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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for April 19, 2012.

Posted: 19 Apr 2012 13:49:00
ARB Newsclips for April 19, 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.


California lawmakers scrutinize rail plan. A day after a highly
critical report on a $68.4 billion high-speed rail proposal in
California, Democrats who control the Legislature said they
remained committed to the project while the chairman of the
authority that would oversee construction said it's still a risk
worth taking. On Wednesday, lawmakers began evaluating the latest
proposal from the California High-Speed Rail Authority in Senate
and Assembly hearings. Posted.

California lawmakers in no rush on high-speed rail bonds. 
California lawmakers said on Wednesday they won't rush a decision
on whether to approve a bond sale to begin building a high-speed
rail system, adding they could sideline the issue until after
they conclude state budget talks. The Democrat-led Legislature
faces a mid-June deadline to approve a budget for the fiscal year
beginning in July while Governor Jerry Brown has urged lawmakers
to give the nod to a bond sale for the planned rail system
quickly. Posted.

Uncertainty is part of transportation funding, California
high-speed rail chief says. California High-Speed Rail Authority
Chairman Dan Richard defended his $68 billion program Wednesday
by noting that major transportation projects often face the
financial uncertainty for which the rail program faces criticism.
In two Capitol hearings, Richard urged lawmakers to approve $2.6
billion in state bond funds along with $3.3 billion in federal
money to start construction in the Central Valley this year.

Correction: High-Speed Rail story. Sacramento, Calif.—In a story
April 17 about California's high-speed rail proposal, The
Associated Press reported erroneously that a 520-mile system
would link San Francisco and Burbank. The 520-mile segment would
link San Francisco and Anaheim. Posted.


And the lasers' red lights lit up holiday nights. Air group,
citing pollution, seeks fireworks substitute. There could be no
rockets' red glare, nor bombs bursting in air, in some San
Joaquin Valley communities if air-quality officials approve a
plan today to reduce dramatic spikes in pollution each Fourth of
July. The regulators want to offer up a quarter of a million
dollars this summer to encourage communities to switch from
fireworks displays to high-tech, zero-emission laser shows.


Locus Verifiers Accredited Under New California GHG Reporting
Rule. Locus Technologies (Locus), the industry leader in
web-based environmental compliance and information management
software, has been accredited by the California Air Resources
Board (CARB) to provide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
verification services. Locus is one of a select few companies to
obtain this accreditation. Locus has provided verification
services since 2010 for dozens of reporting entities. Recent
amendments to the CARB regulation have prompted the regulators to
retest and recertify all verifiers to ensure thorough
understanding of the new regulations. Posted.

Do Emissions Cause Tornadoes? Climate Service Would Know. Last
weekend, more than 100 tornadoes tore across the Plains states,
smashing homes, tossing cars and killing six people. This might
have counted as a rousing start to the spring tornado season,
except for the dozen or more twisters that struck Dallas and Fort
Worth earlier this month and the 223 that hit the U.S. in March
-- almost three times the average for that month since 1990.
Tornadoes have been blamed for 63 deaths this year in the Midwest
and South. Posted.

U.S. Caps Emissions in Drilling for Fuel. Washington — Oil and
gas companies will have to capture toxic and climate-altering
gases from wells, storage sites and pipelines under new air
quality standards issued on Wednesday by the Environmental
Protection Agency. The rule is the first federal effort to
address serious air pollution associated with the natural gas
drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking,
which releases toxic and cancer-causing chemicals like benzene
and hexane, as well as methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

California leads green tech funding, reduces greenhouse
emissions. California has had remarkable success in extending its
national lead in clean technology, using it to help fuel the
state’s economic rebound and drive its effort to cut greenhouse
gas emissions, even as its population continues to grow. Those
are some of the findings of the 2012 California Green Innovation
Index, released by the nonpartisan nonprofit group Next 10 and
compiled by Collaborative Economics. Posted.


Solar Will Dominate Clean-Energy Mergers, Jefferies Says. Solar
manufacturers will lead consolidation in the clean-energy sector
this year because of overcapacity and declining government
incentives, according to a survey conducted by Jefferies Group
Inc. (JEF) Mergers and acquisitions of solar companies will top
those of wind-turbine makers, biofuels, energy-storage and
smart-grid companies, according to 71 percent of respondents in a
survey of about 90 investors the investment bank conducted at its
conference in New York on Feb. 23. “Solar needs to be
rationalized,” Amy Smith, co-head of cleantech investment banking
at Jefferies in San Francisco, said yesterday in an interview.
“It’s become somewhat of a commodity industry.” Posted.

New EPA rules target pollution at fracking sites.
Environmentalists applaud the new rules but are disappointed that
natural gas producers were given three years to install
methane-capturing technology. The industry says the regulations
are onerous. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued
regulations that for the first time will curtail air pollution
from natural gas wells that use a controversial production
technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Posted.


Fuel-efficiency records raise questions.  The Obama
administration focused on winning support of Detroit's Big Three
automakers to double fuel-efficiency standards by 2025 before it
sought approval of foreign automakers, new documents show. 
Emails obtained by The Detroit News also show federal regulators
wanted to complete fuel-efficiency talks by June 30 — a month
earlier than the actual deal — and that senior White House aide
Ron Bloom directly conferred with Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally
during last summer's talks.  Posted. 

Electric vehicles are the cheapest of all alternative fuels. 
Although the authors hesitate to declare any alternative fuel the
cheapest option, the chart below clearly shows the
“BEV-100″ (Battery-Electric with 100-mile range, i.e. the
Nissan Leaf) to be the least expensive option even at high
electricity prices ($0.14/kWh, €0,107/kWh) and low gas prices
($3,5/gallon, €0,70/L). However, the Leaf only has a clear lead
when the $7500 (€5710) tax credit is taken into account.  Posted.


California May Credit Big Hydro Power to Green Energy Goal.
California, the second-largest U.S. hydroelectric producer, would
count large water projects toward its goal of having renewable
resources supply a third of its power under a bill approved by an
Assembly committee. The measure would remove a limitation that
now counts only smaller hydropower projects, capable of producing
30 megawatts or less, to qualify toward California’s renewable
portfolio standard. The biggest U.S. state by population, which
consumed 8.5 percent of the nation’s energy in 2009…Posted.

India Struggles to Deliver Enough Electricity for Growth. India
has long struggled to provide enough electricity to light its
homes and power its industry around the clock. In recent years,
the government and private sector sought to change that by
building scores of new power plants. But that campaign is now
running into difficulties because the country cannot get enough
fuel — principally coal — to run the plants. Posted.

Study touts California's clean-tech industry. California's
clean-technology industry is growing and supporting economic
recovery in the state, according to a report released today by
Next 10, a San Francisco nonprofit that promotes growth of
California's clean economy. Published for the fourth time since
2008 by Next 10 and compiled by Collaborative Economics Inc. in
San Mateo, the 2012 California Green Innovation Index measures
various economic and environmental factors, including clean-tech
venture capital investment levels, clean-tech patent activity,
energy productivity and renewable energy-generation levels.

California clean-tech industry a VC darling. Despite Solyndra's
spectacular collapse, a report issued Tuesday suggests that
California's clean-tech industry continues to thrive, soaking up
more venture capital in 2011 than it did before the recession.
The annual California Green Innovation Index from public policy
group Next 10 tracks the green economy's health, pulling together
data on employment, patents and the rising use of renewable
power. It tries to show real-world benefits of the state's global
warming policies, which have helped make California a magnet for
green businesses. Posted.

Bay Area workers get training for green jobs, and placement. 
SolarTech, an initiative of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group,
has partnered with NOVA, a local job training organization, on a
pioneering program that trains people for highly sought after
"green jobs" in the region's fast-growing solar and energy
efficiency industries.  Called the SolarTech Workforce
Innovations Collaborative, or SWIC, the program goes a step
beyond many other job training programs. Posted. 


Bunge Seeks CO2 Credits for California, China After Drop. Bunge
Ltd. (BG) is seeking to buy carbon credits for new markets from
California to China after prices plunged to a record and it
bought London-based Climate Change Capital Ltd. “We don’t think
environmental markets are going away,” Alfred Evans, chief
executive officer of Climate Change Capital, said on April 16 in
a phone interview from Geneva. Bunge, the food and agriculture
company, is betting there will still be markets for credits in
some North American states and Australia, even in the absence of
a global market, Evans said. Posted.

South Lake Tahoe controlled burns sending smoke over the region.
U.S. Forest Service crews are conducting prescribed fires in
South Lake Tahoe. The controlled burns began Monday and are
expected to continue through Friday in the Andria Drive area of
Kingsbury Grade. Residents and visitors can expect to see smoke
from the fires, said Lisa Herron, public affairs specialist for
the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Posted.


Speculators and the Gas Pump. No matter what Mitt Romney and
other Republicans say, there are no easy fixes for rising gas
prices. With the national average price hovering near $4 a
gallon, Americans are understandably concerned, and President
Obama was right to call for more scrutiny of the oil markets. Mr.
Obama made clear that not even the president of the United States
can repeal the law of supply and demand. But what federal
officials can do is ensure that market manipulation and
speculation do not drive gas prices higher than is warranted by
economic fundamentals. Posted.

On this 42nd Earth Day, it's still not easy being green.  If only
being green were always black and white.  Instead it's often way
too gray in the glut of opinions and advertising claims. And it's
even more murky when products or actions proven beneficial to our
dear Mother Earth present potential side effects themselves --
unintended consequences of our growing green goals. 
Biodegradable trash bags? Sounds great, but if they're made from
corn which is an overproduced crop, is that OK? Posted. 

Teens: Let me ride my bicycle in peace.  Gas prices have been
steadily rising, but what do I care? I get around by bicycle.  My
main mode of transportation may be old-fashioned, but it's free,
it's healthy and it's eco-friendly.  Much to my disappointment,
it's also socially unacceptable in the "Danville bubble," where I
live.  When people find out I bike to school, the usual response
is: "Wow, that sucks! Why? Don't you have your license?"  Yes, I
do have a driver's license. Posted. 

The EPA's Faulty Science Can Be Stopped.  United States
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-sponsored and funded "human
health effects science" research is unreliable and makes
irresponsible and outrageous claims about how air pollution
causes thousands of deaths. Then the EPA claims that it can
prevent those deaths with its latest set of regulations of
emissions. This junk science can be challenged effectively,
legally, and politically, as described below.  Posted. 

You Can’t Build High Speed Rail with No Money. Analyst’s
“concern” that funding is not available for the High Speed Rail
(HSR) comes at the same time that the federal government – a
source counted on for HSR funds — appears to be turning against
the High Speed Rail. Yesterday, the subcommittee on
Transportation under the Appropriations Committee of the United
States Senate put a hold on HSR federal funds for the 2013 fiscal
year. Ken Orski, editor and publisher of Innovation News Briefs,
which follows transportation issues on Capitol Hill, says the
full committee usually follows the sub committee’s
recommendations. Posted.


Americans connect dots between global warming and extreme
weather. Most Americans get it: global warming is intensifying
heat waves and extreme precipitation to some degree. That’s the
take away from a new public opinion survey from the Yale Project
on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University
Center for Climate Change Communication. The survey, which
queried more than 1,000 adults across the country about global
warming and extreme weather…Posted.

Of Pretzels, Space Heaters and the Fate of the Planet.  A reader
in New Mexico, John Mihelich, raises an interesting question
about my recent article about a climate change poll. The poll
showed that a large majority of the public believes that global
warming is influencing the weather in the United States and that
it probably made some recent weather disasters worse.  Mr.
Mihelich pointed out that the poll was taken during several weeks
in March when the United States was unseasonably warm. “I wonder
what the results would have been of a similar poll conducted in
the depth of the bitter winters of 2010 or 2011,” he wrote. 

More on Global Warming from a Republican Meteorologist.  The
meteorologist and energy entrepreneur Paul Douglas is keeping up
his valuable effort to depoliticize the science pointing to a
growing human influence on the climate. Last month, I noted a
post in which he described the scientific case posed by the
unabated emissions of greenhouse gases. He described himself as a
“Republican deeply concerned about the environmental sacrifices
some are asking us to make to keep our economy powered-up,
long-term.”  Posted. 

California fracking bill would protect industry ‘trade secrets’.
A California lawmaker working to pass the Golden State's first
hydraulic fracturing rules has watered down his landmark
legislation, hoping to overcome industry opposition to a measure
that would force energy companies to disclose the mysterious mix
of chemicals they inject into the ground to tap oil deposits. The
legislation stalled last year after objections by industry that
full disclosure of "fracking" chemicals would reveal proprietary
"recipes." Posted.

California high-speed rail chief: Projects often lack sure
funding. After the state's fiscal analyst criticized California
high-speed rail for facing "highly speculative" financial
prospects, California High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan
Richard defended the $68 billion program this morning by
suggesting major transportation projects often lack funding
certainty. Richard urged Assembly members to approve $2.6 billion
in state bond funds along with $3.3 billion in federal money to
start construction in the Central Valley by the end of the year.

New Report Suggests Best Approach to Invest Cap and Trade
Revenue.  California’s safest option for guarding against
lawsuits over how it spends the billions anticipated from its
landmark cap-and-trade program is to channel the auction revenue
toward reducing greenhouse gas pollution and furthering the goals
of its Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32), according to a recent
analysis.  The conclusion by the UCLA School of Law’s Emmett
Center on Climate Change and Environment may put the brakes on
some of the wide-ranging suggestions for using the state’s fee
revenue.  Posted. 

Taking the Sting Out of Climate Change Displacement.  Now that
global warming, aka climate change, has joined the ranks of
indisputable occurrences, the British government has announced
itself ready to stand behind 21st century technology that can
help mediate climate disasters and climate change displacement. 
The UK, whose record on climate is best described as
“schizophrenic  ” – a term most applicable to the Conservative
Party’s inability to fixate on specific green goals – is
currently in an ongoing imbroglio with even less environmentally
committed nations over an airlines emissions…Posted. 

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