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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for April 18, 2012. Posted: 18 Apr 2012 12:23:02
ARB Newsclips for April 18, 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. HIGH-SPEED RAIL Halt California funds for high-speed rail: budget watchdog. California lawmakers should not approve Governor Jerry Brown's budget proposals to provide additional funds for the state's pricey planned high-speed rail system, the state's budget watchdog agency said in a report on Tuesday. The report by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said the California High-Speed Rail Authority has "not made a strong enough case for going forward with the project at this time." Posted. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/18/economy-california-high-speed-rail-idUSL2E8FI06L20120418 Analyst: Calif. high-speed rail plan still vague. Sacramento, Calif. -- The legislative analyst's office said Tuesday that the latest plan to build a $68.4 billion high-speed rail system linking Northern and Southern California still relies on highly speculative financing, and it urged the state Legislature to reject funding until more details are ironed out. The California High-Speed Rail Authority "has not provided sufficient detail and justification to the Legislature regarding its plan to build a high-speed rail system," the LAO said. Posted. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/17/4421751/committee-defers-re-vote-on-high.html http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/apr/17/committee-defers-re-vote-on-high-speed-rail-plan/ http://www.nctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/analyst-calif-high-speed-rail-plan-still-vague/article_f180ad51-c850-53c9-aa88-287ab02f7053.html Stop California bullet train, state's top analyst urges. The state's top analyst on Tuesday urged lawmakers to slam the brakes on California's $68 billion bullet train, cautioning that the newly overhauled plan simply isn't "strong enough" and relies on "highly speculative" funding sources. The report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office is especially significant as the state Senate and Assembly on Wednesday begin a debate on whether to start building the high-speed rail line, a decision officials revealed Tuesday will likely be delayed into the summer. Posted. http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_20418168/stop-california-bullet-train-states-top-analyst-urges?IADID=Search-www.insidebayarea.com-www.insidebayarea.com http://www.modbee.com/2012/04/17/2161967/committee-defers-re-vote-on-high.html http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_20418168/stop-california-bullet-train-states-top-analyst-urges?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com AIR POLLUTION AP Newsbreak: EPA issues first-ever rules to control air pollution from fractured gas wells. The Obama administration is issuing the first-ever standards to control air pollution from gas wells that are drilled using a method called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, but not without making concessions to the oil and gas industry. The regulation is expected to be officially announced later Wednesday. President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address strongly backed natural gas drilling as a clean energy source, and recently announced an executive order calling for coordination of federal regulation to ease burdens on producers. Posted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/ap-newsbreak-epa-issues-first-ever-rules-to-control-air-pollution-from-fractured-gas-wells/2012/04/18/gIQA7EpmQT_story.html http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_20424126/ap-newsbreak-epa-reduce-gas-drilling-pollution?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com Oakbio aims to make plastic from plant's pollution. At a sprawling cement plant near Cupertino, researchers are trying a kind of eco-friendly alchemy, turning carbon dioxide into biodegradable plastic. The researchers, from startup company Oakbio Inc., take carbon dioxide from the plant's exhaust and feed it to specially selected microbes, along with some hydrogen. The microbes create a kind of plastic from the gas. They also make compounds that can be used in cosmetics, food, perfume and industrial lubricants. Posted. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/18/BUFM1O4PF5.DTL Santa Rosa's drive-thru dilemma. Drive-thru windows may be a popular convenience for those on the move, but Santa Rosa's rejection of a Chick-fil-A on Mendocino Avenue shows they remain a hot topic for those worried about global warming. The city has struggled for years with how to handle requests for businesses with drive-thrus given the county's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 75 percent of 1990 levels by 2015. Posted. http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20120418/ARTICLES/204181096 CLIMATE CHANGE Majority believe role of warming in weather. Scientists may hesitate to link some of the weather extremes of recent years to global warming -- but the public, it seems, is already there. A poll due for release Wednesday shows that a large majority of Americans believe that this year's unusually warm winter, last year's blistering summer, and some other weather disasters were likely made worse by global warming. And by a 2-1 margin, the public says the weather has been getting worse, rather than better, in recent years. Posted. http://www.contracostatimes.com/science/ci_20419475/majority-believe-role-warming-weather?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_20419475/majority-believe-role-warming-weather?IADID=Search-www.insidebayarea.com-www.insidebayarea.com Obama and Romney on energy, environmental issues. A look at where President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stand on energy and environmental issues: OBAMA: Ordered temporary moratorium on deep-water drilling after the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico but has pushed for more oil and gas drilling overall. Approved drilling plan in Arctic Ocean opposed by environmentalists. Now proposes that Congress give oil market regulators more power to control price manipulation by speculators and stiffer fines for doing so. Posted. http://www.modbee.com/2012/04/17/2161670/obama-and-romney-on-energy-environmental.html VEHICLES Benefit of electric cars found to vary by location. Electric cars are only as green as the power plants that fuel them. As a result, they are far greener in some parts of the country than in others, according to a report issued Monday by the Union of Concerned Scientists. In California - which derives most of its electricity from natural gas plants, nuclear reactors, renewable power sources and hydroelectric dams - an electric car produces the same amount of global warming emissions as a gasoline-burning car that gets 79 miles to the gallon. Posted. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/16/BU5L1O44PP.DTL GREEN ENERGY Cleaner 'clouds' needed at tech giants, Greenpeace says. San Jose, Calif. - In their race for the cloud, tech companies are leaving a trail of pollution from dirty energy sources, Greenpeace said Tuesday in a report that accused some of the world's biggest tech companies of failing to make clean energy a priority. Cloud computing allows users to store and access data, programs and more on remote servers, preserving computing power. Posted. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/17/4421232/cleaner-clouds-needed-at-tech.html Geothermal heating system draws on limitless fuel: sewage. Philadelphia -- Among the many renewable energy sources - wind, solar, hydroelectric, biofuels - there is one to which we all contribute that has not yet managed to attract the romantic advocates who have embraced other forms of green energy. We're speaking about the gray river of warmth flowing right beneath our feet: sewage. A Philadelphia company, NovaThermal Energy LLC, wants to heat and cool buildings by tapping into the constant, guaranteed heat contained in wastewater. The process is called sewage geothermal. Posted. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/18/4422921/geothermal-heating-system-draws.html Solar Company to Cut 2,000 Jobs and Close a German Factory. Five months ago, First Solar was celebrating making the millionth solar module at a plant it had built in Frankfurt, to double its production in Germany, the world’s largest market for solar power. The party did not last long. On Tuesday, the company, which is based in Arizona, announced that it would stop all of its German production as part of a broad restructuring plan that will cut its global work force by 30 percent, or 2,000 workers, and sharply reduce its global production capacity. Posted. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/business/energy-environment/first-solar-to-cut-2000-jobs-and-close-a-german-factory.html?ref=energy-environment OPINIONS Dan Walters: California bullet train still lacks valid data. The Maloof family, which owns the Sacramento Kings, is being excoriated by fans and local politicians for pulling out of a tentative deal to build a new basketball arena. It's at least possible, however, that the Maloofs are doing Sacramento a favor by killing a project that could have been a financial albatross for taxpayers in the long run. Christopher Thornberg, a well-known economist hired by the Maloofs to evaluate the complex deal, concluded that the ticket sales and other underlying revenue assumptions of the deal were unrealistically optimistic and in the end, it didn't pencil out. Posted. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/18/4422150/dan-walters-california-bullet.html BLOGS Clean Technology on the Brink. Clean energy technology has grown robustly and come down in price in recent years, driven by hefty government stimulus spending, expectations of future regulation and substantial private investment. But that technology is going to fall off a cliff unless government steps in quickly to revitalize the solar, wind, nuclear, battery and clean vehicle sectors with new spending and federal policy, according to a new study from three research groups. Posted. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/clean-technology-on-the-brink/ Frito-Lay Pledges a Major Shift Toward Natural-Gas Trucking. On Tuesday, Frito-Lay announced it would add 67 trucks that would run on compressed natural gas, known as C.N.G., to its fleet. Eventually, the company said, a majority of its longer-range vehicles would run on C.N.G., as well as liquefied natural gas for longer-distance hauls. The C.N.G.-powered trucks would save the equivalent of $2.50 a gallon compared with diesel at current prices, as well as reduce greenhouse emissions by 23 percent when compared with diesel rigs, the company said. Currently, 18 trucks burning natural gas in 8.9-liter Cummins Westport engines are undergoing a pilot test. Posted. http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/17/frito-lay-pledges-a-major-shift-toward-natural-gas-trucking/ GM battery lab explosion cost could reach $5M. Last week, a fire broke out at the General Motors Technical Center battery research lab in Warren, Michigan. General Motors has since said the fire was caused by a battery that was being tested under "extreme stress." Engineers were trying to get the pack to fail, which it did, but not to ignite, which it also did when gases leaked out and somehow caught fire. There's one detail we have not heard yet, and that's how much the fire could end up costing GM: up to $5 million, the The Detroit News reports, based on information that the automaker's representatives submitted in a police report. Posted. http://green.autoblog.com/2012/04/18/gm-battery-lab-explosion-cost-could-reach-5m/ Legislative Analyst: High-speed rail funding “speculative”. Despite of lowering the proposed cost of California’s high-speed rail project to $68 billion, the Brown administration still relies on “highly speculative” funding for the project, the Legislative Analyst’s Office said in a report today recommending that constructing funding not be approved. Posted. http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/04/legislative-analyst-california-high-speed-rail-funding-speculative.html Clean-energy subsidies are vanishing. What should replace them? Clean tech has enjoyed quite the party these past few years. Solar, wind, plug-in vehicles — they’ve all benefited from billions of dollars in subsidies from Congress, through various energy and stimulus bills. As a result, many industries, like solar, have taken lengthy strides. But that party’s about to shut down. As an extensive new report (pdf) out Wednesday details, clean-energy subsidies are disappearing fast, as the stimulus winds down and various laws and tax credits expire. Posted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/clean-energy-subsidies-are-vanishing-what-should-replace-them/2012/04/18/gIQApCUYQT_blog.html Advanced vehicle battery costs dropped 14% in the past year; down 30% since 2009. Electric-vehicle lithium-ion battery-pack costs fell 14 percent during the past year and are down 30 percent from three years ago because of technological improvements and increased production capacity, Bloomberg News reports, citing a study from its sister entity Bloomberg New Energy Finance. EV battery costs fell to $689 per kilowatt hour (kWh) during the first quarter, down from $800 per kWh a year earlier. Posted. http://green.autoblog.com/2012/04/17/advanced-vehicle-battery-costs-drop-14-in-the-past-year-down-3/ STUDY: Climate Coverage Plummets On Broadcast Networks. A Media Matters analysis finds that news coverage of climate change on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX has dropped significantly since 2009. In 2011, these networks spent more than twice as much time discussing Donald Trump as climate change. Time Devoted To Climate Change Has Fallen Sharply Since 2009. Despite Ongoing Climate News, Broadcast Coverage Has Dropped Significantly. Since 2009, when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a climate bill and a major climate conference …Posted. http://mediamatters.org/print/research/201204160010