000 PEVs provide both consumer and environmental benefits, according to a new study by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE). CCSE conducted the survey in support of California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP). The study surveyed more than 1,400 PEV owners in coordination with the California Air Resources Board (ARB) in early 2012. Posted. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/08/ccse-20120822.html Hybrids, subcompacts headline Ontario exhibit. The Inland Empire Auto Show will go on this weekend with a new backer and once again, without the support of a big wheel. Kumho Tire U.S.A., with North American headquarters in Rancho Cucamonga, has signed on as the premier tire sponsor of the annual show that runs from Friday, Aug. 24, through Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Ontario Convention Center. Despite the show owners’ renewed efforts to woo Ford, the automaker declined. “Boy, is that a bummer,” lamented Mike Caudill, one of show’s co-owners. Posted. http://www.pe.com/business/business-headlines/20120822-auto-show-hybrids-subcompacts-headline-ontario-exhibit.ece GREEN ENERGY Mitt Romney sees path to energy independence. The Republican is releasing a plan to increase energy production for lower costs and independence by 2020. Features of the plan, a contrast to Obama's, include Keystone XL and new offshore drilling. Mitt Romney will unveil an energy plan Thursday that he says will allow North America to be energy independent by 2020 and decrease costs to consumers by increasing domestic production. Posted. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-romney-energy-20120823,0,1072869,print.story Princeton Review honors 'green' CSU campus. The Princeton Review has included California State University, Chico, on its 2013 green honor roll. According to a news release issued by the Princeton Review, the green honor roll ranks institutions based on their environmentally related practices, policies and academic offerings. Princeton Review surveyed 806 colleges nationwide and gave them scores between 60 and 99 based on each campus' sustainability and environmental efforts. Chico was one of 21 colleges to receive the highest possible score of a 99 and make it onto the honor roll. Posted. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/23/v-print/4750149/princeton-review-honors-green.html California Proposes Forest Thinning for Biomass Energy, But is it a Good Idea? A report released today by a consortium of state agencies recommends ramping up California's forest thinning program so that the resulting biomass can be burned to produce energy, but doing so may actually make the state's carbon footprint worse instead of better. The state's 2012 Bioenergy Action Plan calls for increasing "community-scale, forest-based biomass facilities" that would take leftover biomass from forest thinning and commercial logging operations and burn it to produce electricity. Posted. http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/biomass/state-proposes-forest-thinning-for-biomass-energy.html MISCELLANEOUS If San Onofre nuclear plant is restarted, who pays? The San Onofre nuclear plant must first be deemed safe to restart. But with costs already mounting, it's unclear who would foot the bill. Nearly seven months after the San Onofre nuclear power plant was closed because of a leak, officials are grappling with whether it makes financial sense to bring the plant fully back online, and if so, who should pay for the necessary repairs. Fixing San Onofre is shaping up to be an expensive proposition, with the price tag jumping into the hundreds of millions of dollars if the plant's massive steam generators require replacing. Posted. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0823-san-onofre-20120823,0,3003032.story Chromium 6 suspected at Disney Studios. Air conditioning system in Burbank may be a source of water contamination. Federal and state regulators are investigating whether a vintage air conditioning system at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank played a role in contaminating groundwater with chromium 6, a cancer-causing heavy metal widely used in aerospace manufacturing and other industries. A consultant hired by the Environmental Protection Agency recently identified the Disney property among a list of facilities being "investigated as potential sources of chromium contamination in groundwater," according to an April 2012 report recently posted on the agency's website. Posted. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-fi-disney-chromium-20120823,0,6673226.story http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Disney-may-be-a-source-of-groundwater-pollution-3809829.php OPINIONS Another Rebuff for Cleaner Air. What’s a federal agency to do? Twice in the last eight years, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued carefully vetted rules aimed at reducing air pollution that crosses state lines — the smog-forming nitrogen oxide pollutants and health-threatening sulfur dioxide that drift eastward from Midwestern power plants. And, in both cases, the agency has been shot down by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The first rule, issued in 2005, was aimed at reducing these pollutants by up to 70 percent. Unlike most programs of the George W. Bush administration, it won swift approval from environmentalists. Posted. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/opinion/another-rebuff-to-the-epa-for-cleaner-air.html?_r=1 Court ruling on EPA pollution rule: Bad air and bad reasoning. An appeals panel has tied itself into logical knots to stop a rule on pollutants from taking effect. The Cross-State Pollution Rule would save up to $280 billion a year in healthcare and other costs. Environmental regulation is a complicated business, but the Environmental Protection Agency's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is, in principle, fairly simple. It aims to protect people who live in states that are downwind of the deadly pollutants emitted by power plants in adjacent states — so if coal smoke from Texas, say, is poisoning the air in Louisiana, the EPA can force Texas to be a better neighbor by cutting emissions. Posted. http://www.latimes.com/health/la-ed-epa-cross-state-pollution-20120823,0,5385545.story Letters: Refinery safety. Re "Chevron's refinery, Richmond's peril," Opinion, Aug. 14 The Op-Ed article by activist Antonia Juhasz mischaracterized the Aug. 6 incident at Chevron Corp.'s Richmond refinery and our commitment to the health and safety of our workers and neighbors. Refineries in the San Francisco Bay Area operate under the most stringent air pollution controls in the world. Chevron complies with rigorous health, environmental and safety regulations from numerous local, state and federal agencies that oversee the refinery; in many cases, the company goes above and beyond. Posted. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/letters/la-le-0822-wednesday-chevron-refinery-20120822,0,3209874,print.story Celebrating the Midwest drought? Wait, hear me out... The Midwest drought may not leave you with a whole lot of sympathy for corn farmers and producers of other commodity crops. Not only has the drought driven up prices allowing them to rake in beaucoup bucks -- NPR’s Sam Charles has posted an eye-popping chart -- but these farmers will also receive crop insurance. But for small farmers, the drought has threatened their livelihood. Grist rounded up a handful of tweets with the hashtag #Drought12 to show how farmers are using social media to humanize their critical situation. Posted. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-ol-celebrating-the-midwest-drought-20120822,0,7575516.story Editorial: Railyard is a step closer to development. Tuesday's Sacramento City Council meeting made it clear that the focus in the downtown railyard has returned to where it should be: How to build a 21st century transportation hub and revive the historic Old Depot and Central Shops as a base for development of the 240-acre site. The proposed arena that took up so much time, only to fall apart, is now just a white space on a map. The transportation piece is shaping up. As of Aug. 15, new train tracks separate passenger and freight trains. Posted. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/23/4722921/more-waste-of-select-committees.html#storylink=cpy I had a green job. Mitt Romney has recently taken fire not only from the Obama campaign but even from some left-leaning Republicans, for his rightful criticism of Obama’s destructive “green jobs” programs. Not only is Mr. Romney right to criticize these programs -- and his position supported by many economic studies -- but in fact the situation is even worse than anything suggested by these criticisms. Green jobs are destroying the abilities and spirits of a whole generation of engineers. Posted. http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/08/22/had-green-job/ 54.5 mpg efficiency standard will fuel a national renewal. With the darkest days of the recession behind us, Americans are looking to better economic times. They also are looking forward to their politicians working together to find solutions. While there are many areas where different sides are far apart, there is a very good news story expected from Washington this week. It's an issue that almost all Americans can get behind: higher fuel efficiency. An agreement set to be finalized by the Obama administration as soon as this week promises that by 2025, new vehicles will get an average of 54.5 miles per gallon. This builds on standards already in place, which by 2016 will raise the average fuel efficiency of the new passenger vehicle fleet to 35.5 mpg. Posted. http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/opinion/hot-topics/x1012644539/54-5-mpg-efficiency-standard-will-fuel-a-national-renewal Five years' evidence makes case for solar. Five years ago, we purchased and installed a solar electric system on our home. It has now produced more than 50,000 kilowatt-hours of 100 percent clean, renewable energy. These 50 megawatts of self-generated electricity represents the non-emission of more than 25,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from utility-company-produced power. The array of solar panels provided all the electricity used in the home for the last five years. A few more years and the system will pay for itself. Posted. http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/opinion/letters/x1012644541/Five-years-evidence-makes-case-for-solar Life Saving Cross-State Air Pollution Protections in Jeopardy After Court Ruling. Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit Court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency's Cross-State Air Pollution protection (PDF), which sought to protect Americans from dangerous air pollution from coal-fired power plants. The protection would have reduced life-threatening soot and smog pollution from power plants in 28 states and helped curb poor air quality days and respiratory illnesses that affect millions of Americans. We are all disappointed with the court's decision yesterday. Posted. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-anne-hitt/air-pollution-epa_b_1818537.html BLOGS Action Plans on CO2 that Go Beyond ‘Woe is Me, Shame on You’. I recently received a note from Tim Whitley, the founder and head of the nonprofit group Carbon Offsets to Alleviate Poverty, which I think merits posting as a “Your Dot” contribution because it takes a step beyond the “woe is me, shame on you” rhetoric that has long been favored by people seeking to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s Whitley’s piece, with a postscript from me: In recent weeks, Richard Muller converted from climate skepticism, Bill McKibben terrified us with new math, and James Hansen told us that climate change is already here and worse than we thought. Posted. http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/22/action-plans-on-co2-that-go-beyond-woe-is-me-shame-on-you/ Is Smog Over? NOAA research shows a 98 percent drop in some vehicle-related air pollutants in L.A. At one point during the past several decades, the brownish-pink layer of pollution blanketing Los Angeles got so bad that it required the use of smog masks and smog alerts. According to a photo retrospective of the city's smog problem, a public-relations effort once culminated in the crowning of a Miss Smog Fighter. Even as recently as the early 2000s, L.A. was synonymous with smog -- and for good reason. But now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released research that shows L.A.'s smog woes have largely been solved. Posted. http://editorial.autos.msn.com/blogs/autosblogpost.aspx?post=73911fe7-a74d-4d01-80db-ff9384f7939b&icid=autos_3378 Report: electric vehicle sales to top 130 million by 2025. The decline of the internal combustion engine will be gradual as cleaner alternatives take hold. A market research company is predicting that annual sales of electric vehicles will reach 130 million units sold annually by 2025, which while encouraging, falls far short of today’s automobile sales. Global Information Inc. yesterday announced a report that forecasts the electric vehicle market’s outlook over the next ten years. It credits government support for making EVs more affordable and advancing the perception that they are now a viable alternative to gasoline powered vehicles. Posted. http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/intelligent-energy/report-electric-vehicle-sales-to-top-130-million-by-2025/18441 Survey says? California plug-in drivers like solar, love their cars. No surprise here: the Golden State is quite green when it comes to plug-in vehicles. California, which accounts for about one-tenth of both the U.S. population and registered vehicles, is home to more than a third of all domestic plug-in vehicles, the California Center for Sustainable Energy says in a new report. Better yet, almost 90 percent of plug-in owners use those vehicles as their primary rides. More than 12,000 Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius Plug-in vehicles – and other electric-drive models – have been sold in California, where around 1,000 plug-ins are being purchased each month, the report says. Posted. http://green.autoblog.com/2012/08/23/survey-says-california-plug-in-drivers-like-solar-love-their-c/ Hybrids not the dream vehicles of the short-term lease crowd. Here's a tip for those who market hybrid electric vehicles: you can pretty much forget about people who love to lease – not just the lease itself, but swapping the lease. According to a new survey just released by Swapalease, the majority of respondents declined to pick an answer to the question of what was their dream hybrid. Sure, the sample is limited – not man more than 200 Swapalease nationwide members participated – but to not have any answer to "What's Your Dream [hybrid] Car?"…Posted. http://green.autoblog.com/2012/08/22/hybrids-not-the-dream-vehicles-of-the-short-term-lease-crowd/ Who's Laughing Now? Scientists Make Crude Oil from Pig Manure. Pig manure is one step away from a transformation of metamorphic proportions. The lowly waste product, notorious for its impact on the environment and on human olfactory nerves, is on the verge of becoming an important alternative to petroleum now that scientists at the University of Illinois have developed a process for converting raw pig manure to crude oil. With further development, the process may even yield biodiesel. If successful commercially, the process would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants from pig farms and many other types of livestock operations. In particular, it could help protect drinking water supplies in livestock farming areas. Posted. http://cleantechnica.com/2010/04/16/whod-laughing-now-scientists-make-crude-oil-from-pig-manure/