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newsclips -- Newsclips for February 17, 2012

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 13:18:10
ARB News Clips for February 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.


An Upside to China’s Air Pollution: More Snowfall in the Sierra
Nevada. A storm of yellow dust darkens the skies above Beijing,
an increasingly familiar phenomenon blamed on the disappearance
of Asian forests. A week later, in California’s Sierra Nevada
mountain range, where annual precipitation levels are expected to
decline as the climate changes, a snowstorm delights skiers. The
storms are starkly different and separated by thousands of miles,
but scientists have discovered that they are linked. Posted. 

Republicans use rare tactic to block 2 Obama rules. Republicans
in Congress are launching bids to nullify Obama administration
rules that would speed up union elections and set new air
pollution standards for the nation's oldest and dirtiest power
plants. The rarely used tactic requires a simple majority for
passage. Both have a chance at clearing the Senate, but a vote
would force some Democrats to take a public stand on two volatile
issues in an election year.

LIBERTY QUARRY: Supervisors turn down mine, 3-2. Seven years of
debate over a proposed Temecula-area rock quarry came down to a
tense hearing and a swing vote as Riverside County supervisors
voted 3-2 Thursday to reject one of the most divisive land-use
projects in recent memory. Cheers erupted, tears flowed and
orange hats were waved by orange-clad Liberty Quarry opponents as
the Board of Supervisors denied an appeal by quarry developer
Granite Construction. Posted. 


EU to persevere with airline carbon emissions tax. Governments
opposed to the European Union's new carbon emissions tax for
airlines should not underestimate its determination to curb
climate-changing gases, the EU's climate chief warned Friday.
Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner for climate action,
also challenged nations that don't like the EU program to propose
their own ways of cutting carbon emissions, rather than just
criticizing the plan which went into effect on Jan. 1.


EU's Airline-Emissions Fees Face Challenge. Diplomats from
countries opposed to the European Union's levies on airline
emissions plan to meet in Moscow next week to discuss responses
and potential retaliation, according to a draft agenda. The group
of more than 25 countries, including the U.S., Russia, China,
India and Brazil, contends that the EU is exceeding its legal
authority by imposing emissions charges on airlines for portions
of flights outside the 27-country bloc. Posted. 

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. 

Climate change doubter Heartland Institute documents leaked. Once
in a while, there comes along a reason to believe in karma.
Earlier this week, the Heartland Institute, a self-described
“free-market think tank” that pilloried climate scientists whose
stolen emails were released in 2009 as part of the so-called
Climategate flap, found itself duped out of several confidential
fundraising documents that were then distributed widely over the
Internet, offering a glimpse of its priorities. Posted. 

Leaks show group's climate efforts. Leaked documents from a
prominent conservative think tank show how it sought to teach
schoolchildren skepticism about global warming and planned other
behind-the-scenes tactics using millions of dollars in donations
from big corporate names. More than $14 million of the money used
by the Chicago-based Heartland Institute would come from one
anonymous man, according to the documents prepared for a meeting
of the group's board.


Bay Area Climate Change Plans Lack Regional Cooperation. New York
City has a plan to keep the subways from flooding. Queensland,
Australia, has a plan to keep agricultural lands from drying up.
Chicago has a plan to cope with higher temperatures. In the Bay
Area, where climate change is expected to cause flooding,
shoreline erosion, heat waves, water shortages and a spread of
exotic infectious diseases, it seems as if people are drowning in
plans — but with little regional coordination. Posted. 

Downtown housing goal slashed by 90%. The number of new downtown
homes envisioned in a draft plan to combat climate change has
been slashed by 90 percent, alarming those who say the new target
is not ambitious enough. Until recently, development of the
city's climate plan centered on building 3,000 new housing units
downtown by 2020. But the draft plan, released earlier this
month, aims for 300 units. Posted. 


Report: natural gas could help Fairbanks. A study on building a
natural gas distribution network in the Fairbanks area has some
good news for residents.  The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (
http://bit.ly/xZccKM) says the study finds that bringing natural
gas to the area would help residents with their heating bills and
improve air quality in Alaska's second largest city.  Once fully
rolled out, the study says natural gas is estimated to reduce the
borough's fine particulate pollution by as much as 93 percent.
The study says it also would result in anywhere between $800 and
$2,700 of yearly savings for home heating, depending on the final
price of gas. Posted. 


Kennedy High receives green-planning grant. Kennedy High School
is receiving a $15,000 planning grant from the state Clean
Technology and Renewable Energy California Partnership Academy
program. The money is being used to plan the Green Technology
Academy at Kennedy, in collaboration with the Mission Valley
Regional Occupational Program, to educate and train students for
opportunities in the industry. "Students will benefit from real
world learning opportunities through internships, technical
lectures from trade experts, job shadowing, hands-on projects,
and community-based learning," Mission Valley ROP Superintendent
Pete Murchison said in a statement. Posted. 

Industry petitions U.S. to ease grid limits. The Solar Energy
Industries Association (SEIA) is sending a petition today to
federal regulators proposing a solution to a standard that has
limited the amount of solar power that can be added to homes in
booming regions like California, Hawaii and New Jersey. These
states have seen solar panels, boosted by falling prices and
generous subsidies, bloom on rooftops at a record pace. The surge
has come so quickly, in fact, that sections of the grid have run
into what's known as the 15 percent rule, a standard that has
effectively capped rooftop solar installations, frustrating
consumers and retailers alike. Posted. 


Resurgent General Motors posts record $7.6-billion profit for
2011. Three years after nearly collapsing into liquidation, a
resurgentGeneral Motors Co.has posted its best annual profit,
surpassing what it earned during its heyday in the mid-1990s. In
earning $7.6 billion last year, the automaker demonstrated how it
has capitalized on its 2009 bankruptcy reorganization and federal
bailout to shed brands, slash debt, rewrite union contracts and
close surplus factories. Posted. 

Chrysler Pulls Loan Request. Chrysler Group LLC on Thursday
withdrew its application for a $3.5 billion low-interest loan
from the U.S. Department of Energy to be used to fund research
and tooling for more fuel-efficient vehicles. "The DOE's proposed
terms were very restrictive and compliance would have negatively
affected our operational flexibility," a Chrysler spokeswoman
said on Thursday. The decision won't impact Chrysler's ability to
achieve its previously announced business targets, she said.


Did not mislead. Your Feb. 13 editorial concerning the
small-claims court case brought against Honda is based on an
erroneous assertion - that Honda misled its customers by
advertising the U.S. EPA fuel economy ratings of the Civic
Hybrid.  The fuel economy numbers issued by the U.S. EPA that are
at the center of this debate were established to help consumers
make apples-to-apples comparisons between competing vehicles,
based on a federal government standard for the measurement and
certification of every new vehicle's fuel economy. Posted. 


Brown's budget can't count on cap-and-trade revenue, analyst
says. In another blow to the state budget, the state's
Legislative Analyst's Office said Gov. Jerry Brown should not
count on $500 million in revenue from California's controversial
cap-and-trade emissions control program to help balance the
budget. Only one-fifth of that sum could be spent without major
hurdles, the nonpartisan office concluded in a report issued
Thursday. Posted. 

For Mexico City, a Repurposed Landfill. In developing countries,
closing a landfill often means just that: locking the gate and
walking away. But when Mexico City’s government shut down the
giant Bordo Poniente landfill last December, officials announced
that they had a full-blown plan for the site. As I write in
Friday’s Times, the city aims to capture the methane gas produced
by the landfill to fuel a power plant that could supply
electricity to as many as 35,000 homes. Posted. 

Future Fuel Economy Mandates, Part II: Ford. In response to my
last column on this subject – Future Fuel Economy Mandates, Part
I: 54.5 mpg is going to be hard to reach – commenter TxPatriot
wondered why (non-hybrid) modern cars can't deliver the 53-58-mpg
fuel economy he says his 1989 Geo Metro does. "I've yet to
receive a satisfactory answer to this question," he wrote. Well,
for starters, that 23-year-old econobox did not have to carry the
structure and all the equipment necessary to meet 2012 federal
safety, damageability and emissions standards, or the suite of
comfort, convenience and infotainment features even today's small
econocars must have to compete. 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.

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