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newsclips -- Newsclips for February 29, 2012

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 15:43:29
ARB News Clips for February 29, 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.


China orders more accurate air-quality measure.  China's cabinet
ordered on Wednesday new air-quality standards to measure the
most dangerous form of particulate matter, following a public
outcry over worsening air pollution.  The State Council told 31
major regional capitals including Beijing and Shanghai to begin
monitoring PM2.5 particulate, or fine particles measuring 2.5
microns in diameter, this year, the cabinet said on its website. 
The new measure -- which had been demanded by environmental
campaigners -- would be compulsory for 113 more cities in 2013,
it said.  Posted. 
GenOn Will Shut Plants Through 2015 on Environmental Rules. GenOn
Energy Inc. (GEN), the third-largest U.S. independent power
producer by market value, expects to shut about 13 percent of its
generating capacity by May 2015 because of environmental
regulations. Shutdowns will begin in June at the units, which
don’t generate enough profit to cover the costs of complying with
the rules, Houston-based GenOn said today in a statement. Posted.

Utilities announce closure of 10 aging power plants in Midwest,
East.  Two separate utilities announced the closure of 10 aging
U.S. power plants Wednesday, a move environmental groups hailed
as a major victory in their ongoing effort to phase out the
nation’s coal-fired electricity generation.  Midwest Generation,
which had come under intense pressure from environmental
activists, Chicago residents and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said
it would retire its Fisk power plant in 2012 and Crawford plant
in 2014. Posted. 

EPA’s San Joaquin Valley smog actions challenged. A Fresno-based
health group and environmental advocates are asking the 9th U.S.
Court of Appeals to force the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency to come up with a tougher plan to scour the smog from the
San Joaquin Valley’s air. Federal law set a limit on the amount
of ozone emissions allowed during a one-hour period and required
that the Valley attain the standard by November 2010. Posted.

New real-time measurements suggest that black carbon emissions
from light-duty gasoline vehicles are significantly
underestimated.  A study by researchers from Environment Canada
making real-time measurements of black carbon (BC) using two
laser-induced incandescence techniques has found that BC emission
factors from light-duty gasoline vehicles are at least a factor
of 2 higher than previous North American measurements, and a
factor of 9 higher than currently used emission inventories in
Canada, which are derived with the MOBILE 6.2C model. Their study
appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. 


Arguments preview fight on EPA greenhouse gas rules. Heavy
industry groups and states argued in a federal court on Tuesday
that U.S. environmental regulators had used faulty science in
determining that greenhouse gas emissions endangered human health
in the latest attempt to dismantle the Obama administration's
rules on the emissions. Posted.

EPA Greenhouse Gas Rules Under Scrutiny in Two-Day Hearing. The
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s limits on vehicle and
industrial emissions of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide
are being scrutinized by U.S. judges as a two-day court hearing
began in Washington. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of
Appeals is considering challenges to the agency’s finding that
greenhouse gases are pollutants that endanger human health, and
to rules determining when states and industries must comply with
regulations curtailing their use. Posted.

Rethinking Carbon Dioxide (CO2): from a pollutant to a
moneymaker. Three startup companies led by prominent scientists
are working on new technologies to remove carbon dioxide (CO2)
from the atmosphere. The scientific community is skeptical, but
these entrepreneurs believe removing CO2 can eventually be
profitable and help cool the planet. With global greenhouse gas
emissions still on the rise, despite decades of talk about
curbing them, maybe the time has come to think differently about
the climate crisis. Posted.


California bill would end smoke testing requirement for certain
trucks.  California truck drivers will likely welcome the news
about a new bill at the statehouse that would keep some money in
their pockets.  An Assembly bill would do away with a mandate
that certain trucks based in the state undergo smoke testing. 
The state’s Air Resources Board now requires owners or operators
of at least two California-based trucks, with gross vehicle
weight ratings of at least 14,000 pounds, to undergo annual
inspections of their vehicles for excessive emissions of smoke. 
Posted.  http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryID=23287


Toyota Prius plug-in cleared for Calif. rebate, carpool lanes.
Toyota Motor Corp. said the 2012 Prius plug-in hybrid has been
approved for California's Clean Vehicle Rebate Program and for
use in the state's carpool lanes. California's zero-emission
vehicle subsidy for consumers, the rebate program offers a $2,500
rebate for buyers of eligible electric, plug-in hybrid or
fuel-cell vehicles in California. Posted. 

GM-backed startup reports battery breakthrough. A startup backed
by General Motors claims it has developed a breakthrough lithium
ion battery that could slash the cost of electric vehicles. Envia
Systems said today that it has produced lighter, more powerful
battery cells than cells now used in EVs. The Newark, Calif.,
company said the technology could reduce by more than half the
cost of a battery pack in an EV with a 300-mile electric range.

Fuel cell vehicles investigated for military use.  The United
States Army is looking at hydrogen fuel cell vehicles hoping that
sometime in the near future they'll play an important military
role, maybe even on the battlefield.  The military has been
looking at alternative fuels like this because the difficulty,
expense and danger of securing oil and gasoline supplies among
other reasons.  Hydrogen fuel cells, in particular, seem
promising because of their design flexibility, said Major General
Roger Matthews, Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army
Pacific.  Posted. 

Filling up an electric car battery like a gas engine.  Check out
this idea: a next-generation electric car where you could refuel
the battery’s electrolyte in the same way you’d fill up an
internal combustion car at the gas station. Sound crazy? Well, a
startup called Eos Energy Storage is researching a
next-generation hybrid flow battery made from zinc and air that
could provide such a scenario.  The refillable flow electric car
battery isn’t the company’s first target product —Posted. 


Projects to Add Wind Power for City Gain Momentum. Despite Mayor
Michael R. Bloomberg’s long-expressed dream of putting wind
turbines on skyscrapers and bridges, the constraints of an urban
landscape have so far proved too challenging for reliable wind
power in the city, energy experts said. As a result, New York
City has been largely inactive — and behind the national curve —
in embracing wind power. But that is about to change. Posted. 

Myhrvold finds we need clean energy yesterday (and no natural
gas) to avoid being cooked.  Several years ago, Nathan Myhrvold —
former Microsoft exec, kajillionaire, inventor, founder of
Intellectual Ventures, author of the world’s most high-tech
cookbook, and all-around polymath genius type — was quoted in the
book SuperFreakonomics saying dismissive things about climate
activists. He was worried they might get “a real head of steam”
behind their “immediate and precipitous anti-carbon initiatives.”
(In retrospect, he needn’t have worried.) Instead, Myhrvold said,
we should be … researching geoengineering.  Posted. 

Making Solar Power Competitive with Coal.  By the end of the
decade, manufacturers in the United States could make solar
panels that are less than half as expensive as the ones they make
now. That would be cheap enough for solar power to compete with
electricity from fossil fuels, according to a new study in Energy
& Environmental Science. The cost reductions will come via
technology that's already being demonstrated in research labs at
startups, universities, and major solar manufacturers, and could
involve silicon, the material most solar panels are made from
today.  Posted. 


Canada's carbon lesson: Just put a price on it. Five years ago,
the province of British Columbia launched a quest to slash its
carbon emissions. Here's what it has learned. California's
implementation of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, is
meeting stiff resistance from greenhouse gas emitters and other
opponents of climate change regulation. After one (unsuccessful)
attempt to gut it at the ballot box, there remain roadblocks to
enforcement and dire predictions of economic ruin if the state
goes the whole distance. Posted.

Michael Mann's counterstrike in the climate wars. Climate change
may have dropped off the national political agenda, but
unfortunately that doesn't mean the problem has gone away. As of
January, the Earth's atmosphere contained 393 parts per million
of carbon dioxide. And rising. To understand why that's a very
sad number, it helps to know that from the dawn of human
civilization until the 19th century, the concentration was about
275 parts per million, and that many scientists believe 350 parts
per million is a sort of tipping point: …Posted.

Subterfuge vs. propaganda in global warming debate. Environmental
advocate Peter Gleick's admission that he obtained Heartland
Institute documents, including its plan to fight global warming
policies, has the wrong side answering questions. Peter Gleick is
about the last person you'd expect to put himself in the position
to be labeled a thief, a faker, and a crook. Posted.

Climate Change May Alter Earth's Rotation. The basic premise
behind man-made climate change is a simple one: Earth's
atmosphere naturally contains greenhouse gases that keep our
planet warm enough to be liveable. When we burn fossil fuels,
though, we increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere, disrupting Earth's ideal balance nature had
developed. The result is global warming (an increase in the
planet's average annual temperature) which, in turn, triggers
climate change. Posted.

Gas price spikes aren't Obama's fault. George W. Bush wasn't to
blame when gas prices surged above $4.50 a gallon in summer 2008,
and President Barack Obama is not responsible for the
30-cents-a-gallon spike we've seen since December. During Bush's
second term, speculative trading, a weak dollar and growing
demand from China and India were the culprits. Today, once again,
Wall Street speculators are part of the reason, along with the
uncertainty of supply from Iran and an increase in demand from
the improving economy. Posted. 

Why Californians pay more. California has the highest gas prices
because of the blended fuel requirement. Gasoline in our state
and the country must put all the oil companies on an equal
footing nationwide. Open up competition by having the whole
country use the same fuel! Let each refinery compete nationwide!
There is no shortage of oil or gasoline, just no incentive to
drop the price! Think about it. Oil companies are not expanding
refining capacity because they are perfectly happy the way it is!


New York and Wind Power: Can It Take Off? As we report in
Wednesday’s Times, New York is finally pursuing wind power by
planning a few projects that take advantage of the city’s coastal
features. In the meantime, many city residents can buy wind power
through their utility companies. Paul Thomas, chief executive
officer of Green Mountain Energy, a provider that offers a
“pollution free” blend of wind and hydropower through Con Edison,
said that tens of thousands of New Yorkers who buy from his
company do not mind paying a small premium for wind power.

Counting the Family Carbon. Which has the lower carbon footprint
— our life in the New Jersey suburbs or our life in a cabin in
the woods of Maine? We recently hit the halfway mark for our year
in the woods, so I now have enough data to answer the question.
As a social scientist at the Nature Conservancy, I collect data
compulsively. It’s not my only compulsion, but it’s on par with
drinking fine beers. (Sadly, the two do not mix well — unless I’m
counting beers.) Posted.

Energy Field’s Long Shots Show Off Their Stuff. ARPA-E, the
Energy Department’s program for betting on long-shot
technologies, is holding a convention in Washington this week,
and several dozen teams working on unusual ideas showed up to
hobnob with potential investors and potential government
customers. None of the technologies are ready for the market, but
that is as it should be, said Arun Mujamdar, the program’s
director. Posted. 

Nissan Leaf available nationwide in March. The wait is over.
After the initial launch in limited markets at the end of 2010
and a methodical rollout in 2011, the Nissan Leaf will finally be
available to order all around the U.S. starting pretty much
immediately. Nissan recently sent out an email that reads, in
part: Your time has arrived. Orders for the 2012 Nissan Leaf will
begin in March, making the Nissan Leaf available nationwide. we
are officially a 100% electric nation. Posted. 

BMW releases video promoting i3 and i8 electric-drive vehicles.
BMW has released a video that shows both its i3 and i8 concept
electric-drive vehicles tooling around the Chicago area, as the
German automaker looks to drum up interest in its
battery-electric vehicles. The video, titled "BMW i. Born
Electric," runs one-minute ten seconds and doesn't include any
voiceover or any facts about the cars' performance or other
details, but you can still see it after the jump. BMW said late
last year that it would debut a production version of its
battery-electric i3 four-door next year and would start making
the plug-in hybrid-electric i8 two-door sports car in 2014.

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