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newsclips -- Newsclips for December 19, 2012

Posted: 19 Dec 2012 11:23:17
ARB Newsclips for December 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.


EU Carbon Capture Funding Goes Unclaimed. Hundreds of millions of
euros in European Union funding for technology that could turn
coal into a clean fuel remains unclaimed because neither
companies nor governments were willing to match the EU funds, the
European Commission said Tuesday. The failure of the EU program
to fund a single project illustrates how, after early hopes that
it could become a key tool in the fight against climate change,
the development of technology to capture and store the carbon
dioxide emissions of power stations has lost momentum. Posted.

NY groups want details on fracking health study. A coalition of
environmental groups is calling on state officials to release
details of a health impact study for shale gas drilling and
high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Representatives of a dozen
prominent organizations signed a letter sent Tuesday to Health
Commissioner Nirav Shah and Environmental Conservation
Commissioner Joseph Martens. They asked them to make public the
health impact study being evaluated by a scientific panel. They
also called for public hearings in potentially affected areas and
a 60-day public comment period on the health study. Posted. 


Norway seeks to slow deforestation as climate "first aid". Prime
Minister Jens Stoltenberg, whose country is rich thanks to
offshore oil and gas, said new measures to slow global warming
were needed now because a new U.N.-led climate deal is due to be
agreed only in 2015 and enter into force from 2020. "In the
meantime we must give the climate first aid," he told a news
conference. "The government will step up its efforts to slow
deforestation and work to cut emissions that give the greatest
climate effect in the shortest time," he said. Posted.

Climate change is taking place before our eyes' – the weather of
2012.  When in September the Arctic sea ice that freezes and
melts each year shrank to its lowest extent ever recorded and
then contracted a further 500,000 sq km, the small world of ice
scientists was shocked. This was unprecedented, yet there was
nothing unusual about the meteorological conditions in the Arctic
in 2012, no vast storms to break up the ice, or heatwave to
hasten the retreat. Only widespread warming of the atmosphere
could have been responsible for less ice growth during the winter
and more ice melt during the summer, the scientists concluded. 


California releases first-ever fracking regulations.  Wading into
one of the hottest environmental debates in the nation,
California on Tuesday released its first-ever regulations for
hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," the increasingly common --
and controversial -- practice of freeing oil and gas from rock
formations by injecting chemicals under high pressure into the
ground.  The rules proposed by the administration of Gov. Jerry
Brown would require energy companies to disclose their fracking
plans to the state 10 days before starting operations. The
companies also would be required to post to an online database
with the locations of their work and the chemicals used, and they
would face new rules for testing and monitoring their wells. 

Other related articles:



IEA Issues Gloomy Outlook for U.S. Coal Industry. The U.S. coal
industry faces a difficult period at home as shale gas reduces
the fuel's share in power generation, but its problems are set to
worsen as export markets diminish and large swaths of the
industry could have to shut, the International Energy Agency
warned on Tuesday. Posted.

Supply Data Boost Oil Futures. U.S. crude futures gained 1.7%
after weekly government data on domestic oil inventories showed
falling supplies and a jump in demand for some fuel products.
U.S. oil stockpiles fell by one million barrels last week to the
lowest level since October, according to the U.S. Energy
Information Administration. Stocks of distillate, which include
heating oil and diesel, fell by 1.1 million barrels, and a
measure of demand for those fuels rose 20% from a week ago.


Pike Research makes 10 electric vehicle predictions for 2013. 
Sales of plug-in vehicles (PEVs) in 2013 will continue to outpace
the first years of hybrid vehicle sales as more than 210,000 PEVs
will be sold globally and more than three dozen PEV models will
debut, according to a year-end free whitepaper published by Pike
Research, that makes 10 specific predictions about electric
vehicles in 2013.  More broadly, Pike envisions PEV sales in
California—the leading market for such in the US—expanding into
smaller urban and suburban regions with more dealers beginning to
offer the vehicles.  Posted. 


Britain sets five-year plan to spur solar, biomass energy. The
Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) sought to give
investors the certainty they need to build new solar and biomass
power plants by deciding subsidy levels over the 2013-2017
period. Support levels for the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry,
while higher than initial proposals made by the government in
September, will be cut by 20 percent from current levels starting
in April 2013, when the new scheme takes effect. Posted.


Portable sensors enable monitoring of pollution on smart phones;
inferring pollution maps with greater granularity.  Computer
scientists at the University of California, San Diego have built
a portable pollution sensors that transmit transmit their air
quality readings to smart phones, allowing users to monitor air
quality in real time.  In a study of 16 commuters using
CitiSense, reported in a paper at the Wireless Health 2012
conference, the CitiSense measurements were found to vary
significantly from those provided by official regional pollution
monitoring stations, enabling the identification of pollution hot
spots and microenvironments that would otherwise be difficult
using typical monitoring.  Posted. 


COLUMN-Turning gas into a transport fuel: John Kemp. Gas
producers urgently need to find a way to turn abundant and
low-value gas supplies into more valuable transport fuels like
gasoline, diesel and jet. The fracking revolution has so far had
a bigger impact on gas than oil. Soaring production has depressed
the price of dry gas, and condensates like propane and butane,
even as the price of crude oil remains close to record levels (on
an annual basis). Posted.

Matt Ridley: Cooling Down the Fears of Climate Change. Forget the
Doha climate jamboree that ended earlier this month. The
theological discussions in Qatar of the arcana of climate
treaties are irrelevant. By far the most important debate about
climate change is taking place among scientists, on the issue of
climate sensitivity: How much warming will a doubling of
atmospheric carbon dioxide actually produce? The
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has to pronounce its
answer to this question in its Fifth Assessment Report next year.

Maybe Climate Change Just Really Isn't A Problem After All?  As
far as I’m concerned the great unknown of climate change has been
what is the climate sensitivity? Everything else that we’ve been
told I’m just fine with. That methane and CO2 are greenhouse
gases for example. That uncontrolled emission of them might well
lead to problems: that there has been warming since the
industrial revolution.  I’m just fine with all of those points,
just as I am with the Stern Review’s point that the solution, if
it is happening, is a carbon tax.  Posted. 

EDITORIAL: Chilling climate-change news.  When politicians want
evidence to back up their belief that mankind is heating up the
planet, they turn to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC). The Nobel Prize-winning organization was
responsible for the famous hockey-stick graph used to demonstrate
the purported warming effect of man-made carbon dioxide. IPCC’s
notoriety has turned out to be a two-edged sword, as leaks
continue to undermine the group’s core message.  In a statement
Friday, IPCC officials confirmed the authenticity of a leaked
draft of the forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report on climate.
Skeptics seized upon a chart within the document that compares
past IPCC predictions with actual temperature readings.  Posted. 


Energy Agency Sees Global Coal Boom Unabated, Europe’s Binge
Temporary. The proportion of global energy supplied by coal is
approaching that for oil. China and India see unabated growth in
coal burning through the next five years. The surge in exports of
coal from the United States to Europe should peak soon. The news
release — appended below — says it all, and the findings it
describes reinforce my assertion awhile back that there’s plenty
of denial to go around in the arguments over climate and energy
trends and policies. Posted.

Scientists See Big Impacts on U.S. Ecosystems from Global
Warming. A new analysis by dozens of scientists provides a useful
update on measured and anticipated impacts of human-driven
climate change on ecosystems from western forests to coastal
waters. The report, “Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity,
Ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services,” is one of a suite of studies
feeding into what will be the third National Climate Assessment,
an overarching analysis of impacts on everything from
transportation systems to public health. Posted.

On Our Radar: A Global Coal Boom. The record for converting
natural gas to liquids is spotty. Nonetheless, a vast
petrochemical complex in Qatar that is converting natural gas to
diesel fuel reflects the betting that the global demand for
cleaner diesel fuel will soar. Posted.

Come January, Another Try on Nuclear Waste. The incoming chairman
of the Senate Energy Committee suggests that the Energy
Department should stop billing utilities more in waste disposal
fees than the department is actually spending on addressing
nuclear wastes. And he wants the department to pay for moving
some of the wastes out of spent fuel pools at the nation’s
highest-risk reactors and into dry casks. Posted.

Toyota to Pay Record $17.35 Million Fine for Delaying Recall. For
the fourth time, Toyota has agreed to pay a fine to settle
allegations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
that the automaker delayed a safety recall. In a news release
Tuesday morning, the safety agency said Toyota would pay $17.35
million, the maximum allowed by law. Toyota did not admit any
wrongdoing and said it was paying the fine to avoid a continued
dispute with the safety agency. The automaker said the same thing
when agreeing to pay the three previous fines, which totaled
$48.8 million. Posted.

Earth Log: Healthy air may emerge from bureaucratic confusion.  A
new federal standard announced last week will force us to wipe
out soot and other tiny debris in the air and save hundreds of
lives by 2020 -- if we can just get through all the confusion. 
What confusion? It might seem like we're already on track. On
Thursday, the local air district will consider a new plan with a
2019 target to clean up these dangerous tiny specks.  But the San
Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is aiming the new
cleanup plan at the old 2006 standard.  Posted. 

Variable congestion charges may yield more stable air quality and
improved health.  This is concluded in a study by researchers
from the School of Business, Economics and Law, University of
Gothenburg, Sweden, and the Faculty of Science at the University
of Gothenburg, Sweden. CO2 emissions from cars are contributing
to the global warming due to the so-called greenhouse effect. The
purpose of congestion charges in large cities is to reduce both
congestion and CO2 emissions from cars. However, researchers at
the University of Gothenburg show that if the congestion charges
are set right, they will also contribute to a more consistent air
quality by evening out the emissions of nitrogen dioxide,
particulate matter and carbon monoxide, implying positive health
effects.  Posted. 

Better Air Quality In Hong Kong.  In early December of 2012 I
attended the Better Air Quality conference in Hong Kong along
with my colleagues Barbara Finamore and Rich Kassel.  I had never
been to Hong Kong before and wound up cutting a wide swath
through their dumpling supply, especially here.  Their subway
system, the MTR, also blew me away:  clean, graffiti-free cars
come every 2 minutes during rush hour and the fares are cheap by
U.S. standards.  Port-related air pollution was the issue that
drew me to the conference.  Hong Kong has a serious air quality
problem, well-documented by a local NGO called Civic Exchange. 

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