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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for August 23, 2012.

Posted: 23 Aug 2012 12:53:36
ARB Newsclips for August 23, 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.


County not impacted by federal air sanctions.  Recent federal
sanctions freezing highway transportation funds for projects
won’t impact the county, an Imperial County Transportation
official said Wednesday.  The sanctions, announced by the
Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month, were placed
as the EPA found the county out of compliance in applying
so-called best available control measures for particulate matter
10 under the Clean Air Act. PM10 can be a variety of materials
including smoke or dust, and is considered hazardous to humans by
the EPA.  Posted. 


Green Climate Fund to discuss $100bn pledged by rich countries. 
A new global fund on climate change that aims to channel $100
billion a year in aid to poor countries selected officials from
South Africa and Australia as its leaders at its first meeting
Thursday.  The Green Climate Fund, created as part of a deal
struck in December 2011 at the 194-nation climate talks in
Durban, South Africa, will be led by Zaheer Fakir, head of
international relations for South Africa’s environment agency,
and Ewen McDonald, deputy head of Australia’s international
development agency, the fund said in a statement.  Posted. 

Drought hits Mississippi: Ol' Man River just keeps limping along.
Even in the best of times, the Mississippi River is a slow and
torpid thoroughfare. But when an extended drought persists and
the muddy waters recede, squeezing barges through the narrow
channels becomes an expensive, and sometimes impossible, chore.
The great summer drought of 2012 has closed lower sections of the
river, shut down harbors and forced barges to run aground as
river levels drop to near-record lows. With no significant rains
in sight, authorities responsible for keeping the Mississippi
open for commerce say things are likely to get worse before they
get better. Posted.

California environmental law faces changes. A proposal to loosen
California's landmark environmental protection law is expected to
be introduced at the Capitol as soon as Thursday, giving the
public and lawmakers only about a week to debate and consider the
controversial legislation's fate. Backers of the proposal,
largely from the business community, say the California
Environmental Quality Act passed in 1970 needs to be updated
because it has become cumbersome, and some individuals and groups
misuse the law to stop or delay development for non-environmental
reasons. Posted.

Nuclear woes raise concerns that prices will rise for carbon
allowances. Layoffs and the shutdown of a California nuclear
power plant have raised concerns that the price of carbon
emission allowances for the state's cap-and-trade program will
increase sharply. Southern California Edison (SCE) announced that
it will lay off 730 employees this year to cut costs at the San
Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California. The plant has
been idle since Jan. 31, when a radiation leak in one of the
plant's two units was discovered. On Tuesday, futures for
California Carbon Allowances (CCAs) traded between $17.50 and
$17.75, up from the week before. Posted.
http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2012/08/23/11  BY


Union Pacific unveils cleaner, less-powerful locomotives. In an
effort meet new federal requirements for cleaner-burning freight
engines, Union Pacific unveiled at its Roseville yard Wednesday
the UP 9900 – an experimental locomotive utilizing three
different filtering technologies. The UP 9900 – which sacrifices
one-quarter of the standard engine's power to make room for the
three onboard filters – is part of a $20 million Union Pacific
investment toward meeting the Environmental Protection Agency's
requirements. Posted.

Truck Inspection At Border Aimed At Reducing Pollution. Some
Fines Issued For Trucks That Violated New State Emissions
Standards. SAN DIEGO -- Inspectors cracked down on one of the
biggest sources of air pollution in the state Wednesday. Hundreds
of tractor-trailers were stopped and inspected by the California
Air Resources Board near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. Inspectors
were making sure all of the big rigs abided by new emissions
standards that kicked in at the beginning of 2012. "The bad news
is that California has the worst air pollution in the nation,"
said Air Resources Board spokeswoman Beth White. Posted.


Ethanol-maker gets USDA backing for NC fuel plant.  A company
that wants to turn grasses grown on North Carolina hog farms into
motor fuel on Wednesday got the federal backing it wanted before
building an ethanol plant supporters think could mark a milestone
in the state's rural economy.  The U.S. Agriculture Department
said Wednesday it has approved a loan guarantee worth $99 million
for Wilmington-based Chemtex International Inc., backing a larger
bank loan for the $170 million project. Production is expected to
start in 2014.  Posted. 

CEC hires Gas Tech Institute for biogas, natural gas-fired CHP. 
The Gas Technology Institute has been awarded two new contracts
totaling $3.5 million from the California Energy Commission, in
order to develop new combined-heat-and-power (CHP) and waste
heat-recovery technologies at industrial facilities in
California.  A $1.8 million grant will go toward developing and
demonstrating a fuel-flexible, hybrid-generation CHP system that
can run on biogas produced by anaerobic digesters at wastewater
treatment plants and landfills, as well as natural gas. Posted. 

Scientists engineer bacteria to make fuel from CO2. Researchers
have developed a new pathway to get one of the tiniest forms of
life to make fuel. By breathing in carbon dioxide and hydrogen,
an engineered version of the bacterium Ralstonia eutropha
produced branched alcohols, compounds that can be blended with
gasoline or serve as an energy source on their own. This could
help repurpose carbon emissions in a way that can generate money.
The researchers, who published their findings earlier this month
in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, initially studied this
bacterium because it can form polymers under stress. Posted.
http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2012/08/23/4  BY


Survey of California plug-in vehicle owners highlights charging
behavior.  Californians own more than 12,000 plug-in electric
vehicles (PEVs), roughly 35% of all plug-in vehicles in the
United States. As of July 2012, approximately 1,000 new plug-in
vehicles are being sold in the state every month. The more than
12,000 PEVs provide both consumer and environmental benefits,
according to a new study by the California Center for Sustainable
Energy (CCSE). CCSE conducted the survey in support of
California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP).  The study
surveyed more than 1,400 PEV owners in coordination with the
California Air Resources Board (ARB) in early 2012. Posted. 

Hybrids, subcompacts headline Ontario exhibit.  The Inland Empire
Auto Show will go on this weekend with a new backer and once
again, without the support of a big wheel.  Kumho Tire U.S.A.,
with North American headquarters in Rancho Cucamonga, has signed
on as the premier tire sponsor of the annual show that runs from
Friday, Aug. 24, through Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Ontario
Convention Center.  Despite the show owners’ renewed efforts to
woo Ford, the automaker declined. “Boy, is that a bummer,”
lamented Mike Caudill, one of show’s co-owners. Posted. 


Mitt Romney sees path to energy independence. The Republican is
releasing a plan to increase energy production for lower costs
and independence by 2020. Features of the plan, a contrast to
Obama's, include Keystone XL and new offshore drilling. Mitt
Romney will unveil an energy plan Thursday that he says will
allow North America to be energy independent by 2020 and decrease
costs to consumers by increasing domestic production. Posted.

Princeton Review honors 'green' CSU campus. The Princeton Review
has included California State University, Chico, on its 2013
green honor roll. According to a news release issued by the
Princeton Review, the green honor roll ranks institutions based
on their environmentally related practices, policies and academic
offerings. Princeton Review surveyed 806 colleges nationwide and
gave them scores between 60 and 99 based on each campus'
sustainability and environmental efforts. Chico was one of 21
colleges to receive the highest possible score of a 99 and make
it onto the honor roll. Posted.

California Proposes Forest Thinning for Biomass Energy, But is it
a Good Idea? 
A report released today by a consortium of state agencies
recommends ramping up California's forest thinning program so
that the resulting biomass can be burned to produce energy, but
doing so may actually make the state's carbon footprint worse
instead of better. The state's 2012 Bioenergy Action Plan calls
for increasing "community-scale, forest-based biomass facilities"
that would take leftover biomass from forest thinning and
commercial logging operations and burn it to produce electricity.


If San Onofre nuclear plant is restarted, who pays? The San
Onofre nuclear plant must first be deemed safe to restart. But
with costs already mounting, it's unclear who would foot the
bill. Nearly seven months after the San Onofre nuclear power
plant was closed because of a leak, officials are grappling with
whether it makes financial sense to bring the plant fully back
online, and if so, who should pay for the necessary repairs.
Fixing San Onofre is shaping up to be an expensive proposition,
with the price tag jumping into the hundreds of millions of
dollars if the plant's massive steam generators require
replacing. Posted.

Chromium 6 suspected at Disney Studios. Air conditioning system
in Burbank may be a source of water contamination. Federal and
state regulators are investigating whether a vintage air
conditioning system at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank played a
role in contaminating groundwater with chromium 6, a
cancer-causing heavy metal widely used in aerospace manufacturing
and other industries. A consultant hired by the Environmental
Protection Agency recently identified the Disney property among a
list of facilities being "investigated as potential sources of
chromium contamination in groundwater," according to an April
2012 report recently posted on the agency's website. Posted.



Another Rebuff for Cleaner Air.  What’s a federal agency to do?
Twice in the last eight years, the Environmental Protection
Agency has issued carefully vetted rules aimed at reducing air
pollution that crosses state lines — the smog-forming nitrogen
oxide pollutants and health-threatening sulfur dioxide that drift
eastward from Midwestern power plants. And, in both cases, the
agency has been shot down by the United States Court of Appeals
for the District of Columbia.  The first rule, issued in 2005,
was aimed at reducing these pollutants by up to 70 percent.
Unlike most programs of the George W. Bush administration, it won
swift approval from environmentalists. Posted. 

Court ruling on EPA pollution rule: Bad air and bad reasoning. An
appeals panel has tied itself into logical knots to stop a rule
on pollutants from taking effect. The Cross-State Pollution Rule
would save up to $280 billion a year in healthcare and other
costs. Environmental regulation is a complicated business, but
the Environmental Protection Agency's Cross-State Air Pollution
Rule is, in principle, fairly simple. It aims to protect people
who live in states that are downwind of the deadly pollutants
emitted by power plants in adjacent states — so if coal smoke
from Texas, say, is poisoning the air in Louisiana, the EPA can
force Texas to be a better neighbor by cutting emissions. Posted.

Letters: Refinery safety. Re "Chevron's refinery, Richmond's
peril," Opinion, Aug. 14
The Op-Ed article by activist Antonia Juhasz mischaracterized the
Aug. 6 incident at Chevron Corp.'s Richmond refinery and our
commitment to the health and safety of our workers and neighbors.
Refineries in the San Francisco Bay Area operate under the most
stringent air pollution controls in the world. Chevron complies
with rigorous health, environmental and safety regulations from
numerous local, state and federal agencies that oversee the
refinery; in many cases, the company goes above and beyond.

Celebrating the Midwest drought? Wait, hear me out... The Midwest
drought may not leave you with a whole lot of sympathy for corn
farmers and producers of other commodity crops. Not only has the
drought driven up prices allowing them to rake in beaucoup bucks 
-- NPR’s Sam Charles has posted an eye-popping chart -- but these
farmers will also receive crop insurance. But for small farmers,
the drought has threatened their livelihood. Grist rounded up a
handful of tweets with the hashtag #Drought12 to show how farmers
are using social media to humanize their critical situation.

Editorial: Railyard is a step closer to development. Tuesday's
Sacramento City Council meeting made it clear that the focus in
the downtown railyard has returned to where it should be: How to
build a 21st century transportation hub and revive the historic
Old Depot and Central Shops as a base for development of the
240-acre site. The proposed arena that took up so much time, only
to fall apart, is now just a white space on a map. The
transportation piece is shaping up. As of Aug. 15, new train
tracks separate passenger and freight trains. Posted.

I had a green job.  Mitt Romney has recently taken fire not only
from the Obama campaign but even from some left-leaning
Republicans, for his rightful criticism of Obama’s destructive
“green jobs” programs. Not only is Mr. Romney right to criticize
these programs -- and his position supported by many economic
studies -- but in fact the situation is even worse than anything
suggested by these criticisms. Green jobs are destroying the
abilities and spirits of a whole generation of engineers. Posted.

54.5 mpg efficiency standard will fuel a national renewal.  With
the darkest days of the recession behind us, Americans are
looking to better economic times. They also are looking forward
to their politicians working together to find solutions.  While
there are many areas where different sides are far apart, there
is a very good news story expected from Washington this week.
It's an issue that almost all Americans can get behind: higher
fuel efficiency.  An agreement set to be finalized by the Obama
administration as soon as this week promises that by 2025, new
vehicles will get an average of 54.5 miles per gallon. This
builds on standards already in place, which by 2016 will raise
the average fuel efficiency of the new passenger vehicle fleet to
35.5 mpg.  Posted. 

Five years' evidence makes case for solar.  Five years ago, we
purchased and installed a solar electric system on our home. It
has now produced more than 50,000 kilowatt-hours of 100 percent
clean, renewable energy.  These 50 megawatts of self-generated
electricity represents the non-emission of more than 25,000
pounds of carbon dioxide from utility-company-produced power. The
array of solar panels provided all the electricity used in the
home for the last five years. A few more years and the system
will pay for itself.  Posted. 

Life Saving Cross-State Air Pollution Protections in Jeopardy
After Court Ruling.  Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit Court ruled
against the Environmental Protection Agency's Cross-State Air
Pollution protection (PDF), which sought to protect Americans
from dangerous air pollution from coal-fired power plants.  The
protection would have reduced life-threatening soot and smog
pollution from power plants in 28 states and helped curb poor air
quality days and respiratory illnesses that affect millions of
Americans.  We are all disappointed with the court's decision
yesterday. Posted. 


Action Plans on CO2 that Go Beyond ‘Woe is Me, Shame on You’.  I
recently received a note from Tim Whitley, the founder and head
of the nonprofit group Carbon Offsets to Alleviate Poverty, which
I think merits posting as a “Your Dot” contribution because it
takes a step beyond the “woe is me, shame on you” rhetoric that
has long been favored by people seeking to cut greenhouse gas
emissions. Here’s Whitley’s piece, with a postscript from me: In
recent weeks, Richard Muller converted from climate skepticism,
Bill McKibben terrified us with new math, and James Hansen told
us that climate change is already here and worse than we thought.

Is Smog Over? NOAA research shows a 98 percent drop in some
vehicle-related air pollutants in L.A. At one point during the
past several decades, the brownish-pink layer of pollution
blanketing Los Angeles got so bad that it required the use of
smog masks and smog alerts. According to a photo retrospective of
the city's smog problem, a public-relations effort once
culminated in the crowning of a Miss Smog Fighter. Even as
recently as the early 2000s, L.A. was synonymous with smog -- and
for good reason.
But now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has
released research that shows L.A.'s smog woes have largely been
solved. Posted.

Report: electric vehicle sales to top 130 million by 2025.  The
decline of the internal combustion engine will be gradual as
cleaner alternatives take hold. A market research company is
predicting that annual sales of electric vehicles will reach 130
million units sold annually by 2025, which while encouraging,
falls far short of today’s automobile sales.  Global Information
Inc. yesterday announced a report that forecasts the electric
vehicle market’s outlook over the next ten years. It credits
government support for making EVs more affordable and advancing
the perception that they are now a viable alternative to gasoline
powered vehicles.  Posted. 

Survey says? California plug-in drivers like solar, love their
cars.  No surprise here: the Golden State is quite green when it
comes to plug-in vehicles.  California, which accounts for about
one-tenth of both the U.S. population and registered vehicles, is
home to more than a third of all domestic plug-in vehicles, the
California Center for Sustainable Energy says in a new report.
Better yet, almost 90 percent of plug-in owners use those
vehicles as their primary rides.  More than 12,000 Chevrolet
Volt, Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius Plug-in vehicles – and other
electric-drive models – have been sold in California, where
around 1,000 plug-ins are being purchased each month, the report
says.  Posted. 

Hybrids not the dream vehicles of the short-term lease crowd. 
Here's a tip for those who market hybrid electric vehicles: you
can pretty much forget about people who love to lease – not just
the lease itself, but swapping the lease. According to a new
survey just released by Swapalease, the majority of respondents
declined to pick an answer to the question of what was their
dream hybrid.  Sure, the sample is limited – not man more than
200 Swapalease nationwide members participated – but to not have
any answer to "What's Your Dream [hybrid] Car?"…Posted. 

Who's Laughing Now? Scientists Make Crude Oil from Pig Manure. 
Pig manure is one step away from a transformation of metamorphic
proportions.  The lowly waste product, notorious for its impact
on the environment and on human olfactory nerves, is on the verge
of becoming an important alternative to petroleum now that
scientists at the University of Illinois have developed a process
for converting raw pig manure to crude oil.  With further
development, the process may even yield biodiesel.  If successful
commercially, the process would help reduce greenhouse gas
emissions and other pollutants from pig farms and many other
types of livestock operations.  In particular, it could help
protect drinking water supplies in livestock farming areas. 

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