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newsclips -- Newsclips for February 24, 2012

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 13:07:02
ARB News Clips for February 24, 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.

Fairbanks Borough Assembly sets emission standards. FAIRBANKS,
Alaska—The North Star Fairbanks Borough Assembly has passed an
ordinance setting emission standards for wood and other fuel
burners.  Under the ordinance, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (
http://bit.ly/xXhawn) reports that the fuel-burning devices are
limited to 30 percent opacity. The ordinance goes into effect
Oct. 29.  The move by the borough followed nearly two hours of
heated public testimony Thursday night. The new standard is part
of a wider range of efforts by the borough to tackle the problem
of air pollution, which exceeds federal standards. Posted. 


Actress Lucy Lawless and Greenpeace activists climb oil-drilling
ship in New Zealand protest. Television actress Lucy Lawless
climbed aboard an oil-drilling ship Friday in New Zealand,
joining six Greenpeace activists to try to stop the vessel from
setting off for the Arctic. Speaking from atop a 174-foot
(53-meter) drilling tower aboard the Noble Discoverer in Port
Taranaki, Lawless told The Associated Press on Friday that wind
gusts were making it difficult to stay put but that she and the
other protesters planned to stay there for “as long as we
possibly can.” She said she had a “little bit” of food and some
provisions with her. Posted. 


Event highlights clean diesel technology. A day-long exhibition
and press event featuring the most modern clean diesel trucks and
tractors and highlighting the major advances in clean diesel
technology over the past decade will be held Feb. 28. The exhibit
will be held outside the CAL-EPA building in downtown Sacramento
and sponsored by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and
diesel industry officials. Posted. 


E.U. Stalemate on 'Dirty' Label for Fuel From Tar Sands. Years of
lobbying over European Union rules that would label fuel from tar
sands as more polluting than fuels from other sources reached a
stalemate Thursday when a committee of technical experts failed
to agree on the draft. The European Commission, the Union’s
executive branch, and many environmentalists say the “dirty”
label is necessary to help fuel buyers choose the least
carbon-intensive energy forms and help to curb global warming.

Alpha Natural Resources posts $733M loss. Alpha Natural Resources
posted a fourth-quarter loss Friday after booking $745 million in
charges due to weak demand for coal and also new environmental
regulations. Losses amounted to $733 million, or $3.34 per share,
for the final three months of 2011, compared with a profit of
$10.8 million, or 9 cents per share, in the same part of 2010.
Revenue more than doubled to $2.07 billion. 


Gas prices could cause election-year headache for Obama.
President Obama said Thursday that there are no “quick fixes” for
rising gasoline prices that are threatening the economic recovery
and providing fodder for attacks from his political rivals.Gas
prices have risen 29 cents per gallon since December, with
regular-grade gas now averaging $3.64 a gallon in the Washington
region at a time of year when consumers usually enjoy a respite
from price hikes. Posted. 

Bigger corn crop may help food and fuel prices. The U.S. corn
crop may rise as farmers plant the most acres since World War II,
easing pressure on higher food and fuel prices, the government
said. Soybean planting may be little changed while wheat expands.
Farmers will sow corn on 94 million acres, up 2.3 percent from
last year and the most since 1944, Joe Glauber, the chief
economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said Thursday
at a conference in Arlington, Va. The forecast was less than the
94.329 million expected by analysts in a Bloomberg News survey,
and unchanged from an estimate in the USDA's 10-year baseline
report, released Feb. 13. Posted. 

Small businesses find ways to cope with gas prices. As any driver
knows, rising gas prices can put a dent in a household budget.
For small business owners, it can hurt - or even wipe out -
profits. The recent rise in the price of gas is pressuring
business owners to find ways to protect their earnings. Some of
their strategies are simple, such as using GPS devices to track
fuel usage. Others are drastic - like moving manufacturing
operations to the U.S. from Asia. Posted. 


Register for solar power meeting. Coachella Valley property
owners can learn about the potential benefits of solar power at a
meeting hosted by the city of Palm Desert and Southern California
Edison from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday. Pre-registration is required for
the free solar connection event in the Council Chamber at Palm
Desert City Hall, 73-510 Fred Waring Drive. SCE and licensed
solar contractors will provide information, answer questions and
make appointments to evaluate homes for solar energy systems.

O’Malley vouches for wind energy bill. Gov. Martin O'Malley
testified Thursday on his offshore wind energy bill, telling a
House committee the proposal would create jobs and lower reliance
on fossil fuels while causing only a modest increase in energy
prices. Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, is taking a second crack at
establishing framework for the technology after supporting a
failed version of the legislation in the 2011 General Assembly
session. The bill would allow wind energy firms to set up
turbines off the Eastern Shore and sell renewable-energy credits
to in-state energy companies. Posted. 


Ford Boosts China Capacity. Ford Motor Co. on Friday opened its
fourth passenger-vehicle assembly plant in China, as it bets that
aggressive expansion and new-model introductions will help it
overcome strong competition in a moderating vehicle market. The
new $490 million factory in the southwestern city of Chongqing
will initially produce the latest Focus compact model. Able to
churn out up to 150,000 a year, it will take the annual capacity
of Ford's Chinese passenger-vehicle joint venture, Changan Ford
Mazda Automobile, to 600,000 vehicles, and Ford's global capacity
in "C-segment" vehicles—the class to which the Focus belongs—to
two million. Posted. 

BASF Targets Next-Generation Car Batteries. Chemicals giant BASF
on Friday underscored its plans for developing next-generation
batteries for cars and trucks, after making three acquisitions in
the technology this year alone with a total value of more than
$100 million. The German company, which released 2011 earnings on
Friday, has long been keen to reduce its dependence on cyclical
businesses like plastics and chemicals, and has recently set it
sights on developing batteries that can be used for
electro-mobility for cars and trucks. Posted.


Editorial: Rogue tactics undermine the climate crusade. As big
industries ramp up their campaign to discredit the science of
global climate change, researchers who've helped document the
threats posed by rising greenhouse gases have paid a steep price.
Some have had their emails stolen. Others have come under attack
from industry-funded groups. Still others have been summoned to
appear before hostile congressional committees. Posted. 

'Stupid' and Oil Prices. 'The American people aren't stupid,"
thundered President Obama yesterday in Miami, ridiculing
Republicans who are blaming him for rising gasoline prices. Let's
hope he's right, because not even Forrest Gump could believe the
logic of what Mr. Obama is trying to sell. To wit, that a)
gasoline prices are beyond his control, but b) to the extent oil
and gas production is rising in America, his energy policies
deserve all the credit, and c) higher prices are one more reason
to raise taxes on oil and gas drillers while handing even more
subsidies to his friends in green energy. Where to begin? Posted.

What to do about $4 gas. Angelenos don't get many opportunities
to grouse about the weather, so in this town our preferred topic
of complainversation is gasoline prices. Lately, we've had a
wealth of material. Prices at the pump have been rising for the
last five weeks, hitting an average in California of $4.035 for a
gallon of regular on Monday, a 5.2% jump over the previous week.
This is more than just an inconvenience: If the spike continues,
it could derail the nation's economic recovery. Posted. 

The Methanol Alternative to Gasoline. PRESIDENT Obama recently
called the United States the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas” and
asserted that it was time for our oil-dominated transportation
fuel market to open the door to natural gas. He’s right. It would
be cheaper for consumers and reduce the strategic importance of
oil. But first we need cars that can run on methanol, a
high-octane fuel made from converted natural gas. We’re producing
more natural gas these days than we can use, thanks to new
techniques to extract gas from shale. A recent report from the
M.I.T. Energy Initiative, “The Future of Natural Gas,” called
methanol “the liquid fuel that is most efficiently and
inexpensively produced from natural gas.” China has already taken
notice. Posted. 

Beschloss: Energy plan called a total catastrophe. Celebrated,
globally published and world-renowned energy expert Michael J.
Economides accused the Obama administration of igniting a
worldwide energy development civil war that, he believes, the
U.S. leadership is destined to lose in confrontation with China.
Speaking to a record-sized crowd of the Houston-based
Pipe-Valve-Fitting Roundtable, which meets quarter-annually, the
much-published exponent of the global energy crisis based his
contention on the “misguided” U.S. Energy Department's direction.

Infrastructure crisis looming. Maybe it was a sign, though when
it comes to the infrastructure crisis confronting Southern
California, it's not as if we need any more proof…The surge in
high-efficiency and alternative-fuel cars is draining the trust
fund used to finance transportation projects through the federal
highway gas tax, and by fiscal year 2014, the Congressional
Budget Office projects, the fund will be empty. Among the
alternatives being discussed are fees based on miles driven, an
increase in toll roads and public-private partnerships. Posted. 

Gas prices may fuel changes. The following editorial appeared in
the Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday, Feb. 22: Motorists stung
by rising gas prices may be on their own in the short term, but
it's vital that they learn how to cope - for the sake of their
household budgets as well as the nation's fragile economic
recovery. The early arrival of springtime price increases at the
gas pump is being fueled by factors beyond the control of most
consumers. Posted. 

EDITORIAL: Global warming’s desperate caper. For believers in a
science that supposedly is “settled,” global-warming advocates
are awfully concerned about the need to silence dissent. Last
week, the ethics chairman for the American Geophysical Union
resigned in disgrace over his role in a black-bag job meant to
intimidate the Heartland Institute, one of the most effective
voices questioning the anti-carbon-dioxide orthodoxy. Posted. 

Plant's conversion makes sense for valley. Wind and solar have
been the driving forces behind Kern's green energy industry, but
lesser-known projects are also contributing. A good example is
the Mt. Poso Cogeneration plant, which for 20 years produced
power for the grid and steam for nearby oil fields by burning
coal and, at times, waste tires. Thanks to a recent conversion
project, the plant now runs solely on biomass -- mainly wood
waste from local agriculture and municipal programs. Posted. 


Will Expensive Gas Push Drivers Out of Big Trucks? Spikes in fuel
prices often drive consumers to trade in their gas-guzzling
vehicles for more fuel-efficient models, but analysts say the
changes in their buying habits generally last a few months at
most. After that people tend to return to their old ways,
especially if gas prices fall significantly after a surge. But
what happens during periods of sustained high fuel prices — like
right now? Posted. 

Behind the Controversy, an Effort to Rewrite Curriculum on
Climate Change. Focus on the contents of the internal documents
leaked last week from the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based
nonprofit known for attacking climate science, has been largely
lost in the wake of the revelation of the leaker’s identity:
Peter Gleick, a scientist. But beyond the controversy and the
confession is the fact that Heartland does not deny what the two
authentic documents obtained by Dr. Gleick reveal: that the
institute is working to influence climate education in the
schools. Posted. 

Dryden Becomes New York’s Test Town on Fracking. The town of
Dryden in upstate New York doesn’t have foundries or auto
manufacturing plants. Its residents say they cherish their trees,
meadows and farms and local officials said they wanted to
preserve what one called “our country way of life” when they
passed zoning laws to keep heavy industry away. So it was not
surprising when the town board last year passed a ban on
hydrofracking. Posted. 

Proof that Disclosing Carbon Emissions Increases Stock Prices. A
new study by the University of California provides evidence that
companies that publicly announce information about their carbon
emissions will see a significant and almost immediate increase in
share price. The study, conducted by Paul Griffin of UC Davis and
Yuan Sun of UC Berkeley, involved an analysis of ten years of
news releases from Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire,
which regularly publishes press releases disclosing companies’
greenhouse gas emissions. Posted. 

GM starts deliveries of 2012 HOV-lane-eligible Chevy Volts in
California. An update at least a year-and-a-half in the making,
General Motors has just started delivering 2012 Chevrolet Volt
extended-range plug-in models that are eligible for California
customers to drive alone in that state's high-occupancy-vehicle
(HOV) lanes, as the automaker looks to spur sales from the most
populous U.S. state. In addition to HOV-lane access thanks to
enhAT-PZEV designation, 2012 Chevrolet Volt buyers can be
eligible for a $1,500 California rebate in addition to the $7,500
federal tax credit. About 140 California Chevrolet dealers will
be carrying the vehicle by the end of the month. Posted. 

Tesla bricked battery story may have a short circuit. Yesterday's
outrageous attack on electric vehicles didn't come from the GOP
(for a change), but from a seemingly disinterested blogger, one
Michael Degusta. His charges against Tesla include suggesting
that its cars will have "eventual, inevitable, catastrophic
battery failure," lambasting the company for poor warranty
service, accusing Tesla of tracking its owners without consent,
and intimating that the company is not only failing to provide
owners with proper notice of this phenomenon but also covering up
the whole sordid affair. Serious stuff, this post of his that's
rippled through the automotive web with the force of a 185-kW
electric motor. Posted. 

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