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newsclips -- Newsclips for January 17, 2012

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 11:40:59
California Air Resources Board News Clips for January 17, 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.


Hong Kong Says New Air Quality Objectives May Start in 2014. Hong
Kong, facing criticism over its pollution, plans to have new
objectives for its air quality by 2014 and seeks to use the World
Health Organization’s targets as a benchmark, according to a
statement from the government. The city’s government will submit
amendments to the air pollution ordinance to the Legislative
Council in 2012-13, according to the statement. It wants to
review its objectives every five years. Posted.

Pollution tied to disease risk in L.A. black women. In a study of
more than 4,000 black women in Los Angeles, those who lived in
areas with higher levels of traffic-related air pollution were at
increased risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure.
The researchers, led by Patricia Coogan at Boston University,
found that black women living in neighborhoods with high levels
of nitrogen oxides, pollutants found in traffic exhaust, were 25
percent more likely to develop diabetes and 14 percent more
likely to develop hypertension than those living in sections with
cleaner air. Posted.

Clean-air advocates see real need to check pollution levels along
region's freeways. A growing body of science has confirmed
common-sense instinct that dirty freeway air is seriously bad for
health, and that research is spurring activists and regulators to
consider new ways of addressing Southern California pollution.
Despite studies showing troubling health effects, it remains a
mystery exactly what's in the air near heavily trafficked
freeways on any given day. Regional air regulators have 36
air-quality sensors across Southern California but they don't
monitor pollution next to freeways. Posted.

Winter air pollution raises health worries. If you haven't been
feeling well, the tiny particles that have filled the Valley's
air, and your body, may be to blame. Kevin Hall, Director of the
Central Valley Air Quality Coalition believes the region has been
hit hard by microscopic pollution, known as PM 2.5. "We've been
through the worst winter air pollution episode for fine
particulates that anyone can remember. Posted.

STATE OF THE AIR REPORT FALLS SHORT.  Beginning in 2000, the
American Lung Association (ALA) has periodically released its
“State of the Air” report. The report gives letter grades to
counties in the country based on air quality. But despite being
well intentioned, some local government officials believe the
report has a number of flaws that result in unfair grading.  The
ALA uses stricter air quality standards than the EPA when
determining grades for ambient air quality. Posted. 


Climate Proposal Puts Practicality Ahead of Sacrifice. The
current issue of the journal Science contains a proposal to slow
global warming that is extraordinary for a couple of reasons: 1.
In theory, it would help people living in poor countries now,
instead of mainly benefiting their descendants. 2. In practice,
it might actually work. This proposal comes from an international
team of researchers — in climate modeling, atmospheric chemistry,
economics, agriculture and public health —…Posted.

Growing Doubts in Europe On Future of Carbon Storage.  The
European Union’s long-term energy plans to abate global warming
while still burning fossil fuels hinge on proposals to capture
carbon dioxide emissions and store them in deep underground rock
formations. Yet weak support for the untested technology is
putting Europe in the rear ranks of its development.  Two carbon
capture and storage projects in Germany and Britain were canceled
last quarter …Posted. 

Climate change skepticism seeps into science classrooms. Some
states have introduced education standards requiring teachers to
defend the denial of man-made global warming. A national watchdog
group says it will start monitoring classrooms. Reporting from
Washington— A flash point has emerged in American science
education that echoes the battle over evolution, as scientists
and educators report mounting resistance to the study of man-made
climate change in middle and high schools. Posted.

Rising home insurance rates point to climate change. Insurance
companies don’t care if you believe in climate change or not:
Your premiums are going up anyhow. NPR reported Monday that home
insurance premiums are going up across the board in response to
the record number of tornadoes, floods, fires, blizzards and
other heavy weather that hit the country in 2011. The piece
features insurance executives at major firms such as Allstate and
State Farm saying they are raising rates as much as 10%. Posted.

Greenhouse gases in your backyard. Data showing how much carbon
dioxide and other climate changing gases power plants, refineries
and other industrial operations emitted in 2010 are, for the
first time, widely available to the public on a new U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency website.  The U.S. EPAs
Greenhouse Gas Inventory collects data from several industries
that comprise about 80 percent of the yearly total industrial
emissions of gas linked to global warming. Posted.


CARB registry accepts mismatched model years; OOIDA urges
caution.  California’s Truck and Bus Rule registry will accept
any combination you may have of truck, engine and VIN numbers. 
That information, however, could leave a truck owner open to
enforcement by CARB, EPA or others should your truck not meet
standards of the federal Clean Air Act.  The California Air
Resources Board’s Truck and Bus Rule registration system is
online, and CARB says about 20,000 trucks have signed up in the
last two weeks. Posted. 


Electric plants shift from coal to natural gas.  The huge,
belching smokestacks of electric power plants have long
symbolized air pollution woes. But a shift is under way: More and
more electric plants around the nation are being fueled by
natural gas, which is far cleaner than coal, the traditional
fuel.  The most optimistic projections describe an abundant
domestic energy source that will create enormous numbers of jobs
and lead to cleaner skies.  Posted. 

AP Newsbreak:


SG Biofuels Gets $17 Million to Develop Bioenergy Crop Jatropha.
SG Biofuels Inc., a closely held U.S. bioenergy crop company,
received $17 million in venture capital that will fund research
and international jatropha planting programs. Thomas, McNerney &
Partners led the Series B financing round, and Finistere Ventures
LLC also participated, SG Biofuels said today in a statement.
Existing backers Life Technologies Corp. (LIFE) and Koch
Industries Inc.’s Flint Hills Resources LLC unit also reinvested.

Keystone XL pipeline would be hard to kill, analysts say. Even if
the Obama administration rejected it on environmental grounds,
demand for oil and jobs means an alternative probably would
emerge. Reporting from Washington— A provision attached to the
recent payroll tax bill requires President Obama to decide by
Feb. 21 on the construction of the controversial Keystone XL
pipeline from Canada to the U.S. But even if the administration
rejects the project, it may not be enough to kill it, industry
analysts said. Posted.

Bulgaria bans Chevron from using 'fracking' Bowing to public
pressure, Bulgaria's government said U.S. oil company Chevron
cannot explore for shale gas in the country using the extraction
technique known as "fracking." Energy Minister Traicho Traikov
said that under Tuesday's decision "Chevron can still have the
right to test for oil and gas, but without using the
controversial technology of hydraulic fracturing." He said San
Ramon, Calif.-based Chevron had not yet been notified of the
decision and negotiations on the contract are pending. Posted.

California biodiesel conference addresses LCFS, bad RIN issues.
Leaders of the California biodiesel industry met Jan. 16 in San
Francisco to partake in the inaugural California Biodiesel &
Renewable Diesel Conference. More than 180 industry stakeholders
attended event, which was presented by the California Biodiesel
Alliance and Biodiesel Magazine. Eric Bowen, chairman of the
California Biodiesel Alliance and executive director of corporate
business development and legal affairs at the Renewable Energy
Group Inc., was on hand to deliver the keynote address. Posted.

Volatility Rules Markets.  Natural gas continues to set the tone
for national power markets, but federal crackdown on coal
generation and the uncertain policy outlook for renewables also
dominate the energy sector. Clean energy continues to be most
sensitive to these trends.  The latest in the ICF Integrated
Energy Outlook Series was the subject of a recent webinar that
discussed natural gas, coal, power, emissions, and renewable
energy markets in light of impending regulations of hazardous air
pollutants rules and other recent areas of concern.  Posted. 

Negative-Carbon Gasoline? Cool Planet BioFuels Ready to Road
Test.  Despite a hot 2011 for biofuels, startup Cool Planet
BioFuels flew mostly under the radar. That's surprising
considering that the company has a number of marquee backers.
It's also about to change, thanks to an announcement that the
California Air Resources Board approved road tests of Cool
Planet's “negative-carbon” gasoline.  Cool Planet is an
intriguing case because the firm has skipped the ethanol game
altogether.  Posted. 


Doubts cast on cost estimates for high-speed rail alternatives.
Bullet train promoters predict it will cost $171 billion to build
new airports and roads if the trains aren't completed. But
experts say that figure is greatly exaggerated. As the price tag
for California's bullet train has soared to nearly $100 billion,
a central argument for forging ahead with the controversial
project is an even loftier figure: the $171 billion that
promoters recently estimated will be needed for new roads and
airports if no high-speed rail is built. Posted.

New vehicles' U.S. fuel mileage rises.  Fuel mileage on new motor
vehicles purchased nationwide in 2011 averaged 22.2 miles per
gallon compared with 21.7 mpg in 2010, according to calculations
by Santa Monica-based TrueCar.com.  "It may seem insignificant,
but an increase of a half a mile per gallon in fuel economy
translates to a reduction in fuel consumption of 214 million
gallons, or a savings of about $722 million in fuel annually in
the U.S.," said Jesse Toprak, TrueCar's vice president of
industry trends.  Posted. 

Detroit Auto Show: Electric premieres.  The 105th North American
International Auto Show 2012 is held in Detroit until 22 January.
New electric cars, some of them even already planned for
production, can be seen at the biggest US automotive event.
cars21.com summarises the electric premieres of NAIAS 2012. 


Solar grid parity 101 — and why you should care.  This post
originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of
the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s New Rules Project.  Solar
grid parity is considered the tipping point for solar power, when
installing solar power will cost less than buying electricity
from the grid. It’s also a tipping point for the electricity
system, when millions of Americans can choose energy production
and self-reliance over dependence on their electric utility. 


New ads reignite fight over Keystone XL jobs figures. As the
deadline looms for President Obama’s Feb. 21 decision on whether
to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, the dogfight is focused on
job numbers. Project proponents tout an enormous number of new
jobs created by the pipeline, but a labor institute says those
numbers are greatly inflated. Posted.

Sonoma County's Cedars a rare geologic wonder. At an old mining
camp in the mountains above Cazadero in Sonoma County is a
Mars-like panorama of steep crumbling red slopes, bizarre
mineralized formations and green serpentine rock. The
11-square-mile area, called the Cedars, is a mysterious land of
one-of-a-kind geological phenomena next to the Austin Creek State
Recreation Area and Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve that almost
nobody in the Bay Area knows anything about. Posted.


Michael Gerson: Climate change added to politics of culture war.
The attempt by Newt Gingrich to cover his tracks on climate
change has been one of the shabbier little episodes of the 2012
presidential campaign. His forthcoming sequel to "A Contract With
the Earth" was to feature a chapter by Katharine Hayhoe, a young
professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas Tech University.
Hayhoe is a scientist, an evangelical Christian and a moderate
voice warning of climate disruption. Posted.

Editor’s pick: Reader offers science lesson. In a letter
Saturday, Violet Smith expressed concern about air pollution in
airplane exhaust contrails and asked if anyone knew more about
the air pollution in these contrails. Actually, only a small
fraction of the contrails is air pollution. The vast majority is
water in the form of ice crystals. As explained in
WeatherQuestions.com: “Water vapor is a natural by-product of the
burning of petroleum-based fuels, and the amounts produced by jet
engines are sometimes larger than the cold, thin air of the upper
troposphere can hold in vapor form. Posted.

Are 'green energy' policies thwarting job growth? No: Route to
profitable public investment.  The Obama administration's
investments in the green energy economy have already produced a
great number of jobs in a sector with significant potential for
additional growth. It would be a serious mistake to undercut the
initiative just as it's contributing to the recovery.  While
estimates vary on exactly how many jobs the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act created, several experts have put the number at
2 million or more.  Posted. 
INLAND: Quarry rejection is bad news for all.  Permit me to voice
my dismay that the Riverside County Planning Commission voted to
turn down the Liberty Quarry project despite Granite Construction
having gone through an extensive EIR process, with approval by
the planning staff of the work by that organization and its
consultants, each of whom is a well-known professional in his or
her field. The commission’s decision is another in an unfortunate
pattern found repeatedly in California of narrow local political
pressures inhibiting the state’s economy.  Posted. 
More misguided CARB complaints.  If California highways and
parking lots of 2025 look considerably different from today's, it
will probably be because they'll contain almost 1.5 million more
hybrid cars and trucks, hydrogen-driven vehicles and plug-in
hybrids that run mostly on electricity, except on long trips. 
That's the vision behind the proposed rules rolled out by the
California Air Resources Board, even as the Republican chairman
of the U.S. House of Representatives' main investigative
committee seeks to drag it into hearings about whether it is
exceeding its mission.  Posted. 


On the Horizon, Planes Powered by Plant Fuel.  The use of jet
fuel from renewable sources is now well demonstrated, but it
costs more than double what fuel made from petroleum does,
according to airlines, aircraft companies and suppliers. One way
to cut the cost may be to tinker with the plants that biofuel is
made from.  Take jatropha, for example. Lufthansa said last week
that it had completed a series of more than 800 flights by an
Airbus A321 that shuttled between Hamburg and Frankfurt while
burning a 50 percent biofuel mix in one of its two engines. 

A Climate Change Idea That Might Work.  A new proposal to slow
global warming is extraordinary, John Tierney writes in The New
York Times, because it would help poor countries now, and “it
might actually work.”  The proposal, outlined in the latest issue
of Science magazine, takes into account an often ignored fact:
“When there’s a conflict between policies promoting economic
growth and policies restricting carbon dioxide, economic growth
wins every time,” the article says.  Posted. 

Climate 101 – Online and Free.  As part of the trend in higher
education toward moving more course offerings onto the Web, the
University of Chicago has launched Open Climate 101, an online
version of a popular course led by David Archer that explores for
non-science majors the body of research pointing to a rising
human influence on the climate system.  It’s built around
Archer’s climate text, “Global Warming: Understanding the
Forecast” (sample chapter). (I have a particular affection for
that title.)  Posted. 

Public to Obama Administration: Adopt New Auto Fuel Efficiency
and Carbon Standards.  Greetings from the Motor City! Obama
Administration officials are in Detroit to gather public input on
the EPA and Department of Transportation proposal to raise new
automobile efficiency standards to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg by
2025, nearly double that of today’s new vehicles. As I’ll be
testifying later today, the standards are a huge step forward.
They will dramatically cut U.S. oil consumption and dangerous
emissions carbon pollution. Posted. 

India Emerges as Solar Energy Hotspot.  India emerged as a solar
energy market hotspot in 2011, as the Indian government set a
goal of scaling up solar power generation from 20,000-megawatts
(MW) to 20,000-MW by 2020. Government support to achieve the
ambitious target is attracting private sector investment from a
host of domestic, as well as some foreign, solar energy industry
participants, the latest one being Talma Chemical Industries. 

California Renewable Energy Off to a Good Start in 2012 with Five
Big Projects.  Renewable energy is getting off to a good start in
California this new year despite being buffeted by supply-demand
imbalances, rising trade friction and uncertainty over federal
support for clean energy and technology. As NPD-Solarbuzz
reports, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has
approved five renewable energy contracts so far this month, which
will result in the production of some 1,088-megawatts (MW) of
clean, renewable power and forecasts 2,927 gigawatt-hours (GWh)
of electrical energy.  Posted. 

Scientists Pour Water Into Oregon Volcano to Generate Energy.  A
team of scientists from Seattle-based AltaRock Energy, Inc. and
Davenport Newberry Holdings LLC has announced plans to harness
one of Mother Nature’s most powerful energy sources by pumping 24
million gallons of water into the side of a dormant volcano in
Central Oregon. The team hopes that the water will return to the
surface boiling hot, at which point it can be used to generate
clean and cheap energy – without the explosive side effects and
liquid magma associated with active volcanoes.  Posted. 

US and UK researchers report direct measurement of key
atmospheric reactant; more rapid formation of secondary aerosols.
 Molecules called Criegee intermediates—carbonyl oxides—are
important atmospheric reactants, but only indirect knowledge of
their reaction kinetics has been available. Now, researchers from
Sandia National Laboratory’s Combustion Research Facility, the
University of Manchester and the University of Bristol report in
a paper in Science the first direct kinetics measurements made of
reactions of any gas-phase Criegee intermediate, in this case
formaldehyde oxide (CH2OO).  Posted. 

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