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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for March 2, 2012.

Posted: 02 Mar 2012 11:37:03
ARB Newsclips for March 2, 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.


Two-thirds of China's cities fail on air standards. Two-thirds of
China's cities currently fail to meet stricter air quality
standards that the government wants to phase in over four years
to combat notoriously smoggy skies, a senior Chinese
environmental official said Friday. The State Council, China's
Cabinet, on Wednesday issued new limits on pollutants to go into
effect nationwide by 2016. It also said major cities must launch
programs this year to regularly monitor additional kinds of
pollutants for the first time, including fine particles
associated with health problems. Posted. 

Funding down the road? Federal air pollution money might go to
transportation projects. Oroville — Oroville's in line for
federal money for a roundabout, two traffic signal projects and a
park-and-ride lot, although that list might change. 
At the last meeting of the Butte County Association of
Government, a list of recommended projects for federal Congestion
Mitigation and Air Quality funding was presented, and it included
those four. The money comes to Butte County because air pollution
here violates federal standards several times each year. Posted.

Sonoma County residents get 108 'Spare the Air' warnings. Sonoma
County residents were slapped with 108 of the 346 warning letters
issued during the Spare the Air season that ended Wednesday. That
was the most of any jurisdiction in the nine-county Bay Area.
When the Bay Area Air Quality Management District catches someone
violating the rule, a warning letter is issued. A second instance
will result in a notice of violation and a $400 fine. Posted.

Assault on clean air, science. This week a federal court in
Washington heard oral arguments on a historic case - a legal
challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency's science-based
determination that heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution is a
threat to our health and well-being. The scientific foundation
for this determination is both extensive and authoritative.
Litigants asked the court to overturn that determination. Posted.


Va. court halts quest for climate change emails. The Virginia
Supreme Court halted Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli's demand
for a former University of Virginia climate researcher's emails
Friday, ruling that he lacked authority to subpoena the records.
The ruling is a victory for the university, researcher Michael
Mann and higher education officials and faculty who claimed
Cuccinelli's "civil investigative demand" threatened to chill
academic freedom and scientific research. Posted.

TEDx video stream brings science events to Sacramento. In
back-to-back addresses, two pivotal figures in the debate over
global warming and energy policy took the stage to address an
exclusive audience Wednesday at the TED 2012 event in Long Beach.
"We have to get off oil purchased from the enemy," energy
financier T. Boone Pickens, told the audience. What followed was
a detailed case for America gaining its energy independence by
adopting natural gas as a cleaner "bridge" fuel. Posted.

Climate change skeptic's university course criticized. A group of
scientists is raising alarm about "incorrect science" in a course
at Ottawa's Carleton University that was taught for three years
by a climate change skeptic. "We describe a case in which noted
climate change deniers have gained access to the Canadian higher
education system through a course taught at Carleton University,"
the Ottawa-based Committee for the Advancement of Scientific
Skepticism said in a report this week. But the course instructor,
Tom Harris, denies there are any problems with the science he
taught. Posted.

Climate Leadership Award Winners Revealed. Twenty companies,
including IBM, San Diego Gas & Electric, Port of Los Angeles, SAP
and UPS, were named the winners of the inaugural Climate
Leadership Awards by the EPA, the Association of Climate Change
Officers (ACCO), the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
(C2ES) (formerly the Pew Center on Global Climate Change), and
The Climate Registry (TCR).The awards, presented at the Climate
Leadership Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recognize
corporate, organizational, and individual leaders for their
efforts to address climate change and reduce carbon pollution.

Linking Climate Policy to Fiscal and Environmental Reform. Both
presidential candidates in 2008 campaigned for an economy-wide
cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases as the centerpiece of
climate policy. Senator John McCain was an early and frequent
supporter of cap-and-trade, co-sponsoring a number of such bills,
including the Climate Stewardship Act of 2003 and the Climate
Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007. He campaigned on a plan
to enact an economy-wide cap-and-trade system to reduce U.S.
carbon emissions by 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Posted.

Report Details Federal Action to Address Climate Change Risks,
Impact. While the need and best way to reduce carbon emissions is
still (obtusely) being debated in Congress, the federal
government has begun a widespread effort to detail and respond to
the long-term risks posed to the U.S. by climate change. These
findings are put forward by the Center for Climate and Energy
Solutions (C2ES) in an updated report, “Climate Change
Adaptation: What Federal Agencies Are Doing.” Posted.


Polish report: shale gas extraction not harmful. A scientific
study in Poland has found that shale gas extraction at one site
produced some toxic refuse but that the waste was reused and
didn't harm the environment. The report was presented Friday by
the Polish Geological Institute, which carried out its study last
year when a company, Canadian Lane Energy, began test drilling
near Lebien, in northern Poland. Posted. 

Obama Seeks to End Subsidies for Oil and Gas Companies. With his
re-election fate increasingly tied to the price Americans are
paying at the gas pump, President Obama asked Congress on
Thursday to end $4 billion in subsidies for oil and gas companies
and vowed to tackle the country’s long-term energy issues while
shunning “phony election-year promises about lower gas prices.”
Mr. Obama, in an appearance at Nashua Community College here,
took a page out of his jobs strategy of last year, calling on
Americans to contact their Congressional representatives and
demand a vote on the oil subsidies in the next few weeks. Posted.

Big investor trims stake in Green Plains Renewable. Green Plains
Renewable Energy Inc. said Thursday that the Irish investment
firm that has been its biggest shareholder is reducing its stake
in the ethanol and corn oil producer. The Omaha-based company
said that the shareholder, NTR PLC, plans to sell 3 million Green
Plains shares in a public offering that has been priced at $10.41
per share. In addition, Green Plains said it will buy back
another 3.7 million of its shares from NTR at the same price paid
by the public offering's underwriter. Posted. 


Auto Sales Pick Up Pace Despite Rising Gas Prices. Auto sales
jumped 16 percent last month to the highest level since before
the recession, helped by declining unemployment and improving
consumer confidence even as gasoline prices topped $4 a gallon in
parts of the country. The seasonally adjusted, annualized selling
rate for new vehicles, a closely watched indication of the auto
industry’s health, climbed to 15.1 million in February. It was
the first time the rate reached that level since 2008. Posted. 

Robotic cars get boost from Alex Padilla's bill. Robotic cars may
have just turned a corner in California. Several years after
Google's autonomous vehicles began zipping up and down the
state's highways, a legislator has introduced a bill that would
potentially clear the way for everyday use. Sen. Alex Padilla's
proposal affirms the legality of such automobiles and sets down a
process for creating safety rules. Posted.

Five questions with CARB: Why is California pushing for electric
cars? Today, we kick off a new series of interview-driven posts
focused the most influential people, companies, and organizations
in the automotive industry by speaking with California Air
Resources Board (aka CARB, a division of the California EPA). The
aim with these periodic reports is to go behind the scenes to see
what’s driving trends that could affect consumers and the cars
they buy in coming years. Posted.

Bright Automotive withdraws DOE loan request, closes shop.
Electric-vehicle startup Bright Automotive is closing its
operations after withdrawing its application for a loan from the
U.S. Department of Energy. Bright, which was formed in 2008 to
produce electric vans for sale to corporate fleets, announced
Tuesday its plan to withdraw the application, blaming an overly
rigorous and lengthy loan-approval process for the decision to
close, according to The Wall Street Journal. Posted. 


Asbestos waste found in warehouse yard near Mountain View High
School in El Monte. El Monte - State environmental agencies have
secured between 600 and 800 bags of hazardous waste labeled as
containing asbestos from an illegal waste transport facility
located next door to Mountain View High School, agencies
announced Thursday. Both the state Department of Toxic Substances
Control and the South Coast Air Quality Management District are
investigating numerous violations at Titan Environmental Inc.,
12432 Valley Blvd. Posted.

Climate crisis science vs. denial. The Climate Reality Project
will present a free seminar at 6:30 tonight at the Red Bluff
Community and Senior Center, 1500 S. Jackson St. The climate
crisis looms as the most serious threat to human civilization.
Recent data indicate more rapid warming and accelerating
greenhouse gas emissions than previously projected. As the
political process addresses the issues, disinformation floods the
public space, creating confusion and delay. Posted.


Letter: High-speed rail, oil prices, air fares. Editor, I very
much appreciated reading Gail Parker’s (of Alexandria, Va.)
letter on Wednesday on high-speed rail. It was also very timely —
flip the letter’s page and the AP article, “Facing costly fuel,
airlines hike fares” appear. The sooner the San Francisco-Los
Angeles train is built, the sooner travelers will have another
high-speed travel option available at much lower cost than you’ll
find leaving SFO by air. Posted.

Analysis: In politics, emotion – not science – drives beliefs.
Some of the biggest issues in the politics – including global
warming and evolution – are far from being resolved by data and
analysis. When Republicans head to the polls on Super Tuesday,
they'll carry with them views on creationism and global warming
that set them apart from Democrats – views shared in degrees by
the four GOP presidential hopefuls. But few voters from either
party honestly understand the science Posted.

Clean Energy Is Needed Now (Climate Scientists & Climate
Economists Say). I posted David Roberts’ piece on a new climate
and energy study by former Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold
and climate scientist Ken Caldeira here on CleanTechnica the
other day. I’ve run across more good quotes and a good graphic on
the matter since then and just posted on these over on
Planetsave. Additionally, I posted a related story on the
difference in cost between taking strong climate action now
versus continued climate inaction. Posted.


Bill Clinton Points Fingers in Clean-Energy Speech. Bill Clinton,
speaking at a Department of Energy conference this week, said
that despite new ways of recovering oil and gas in the U.S.–and
despite the efforts of climate change naysayers and other
opponents–the country should still pursue cleaner energy sources
and energy efficiency. Associated Press Shown here in a Thursday
speech, Clinton spoke earlier in the week at a clean-technology
conference. Posted.

When It Rains, It Will Really Pour. Early last year I attended a
conference in Sacramento where state and federal scientists
warned emergency planners, insurance executives and others about
the danger of a superstorm‘s riding into California from warmer
Pacific waters on an “atmospheric river” and inundating
everything in sight. Now comes a parallel prediction that
throughout the Western states, the power of extreme winter storms
will increase by more than 12 percent over the next 20 years, and
more thereafter. Posted. 

A CO2 Warning Etched in Stone and Sediment. A comprehensive new
review of research on episodes of carbon-driven disruption of
ocean and climate conditions over the last 300 million years
shows the power of a big pulse of carbon dioxide to profoundly
affect the environment. The review, which is being published in
the journal Science on Friday, concludes that the human-driven
buildup of carbon dioxide under way now appears to be far
outpacing past natural events…Posted. 

What Next for Gas Prices? As I write in Thursday’s Times,
gasoline prices keep going higher and higher. And how high they
are going to go is just about anyone’s guess. Those who track the
supply and demand fundamentals say the price of oil should be
about $80 a barrel and gasoline prices should be as much as 50
cents below where they are. But throw tensions with Iran into the
mix, and you get scary prices. Posted. 

A 1,400-Horsepower Tank, Batteries Included. Some hybrid vehicles
are engineered to be as light as possible. This one is projected
to weigh around 140,000 pounds, fully equipped. The Ground Combat
Vehicle is being developed by the defense systems manufacturers
BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman. Based on appearances, most
civilians may call it a tank, although Mark Signorelli, the vice
president of ground combat vehicles for BAE, said in a telephone
interview that the vehicle’s platform and powertrain could be
used in other military vehicle applications. Posted. 

Flex-Fuel Amendment Makes for Strange Bedfellows. Faced with a
bill that would require 80 percent of gasoline-burning cars and
trucks to be compatible with ethanol and methanol by the 2018
model year, stakeholders who typically disagree on critical
issues find themselves in a rare position. They agree. The
legislation, known as the Open Fuels Standard Act of 2011 and
introduced in the Senate last September by the Washington
Democrat Maria Cantwell and Indiana Republican Richard G. Lugar,
was proposed as an amendment to the pending Senate version of the
contentious transportation bill. Posted. 

Chevy Volt climbs up, Nissan Leaf falls down in February 2012
sales. Nissan's winter plug-in vehicle sales slump continues,
with the Nissan Leaf dropping to just 478 units sold in February,
down from 676 in January. This even though overall Nissan North
America sales increased by 15.5 percent over last February's
numbers. Perhaps, now that the all-electric car is going to be
available in all 50 states, the tide will turn. For the Chevrolet
Volt, things are already looking up, with 1,023 sales in
February. Posted. 

New York Times Reversal: Cornell University Research Undermines
Hysteria Contention that Shale Gas is "Dirty". There are new
twists to in the ever-entertaining faux debate over the dangers
of shale gas. The New York Times, which turned obscure Cornell
University marine ecologist Robert Howarth into an anti-fracking
rock star in its questionable spring series on shale gas, and got
hammered for it by its own public editor—I‘ll take some of the
credit—is finally getting on the science bandwagon. Posted.

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