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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for December 24, 2012

Posted: 24 Dec 2012 11:13:20
ARB Newsclips for December 24, 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.


Chevron fined for violations before fire.  Chevron has agreed to
pay $145,600 to settle more than two dozen air-quality regulatory
violations at its Richmond refinery, including citations for
exceeding pollution limits and failing to inspect for leaks.  The
violations all predate the Aug. 6 refinery fire that was caused
when a leaking and corroded pipe broke open, spewing out a vapor
cloud that ignited. The smoke cloud from the ensuing blaze
prompted 15,000 people to visit hospitals for respiratory
problems and other ailments.  Posted. 

Overdue push to scrub soot from the air.  On your next trip to
the parking lot, run a finger along the hood of your car. That
smudgy gunk that comes off is soot, considered the country's most
widespread and deadly air pollutant. This grimy dust, almost
impossible to see, is blamed for thousands of deaths and millions
of sick days per year.  For years, curbing soot levels was a top
target for environmental and public health groups, and it's a
special challenge in California, which has the nation's dirtiest
air. But getting anything done, until now, has been a sorry tale
of foot-dragging and politics.  Posted. 

MORENO VALLEY: Air district raps warehouse plans. Regional air
quality officials are throwing cold water on Moreno Valley’s
warehouse ambitions, saying the city is moving forward without
looking for ways to reduce pollution from the thousands of diesel
trucks the new distribution centers would attract. A strongly
worded letter to the city’s top planner pointed out that
residents already “experience the worst air quality in the
nation.” The South Coast Air Quality Management District letter
says Moreno Valley is working to become a warehousing hub.

EPA finalizes boiler rule to reduce air pollution. The
Environmental Protection Agency finalized rules Friday aimed at
reducing toxic air pollution from industrial boilers and
incinerators while offering industry more flexibility and lower
costs to comply with the new standards. Obama administration
officials said most of the 1.5 million boilers nationwide are not
covered by the regulation since they are too small or emit too
little pollution to warrant controls. Posted.

You'll soon check air quality on your cellphone. Checking whether
the air you’re breathing is dirty is likely to become yet another
thing you can do with a cellphone. The University of California
San Diego has developed CitiSense, an experimental tool that
detects and measures a handful of pollutants and wirelessly sends
the readings to Android phones. The system is still in the
development stage. But CitiSense has worked well in field tests
and is the kind of personal air quality monitoring device federal
regulators have been urging science and industry to make. Posted.

Key environmental law targeted for overhaul. Signed by Republican
Gov. Ronald Reagan and strengthened by a series of court rulings
and legislation, California’s bedrock environmental law in recent
years has been slowly chiseled in response to the bleak economy
and flurries of litigation that have compounded costs for
developers and public agencies. But this could be a watershed
moment for the California Environmental Quality Act as powerful
Democrats and their staunch allies return to the Capitol in
January to explore legislation that could remove some of the
law’s formidable legal barriers to projects while still making
sure environmental safeguards do not crumble. Posted.

Air quality district urges residents to avoid fires on Christmas
Eve. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is asking Bay
Area residents to skip the fire in the fireplace on Christmas Eve
to keep air quality healthy on Christmas Day. Burning wood is not
illegal on Christmas Eve, but officials are asking residents to
observe a voluntary ban. "The break in the blustery weather will
cause smoke pollution to build on Christmas Eve and Christmas
morning," said Jack Broadbent, the district's executive officer.
"We are asking the public to voluntarily not burn on Christmas
Eve to help reduce pollution levels and avoid the need to call a
Winter Spare the Air Alert on Christmas Day." Posted.



Scientists Report Faster Warming in Antarctica. West Antarctica
has warmed much more than scientists had thought over the last
half century, new research suggests, an ominous finding given
that the huge ice sheet there may be vulnerable to long-term
collapse, with potentially drastic effects on sea levels. A paper
released Sunday by the journal Nature Geoscience reports that the
temperature at a research station in the middle of West
Antarctica has warmed by 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1958. That
is roughly twice as much as scientists previously thought and
three times the overall rate of global warming, making central
West Antarctica one of the fastest-warming regions on earth.

Annual bird counts give scientists climate clues. "Learning the
changes of habit in drought could help us know what will happen
as it gets warmer and drier," said Kostecke, a bird expert and
associate director of conservation, research and planning at the
Nature Conservancy in Texas. Scientists saw birds change their
habits during last year's historic drought that parched most of
Texas. Some birds that normally winter on the coast - such as
endangered whooping cranes - arrived and immediately turned back
when they couldn't find enough food. Posted.

An apps-eye view of global warming and climate change. Drought in
the Midwest; forest fires in the Southwest; blizzards and
hurricanes on the East Coast; rising ocean levels on both coasts.
If you're wondering what to make of the crazy weather of the past
few years, maybe it's time to check out some of the iPhone and
Android apps you can use to study climate change and global
warming. Quite a few are devoted to the still-contentious issue.
Many are for the Apple (AAPL) operating system, but there are
some in the Android app store too. Posted.


Could Natural Gas Save This Truck Maker?  Will Navistar
International ever get it right? The poor truck maker, which
designs and manufactures integrated truck bodies and engines, has
had a rough year. A series of missteps and misfortunes have sent
shares tumbling nearly 70%. But now, a new CEO is at the helm and
aiming for a turnaround. The odds look tough, but a golden
opportunity awaits Navistar, if only the company would capitalize
on it.  Posted. 


Chevron buys half of Canadian natural gas project. Chevron will
buy a 50 percent stake in the Kitimat liquefied natural gas
project in Canada's British Columbia from EOG Resources and
Encana to tap into rising demand from Asia. The Kitimat project,
which has a license from the Canadian National Energy Board to
export 10 million tons of LNG per year, is one of several North
American gas export projects that aim to benefit from rising
supplies from shale fields. After the deal, Chevron and Apache
each will hold 50 percent stakes in the project and the
associated Pacific Trail Pipeline. Chevron Canada will operate
the LNG plant. Posted.

In fracking culture war, celebs, billionaires and banjos. Not so
long ago, fracking was a technical term little known beyond the
energy industry. Now it's coming to Hollywood, as the fierce
battle between environmentalists and oil firms is played out in
several forthcoming films. Hydraulic fracturing, the
controversial drilling technique also known as fracking, has
lifted U.S. energy output dramatically, despite warnings from
critics who fear it pollutes water deep underground. Posted.


Study examines potential for alternatives to new car ownership
models to advance EV market.  A new study by the RAC Foundation
and the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA)
examines the potential for alternatives to new car ownership
models to kick-start the electric vehicle market. The paper, “Car
Rental 2.0”, summarizes the findings from a joint seminar held by
the RAC Foundation and BVRLA earlier this year on alternatives to
car ownership: car rental, traditional and one-way car clubs, and
ridesharing.  Posted. 


The future of the flying car. In the real world, there’s climate
change, peak oil, and more esoteric forms of resource depletion
(we’re running out of magnesium?!), the 1 percent vs. the 99
percent, and the imperial tristesse that infuses the idea of
America’s declining power in the world. The skies of the future
are no longer filled with flying cars. Maybe I’m just typical of
my time, or maybe the cultural moment has come around to better
fit my own flatliner tendency, but this comes as a relief to me.


On Issues Like Climate Change, Can Urgency and Patience Coexist?
Here are some end-of-year thoughts on ways to fit human
aspirations on a finite planet, expressed during a recent short
interview taped while I was participating in this years Business
for Social Responsibility (aka BSR) conference (more interviews
and talks are here). One is that addressing humanity’s entwined
energy and climate challenges requires an unlikely mix of urgency
and patience. Posted.

E.P.A. Issues Standards on Air Pollution for Boilers.  The
Environmental Protection Agency on Friday issued long-delayed new
air pollution standards for industrial boilers, incinerators and
cement kilns. The rules provide significant concessions to
industry and allow several additional years for full compliance
in an effort to minimize job and economic impacts, officials
said.  The new standards for the first time set numerical limits
on emissions of mercury, acid gas and small-particle pollution
for a small subset of the nation’s 1.5 million industrial
boilers. The agency, which has come under withering criticism
from Congressional Republicans for what they contend is
regulatory overreach, emphasized that the standards were drafted
after extensive consultation with industry groups and local
officials.  Posted. 

Your 2012 climate change scorecard.  As our friends at 350.org
like to remind us, climate change really comes down to math. Put
x amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, see y degrees of
warming. Our goal — meaning, our goal as an evolved, aware
species that would rather not be plagued by droughts and
megastorms and constant flooding and armed conflict — is to
reduce how much carbon dioxide we’re putting into the atmosphere
each year instead of continually increasing the amount.  We’re
not good at this. And time is running very low: We either need
massive, quick action or it’s too late.  Posted. 

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