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newsclips -- Newsclips for April 16, 2013

Posted: 16 Apr 2013 12:58:30
ARB Newsclips for April 16, 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.


Keystone Emissions Seen as Equal to 46 Coal Power Plants. The
Keystone XL pipeline would increase greenhouse-gas emissions by
the equivalent of 46 coal- fired power plants or 34 million
vehicles, groups fighting the project said in a report. The
finding, at odds with the environmental review by the U.S. State
Department, said total emissions from the pipeline through 2050
would be greater than total U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions in
2011. Posted.

California pledges environmental cooperation with China province.
As the pollution blanketed this southern city like a thick, toxic
fog, California’s environmental protection secretary signed an
accord with his counterpart in China’s most populous province to
“help each achieve its low-carbon development goals.” With Gov.
Jerry Brown looking on, California EPA Secretary Matt Rodriquez
signed the accord Monday along with Li Chunhong, director general
of the Guangdong Development and Reform Commission, vowing to
work with local Chinese officials on cutting pollution. Posted.

EPA: 2 Pa. natural gas companies settle allegations over
pollution.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says two
natural gas companies have agreed to improve their operations in
western Pennsylvania.  In a statement released Tuesday the EPA
alleges that Mark West Liberty Midstream & Resources and Laurel
Mountain Midstream Operating failed to comply with federal clean
air regulations to prevent accidental releases of flammable
substances.  Posted.  

San Joaquin Valley air district has grants for buses.  The San
Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is seeking
applications for a new grant program that provides up to $20,000
apiece for emission- reducing retrofits on valley school buses.
Public school districts, joint powers authorities and private
transportation agencies in the eight-county air basin are
eligible for the program, which also assists school districts
with upcoming compliance requirements of California’s Truck and
Bus Regulation. Posted.


EU lawmakers veto beefing up cap-and-trade system.  European
lawmakers dealt a blow to one of Europe’s flagship policies on
fighting climate change when they voted Tuesday against
tightening the bloc’s system of making companies pay for
pollution.  The European Union cap-and-trade system — the world’s
biggest — was introduced in 2005 in the hope of encouraging
industries to reduce emissions and invest in greener
technologies.  Posted. 

Other related stories:





‘Messy’ U.S. climate policy is kinda working.  A national climate
change plan is nowhere in sight from Congress, and last week the
Obama administration pushed back a deadline to crack down on
power plant emissions. But despite those — and many other —
familiar setbacks, a new report has found that the U.S. is
nonetheless inching ahead on climate action.  Posted. 

EPA annual US GHG inventory shows 1.6% drop in 2011 from previous
year; transportation CO2 down 1.1%.  The US Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) released its 18th annual report of
overall US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions showing a 1.6% decrease
in 2011 from the previous year. Recent trends can be attributed
to multiple factors including reduced emissions from electricity
generation, improvements in fuel efficiency in vehicles with
reductions in miles traveled, and year-to-year changes in the
prevailing weather, EPA said.   Posted. 


Study: Altered farming could lower nitrous oxide emissions. 
Changes in agricultural practices could reduce soil emissions of
the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide and the atmospheric pollutant
nitric oxide, according to a new study by UC Davis scientists. 
“Agriculture is the main source of nitrous oxide globally, so
this study is a starting point to help us understand how to
manage and control it,” said professor of soil biogeochemistry
William Horwath, whose lab conducted the study. The work was
published this month in the journal Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences.  Posted. 


Obama administration renews aviation biofuel program.  The Obama
administration on Monday renewed an interagency agreement that
backs the development of biofuels for the aviation industry and
reiterated its support for embattled federal renewable fuel
targets.  U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood signed a pact extending a
program that has worked with the private sector and rural
communities to create an alternative to fossil fuels for
aviation.  Posted. 

To Reinvigorate Production, Alaska Grants a Tax Break to Oil
Companies. Hoping to reverse two decades of declining oil
production in Alaska, the State Legislature in Juneau has granted
oil companies an estimated $750 million in annual tax relief to
increase investment in the giant North Slope oil field. The tax
change, approved on Sunday, was a major victory for Exxon Mobil,
ConocoPhillips and BP, which had lobbied for years to repeal a
tax system put in place by former Gov. Sarah Palin in 2007 that
made state oil taxes among the highest in the nation. Posted.

Lawmaker proposes office to investigate possible gas-price
fixing. Think you are being ripped off at the gas pump? One
California lawmaker wants to give the public a place to contact
with complaints of price manipulation or other shenanigans. Sen.
Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) has proposed creation of an Office of
Fuel Price Investigation and Manipulation Prevention at the
California Energy Commission. Leno said the new office would
develop anti-fuel price manipulation standards, investigate
potential incidents of illegal activity and recommend ways to
reduce the volatility of gas prices in California…Posted.


Feds: Chevron fire sign of weak oversight. The fire that
destroyed part of Chevron's Richmond refinery happened because
weak state regulations allowed the company to monitor rather than
simply fix potential problems, federal investigators said Monday.
"The bottom line," Rafael Moure-Eraso, chairman of the U.S.
Chemical Safety Board, "is that Chevron had resources, time and
technical expertise to know the risks. However, there was no
effective intervention before the major accident occurred.


California Regulator Scolds Carmakers on EV Petition. Automakers
are undermining the progress they’re making in expanding the
market for electric cars and other zero-emission vehicles by
petitioning against California’s mandates, a state regulator said
today. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the
Association of Global Automakers filed a petition with the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency last month to block California’s
requirement that 1.4 million electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel
cell vehicles be sold by 2025. Posted.

Fiat 500E lease deal charges up price competition for electric
cars. There’s nothing like competition to bring down the price of
a product, even expensive electric cars. Chrysler Group said it
will be offering a special deal on its first electric car, the
Fiat 500e, when it goes on sale this summer. While the sticker
price will be $32,500 before various government incentives,
California residents can lease the car for $199 a month, plus
tax, and a $999 down payment. It is a 36-month lease. Posted.


Bullet train bidder had overruns. Builder blames past issues on
governments changing specs. The lowest-bidding partnership for
the first segment of California’s high-speed rail line includes a
firm with a history of cost overruns and costly lawsuits. The
California High Speed Rail Authority on Friday announced that the
American joint venture of Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons was the
“best apparent value” with a low bid of $985 million — below the
$1.09 billion bid by the next-lowest bidder. Posted.


Blowin' in the wind: California jumps to 2nd in U.S. in wind
power.  California installed so many new wind turbines in 2012
that it vaulted into second place behind Texas in the amount of
wind power it produces, according to a new annual report from the
American Wind Energy Assn.  California also ranks second in the
U.S. in the amount of employment associated with the wind
industry, with more than 7,000 jobs, the AWEA said.  Posted. 


RENEWABLE ENERGY: Desert plan to be discussed.  San Bernardino
County supervisors have scheduled a study session on a
seven-county land-use plan that aims to identify which parts of
the desert should be developed with renewable energy and which
should be set aside for wildlife and other natural resources. The
meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, at the County
Government Center, 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino. Posted.


California Senate looks at statewide plastic bag ban. A drive to
ban most stores from handing out single-use plastic bags got an
important boost Monday when the California Grocers Assn.
announced its support for a bill. The measure by state Sen. Alex
Padilla (D-Pacoima) would prohibit the bags in grocery stores and
pharmacies beginning on Jan. 1, 2015. Shoppers would be urged to
bring their own reusable cloth or plastic bags or would have the
option of paying the actual cost of a paper bag, estimated at 10
cents or less. Posted.

Flame retardants to be removed from nap mats. A Minnesota company
has pledged to remove flame-retardant chemicals from the
children's nap mats it sells in California as part of a lawsuit
settlement announced Monday by the Center for Environmental
Health in Oakland. Peerless Plastics will pay $25,000 to the
environmental health organization, which sued the corporation and
dozens of others for selling products with chlorinated Tris, a
recognized carcinogen in California. Posted.


California High Speed Rail: Part One, Arguments For.  Fox &
Hounds has given me a huge opportunity— a three part series on
California high speed rail (HSR).  HSR is so complex and
important that the blank canvas—wonderfully large— is still
inadequate, but I’ll do my best.  I will assume basic knowledge
of the facts.  In Part One, I’ll argue a Republican-conservative
case for HSR.  In Part Two, I’ll argue against HSR.  And in Part
Three, I’ll attempt a synthesis.  Posted. 

U.S. needs a better disaster plan. The goal should be to use
federal money for prevention, not just clean-up. If the highest
goal of fiscal reform is to reduce spending and better the lives
of Americans, here's an idea that fits the bill: Improve the way
the federal government responds to the growing number of natural
disasters. Natural disasters have become increasingly costly to
the United States, both in terms of the toll they take on
American communities and in the direct costs of mounting a
federal response. Posted.

EarthTalk / 4-step plan for U.S. to ease global warming. Dear
EarthTalk: What would you say are the most important steps we
need to take as a nation to counter the impacts of climate
change?  Ned Parkinson Chino, Calif. Americans care more about
the environment than ever before, and the overwhelming majority
of us acknowledges that climate change is real and human-induced.
But still we continue to consume many more resources per capita
than any other nation and refuse to take strong policy action to
stave off global warming -- even though we have the power to do
so. Posted.


Jerry Brown says environmental law overhaul unlikely for now.
Gov. Jerry Brown acknowledged Tuesday he likely won't be able to
overhaul California's signature environmental law in the current
legislative session, citing overwhelming opposition from fellow
Democrats. The California Environmental Quality Act, Brown told
reporters here, "is supported by some key groups within the
Democratic Party, and I think it would be difficult for the
Legislature to move that process forward." Posted.

Shakeup at Plug Power, along with deadline for stock price. Plug
Power of Latham announced Tuesday that its chief financial
officer has resigned and that a new board member has been
appointed. The news comes as the company revealed that it has
been warned – for the last time – that it is in danger of being
delisted from the Nasdaq stock market for having its stock price
trading below $1. Plug Power, which makes hydrogen-powered fuel
cells for use in fork lift trucks, has been suffering through
financial difficulties due to problems with its equipment.

Washington State may impose $124 fine on EV spot stealers.  Park
your gas-powered car in an electric-vehicle-designated spot in
the Emerald State and you could find yourself Cashless in
Seattle. The Washington State legislature has approved a bill
that would impose a $124 fine on conventional-vehicle drivers
busted for parking in spots slated for plug-in vehicles, the
Associated Press reports. Legislators approved the bill by a
seven-to-one margin. The bill now needs approval from Washington
Governor Jay Inslee.  Posted. 

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