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newsclips -- Newsclips for February 27, 2012

Posted: 27 Feb 2012 14:21:38
ARB News Clips for February 27, 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.


Valley under high pollution advisory, windy conditions likely.
The Valley is under a high pollution advisory Monday with the
anticipated arrival of wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour in an
area that hasn't seen rain in two months. With the pollution
advisory from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality,
the Maricopa County Air Quality Department has also put "no burn
day" restrictions into place. Monday afternoon or evening, a dry,
cold front is expected to move through the Valley. Posted.


EPA Plans to Keep Carbon Rules Limited to Top Polluters. The
Environmental Protection Agency proposed keeping U.S. limits on
permitting requirements for greenhouse-gas emissions to power
plants and other sources that discharge more than 100,000 tons
per year. The proposal, posted on the agency’s website on Feb. 24
without notification, would maintain standards established in
2010 for new or revamped plants. The rules require companies
building qualifying plants to get state permits, and to use “best
available” control technologies. Posted.

EU Lawmakers Seen Backing Moves on CO2 Market. BRUSSELS—European
Union lawmakers are expected Tuesday to back the possible
withdrawal of carbon-dioxide emissions permits from the EU carbon
market, but are likely to soften the language from a previous
proposal that had triggered a 30% jump in CO2 prices. The energy
committee of the European Parliament, which is negotiating a
draft energy efficiency law on behalf of the assembly…Posted.
Scientists say cassava will thrive in climate change, best bet
for African farmers.  Calling cassava “the Rambo of food crops,”
scientists Monday said the long-neglected root becomes even more
productive in hotter temperatures and could be the best bet for
African farmers threatened by climate change.  Cassava is the
second most important source of carbohydrate in sub-Saharan
African, after maize, and is eaten by around 500 million people
every day, scientists said.  Posted. 

Much to Savor, and Worry About, Amid Mild Winter’s Early Blooms.
At the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, an experimental
plot was in full flower on a recent February afternoon, as the
thermometer edged toward 60. The Japanese camellias, which
typically bloom in early spring, have displayed their rose-hued
flowers continuously since December. Honeybees, a rarity before
late March, were nursing the tiny pink clusters on a Dawn
viburnum, while the Adonis amurensis, a ground-hugging spring
ephemeral, was a profusion of yellow. Posted. 

Global warming feeds bark beetles: Are they unstoppable? Hear the
sound of chewing out in our vast forests of lodgepole pine,
spruce and fir, the chewing that’s already destroyed half the
commercial timber in important regions like British Columbia?
That’s the sound of climate change, says biologist Reese Halter.
Global warming in the form of a bark beetle. Halter’s short but
disturbing new book, “The Insatiable Bark Beetle,” addresses one
of the biggest and most visible issues facing global forests, and
particularly the relatively large forests left in the U.S. and
Canada. Posted.

Students compete in environmental competition. Twenty-eight teams
of students from seven schools are participating in the second
Ventura County Idea to Impact competition. Idea to Impact
originated when Edison International's Edison Challenge was
discontinued in August 2010 and Ventura County teachers didn't
want to tell the students, who had already come up with their
topics. The Ventura County Office of Education and CSU Channel
Islands created a version of their own, according to Debby West
of the Oak Park Unified School District. Posted. 

EPA greenhouse gas rules face new legal challenges. U.S. limits
on greenhouse gas emissions face a challenge in federal court
this week from more than 100 industry groups and several U.S.
states, the latest high-profile effort to halt or overturn the
Environmental Protection Agency's rules. Three federal judges
will hear arguments on Tuesday and Wednesday at the D.C. Court of
Appeals from groups seeking to overturn the regulations and also
convince the judges that the science used by the EPA is wrong.
Posted. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/10115841

Reducing Production of Super Greenhouse Gas Under Montreal
Protocol Is Critical Climate Strategy. Phasing down the
production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the
Montreal Protocol ozone treaty is one of the most effective
climate protection strategies available to the world today: it
could substantially eliminate emissions of one of the fastest
growing greenhouse gases globally. Low-climate-impact substitutes
for HFCs are already available and could be quickly adopted. 
Posted. http://www.enn.com/press_releases/3938/print


Sweating Rocks for Oil Splits Shell, Environmentalists. A
proposal to tap the world’s largest oil-shale deposits in the
western U.S. by heating rocks until petroleum sweats out has
become the latest election-year conflict over energy policy.
Companies including Chevron Corp. (CVX), Royal Dutch Shell Plc
(RDS/A), an Estonia utility called Eesti Energia AS, and a joint
venture of Genie Energy Ltd. and France’s Total SA (FP), are
seeking to tap into as much as 4.29 trillion barrels of oil.

Canadian firm to push ahead with part of Keystone pipeline.  The
Canadian firm hoping to build a massive oil pipeline from Canada
to the U.S. gulf coast announced Monday that it will push ahead
with plans to build a $2.3 billion segment of the pipeline
running from Cushing, Okla., to Port Arthur, Tex., while
submitting a separate permit application for the portion of the
project running from the Canadian border to Steele City, Neb. 

Keystone XL: Trans-Canada not giving up, forges ahead on 2
fronts. Reporting from Seattle— The Canadian pipeline company
thwarted last year in its bid to build the 1,700-mile Keystone XL
oil pipeline from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast hasn't given up.
The company on Monday announced its intention to reapply for a
permit for the project -- and to proceed immediately with plans
to build the southern portion of the pipeline, from Oklahoma to
the coast. Posted.

Gas prices soaring in Sacramento. Sacramento-area gasoline prices
are in full flight. The average price of gas in the Sacramento
area rose a whopping 24.6 cents to $4.19 a gallon over the past
week, according to today's weekly report by
www.SactoGasPrices.com, a www.GasBuddy.com website. That was on
top of a nearly 20-cent increase the week before. Local pump
prices are now 50.3 cents per gallon higher than one year ago,
and 55.1 cents above last month. Nationally, the average price
jumped 11.3 cents to $3.64 a gallon. That's 26.6 cents higher
than last month and 29.8 cents higher than last year. Posted.

Amyris captures $83.7 million in new financing to close cash flow
gap, shares surge. Amyris has landed $83.7 million in additional
financing, a combination of equity and debt, helping the
Emeryville-based biofuels company to combat its woes in scaling
up production, Amyris said Monday. The financing includes a $58.7
million private placement of stock by new investors, including a
company owned by Qatar-based Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa
Al-Thani, as well as existing investors such as France-based
Total Gas & Power. Amyris also obtained $25 million in
convertible debt that's due in 2017. Posted.


Nissan recalling vehicles for possible gas leaks.  Nissan says it
is recalling more than 79,000 vehicles in the U.S. to fix
possible gasoline leaks.  The automaker is recalling certain
Nissan Juke small crossover SUVs, Infiniti QX large SUVs and
Infiniti M sedans from the 2011 and 2012 model years.  The
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says on its
website that fuel pressure sensors on the vehicles may not be
tight enough and gasoline could leak and cause a fire. Nissan
says no fires have been reported.  Posted. 

AP Newsbreak:

Tech companies taking a second look at county. When people think
of the United Parcel Service, the international company's
well-marketed catch phrase describing its brown delivery trucks
likely comes to mind: "What can brown do for you?" Stockton's
Electric Vehicles International company, however, had a different
thought: "What can green do for brown?" EVI is hard at work
building 100 electric delivery trucks under a multimillion dollar
contract with UPS, a company that wants to modernize its
California fleet. EVI Marketing and Sales Director Frank Jenkins
said the brown trucks will go 90 miles per charge. Posted. 

Detroit automakers race to keep up with sales. Auto sales are
growing so fast that Detroit can barely keep up. Three years
after the U.S. auto industry nearly collapsed, sales of cars and
trucks are surging. Sales could exceed 14 million this year,
above last year's 12.8 million. The result: Carmakers are adding
shifts and hiring thousands of workers around the country.

Battery maker, Shanghai at odds over lead report. As Shanghai
authorities and major battery maker Johnson Controls clash over
what caused a spate of lead poisoning cases, families of the
dozens of children recovering from the contamination are fretting
over future risks from the heavy metal. Shanghai has prohibited
the U.S. battery maker from resuming lead processing at its
automotive battery plant in the city's outskirts following a
probe that blames the company for excess lead emissionsPosted. 

EVs in fleets: What are the benefits?  "In the right
circumstances EVs can provide a clear benefit for business now",
reads a recently launched report "EV 20 Plugged-In Fleets" that
provides a guidance to fleet managers on employing electric
vehicles (EVs) in fleets. It demonstrates the economic and
environmental advantages of EVs in the United Kingdom (UK) while
considering their life cycle.  Posted. 

Tesla: Blogger's battery post sparks ‘irrational' fear over
'bricking'. Electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc. said a blog post
asserting Roadster batteries are at risk of failing if owners
don't keep the cars plugged in stoked an "irrational" fear. "A
single blogger is spreading a rumor about electric vehicles
becoming inoperable," a condition referred to as "bricking," the
Palo Alto, Calif.-based company said Friday on its website.


How Big a Battery Would It Take to Power All of the U.S.? Haresh
Kamath of the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto,
Calif., says many factors will determine how much storage is
needed. What penetration of renewables do people want? What level
are they willing to pay for? How much transmission are they
willing to live with? What kind of loads are they likely to use?
And what level of reliability are they prepared to live with?


Berkeley Law: environmental law. When Joe Sax joined the Berkeley
Law faculty in 1986, he had already pioneered a new approach to
protecting natural resources. His legal strategy found a
receptive audience in the courts. Sax's "public trust doctrine"
fueled a series of legal efforts by Californians to protect the
state's streams, lakes and tidelands from pollution,
overdevelopment and private exploitation. Sax's strategy helped
save Tomales Bay in Point Reyes from commercial development.

Cannella's hearing on ag hears from those affected by state
regulations.  Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) held an
informational hearing of the California Senate Committee on
Agriculture, which he chairs. The hearing covered the impact the
state’s regulations have on the agriculture industry. “Today’s
hearing was a great opportunity for me to hear directly from
those involved in the agriculture community exactly how they are
impacted by state regulation,” Cannella said in a news release.

Big changes ahead at Port of Stockton. If Santa Claus came a
little late to the Port of Stockton this year, nobody's
complaining. Santa's sleigh, in the form of the U.S.-flagged
Ocean Titan, arrived in the first week of January to deliver two
giant harbor cranes. And those tagged to operate the
state-of-the-art behemoths - each reaching as high as 220 feet
and weighing 400 tons - couldn't be more pleased. "I love it,"
said Mike Holman, as he participated in operator training earlier
this month. "I haven't been so happy in a long time." Posted. 


Carbon emission policy could slash debt, improve environment.  At
the end of this year, the United States will confront a trifecta
of difficult fiscal challenges: The Bush tax cuts will be set to
expire; the defense budget and spending on civilian programs will
face a $110 billion sequester; and a new extension of the federal
debt limit will be looming.  At the same time, the evidence will
be clearer than ever that urgent action is needed to protect our
nation and the world from irreversible climate change. The
overwhelming scientific consensus will have grown even stronger.

EDITORIAL: Global warming’s desperate caper. Climate scientist’s
theft of Heartland document backfires. 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.

Is the fight against global warming hopeless?  IS THE FIGHT
against global warming hopeless? It can seem so. The long-term
threat to the climate comes from carbon dioxide, which lingers in
the atmosphere for hundreds of years, locking in higher
temperatures for generations. After decades of effort, only about
one-tenth of America’s energy mix comes from renewable sources
that don’t produce carbon dioxide.  But two policies can buy the
world more time to allow carbon-free technologies to catch up.

Airlines, Emissions and Europe’s Sensible Plan. The carbon
dioxide from airplanes accounts for about 3 percent of the
world’s greenhouse gas emissions, a share projected to go up as
air traffic rises. The European Union is now requiring airlines
that fly into or out of Europe to pay a fee for these emissions.
This is a smart response to an urgent problem. The United States
and the other nations opposing the program should either come up
with a better idea — soon — or drop their objections. Posted. 

The greening of faith. Santorum is at odds with his own church on
environmental issues. It has long been a maxim that mixing
religion and politics can spell trouble. So when Rick Santorum
told a partisan crowd in Columbus, Ohio, recently that President
Obama's worldview was based on a "phony theology" that drives
"radical environmentalists," he must have known his comments
would reverberate far beyond his conservative political base.
Santorum was speaking of efforts to forestall the worst effects
of climate change through controls on greenhouse gas emissions
from fossil fuels, and policies aimed at encouraging the
development of renewable sources of energy. Posted.

CLIMATE CHANGE. Truth and denial. Scientist Peter Gleick has
given climate-change deniers exactly what they wanted: something
to focus on besides the reality of the overwhelming scientific
consensus that the planet is warming at an alarming rate and that
emissions generated by humans are a major cause. Don't look here
for sympathy for Gleick, an oft-quoted source for stories on a
wide array of water and science issues, an occasional contributor
to our opinion pages and a regular blogger on SFGate's City
Brights feature. Posted.
Respected voice of climate change has his own meltdown. Peter
Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute and a prominent
climate change expert, admitted recently that he lied. He
pretended to be someone else to obtain documents from the
Heartland Institute, which has challenged mainstream scientific
consensus on the role of man in climate change. Earlier this
month, Gleick was the chairman of the American Geophysical
Union's Task Force on Scientific Ethics. Posted. 

US energy independence requires a balanced strategy. Conserving
energy and developing new energy sources. Those used to be "good
things." But that was before this election year made them
political footballs to be kicked around. I suppose if I wanted
to, I could heat and cool my home and leave my lights burning
without regard for how much energy I am consuming. And in
truck-driving Kern County, I could join a lot of other people on
the road, and roar between my home and downtown Bakersfield
office in a four-wheel-drive gas-guzzler. Posted. 

AB 32: A misguided state law based on a dubious theory. AB 32,
the Global Warming Solutions Act, became a law in 2006 under Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger. The law set a goal of greenhouse emissions
reduction by 2020: bring carbon emissions down to 1990 levels and
produce 30 percent of energy from "renewable sources." The
California Air Resources Board has been given authority to
develop a plan to reach this goal. The bureaucrats even formed an
Environmental Justice Committee. Posted. 

REGION: Watts up? Mitsubishi volts into e-race. When I got the
call, my reaction was decidedly low octane. I hemmed, hawed,
hedged and hung up. A couple of days later, I paid $4.05 for gas.
Five days later, the price was 30 cents a gallon higher. I really
had to make a decision. Early Friday morning, a KNX radio
announcer said something that sounded very much like, “Five
dollars and nine cents for gas in LA.” That did it. All signs
pointed to San Berdoo. Posted. 

Brown pins legacy to Calif. high-speed rail plans. Critics have
called it the train to nowhere and a $98 billion boondoggle. As
concerns mount over the practicality and affordability of
California's plan to build a high-speed rail system, even many
former supporters are beginning to sound skeptical. Not so Gov.
Jerry Brown. He has emerged as the most vocal cheerleader of a
project that is as risky as it is ambitious. Building a
first-in-the-nation project would provide a lasting legacy for
the 73-year-old Democratic governor as he moves into the twilight
of a long political career. Posted. 


Will the EPA’s new climate rules get killed in court? Congress
isn’t planning to tackle climate change anytime soon, which means
the Environmental Protection Agency is now America’s last line of
defense. But could the EPA’s new rules on carbon pollution get
tossed out by the courts? We’re about to find out. To regulate or
not to regulate? (David Spencer - Associated Press) On Tuesday,
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear two days
of oral arguments from industry groups that are challenging the
EPA’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide. Posted.

The Wages of Eco-Angst. The carbon dioxide from airplanes
accounts for about 3 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas
emissions, a share projected to go up as air traffic rises. The
European Union is now requiring airlines that fly into or out of
Europe to pay a fee for these emissions. This is a smart response
to an urgent problem. The United States and the other nations
opposing the program should either come up with a better idea —
soon — or drop their objections. Posted. 

A Second N.Y. Ruling Upholds Local Authority Over Gas Drilling.
After two state judges upheld drilling bans established by two
upstate towns in New York, the question becomes: how many more
towns will go ahead and pass their own prohibitions on
hydrofracking? A New York state judge ruled Friday that the town
of Middlefield in Otsego County can ban natural gas drilling
within its borders, the second time in a week that a state court
has affirmed local authority  over the drilling process known as
hydrofracking. Posted. 

Heartland Institute Reveals E-Mail Trail. For those following the
tale of the documents stolen from the Heartland Institute, that
organization has just posted what it describes as the e-mail
trail by which the scientist Peter Gleick obtained material meant
for Heartland board members. The posting includes screen shots of
the e-mails with most identifying details blacked out. But it’s
nonetheless easy to follow the chain of events. Heartland has a
fresh statement about the e-mails. Posted. 

Hybrid Army tank renderings, some specs revealed. New renderings
and some specifications for the hybrid-electric U.S. Army tank
that's been in the works for more than four years have been
revealed. BAE Systems, which demonstrated the first hybrid-drive
ground-combat vehicle (GCV) in August 2007, says the tank is as
much as 20 percent more fuel-efficient than conventional
diesel-powered tanks and is quicker – relatively speaking, of
course – off the line. The 70-ton tank has room for 12. Posted. 

Tesla libel suit against Top Gear fails again. Tesla and the
company's lawyers are nothing if not determined. After a judge
smacked down the electric vehicle manufacturer's libel suit
against the BBC and Top Gear for comments made about the range of
the Tesla Roadster, the automaker rallied with a second, amended
lawsuit. It didn't take long for the same judge to nix the new
case, too, saying the amendment was "not capable of being
defamatory at all, or, if it is, it is not capable of being a
sufficiently serious defamatory meaning to constitute a real and
substantial tort." Posted. 

A New Battery of Tools to Fight Patent Pollution.  The America
Invents Act (AIA) of 2011 is the most sweeping reform of the US
patent laws since 1952. The new law seeks in part to harmonize
the US with the rest of the world by converting the US from a
“first to invent” country to a “first to file” a patent
application country. In addition, the AIA adds tools to the
repertoire of accused infringers for challenging the validity of
issued patents at the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). 

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