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newsclips -- Newsclips for January 31, 2011.

Posted: 31 Jan 2011 12:08:36
California Air Resources Board News Clips for January 31, 2011. 

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.


Valley Air District Highlights Progress Against Pollution. But
not much has changed, according to some measures. A television
commercial by the local air district touts the winter of 2009-10
as the Valley's cleanest on record, but is that true? Yes -- with
an asterisk. The number of days with a "good" air-quality index
has risen sharply over the past decade as the number of unhealthy
days plummeted. But by another yardstick, the district's claim is
debatable. The Valley's air last year violated standards for soot
and fine-particle pollution nearly as often as it did 10 years
ago, according to state records. Posted.

EPA Proposes No Changes To Carbon Monoxide Limits. The current
air quality standards for carbon monoxide (CO) are strong enough
to protect public health, U.S. EPA said today as the agency
issued a proposal to keep the existing limits. Carbon monoxide is
best known for its ability to reach dangerously high levels in
homes, but the poisonous gas is also regulated under the Clean
Air Act because elevated levels outdoors can lead to health
problems. It is released mainly from the tailpipes of cars and
other pieces of equipment that use combustion engines. Posted.

EPA Wants To Keep Exemption For Toxic Refinery Emissions. U.S.
EPA has signaled that it won't reverse a George W. Bush-era
policy that lets refineries burn some byproducts without treating
them as toxic waste, drawing scorn from environmentalists, who
had asked the incoming Obama administration to rethink the rule.
Under the policy, which was put in place in 2008, refineries can
burn more than 300,000 tons of sludge and other oily materials in
gasifiers each year without being subject to the storage and
reporting requirements of the Resource Conservation and Recovery
Act (RCRA) or the Clean Air Act rules that set limits on
emissions from solid waste incinerators. Posted.


Gov. Jerry Brown Is Facing Tricky Environmental And Energy Issues
In California. California Gov. Jerry Brown's decisions regarding
environmental and energy issues will affect public and private
spending and public health for the foreseeable future. As Gov.
Jerry Brown lays out his first-term agenda Monday, he confronts a
thorny array of environmental and energy issues, many with a
potential to drive billions of dollars in state and private
spending and have a major effect on public health. Posted.

Expiration of Kyoto Would Mean Little for CO2 Markets, EU Says.
The possible expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012 would mean
“very little” for carbon markets because they are driven by
national targets, a senior European Union official said. The EU,
which runs the world’s biggest carbon cap-and-trade program, may
need a “reflection” on the 1997 global agreement after some
developed countries said they won’t commit to future limits under
the treaty starting in 2013, said Jos Delbeke, director general
for climate at the European Commission. Posted.

Green Exchange to Offer California Carbon Contracts, Chief Says.
Green Exchange Holdings LLC plans to offer carbon-dioxide futures
contracts for California’s cap-and- trade program, said Thomas
Lewis, the chief executive officer of the trading hub. “We’re
writing contracts as we speak to issue in the California market,”
Lewis said today at a conference in Washington on carbon markets
hosted by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Green
Exchange is a New York-based trading hub for pollution rights
whose owners include CME Group Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Posted.

Winter Storms Don't Undermine Global Warming Science, Climate
Experts Say. Tree limbs snap, the power goes out, the car needs
digging out again. Along with the grumbling about winter snow
there's also a common curiosity: So what does all this say about
global warming?  How can the average world temperature be inching
up and 2010 be tied for the warmest year ever, when places from
North Carolina to New England get buried by whopper winter
storms?  There are several scientific explanations that help
sweep away the snow confusion.  Posted.


Study: Arctic Waters Are Warmest In 2,000 Years. Water flowing
into the Arctic Ocean from the North Atlantic is the warmest it's
been in at least 2,000 years, reports a new international study
that's bad news for climate change as well as polar bears needing
sea ice for survival. Waters of the Fram Strait, which runs
between Greenland and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, have
warmed about 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 100 years,
according to the study published in the Jan. 28 issue of the
journal Science. Posted.

Bankers Learn Climate Science. At the woods' edge, small groups
of HSBC technology managers, armed with clipboards and measuring
tapes, meticulously determine the circumference of specially
tagged trees down to a tenth of an inch. They're wearing bright
orange vests because it's deer-hunting season, and though field
science isn't in their job descriptions, their employer, HSBC
bank, wants them to understand climate change.  Posted.

Senate GHG Bill Would Strike Down Federal, Some State Regs. Sen.
John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) will introduce a bill later today that
would prohibit federal agencies from regulating greenhouse gas
emissions and also limit states' ability to implement carbon
dioxide laws. The measure would prevent the federal government
from regulating greenhouse gas emissions for their effects on
climate change, according to a source familiar with the bill.
Posted. http://www.eenews.net/Greenwire/print/2011/01/31/1

Europe's Carbon Emissions Trading -- Growing Pains Or Wholesale
Theft? New York -- Have criminals found a lucrative niche in
carbon markets? Previously, many bankers and traders said no,
insisting that one-off incidents involving theft or cheating in
Europe's Emissions Trading System (ETS) were isolated events
attributable mostly to the youth of the market. Advocates of a
cap-and-trade approach to tackling climate change said that such
growing pains are inevitable, but regulators and legitimate
market participants would get better at warding off abuses.
Posted. http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2011/01/31/3

U.N. Chief Says Climate Change Is No Longer His Top Issue. United
Nations -- The tenor of international climate negotiations has
changed, and the United Nations' top leadership is changing with
it, officials here are saying. While tackling climate change will
remain a central issue, it will no longer be the top issue for
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Ban's office said. The U.N. chief
will still press for action on climate change, but in the context
of the broader fight to achieve sustainable development,
including through the advocacy of greener business practices,
clean energy deployment, and tackling environmental degradation
in the developing world. Posted.


Are Some Local Gas Stations Breaking The Law? Almost 1,000
stations in California are not in compliance with a state order
from Oct. 15 involving gasoline pumps. If you use one of those
clips that lets you automatically pump gasoline into your car,
there's a one in 12 chance the gas station you're patronizing is
breaking the law. State officials estimate almost 1,000 of
California's 12,000 service stations have not yet complied with
an Oct. 15 order from the State Fire Marshal to remove the
hands-free pumping clips from so-called VST nozzles. About 3,000
California stations had those particular nozzles last fall.

Global Methane Accounts May Be Misleading. Estimates on the
potential for greenhouse gas sequestration from lakes and rivers
may be off by up to 25 percent. Freshwater resources have shown
to be efficient carbon sinks, sucking excess carbon dioxide from
the atmosphere and helping slow the creep of climate change.
However, these same lakes also emit methane, a gas with 20 to 30
times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide. The
research, published in Science, compiled methane (CH4) emission
data from 474 freshwater lakes, streams, rivers and reservoirs
throughout the world. Posted.


New Electricity Meters Stir Fears. Inverness Park, Calif. —
Pacific Gas and Electric’s campaign to introduce wireless smart
meters in Northern California is facing fierce opposition from an
eclectic mix of Tea Party conservatives and left-leaning
individualists who say the meters threaten their liberties and
their health. In the San Francisco Bay Area, “Stop Smart Meters”
signs and bumper stickers have been multiplying on front lawns
and cars. Four protesters have been arrested for blocking trucks
seeking to deliver the meters. Since 2006, PG&E has installed
more than seven million of the devices, which transmit real-time
data on customers’ use of electricity. Posted.

Lighting Switch Requires A Change In Mind-Set. America, prepare
to embrace "lumens." For more than a century, buying light bulbs
has been a fairly straightforward transaction: consumers have
judged pear-shaped incandescent bulbs by how much wattage, or
power, they consume. But the government wants the next generation
of bulbs to be measured by their brightness. And that means
lumens. In a nation with 4.4 billion light sockets, it's a tall
order. "It's a big deal, and it's going to take a while for
customers to get used to the difference," said Jorge Fernandez,
who buys light bulbs for Home Depot. Posted.

ENERGY: New Financing Powers Panels For Residents. Solar panel
prices overreach many homeowners' budgets, no matter how green
they want to be; but recently new companies have eliminated
upfront costs, bringing solar power costs down to earth. 
Homeowners looking to reduce their contribution to global warming
or save money on electric bills often consider installing solar
panels, especially in North San Diego and Southwest Riverside
counties, where the sun shines hot and often. Posted.

Can The U.S. Help Its Solar Power Industry Reach Financial
Liftoff? First of a four-part series. "This is our generation's
Sputnik moment," President Obama said at the top of his State of
the Union address to Congress last week. He was expressing a
vision of his administration's high-stakes campaign to help
American companies claim leadership in future clean energy
technologies. Behind the rhetoric is a thrust by the
administration to target federal investments in technology on
ways to dramatically change energy use across the economy -- in
transportation, electricity generation, industrial processes and
building design. Posted.


A Hybrid Made for the Highway. HIGHWAY driving is not where
hybrids shine. Typically, their fuel economy gains are most
impressive in town, where low-speed driving is powered by
electricity and efficiency is aided by a regenerative braking
system.  The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid was engineered to level the
playing field a bit for drivers who spend more time commuting on
the highway than sitting in stop-and-go traffic.  Posted.

Three Green Machines. Fiat is not the only automaker with
something to show off. Other highlights at this year's Washington
Auto Show: Herndon-based Volkswagen Group of America introduced
the new Passat TDI, a sedan it said can achieve a fuel economy of
43 miles per gallon. Starting at $20,000, the car was assembled
at the company's newly built production facility in Chattanooga,
Tenn. Volkswagen has also set a 2012 debut for its new hybrid
Jetta and electric Golf models.  Posted.

Gene and the Machine: The Shocking Truth About The Electric Volt.
Here's the hyphen-heavy heap of hype on the Chevy Volt, GM's new,
highly touted plug-in hybrid electric car: It's packing a
16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. It has a 1.4-liter,
16-valve, 4-cylinder, in-line gasoline engine fed by a 9.3-gallon
fuel tank. It's got front-wheel drive and does a peppy 8.8-second
zero-to-60.  Posted.


7-Eleven Experiments With Eco-Friendly Stores. At the 7-Eleven
across from the Shusse Inari shrine here, the glare of
fluorescent light bulbs that is synonymous with convenience
stores has been replaced by the soft glow of light-emitting
diodes, or LEDs, that consume half the energy and last much
longer.  The store, which opened a year ago here in the
birthplace of the Kyoto Protocol, is the prototype of the latest
eco-friendly 7-Eleven, one of 100 that will be open in Japan by
the end of February.  Posted.

Mr. Obama's New Energy. ENERGY POLICY was near the top of
President Obama's agenda in his State of the Union address
Tuesday - a topic so politically toxic last year that Sen. Joe
Manchin (D-W.Va.) ran a campaign ad in which he shot a "cap and
trade" bill with a hunting rifle. Nearly all Republicans joined
Mr. Manchin and other coal-state Democrats in opposing the
comprehensive energy plan that Democratic leaders pressed in
2010. Cap-and-trade was a desirable policy, but Congress passed
nothing. Posted.

Valley Deserves Praise For Efforts To Clean Air. In the San
Joaquin Valley, our air-quality challenges are more difficult
than those in any other region in the nation. On one hand, we
have been given circumstances over which we have no control: The
Valley's geography, topography and climate turn our region into a
bowl with a lid; pass-through highway traffic brings pollution
without any economic benefit; and emissions from the northwest
add to our own. Posted.

Will That Electric Feeling Last? Charles Lane's Jan. 28 column
["Cold truths on electric avenue," Washington Forum] provided
some truths about electric cars and battery technology in cold
weather. However, I found it odd that he based his thesis on his
gut: "My hunch is that electrics would have faced similar
problems or worse."  We won't know for sure until side-by-side
tests are undertaken among gasoline, diesel, electric and hybrid
cars.  Posted.

Cold Truths On Electric Avenue. Count me among the many thousands
of Washington area residents who spent Wednesday night stuck in
traffic as a snowstorm sowed chaos all around us. Being car-bound
in sub-freezing weather for six hours can make a guy think. I
counted my blessings. The situation could have been worse, I
realized: My fellow commuters and I could have been trying to
make it home in electric cars, like the ones President Obama is
constantly promoting, most recently in his State of the Union
address. Posted.


Top Environmental Priorities For The California PUC. Over the
past decade, the California Public Utilities Commission, which
regulates the state's investor-owned utilities, has emerged as a
leader on policies that provide significant environmental and
economic benefits. Governor Brown recently announced two of his
three new appointees to the five-member CPUC, and the new
Commission should continue to build on this proud track record of
environmental leadership. Posted.

Sustain What? During a recent visit to the University of
Connecticut, I was interviewed by Bob Wyss, an associate
professor of journalism, for a climate issue of Wrack Lines, the
magazine of the Connecticut Sea Grant College Program.  The issue
is out and contains a variety of interesting articles. In the
interview, I articulated a few ideas that are worth posting here,
in part as a starting point for you to ask me a question or two,
as well.  Posted.

Inquiry and Intimidation. I haven’t seen this reported elsewhere
— but Republicans in Congress are planning to investigate the
Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, looking for evidence of
corruption and wrongdoing. It’s absurd, of course: a tiny
commission with a small budget didn’t offer much scope for
corruption. But what this is really about is intimidation — in
much the same way that investigations of climate scientists are
about intimidation. What the GOP wants is to make people afraid
even to do research that produces conclusions they don’t like.

Why Electric Cars Aren’t Selling. Hong Kong had its worst-ever
year in terms of roadside pollution in 2010, according to
government data. It also hosts the world’s highest traffic
density, says the Clear the Air, a local antipollution
organization. But despite rising concern over roadside pollution
levels and a government campaign to get consumers and companies
to adopt zero-emissions vehicles, electric cars aren’t yet
creating much spark. Mitsubishi, EuAuto and Tesla each offer an
electric car to Hong Kong consumers to replace gasoline-powered
ones, but so far, there have been few takers. As of Dec. 31, just
70 electric cars were registered in Hong Kong. Posted.

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