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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for June 13, 2013

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 13:20:15
ARB Newsclips for June 13, 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.


Study: state rules have cut black carbon. State diesel rules
aimed at improving public health have also reduced levels of
black carbon, a potent contributor to climate change, according
to a new report commissioned by the California Air Resources
Board. The study was led by Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a professor
of climate science at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in
La Jolla who collaborated with the Department of Energy’s
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Pacific Northwest
National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. Posted.

Emission cuts lead to cleaner Calif. Air. Cuts in diesel
emissions have drastically reduced the amount of pollutants in
the air that cause global warming in California, potentially
valuable information in the fight to save the world's climate
from a predicted catastrophe, a study by University of California
and government researchers said Wednesday. The study found that
regulations limiting emissions from diesel-powered trucks, buses
and off-road vehicles have taken the equivalent of 4 million cars
off California roads every year since the late 1980s. Posted.


AQMD to hear from public on fire pit restrictions. Tempers might
get a little hot in Southern California as smog regulators
consider plans to limit beach fire pits. The South Coast Air
Quality Management District will hear public testimony Thursday
evening and Friday on proposals to restrict the fire rings. Ideas
include a buffer zone between the rings and nearby homes and
requiring the use of propane instead of wood fuel. Newport Beach
officials sought an outright ban after residents complained that
soot and smoke were drifting over their homes. Nearby cities say
the rings are a beach tradition that should be preserved. Posted.

Report details Coachella Valley's health hazards. Communities in
the east Coachella Valley face high, unhealthy levels of air and
water pollution, especially when compared with the western part
of the region, according to a first-of-its-kind report from UC
Davis that local activists say validates what they have been
saying for years. “Revealing the Invisible Coachella Valley” —
conducted by the UC Davis Center for Regional Change with funding
from the California Endowment and Building Healthy Communities
Eastern Coachella Valley — looks at and maps out a broad range of
both cumulative environmental hazards and social vulnerabilities
in the valley. Posted.


UN Climate-Talks Collapse Piles Pressure on November Summit.
United Nations talks on reforms to emissions-market rules stalled
this week after members rejected a proposal to reconsider the
body’s decision-making rules, putting additional pressure on a
climate summit in November. The loss of two weeks’ negotiating
time means that items that were due to be discussed in Bonn from
June 3 through June 14 may now be revisited at the UN’s annual
climate conference in Warsaw at the end of the year, adding to an
already-packed agenda that may not be fully addressed, according
to a project developers’ group. Posted.

Regulatory Nominee Vows to Speed Up Energy Reviews. The White
House has blocked several Department of Energy regulations that
would require appliances, lighting and buildings to use less
energy and create less global-warming pollution, as part of a
broader slowdown of new antipollution rules issued by the Obama
administration. The administration has spent as long as two years
reviewing some of the energy efficiency rules proposed by the
Energy Department, bypassing a 1993 executive order that in most
instances requires the White House to act on proposed regulations
within 90 days.

Many thriving species at risk from climate change-study. 
The Amazon rainforest was among the places where ever more types
of birds and amphibians would be threatened as temperatures
climbed, it said. Common corals off Indonesia would also be among
the most vulnerable. Overall, up to 41 percent of all bird
species, 29 percent of amphibians and 22 percent of corals were
"highly climate change vulnerable but are not currently
threatened", the team of scientists wrote in the journal PLOS
ONE. Posted.

Cuba girds for climate change by reclaiming coasts. After Cuban
scientists studied the effects of climate change on this island's
3,500 miles (5,630 kilometers) of coastline, their discoveries
were so alarming that officials didn't share the results with the
public to avoid causing panic. The scientists projected that
rising sea levels would seriously damage 122 Cuban towns or even
wipe them off the map. Beaches would be submerged, they found,
while freshwater sources would be tainted and croplands rendered
infertile. In all, seawater would penetrate up to 1.2 miles (2
kilometers) inland in low-lying areas, as oceans rose nearly
three feet (85 centimeters) by 2100. Posted.


Court overturns part of port's trucking plan. he Supreme Court
has overturned part of the anti-smog program at the Port of Los
Angeles. The port tried to restrict the types of trucks that can
haul goods in and out of its terminals. But justices voted
unanimously Thursday to strike down part of the port's Clean
Trucks Program. The port wanted companies to replace thousands of
aging big rigs with newer, cleaner-burning models to reduce
diesel emissions. Posted.




State investments in clean technology yield many benefits.
America is the land of free enterprise. But government
investments in infrastructure and technology have fueled private
business growth since the dawn of our republic: the interstate
highway system, the Internet, and advanced oil and gas drilling
technologies all benefited from strategic government investment.
In each case, the investments addressed a societal need while
also enabling private business growth. Such investments are a
In the last few years, California has been making
forward-thinking investments of its own to address air quality
needs here in the Golden State. This includes investments in
clean, advanced transportation technologies through an advanced
vehicle and fuel incentive program known as AB 118, which was
originally proposed by San Diego’s Christine Kehoe. Posted.


Electric cars, plug-ins will help state meet low carbon fuel
rule. Consumers have begun to buy fully electric cars and plug-in
hybrids in numbers sufficient to help California meet its
ambitious Low Carbon Fuel Standard, according to a new report.
California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, a regulatory program
established under then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, requires a 10%
reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels used in
the state by 2020. Carbon intensity is a measure of how much
carbon dioxide is spewed into the atmosphere from using a fuel.
One of the ways to meet that goal is to reduce the use of
gasoline and diesel. Posted.

Marin County school opens electric vehicle charging station. 
Saint Mark's School will host a dedication ceremony for its new
electric vehicle charging station at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13
at the school, 39 Trellis Drive in Terra Linda. It is the first
charging station to be installed at a school in Marin and was
made possible by a $3,800 grant from Reconnect California,
through the California Energy Commission. The electric and cement
work was paid for by a donation from the Golden Gate Electric
Vehicle Association. Posted.


Passive progressive: Super-efficient housing, long in Europe,
making inroads in US. After decades of near silence, a passive
voice is making itself heard in American architecture. So-called
passive houses, which have been around in Europe but never really
caught on in the United States, are basically built around the
idea of making houses airtight, super-insulated and energy
efficient. The goal: a house that creates nearly as much energy
as it consumes. Think of being able to keep your house warm
without a traditional big furnace, cool with no air conditioning
unit. Posted.

Navy revises plan for solar panels on runway. he Navy says it no
longer favors covering an historic Hawaii runway with solar
panels to meet green energy requirements and will instead place
panels on fallow acreage. The plan to cover 28 acres of Ford
Island runway had drawn protest from the National Trust for
Historic Preservation and others. The Navy in an environmental
assessment says 50,000 panels on Waipio Peninsula are preferred
and the Ford Island runway remains an alternative site. Posted.

Tariffs Bad for Most Solar Companies. Solar tariffs in Europe
started at a low 11% rate last week, but if a deal between
Europe, China, and even the U.S. isn't reached by Aug. 6 then
they could go up to as much as 68%. This is clearly a negative
development for Chinese manufacturers like Yingli Green Energy ,
LDK Solar , and Trina Solar , but it's not necessarily good for
U.S. companies either. First Solar has little presence in Europe
right now and SunPower won't see much benefit from tariffs
either. In the end, tariffs are bad for nearly everyone, a
sentiment Travis Hoium covers in the video below. Posted.

Cleaner ways emerge to turn cow dung into electricity. Dairy
farmer Ron Koetsier's 1,200 cows produce roughly 90 tons of
manure daily, and for the past three decades, he has tried
unsuccessfully to turn the stinky dung into energy to power his
450-acre farm in Visalia, Calif. He installed a nearly $1 million
renewable energy system in 1985 that used the methane from manure
to create electricity for his farm. In 2002, he replaced that
system with newer technology, but he hit a snag when air-quality
standards called for expensive retrofits to reduce air pollution;
he eventually shut down the system in 2009. Posted. 

Cheaper solar panels fuel rise in renewable energy. A dramatic
drop in the price of solar power technology last year helped the
continued growth of renewable energy, according to a U.N.-backed
report published Wednesday. Global energy-generating capacity
from renewable sources rose by 115 gigawatts in 2012, compared
with 105 gigawatts the previous year, the report by the
Paris-based think tank REN21 showed.
Installed renewable energy capacity rose to over 1,470 gigawatts,
equivalent to about 1,500 nuclear reactors. Posted.

Website helps track state's progress on renewable energy goals.
Ratepayers can monitor the progress of California’s utilities as
they move toward meeting the state’s renewable energy goals. The
first compliance period is at the end of the year, when utilities
are required to purchase an average of 20% of retail energy from
renewable resources. The Renewable Portfolio Standards compliance
periods: 25% by Dec. 31, 2016; 33% by Dec. 31, 2020; and no less
than 33% in all subsequent years. Posted.

DOE Green Energy Loans: $11.45 million per job and a rounding
error’s worth of averted carbon emissions. I have handy cost
estimates for three of the solar plants near the top of the list
of $10 million-plus jobs. If I factor in the increased cost of
electricity, the cost per permanent job literally skyrockets, as
promised by candidate Obama in 2008. I generously assumed that
the three solar PV plants could achieve a 30% capacity factor
(the average is 25%), that they could achieve a levelized
generation cost (LCOE) of $144.30 per MWh (DOE’s most recent
average for plants coming online in 2018) and that they could
remain in service for 20 years. Posted.


Editorial: Budget is a mixed bag – what we know of it. The state
budget deal crafted by legislative Democrats and the governor
contains much to praise and much to criticize and much, much more
that is unknown. Here is how it all breaks down: The good,
Gov. Jerry Brown will succeed in changing how public schools are
financed, shifting money to districts with high numbers of
disadvantaged students and eliminating many of the "categorical
funds" that proliferated over the years. The result will be more
local control over education decisions, with less micromanagement
and mandates from Sacramento. Posted. 

Climate change warnings. The latest word on climate change is not
good - world emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use rose 1.4
percent last year to set a new record, according to the
International Energy Agency. At this pace, the agency reports,
global temperatures could rise a startling 9 degrees Fahrenheit
by 2100, which would be disastrous for all nations. And yet this
latest report has received minimal attention in the United
States, at least outside the climate science community and its
usual advocates. While House Republicans spin their wheels trying
to blame the White House for errant IRS officials, and the Senate
just seems permanently gridlocked on any topic of substance,
elected officials in Washington appear incapable of grasping the
seriousness of the problem. Posted.

Dana Milbank: Too late to avoid climate disaster, D.C., other
cities begin to adapt. The National Mall has monuments to
heroism, freedom and sacrifice. Pretty soon it will also have a
monument to failure. Drive on 17th Street NW, just south of
Constitution Avenue, and you'll see concrete footings, a mound of
dirt and jersey barriers – all part of an oft-delayed project to
build a flood wall to protect downtown Washington from a rising
Potomac River. Posted.

SADAR: Climate-change hype turns 25. Global-warming hysteria was
launched 25 years ago this month. On June 23, 1988, James Hansen
of NASA testified before a congressional hearing and the world
that “the greenhouse effect is here and is affecting our climate
now.” His confidence, sincerity and humble demeanor captured
political and environmental opportunists in a big way. Here was a
man and a cause that could propel up-and-coming politicians to
new heights and fill eco-activist coffers to overflowing. From
the beginning, the fix was in, and theatrics took center stage.
Then-Sen. Timothy Wirth, Colorado Democrat, and his staff left
the hearing-room windows open the steamy night before the
proceedings to make sure the room’s air-conditioners were
chugging away against the heat during the momentous event.


China is testing out cap-and-trade — but will it actually work?
It will be impossible for the world to get a grip on climate
change unless China, which produces one-fourth of the world’s
carbon-dioxide pollution, can rein in its emissions. So it’s
worth keeping an eye on China’s efforts there. The latest news:
China is getting ready to test out cap-and-trade systems to
constrain carbon-dioxide emissions in seven different cities. By
the end of 2013, the pilot programs will cover about 7 percent of
the country’s pollution. Jane Qiu provides more detail in Nature.

A Film Presses the Climate, Health and Security Case for Nuclear
Energy. “Pandora’s Promise” is a provocative and important new
documentary making the case for nuclear power as a safe and
large-scale substitute for fossil fuels. There’s a flaw in the
film’s approach that undercuts its mission, but I still see it as
vital viewing and a refreshing new direction in a tired old
battle over the shape of America’s energy future.
The film, which opened in New York City Wednesday night and
expands to 15 cities on Friday, was bound to generate strong
reactions among people long opposed to this energy source.

BEACH FIRES: Air distict backs off on ban. Talk about blowback.
In March, officials with the South  Coast Air Quality Management
District  announced plans to ban  beach fires along the coast of
Orange and Los Angeles counties. Now the air district is  backing
off, after hearing  complaints from coastal communities. Critics
say the proposed rules would ruin a tradition that’s a big  part
of the beach allure. The air district  now is proposing less
stringent rules that still would allow for beach fires — provided
the fire pits are spaced at least 100 feet apart and are at least
700 feet from the nearest home, among other provisions. Posted.

Chevron CEO admits fracking raises “legitimate” safety concerns.
Is Chevron more clued in to the dangers of fracking than the
federal government? It would seem so. The company’s CEO said this
week that the industry needs to do a better job of resolving
concerns about the safety of the practice. Energy producers must
deal with the “legitimate concerns” that gas development
associated with hydraulic fracturing is unsafe by adopting
tougher standards, Chevron Corp. Chief Executive Officer John
Watson said. Posted.

Organic farming sucks (up carbon). We’ve known for a while now
that organic agriculture is good for the climate: It does a
better job at grabbing carbon from the air and turning it into
soil than industrial agriculture, which often does just the
opposite. Last year, researchers reexamined all 74 studies that
had looked at organic farming and carbon capture. After crunching
the numbers from the results of these studies they concluded
that, lo and behold, organic farms are carbon sponges. Posted.

Calif. Energy Commission to award more than $44M for hydrogen
refueling and alternative fuel vehicle projects. In two packages
of awards, the California Energy Commission approved more than
$44 million to expand the hydrogen fueling infrastructure and
increase the number of alter alternative fuel vehicles on the
road in the state. These awards were made through the
Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle
Technology Program, created by Assembly Bill 118. For the current
fiscal year, the program is slated to invest approximately $90
million to encourage the development and use of new technologies,
and alternative and renewable fuels, to help the state meet its
climate-change goals. Posted.

Global warming is a mess. It’s high time we innovate our way out
of it.  The latest International Energy Agency (IEA) report shows
that global carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise,
notwithstanding efforts around the world to reduce our collective
carbon footprint. And it’s not just that we’re making little or
no progress on reducing dangerous greenhouse gases – it’s that
we’re rapidly approaching a point at which it will be too late to
ever reverse the damage to the environment. According to IEA
chief economist Fatih Birol, 2020 is looming large as the date
when the apocalyptic results of a nine-degree temperature rise
from pre-industrial times starts to kick in. Posted.

How the World Bank could slash its carbon emissions: Start flying
in coach. The seats are bigger, so there are fewer of them on the
plane, and a plane with fewer passengers is using more fuel per
person who is delivered to their destination. Moreover, the
number of business-class seats occupied on a given flight – the
load factor – tends to be lower as well, so a smaller percentage
of the seats are occupied. And first-class passengers take more
luggage, adding more weight to the plane and consuming more fuel.

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