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newsclips -- Newsclips for February 16, 2012

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 11:30:44
ARB News Clips for February 16, 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.


Worsening air pollution costs China dearly: study.  China's
worsening air pollution, after decades of unbridled economic
growth, cost the country $112 billion in 2005 in lost economic
productivity, a study by the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT) has found.  The figure, which also took into
account people's lost leisure time because of illness or death,
was $22 billion in 1975, according to researchers at the MIT
Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.  The
study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change,
measured the harmful effects of two air pollutants: ozone and
particulates, which can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular
diseases.  Posted. 

Hearts and air pollution: Five deadly air pollutants on five
continents.  Around the world, breathing a variety of air
pollutants – in some cases for a single day – increases the
chance that people will suffer heart attacks, according to a new
analysis published Tuesday. For the first time, scientists
analyzed previous studies from five continents to verify and
quantify the links between air pollution and heart health. They
found that short-term exposure – less than seven days – to all
major air pollutants except ozone was associated with an increase
in heart attacks.  Posted. 

Air pollution tied to higher heart attack risk, stroke, memory
loss.  Researchers led by Hazrije Mustafic from the Paris
Cardiovascular Research Center found that heart attacks were
slightly more common at high levels of every main pollutant
except ozone, the group reported in the Journal of the American
Medical Association.  They looked at 34 studies comparing the
risk of suffering a heart attack, or myocardial infarction, at
various levels of inhaling industrial and traffic-related air
pollutants including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and very
small soot-like particles.  Posted. 

Orange alert!  Air quality in Chico took a nosedive this winter
despite a new city ordinance.  “You’d think being up here, away
from the big cities, it shouldn’t be an issue,” said Monique Bird
on a recent Sunday. She and Roylene Mahic were talking about
Chico’s air quality, while sitting together not far from the head
of the mosaic dragon in Lower Bidwell Park’s Caper Acres
playground. Their sons, both 7, briefly checked in before darting
off again at full speed to another part of the packed play area. 


U.S. Pushes to Cut Emissions of Some Pollutants That Hasten
Climate Change.  Impatient with the slow pace of international
climate change negotiations, a small group of countries led by
the United States is starting a program to reduce emissions of
common pollutants that contribute to rapid climate change and
widespread health problems.  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton plans to announce the initiative at the State Department
on Thursday accompanied by officials from Bangladesh, Canada,
Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the United Nations Environment Program.

U.S. Joins Effort to Fight Climate Change.  Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton announced Thursday the formation of a new global
coalition to fight emissions other than carbon dioxide that
contribute to climate change.  The coalition—which includes
Sweden, Mexico, Canada, Bangladesh and the U.S.—will be funded
with $15 million, mostly from the U.S. It hasn't yet determined
which actions it will take to reduce the emissions, nor has it
identified specific reduction targets. Such precise goals will be
developed in coming months, a senior administration official said
on a call with reporters.  Posted. 

NM regulators repeal carbon cap and trade rules.  New Mexico's
participation in a regional cap and trade program aimed at
curbing greenhouse gas emissions became more unlikely Monday with
a unanimous vote by state regulators.  The decision by the
Environmental Improvement Board to repeal the cap and trade rules
came in response to petitions filed by New Mexico's largest
electric utilities, oil and gas developers and others who feared
the rules would push businesses and jobs to neighboring states. 
Gov. Susana Martinez, a critic of regulating carbon emissions at
the state level, was pleased with the board's decision, spokesman
Scott Darnell said.  Posted. 


Chinese VP set for 2-day Calif. Visit.  Chinese Vice President Xi
Jinping's visit to Los Angeles will be a reminder of his
country's big footprint at the busiest port in the United
States—nearly 60 percent of the imports moving through the Port
of Los Angeles come from China, $120 billion worth of computers,
TVs, sneakers and other goods last year.  But the visit comes at
a politically challenging time in U.S.-China relations, with the
White House sending stern messages on currency and trade policies
and Republican presidential candidates charging President Barack
Obama isn't doing enough to keep America competitive with the
Chinese economy.  Posted.  

AP Newsbreak:





Rail yards: Clean-up plan prompts contempt allegation.  Railroad
officials have asked a federal judge to find Southern
California’s air quality chief Barry Wallerstein and other air
district officials in contempt of court in a long-running legal
dispute over efforts to reduce diesel pollution coming from rail
yards.  Attorneys representing Union Pacific, BNSF Railway and
the American Railroad Association contend that Wallerstein, his
planning officer and top attorney violated a 2007 court order by
including rules to limit locomotive idling in a regional air
clean-up plan that must be approved by state and federal
agencies.  Posted. 


Time for an oil change: Americans strongly oppose fossil fuel
subsidies.  As part of the fiscal year 2013 budget [PDF] released
on Feb. 13, President Obama proposed to eliminate $40 billion in
tax breaks for oil and gas producers over the next 10 years.
Yesterday, the Yale Project on Climate Change reiterated its
recent finding that Americans of all political stripes oppose
subsidies for “coal, oil, and natural gas companies.” They oppose
these subsidies by 70 percent to 30 percent — better than two to
one. Republicans oppose these subsidies by 67 percent to 34
percent (reflects rounding of percentages).  Posted. 


City moving forward with manure-to-power project.  A Southern
California city known as Horsetown USA because of its equestrian
lifestyle is moving forward with a proposed $36 million
manure-to-power conversion plant.  The Norco City Council voted
Wednesday to go ahead with an environmental impact report. 


Tesla will help develop new electric Mercedes-Benz.  Electric car
company Tesla Motors Inc. announced that it has a deal to provide
the powertrain for a new Mercedes-Benz vehicle, even as it moves
closer to manufacturing its own vehicles later this year.  The
Palo Alto automaker also said Wednesday that it expected revenue
to roughly triple this year, when it will begin selling the Tesla
Model S sedan, its first ground-up design. The company is about
to launch production of the Model S at its factory in Fremont,
Calif.  Posted. 

Personal car-sharing is a new twist on auto rentals.  Emily
Castor's metallic gray Honda has been driven by dozens of people
she's never met.  They treat it well, pay any tickets they get
and do the dirty work of finding a legal parking spot when they
return it to her neighborhood near Golden Gate Park.  Castor, 29,
is pulling in hundreds of dollars each month through one of
several personal car-sharing companies that have burgeoned in the
Bay Area over the last year. For $8 an hour or $45 a day, renters
can climb behind the wheel of her Civic. Insurance is included. 

No free rides: States consider taxing electric cars.  Electric
cars are finally picking up speed on American roads after being
stalled out for a decade or two. The new cars are zippy, they
corner like they’re on rails, and they’re a hell of a lot cheaper
to drive than the gas burning kind.  But that last part might
change: Several states, including Washington and Arizona, are now
considering taxing electric vehicles. And while many electric car
drivers seem game, others are concerned that a tax could bomb a
nascent industry on the runway, just as it is finally about to
take off.  Posted. 

Electric vehicle market: myths and facts in 2012.  Prior EV
market predictions by leading consulting and research institutes
have been proven wrong by the slow sales of EVs in the market.
Analysts have now begun to re-evaluate their judgements for
market trends, presenting a more realistic view that the global
EV market will probably endure a slower growth in the near
future.  Many consultancies, market research institutes and EV
websites have released their predictions regarding the EV market
growth during the past few years. Most of these forecasts seemed
to suggest that we have moved into the decade of EVs. However,
slow sales growth of EVs in the market defied these predictions.
Leading analysts have begun to re-evaluate their judgements for
the EV market in the future.  Posted. 


On Our Radar: Climate Change and Curriculums.  The unauthorized
release of financial and other documents from the conservative
Heartland Institute revives a controversy over efforts by climate
denialists to influence school curriculums. [The New York Times] 
The Texas Forest Service says that the current drought has killed
5.6 million trees in the state’s cities alone. [The Austin
Amefrican-Statesman]  Environmental regulators in Michigan reach
a deal under which Dow Chemical will clean up to 1,400
residential properties in Midland, the site of its corporate
headquarters and a plant that polluted the area with dioxin for
much of the past century. [Associated Press]  Posted. 

The Heartland Files and the Climate Fight.  The Heartland
Institute, a private group backed by industry and independent
donors opposed to government regulation, has for years supported
an array of efforts fighting restrictions on greenhouse gases.
There’s no great secret there.  A blog storm began building
Tuesday and broke on Wednesday as environmental groups posted a
batch of documents — ranging from tax forms to lists of donors to
a 2012 Heartland “climate strategy” — that appeared to expose the
group’s game plan, budgets and backers in remarkable detail. 

EVs in China create more pollutants than gas-powered cars.  The
University of Tennessee has just come up with a theory about
China electric vehicles that may have some believing that there
was a little too much of the local whiskey involved in the
process.  According to a report released by the university, EVs
in China are more environmentally harmful than gas-powered
vehicles when factoring in how electricity is produced. The study
claims that, when calculating "well-to-wheel" emissions, EVs can
be just as harmful as – wait for it – diesel buses. The study,
which calculated five types of vehicles and their effect on air
quality in 34 Chinese cities, factored in all particulate matter
produced in the electricity production process, including dust
particles, metals, organic chemicals and acids.  Posted. 

Washington State senate passes $100 annual fee for electric
vehicles.  Washington State's senate has passed a bill that would
impose an annual fee of $100 to electric-vehicle drivers in an
effort to compensate for the gas taxes that EV drivers don't pay,
the Associated Press reported.  The fee, which doesn't apply to
hybrids or neighborhood-electric vehicles, will be used for road
services that would be otherwise paid through gas taxes.
Washington charges 37.5 cents a gallon in fuel taxes. The bill,
which passed by a two-to-one margin, will next be voted on by the
state's house of representatives, the wire service said.  Posted.

Methane, Soot Are Targets Of New U.S. Climate Initiative.  The
United States and five other nations are embarking on a new
program to limit pollutants connected to global warming. But
they're not targeting carbon dioxide with this effort — instead,
they're looking at methane gas, and soot.  NPR's Richard Harris
filed this report for our Newscast desk: "Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton says the U.S. is teaming up with Canada, Mexico,
Sweden, Ghana and Bangladesh to get countries thinking about some
potent contributors to climate change."  Posted. 

No light at the end of the tunnel, as regulators and railroads
are still fighting about air quality.  Railyard companies are
asking a federal court to find the executive director of this
region's air quality management district in contempt, according
to lawyers familiar with the case and news reports out of the
Inland Empire.  The move comes in a court battle over rules
governing idling locomotives California and regional air
regulators tried to make. The California Air Resources Board and
the South Coast Air Quality Management District want to limit
diesel particulate pollution from trains because that kind of
pollution is associated with way higher cancer rates in fence
line neighborhoods. Railroads have long claimed that California
can't do that, because federal law precludes the state from
regulating matters of interstate commerce. In 2007, a federal
district court judge agreed. And so since then, the air district
hasn't tried to enforce those rules.  Posted. 

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