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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for March 22, 2013. Posted: 22 Mar 2013 11:57:39
ARB Newsclips for March 22, 2013. 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 As Pollution Worsens in China, Solutions Succumb to Infighting. China’s state leadership transition has taken place this month against an ominous backdrop. More than 16,000 dead pigs have been found floating in rivers that provide drinking water to Shanghai. A haze akin to volcanic fumes cloaked the capital, causing convulsive coughing and obscuring the portrait of Mao Zedong on the gate to the Forbidden City. So severe are China’s environmental woes, especially the noxious air, that top government officials have been forced to openly acknowledge them. Posted. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/world/asia/as-chinas-environmental-woes-worsen-infighting-emerges-as-biggest-obstacle.html?ref=science&_r=0 It's official: Traffic pollution can cause asthma in children. Researchers in Europe have confirmed scientifically what parents in traffic-congested Southern California have known anecdotally for years: Poor air quality associated with busy roads can cause asthma in children. The study, which examined children’s health in 10 cities, concluded that 14% of chronic childhood asthma cases could be attributed to near-road traffic pollution. Posted. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-traffic-pollution-asthma-children-20130321,0,3190067.story CLIMATE CHANGE Pre-Viking tunic found by glacier as warming aids archaeology. A pre-Viking woolen tunic found beside a thawing glacier in south Norway shows how global warming is proving something of a boon for archaeology, scientists said on Thursday. The greenish-brown, loose-fitting outer clothing - suitable for a person up to about 176 cms (5 ft. 9 inches) tall - was found 2,000 meters (6,560 ft) above sea level on what may have been a Roman-era trade route in south Norway. Carbon dating showed it was made around 300 AD. Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/21/us-climate-archaeology-idUSBRE92K0V320130321 Climate needs less U.N. talking, more market action-EU draft. Fewer United Nations climate summits and more incentives through carbon pricing could speed up international efforts to slow the pace of global warming, a draft European Commission paper seen by Reuters says. U.N. climate talks have yet to recover from a disastrous Copenhagen summit in 2009 when talks ended in failure and subsequent annual meetings have been heavily criticised for dragging on for weeks yet achieving little. Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/21/eu-un-climate-idUSL6N0CDH2M20130321 'Climate-smart' growing techniques are hard to find but essential, backers say. Global groups are hoping to encourage farming practices that account for climate change without sacrificing yields or profits -- a concept known as "climate-smart agriculture." The policy is not enshrined in any international treaty like the Kyoto Protocol, but the United Nations and other global organizations are promoting it with the recognition that climate change will likely cause average global crop yields to decrease. Posted. http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2013/03/22/7 BY SUBSCRIPTION ONLY Advocates say new strategies are needed to move climate action. Advocates of action on climate should abandon the quest for subsidies and carbon taxes and instead push for funding innovation, experts said here yesterday. A new strategy is needed because the drive for penalties on carbon, renewable energy mandates and similar moves has produced few results, said Bjørn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center. "We've been tackling global warming badly for 20 years," Lomborg said. "We've actually expected to really cut carbon, and we've managed virtually nothing." Posted. http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2013/03/22/9 BY SUBSCRIPTION ONLY DIESEL EMISSIONS Analysis: Thrifty truckers wary of pricey natural gas vehicles. Tuckers considering natural gas as an alternative to high-priced diesel say the cost of vehicles that run on the cheap and cleaner-burning fuel is still too high for them to see a timely payback on their investment. A push to run more of the nation's truck fleet on cleaner, domestically produced natural gas is rapidly gaining momentum. Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/22/us-trucks-natural-gas-idUSBRE92L07620130322 FUELS Sierra Club blasts new plan to improve fracking. The Sierra Club and some other environmental groups are harshly criticizing a new partnership that aims to create tough new standards for fracking. The criticism Thursday came a day after two of the nation's biggest oil and gas companies made peace with some national and regional environmental groups, agreeing to go through an independent review of their shale oil and gas drilling operations in the Northeast. Posted. http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_GAS_DRILLING_UNLIKELY_PARTNERS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT OTHER RELATED STORIES http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/sierra-club-blasts-new-plan-to-strengthen-northeast-fracking-standards/2013/03/21/b792bece-9284-11e2-9173-7f87cda73b49_story.html http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/03/21/3224234/sierra-club-blasts-plan-to-improve.html#storylink=misearch http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/sierra-club-blasts-plan-improve-fracking-18786600#.UUyFwVcepNt COLUMN-"Blend wall" explains rising ethanol costs: Wynn. U.S. data suggests the percentage of ethanol in the gasoline supply is nearing the "blend wall" - the 10 percent level beyond which refiners fear to go - but perhaps not close enough to explain a sudden jump in the price of compliance credits. Other explanations for the price rise could include new expectations that the blend wall will be reached next year; a lack of available product after a fall in U.S. ethanol output last year; speculative buying of compliance credits; or a combination of these. Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/21/column-wynn-ethanol-us-idUSL6N0CD59820130321 China imposes strict fuel economy standards on auto industry. China imposed long-debated stringent fuel economy standards on Wednesday, making life tougher for cash-strapped small domestic brands that are already struggling amid a slowdown of the world's biggest auto market. The rules, jointly issued by five government bodies including the National Development and Reform Commission, would cut passenger cars' average fuel consumption to 6.9 liters per 100 kilometers by 2015 and down further to 5.0 liters by 2020. Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/21/us-china-auto-fuel-idUSBRE92K03E20130321 Researchers develop high-rate, high-yield bacterial process to convert methane to methanol. Researchers at Columbia University have developed a biological process utilizing autotrophic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) for the conversion of methane (CH4) to methanol (CH3OH). A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. Posted. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2013/03/taher-20130322.html VEHICLES ARB to help consumers buy clean cars (Photos). California's Air Resources Board (ARB) announced today that it has funded the state's Clean Vehicle Rebate Project with an additional $6 million. Coupled with another $4.5 million from the California Energy Commission two weeks ago, the new funds should extend the rebate program until funds for next year become available. Replacing traditional gas and diesel fired vehicles with electrics and hybrids is an important tactic in improving the state's air quality…Posted. http://www.examiner.com/article/arb-to-help-consumers-buy-clean-cars Utilities put pedal to the metal on electric-powered transportation. As electric utilities transform the U.S. power grids to harness 21st-century technology, they're putting electrified transportation at the core of them. "An energy revolution is actually under way," Thomas Farrell, president and CEO of Dominion Resources Inc. and chairman of the Edison Foundation, said yesterday at the charity's "Powering the People" event in Washington, D.C. "It's time for all of us to reassess, time to consider our many new opportunities." Posted. http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2013/03/22/6 BY SUBSCRIPTION ONLY GREEN ENERGY Apple makes renewable energy push with solar, fuel cells. Apple Inc. now runs its largest U.S. data center entirely on renewable energy, with a majority of the power generated on-site from solar panels and fuel cells, the company's chief financial officer, Peter Oppenheimer, said on Thursday. The data center in Maiden, North Carolina, which supports Internet storage and Apple's service-hosting iCloud product, produces 167 million kilowatt-hours - the power equivalent of 17,600 homes for one year…Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/22/us-apple-solar-idUSBRE92K0X820130322 China needs $243 bln a year low-carbon investment by 2020-report. China will have to raise up to $243 billion a year by 2020 to finance clean energy development, said a report commissioned by Beijing which will be presented to the government this month. Premier Li Keqiang this month pledged more action in tackling China's heavy pollution which sparked public anger this winter. Last year, China accounted for one quarter of world investment in renewable energy. Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/21/china-climate-idUSL6N0CDDSQ20130321 Buyers favor ‘green’ houses, but they’re often not easy to identify or appraise. When it comes to energy efficiency and “green” features in homes, there’s a chasmal disconnect separating consumers, real estate appraisers and the nation’s realty sales system. On the one hand, prospective buyers routinely tell researchers that they place high priority on energy-saving and environmentally friendly components in houses. Posted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/buyers-favor-green-houses-but-theyre-often-not-easy-to-identify-or-appraise/2013/03/20/717c4392-8ff5-11e2-9cfd-36d6c9b5d7ad_story.html Renewed Tax Credit Buoys Wind-Power Projects. After a deep slump at the end of last year, the wind industry is picking up. First Wind, a Boston-based developer and operator that was sitting on a pile of stalled projects with the potential to power roughly 300,000 homes, now expects to go forward with many of them. Broadwind, an energy manufacturing and services company, based in Cicero, Ill., recently announced winning two new orders for wind towers worth $62 million. Posted. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/business/energy-environment/a-tax-credits-renewal-lifts-wind-projects.html?ref=science Aliso Viejo puts Green City Initiative on hold after meeting. Following a boisterous hearing that lasted more than three hours in which Mayor Carmen Cave repeatedly had to call to order, the Aliso Viejo City Council again postponed a vote on the Green City Initiative, an effort to make the city more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. More than 100 people attended Wednesday night's meeting from throughout Orange County, many to protest the initiative, which they said could lead to increased costs and higher taxes. Posted. http://www.ocregister.com/news/initiative-500692-city-munzing.html Bankrupt Chinese solar company may continue to operate, despite problems. The bankruptcy of Chinese solar manufacturer Suntech Power Holdings Co. may spawn a new chapter in the annals of Chinese business history as the first-ever implosion of a central government bond-backed business entity, one that only a few years ago seemed certain to flourish into the 21st century. But Suntech's recent balance sheet crisis -- culminating in its default last week on a payment toward $541 million in private equity financing to mostly U.S. debtors…Posted. http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2013/03/22/2 BY SUBSCRIPTION ONLY Amendment takes strange-bedfellows approach to repealing renewable tax credit. An amendment that could see a vote in the Senate later today takes an unusual approach to repealing a popular renewable energy tax credit by tying it to an unrelated -- and much less popular -- tax increase implemented in the health care reform law. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a leading critic of the wind industry who fought unsuccessfully last year to end the production tax credit…Posted. http://www.eenews.net/Greenwire/print/2013/03/22/5 BY SUBSCRIPTION ONLY MISCELLANEOUS New power plants rejected, for now. Utilities regulators on Thursday rejected a proposal to build two natural gas power plants in San Diego and Otay Mesa at a packed public meeting on Thursday in San Diego. They warned that the region must come up with cleaner alternatives quickly. In a unanimous decision, the five voting members of the California Public Utilities Commission rejected the 300-megawatt Pio Pico Energy Center, adjacent to an existing power plant in unincorporated Otay Mesa…Posted. http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/mar/21/two-power-plants-rejected/ Restarting San Onofre Isn’t Cost Effective, New Study Suggests. San Onofre may be offline for another summer, and a new analysis suggests this will be cheaper than restarting the plant. California’s Public Utilities Commission is investigating how much Southern California Edison, the operator of San Onofre, is charging ratepayers for the plant, and whether those costs are reasonable. But the PUC will not decide until next year if ratepayers should be reimbursed. Posted. http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/mar/21/restarting-san-onofre-cost-effective/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+kpbs%2Flocal+%28KPBS+News%3A+Local+Headlines%29 Beekeepers sue EPA to ban pesticide, protect bees. Commercial beekeepers and environmental organizations filed a lawsuit Thursday against federal regulators for not banning the use of two pesticides they say harm honeybees. In the suit, filed by the Center for Food Safety in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the group asks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to suspend the use of insecticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam - known as "neonicotinoids," a class of chemicals that act on the central nervous system of insects. Posted. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/03/21/2438838/beekeepers-sue-epa-to-ban-pesticides.html#storylink=cpy OPINIONS COLUMN-Losing weight will be next vehicle advance: Wynn. Cutting vehicle weight may be the next main advance in reducing the financial and environmental cost of motoring. Until now carmakers have met a trend towards tougher fuel economy standards worldwide by reducing engine sizes and introducing technology for example to cut motors when a car is idling. In the next step up, choices include electric and hybrid power technologies but these add thousands of dollars to the upfront cost of a vehicle. Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/20/column-wynn-auto-weight-idUSL6N0CBD6P20130320 'Temperature Rising': Will Climate Change Bring More Extreme Weather? According to the historical record dating back to 1895, 2012 was the hottest year this country has ever seen. But it's not just that the temperature has risen — from deadly tornadoes to the widespread coastal damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy, we seem to be living through a period of intensified and heightened weather extremes. Posted. http://www.npr.org/2013/03/21/174019103/temperature-rising-will-climate-change-bring-more-extreme-weather BLOGS Global Study of Monsoons Finds Ocean Variations Have Driven Recent Shifts. The seasonal rains called monsoons matter enormously to human affairs, from the Indian subcontinent to the American Southwest. Getting a better understanding of the forces that will shape these features of the climate system in coming decades is a big research priority, but also a very tough challenge given the many factors in play. In a study published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers analyzing monsoon patterns around the Northern Hemisphere…Posted. http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/global-study-of-monsoons-finds-ocean-variations-have-driven-recent-shifts/ San Onofre design choices led to nuclear plant shutdown. An executive with the company that manufactured faulty equipment that led to the shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear plant defended decisions made in the design of the replacement steam generators. The company made choices in designing support structures at San Onofre that were intended to prevent one type of vibration, but ended up creating another type of vibration that ultimately led to the plant's closure, said Frank Gillespie, senior vice president with Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems. Posted. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/03/san-onofre-mitsubishi.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+%28L.A.+Now%29 Air Quality Chief Sees Valero Reversal as Vindication of Climate Law. California's top air regulator has found a victory of sorts in this week's decision by the nation's largest oil refiner to keep its California refineries. A spokesman for Texas-based Valero Energy Corp. told the Wall Street Journal that it has reconsidered its plan to sell its two California refineries. The larger of the two is in Benicia, on the northeast fringe of the Bay Area. At a San Francisco panel organized by the greenbiz group E2 (for Environmental Entrepreneurs)…Posted. http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix/2013/03/21/air-quality-chief-sees-valero-reversal-as-vindication-of-climate-law/ Thousands sign school climate change petition started by 15-year-old. Over 12,000 people have signed a petition started by a 15-year-old girl to keep climate change in the national curriculum for under 14-year-olds. Esha Marwaha from Hounslow in west London said she was outraged that the draft key stage 3 geography curriculum for English schools had vastly scaled back discussion of the phenomenon. "Climate change is the most pressing and threatening issue to modern-day society. Posted. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/mar/21/school-climate-change-petition