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newsclips -- Newsclips for April 19, 2013

Posted: 19 Apr 2013 13:17:37
ARB Newsclips for April 19, 2013. 

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.


Business group slams cap-and-trade suit, backs Quebec alliance. 
A prominent business group slammed a recent lawsuit against
California’s cap-and-trade system Wednesday and announced support
for a new plan to extend the program to Quebec.  The
transnational linkage would expand the market by allowing firms
in either state to trade carbon allowances starting in January
2014, followed by their first joint auction a month later.
Companies could buy the allowances to offset their greenhouse gas
emissions, a key part of Assembly Bill 32…Posted. 


State air pollution association cites 'remarkable progress' in
report.  Acknowledging the “daunting challenges” that remain
before reaching air quality standards, the California Air
Pollution Control Officers Association nonetheless cited its
“remarkable progress” toward that end.  Despite the state’s
population having increased by 65 percent between 1980 and 2010,
and the daily miles driven by all vehicles increasing by 137
percent, smog-forming pollutants were reduced by 55 percent
during the same period, according to a report the association
released Wednesday.  Posted. 

Air quality improves in High Desert.  Air quality in the High
Desert has improved over the past 12 years despite a growing
population, according to the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management
District.  The MDAQMD reports a 19 percent decline in days where
air pollution in the High Desert exceeds federal standards. Also,
the number of days per year when air quality is considered “good”
rose from 173 in 2000 to 184 in 2012.  Posted. 


Climate inaction likely to deepen EU divisions –paper. The
European Union must take measures to prevent the destruction of
crops and property by extreme weather or face instability and
deeper social divisions as a result of potential climate change,
a European Commission document said. The discussion paper, seen
by Reuters, calls for a pre-emptive, EU-wide strategy, taking
account of factors such as disruption to energy and food
supplies. While most scientists agree that the planet has been

Did Democrats actually discuss climate change at their California
Last fall’s presidential campaign didn’t focus on the
environment. How much did Dems say here in the Golden State a
week before Earth Day? Fresh off an astounding string of nearly
across-the-board victories in last November’s elections,
California Democrats met in Sacramento on April 12-14, to
celebrate their successes and clarify their policy agenda over
the next two years. Posted.

Industry seeks Supreme Court review of landmark GHG ruling. An
industry coalition asked the Supreme Court yesterday to review a
lower court ruling upholding U.S. EPA's regulations to address
climate change. Led by the American Chemistry Council, the trade
associations petitioned the high court to reconsider the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit's June 2012
decision on EPA's greenhouse gas rules (Greenwire, June 26,
2012). Posted. http://www.eenews.net/Greenwire/print/2013/04/19/1

E.U. market troubles will prevent emissions trade linkage --
Calif. air chief. California's top air regulator doesn't foresee
linking with the world's largest carbon market because of a glut
of credits overhanging the European market. Mary Nichols,
chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board (ARB), yesterday
dismissed speculation that the Golden State's carbon market --
the second-largest in the world, after the European Union's --
would accept credits from the E.U. Emissions Trading System.
Posted. http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2013/04/19/5 BY

Big changes in the country's drought profile this week. The area
of the continental United States in moderate or worse drought
dipped below 50 percent for the first time in nearly a year,
according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. A series of storms
across many of the drought-stricken areas alleviated water
deficiencies in the soil, thanks to a major storm that barreled
across the Rockies on Monday and continued eastward through the
rest of the week. As of Tuesday, 47.8 percent of the lower 48
states is in moderate to exceptional drought, the smallest area
since June 2012, and more improvement is expected next week.
Posted. http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2013/04/19/2 BY

Summertime, and the living in polar areas is warmer than the past
600 years. Recent summers in the Arctic and nearby areas were
warmer than anything witnessed in the past 600 years, according
to a recent study in Nature. The research released this month
concludes that the frequency and magnitude of recent high
temperatures between April and September in high northern
latitudes were "unprecedented" since 1400. Posted.
http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2013/04/19/9 BY


What investors got wrong in advanced biofuels. This is a guest
post by Doug Williams, author of “Advancing Fuels: A Review of
the Challenges Facing the Advanced Biofuels Industry.” The
president’s recent budget proposal includes $282 million for
advanced biofuel technology research. This is quite encouraging
given the rather public pull-back in continued biofuels
investment from the investment community. This pull-back is not
surprising. The first wave of advanced biofuels investments
(Advanced Biofuels 1.0 or ABs 1.0) haven’t quite worked out. 

RPT-Fitch: Future CO2 Prices Remain Risk for Utilities After EU
Vote. Tuesday's decision by the European Parliament to reject the
carbon allowances backloading plan will cement coal-fired power
stations' advantage over natural gas-fired in the short term,
Fitch Ratings says. However, it does little to reduce uncertainty
about prices in the medium term, which is one of the main risks
facing EU power generators. In this environment, a diversified
and flexible generation fleet is the most positive for a
utility's credit rating. Posted.

Renewable fuels make 'good business sense,' but RFS changes
needed – Shell. Executives for Royal Dutch Shell PLC this week
said they are pushing ahead with plans to research and develop
advanced biofuels despite recently scaling back investments in
the field and calling for changes in federal biofuels policies.
The oil and gas company is focused on developing drop-in biofuels
that can be used in existing fuel infrastructure and is working
to commission a pilot facility in Houston, said Shell Vice
President for Alternative Energy Matthew Tipper. Posted.
http://www.eenews.net/Greenwire/print/2013/04/19/17 BY


Nissan Leaf tops Kelley Blue Book's latest 10 best 'green' car
list. In the end, it was a very close call, but the
less-expensive and longer-ranged 2013 Nissan Leaf edged out a
best-ever field of competitors to win top honors on Kelley Blue
Book's newest 10 best "green" cars list. "We went round and
around on which car would be No. 1," Jack Nerad, KBB's executive
editorial director and executive market analyst, said in an
interview. Posted.


Settlement reached in Calif. bullet train lawsuit. The California
agency overseeing the state's effort to build the nation's first
high-speed rail line received a boost Thursday when a judge
approved a settlement in a major lawsuit that sought to block the
project. However, the rail authority also faced a setback that
could delay work and add to the project's soaring costs. The rail
authority reached the settlement with a group of Central Valley
farmers who sued to block the bullet train on environmental
grounds. Posted. 

Related articles:


California high-speed rail bidding rules were changed. The
changes made it possible for Sylmar-based Tutor Perini to be
ranked as the top candidate despite having received the lowest
technical rating among bidders. State high-speed rail officials
acknowledged Thursday that they changed their rules for selecting
a builder for the bullet train's first phase in the Central
Valley, a shift that subsequently made it possible for a
consortium led by Sylmar-based Tutor Perini to be ranked as the
top candidate despite receiving the lowest technical rating.


COLUMN-Customized green portfolios make more of a difference.
Green stock funds have always made me blue. There are dozens of
socially responsible, "clean-tech" or environmentally friendly
mutual and exchange-traded funds, but I have a hard time
recommending them. They are typically too expensive because of
their fees, have poor returns and are too concentrated in highly
volatile stocks. Take the PowerShares Wilderhill Clean Energy
ETF, which holds alternative energy/conservation companies based
on a 56-stock index. Posted.

Exclusive: China's BYD mulls leaner, greener "re-birth" plan. BYD
Co, one of the better known Chinese brands thanks to a stake held
by billionaire U.S. investor Warren Buffett, may stop making
conventional gasoline-fuelled cars within two years and focus on
'new energy' battery models as part of a "re-birth plan" to
arrest a slump in sales. Shares in BYD, which once harbored
long-term ambitions to be as big as Toyota Motor Corp, have
tumbled by almost three quarters since a late-2009 peak, as net
profit crumbled to just 81.4 million yuan ($13.15 million) last
year from 3.8 billion yuan four years ago. Posted.

Camp Pendleton goes solar. Two more projects at dining facilities
come online. Solar panel installation at Camp Pendleton is one of
the latest examples of clean-technology employment in San Diego
County. Camp Pendleton is energizing two new solar power projects
this month installed by Sullivan Solar Power, the firm
headquartered in San Diego announced. The $1.9 million
photovoltaic systems at the Chappo and Edson dining facilities
are expected to pay for themselves in 15 years, said Capt. Barry
Edwards, a spokesman for the Marine base. Posted.

Large energy-saving potential seen in air conditioning – report.
Sales of air conditioners are soaring in the developing world,
straining power grids and releasing potent greenhouse gases. For
a rising middle class in countries like India and China, the
units have become a badge of status and a staple of urban life.
That makes it unlikely that the trend in sales will reverse
anytime soon. However, a new study by the Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory finds that existing technologies could cut
the energy burdens of air conditioning by up to half. Posted.
http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2013/04/19/6 BY

Solar industry jobs outstrip coal mining. California may lay
claim to the largest pool of acting talent in the world. But when
it comes to total employment, the state's solar industry cuts
more paychecks than Hollywood, with an estimated 43,700 people
employed in the manufacture, sale, distribution and installation
of solar systems, according to a new national database of solar
employment. And when measured across all 50 states, the solar
industry employs 35 percent more people than coal mining, Bureau
of Labor Statistics figures compiled by the Solar Foundation
show. Posted.
http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2013/04/19/7 BY

Researchers take another step around solar energy's upper limit.
With some clever techniques, researchers are finding loopholes
around the upper limit for photovoltaic energy efficiency. Now a
team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is slightly
closer to making such designs practical. In solar panels, the
Shockley-Queisser (SQ) limit refers to the highest efficiency a
single-junction photovoltaic cell can theoretically achieve,
which is just under 34 percent. Posted.
http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2013/04/19/8 BY


Before Texas plant exploded: What did regulators know? Despite
being located within a short walk of a nursing home, school and
residential buildings, West Fertilizer Co in central Texas had no
blast walls and had filed no contingency plan to the
Environmental Protection Agency for a major explosion or fire at
the site. It remains unclear what safety measures, if any, were
required of the company or whether West Fertilizer failed to
comply. Posted.

Senate Committee Approves Nominee for Energy Secretary. The
Senate energy committee formally approved the nomination of
Ernest J. Moniz to be energy secretary, the committee announced
on Thursday. The 21-to-1 vote is an indication that Mr. Moniz,
who served as an undersecretary in the Energy Department in the
Clinton administration, will have no trouble being confirmed by
the full Senate. Some opponents had complained that an energy
initiative he leads at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
is financed heavily by the oil industry and other conventional
energy industries. Posted.

Jerry Brown starts push to revamp California's environmental law.
The governor is restrained in his expectations, however,
acknowledging that the appetite for such change 'is bigger
outside the state Capitol than it is inside.' As Gov. Jerry Brown
toured China over the last week, he repeatedly contrasted that
nation's speedy construction of modern transportation systems and
other key public works with what he characterized as a lack of
vision back home. A pillar of his plan to let the "bulldozers
roll" on big projects in California has been an overhaul of the
state's landmark environmental law…Posted.


Ray of sunshine for SUSD.  Stockton Unified has joined a growing
list of school districts going solar. The move not only greens up
Earth but greens up district treasuries, in SUSD's case saving
the district an estimated $600,000 a year. That's the equivalent,
trustees were told, of the savings that could be realized by
closing two schools. Stockton Unified pays about $5 million a
year for energy. Once the solar panels go up, the district will
realize a "significantly reduced rate" compared to what it pays
the Pacific Gas and Electric Co., according to district
facilities chief Steve Breakfield. Posted.

Quebec, California not so distant when it comes to climate
change.  Climate change has no boundaries. It affects everyone in
our global community. Actions taken in one place – like
increasing emissions at an old power plant – have a negative
impact on those living half a planet away. For this reason,
effective solutions to climate change must also have no
boundaries.  We have watched as international climate
negotiations have stuttered and stalled, yet we remain hopeful,
seeing progress now building from the ground up rather than the
top down. Posted. 

California High Speed Rail: Part Two, Arguments Against.  In Part
One, I made a conservative-Republican argument for California
high speed rail (HSR).  The argument boiled down to millennial
demographics, coalitions and a vision for the future.  While I
believe that HSR is inevitable and deserves support—all those
nations building HSR around the world are not experiencing mass
hallucinations that only American conservatives have


Volkswagen’s CrossBlue Coupé Concept is a Symphony of Gas and
Electric Power. Forget that Volkswagen’s CrossBlue Coupé concept
looks more like a compact four-door crossover than a coupe and
that it isn’t actually blue. Gimmicky buzzwords and bold colors
are all part of the deal where auto show unveilings are
concerned. The decidedly orange CrossBlue concept comes to the
Shanghai auto show this weekend, and it looks as if it may cross
swords with the Mercedes-Benz Concept GLA. Posted.

Honda and Nissan Recall Vehicles Over Shift Interlocks and Brake
Problems. Honda says it will recall about 204,000 of its most
recent models because the automatic transmission can be shifted
out of Park if the brake pedal is not depressed. In a report
posted Friday on the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration’s Web site, Honda said the problem affected 17,500
Acura RDXs from the 2013 model year, 128,000 CR-Vs from the
2012-13 model years and 59,000 Honda Odysseys, also from 2012-13.

CA Air Board Head To Carmakers On ZEV Rules: Back Off, Boys. 
California is the largest single market for new vehicles in the
United States: more than 1.5 million vehicles are sold each year.
 So when state officials speak, the auto industry has to listen. 
On Tuesday, Mary Nichols spoke. She heads the powerful California
Air Resources Board, which has legal authority to set emissions
regulations for vehicles sold in the state.  Posted. 

California To Have Up To 70 Hydrogen Fueling Stations By 2016? 
Our planet may have only gained 27 hydrogen filling stations in
2012, but California is hoping to have nearly 70 of its own in
total by 2016.  So says the California Air Resources Board
(CARB), which provides a list of government-funded hydrogen
stations in California on its website.  Posted. 

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