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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for March 9, 2012

Posted: 09 Mar 2012 12:45:09
ARB Newsclips for March 9, 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.


In Silver Lake, an air of dismay over pipeline project. Neighbors
say dust from construction is causing respiratory problems. DWP
officials say they are taking steps to control noise and
pollution from the $40-million project. Silver Lake residents
can't wait for this construction job to bite the dust. More than
two dozen residents living along the path of a $40-million water
pipe project say they are suffering respiratory problems from
particulate matter stirred up by construction trucks and
heavy-duty trenching machines. Posted.

Cupertino: County prepares for EIR hearing on Lehigh Cement.
Santa Clara County is still tentatively set for a March 22
planning commission hearing on the latest environmental impact
report regarding Lehigh Southwest Cement. The cement and rock
quarry located just outside Cupertino in unincorporated county
territory is working on a reclamation plan that will someday see
the mined property returned to its natural beauty and a
beneficial state, according to county staff. Posted. 

Alert on tub-stripping chemical serves as reminder of dangers of
improper use. A recent warning about a chemical stripper often
used to refinish bathtubs raises a red flag about using chemical
products improperly.  Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention issued an alert about the dangers of using
paint strippers containing methylene chloride in tub refinishing.
The risk is to the person doing the work, not to anyone using the
tub later.  The products were linked to 13 deaths from 2000 to
2011 of people who used them to remove old finishes from bathtubs
without adequately protecting themselves from the vapors, which
can cause people to pass out and interfere with their breathing.


East Bay Oil Exports Have Become Huge Business. The Bay Area is
known for the Golden Gate Bridge, technology start-ups and
California cuisine, among other things. Oil does not usually make
the list. But the region’s five oil refineries along San Pablo
Bay and the Carquinez Strait were responsible for $7.8 billion in
oil exports in 2010, more than any other metro area in the
country, according to a report released Thursday by the Brookings
Institution. Posted. 

Exxon pegs spending at $185B over next 5 years. Exxon said
Thursday that it will spend about $150 billion over the next five
years to find more oil and natural gas to satisfy the world's
growing energy appetite. Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest
publicly traded energy company, expects global energy demand to
increase 30 percent by 2040, compared with 2010 levels. As demand
grows, CEO Rex Tillerson said Exxon will plow more money into a
global search for new resources. Posted. 


Auto Overcapacity Gives Leaders Another Issue to Ponder. While
Europe has been preoccupied with the euro crisis, another storm
has been gathering that could also take a grievous toll on jobs
and growth. Just as Europe has too much debt, it also has more
automobile factories than the economy can support. The
overcapacity is not exactly a secret, but judging from the talk
at the Geneva auto show this week, a long-postponed reckoning is
nigh. Posted. 

Japan automakers are back, a year after disaster. Nissan is back,
one year after an earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan
ground auto production to a halt, left giant cracks at a key
factory and killed five employees and 17 family members. It's a
story of surprising recovery that's playing out at other Japanese
automakers, but particularly at Nissan. Chief Executive Carlos
Ghosn called it "miraculous" on Friday ahead of the disaster's
anniversary, crediting hard work at his company. The maker of the
March subcompact and Infiniti luxury brands had a record sales
year of 4.67 million vehicles in 2011. Posted. 

China auto sales fall in first 2 months of year. China's vehicle
sales weakened further in the first two months of this year as
the economy slowed and higher fuel prices deterred some buyers.
The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Friday
that car sales in January-February fell 4.4 percent from a year
earlier to 2.37 million vehicles. Total sales, including trucks
and buses, dropped 6 percent to 2.95 million vehicles. Posted.

Electric scooter version of Zipcar hits San Francisco. San
Francisco’s hipsters are about to get motorized. Scoot Networks,
an electric scooter rental system similar to Zipcar, launched in
the Bay Area this week. The system, which is being rolled out to
San Francisco-based companies for private fleets, lets users
locate nearby scooters with their smartphone and claim the one
they want (as with Zipcar, each scooter lives at a certain
location). After it’s docked into the scooter, the phone unlocks
the vehicle and acts like a virtual dashboard, providing a map as
well as information on speed and range. Posted. 


Senate rejects GOP environment, energy proposals. The Senate
killed Republican-backed attempts to overturn several of
President Barack Obama's environmental and energy policies
Thursday as lawmakers worked against a March 31 deadline to keep
aid flowing to more than 100,000 transportation construction
projects around the country. The two-year, $109 billion
transportation bill before the Senate has wide, bipartisan
support, but has become a magnet for lawmakers' favorite causes
and partisan gamesmanship. Posted. 

Government-subsidized green light bulb carries costly price tag.
The U.S. government last year announced a $10 million award,
dubbed the “L Prize,” for any manufacturer that could create a
“green” but affordable light bulb. Energy Secretary Steven Chu
said the prize would spur industry to offer the costly bulbs,
known as LEDs, at prices “affordable for American families.”
There was also a “Buy America” component. Portions of the bulb
would have to be made in the United States. Now the winning bulb
is on the market. The price is $50. Posted. 

RIVERSIDE: City to receive 2011 Sustainability Showcase Award.
The California Sustainability Alliance has announced that the
city of Riverside has been chosen to receive its 2011
Sustainability Showcase Award for Local Government. The city has
implemented multiple initiatives and programs across all
departments to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy,
foster alternative-fuel vehicle use, and improve water use
efficiency, which are key elements in the alliance’s award
criteria. Posted. 


Energy department probes delay of layoff news at Solyndra. The
Energy Department's Office of Inspector General is investigating
who pushed to delay bad news about federally backed Solyndra LLC
until after the November 2010 midterm elections. Energy Secretary
Steven Chu, who nearly four months ago pledged to find out if
anyone in his department was involved, told a House Committee on
Thursday he’s turned the matter over to the department’s Office
of Inspector General. Posted. 

Molycorp, a Rare Earth Mining Firm, Is to Merge With a Processor,
Neo Material. One of the West’s two main rare earth metal mining
companies announced on Friday that it was buying one of the
world’s two main rare earth processing companies for $1.3
billion, the latest in a series of deals that are rapidly
consolidating the industry. Molycorp, which operates the big
American mine now being reopened and expanded in Mountain Pass,
Calif., is buying Neo Material Technologies of Toronto, which
makes specialty chemicals from rare earths at factories in China
and Thailand. Posted. 

Plutonium from Japan nuclear disaster not seen as major threat. A
study says the levels of radioactive plutonium around the
Fukushima nuclear plant are not much higher than residual levels
from Cold War-era weapons tests. The levels of radioactive
plutonium around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant aren't
much higher than the amount of plutonium remaining in the
environment from Cold War-era nuclear weapons tests, and it
probably poses little threat to humans, a new study indicates.

Rural Peninsula activists -- and others around Bay Area -- oppose
development plans. Citizens in San Mateo County's rural midcoast
are pushing back against Plan Bay Area, a state-mandated effort
to figure out where the region's growing population will live --
and they're not alone. Organizations and community activists
throughout the Bay Area are faulting the plan, which intends to
reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by creating incentives for
transit-oriented development. A number of environmental groups
have joined the fray…Posted.

3,000 new downtown homes still city's goal. Balancing stark
realism with tempered optimism, city leaders recommended Thursday
a goal of 3,000 homes built downtown by 2020 - just weeks after
slashing that same number by 90 percent. Success isn't likely,
they say. Stockton added 13,444 homes over the past decade, just
62 of them in the greater downtown area. But Deputy City Manager
Mike Locke told the city's Climate Action Plan Advisory Committee
that the goal will be part of a larger …Posted. 


There's no consensus on climate change. I was taught that one of
the first rules, in studying history is to remember that there is
a minimum of two sides to every story. Regarding the "Move toward
One America" article in Friday's paper, the same rule applies. If
you saw Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," did you see Lomborg's
movie, "Cool It"? If not, you should. The article further stated
that emails from the Heartland Institute implied compliance with
the belief in global warming.


Following Beijing, Hong Kong Releases PM2.5 Pollution Data. Hong
Kong has decided to come clean with data on a dangerous form of
air pollution, a month and a half after Beijing, a city with
smoggier skies and a murkier approach to statistics, did the
same. After years of withholding the data, Hong Kong’s
environmental protection department on Thursday began publicly
releasing hourly measurements of the tiny pollutants known as
PM2.5 – so called because they are smaller than 2.5 micrometers
in diameter – that health experts say are especially threatening
because they penetrate deeply into the lungs. Posted.

With Energy Department’s Encouragement, Ford, G.M. and Ram Unveil
Natural Gas Pickups. Speaking here this week at the Green Truck
Summit, an event held in conjunction with the Work Truck Show,
Steven Chu, the head of the Energy Department, called on
commercial fleet owners to consider converting their vehicles to
run on natural gas, which he characterized as a “no-brainer”
alternative to gasoline and diesel. Posted. 

California Team to Tackle the Sands of Baja in a 400-Horsepower
E.V. At its essence, the Baja 1000, a long-running off-road race
on Mexico’s Baja peninsula, is a wooly, slightly unhinged
competition celebrating horsepower and torque. This year, a new
vehicle class called Ultra Green will give the race an air,
however subtle, of environmental stewardship. Jeffrey Smith, a
successful competitor in the 2011 race, has set his sights on
winning the class in its inaugural year with a purely electric
racer. Posted. 

Volvo Ups the Ante on Emissions Reductions. Volvo Group, the
transportation equipment manufacturer, has set a tall order for
itself. It wants to reduce its carbon emissions from the
construction equipment, buses and trucks it makes by 30 million
tons by the end of 2014. To accomplish that, the group has
expanded its partnership with the WWF Climate Savers program.

Nissan will double Tennessee workers for Leaf, battery-pack
ramp-up. Nissan will almost double the number of workers at its
factory in Smyrna, TN, within the next year in part to ramp up
production of both Nissan Leaf electric vehicles and battery
packs, HybridCars reports. Nissan will add 1,300 workers
specifically for the battery packs and for the Leafs, which will
start being built in the U.S. later this year. The Japanese
automaker has invested $1.7 billion upgrading the plant, which
will include a 1.3-million-square-foot facility dedicated to
making battery packs. Posted. 

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