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newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for March 11, 2016. Posted: 11 Mar 2016 15:08:14
ARB Newsclips for March 11, 2016. 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. AIR POLLUTION Regulators sued over limits. Environmental groups file lawsuit against South Coast Air Quality Management District board, say new rules are too weak -- and ignore state law. The battle for control of Southern California’s smog cleanup strategy intensified Thursday, March 10, with several environmental and community groups suing… http://www.pe.com/articles/air-796702-board-district.html Schools prepare for poor air quality. The Hanford Elementary School District is taking preventative measures to help students who are sensitive to poor air quality. The district has partnered with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the Central California Asthma Collaborative to implement the Healthy Air Living Schools program. http://hanfordsentinel.com/mobile/article_3a4b3ef7-4441-5807-9ede-4a3e5dc71102.html Call for pollution tax on sales of new diesel cars in Britain. An £800 tax would fund old diesel scrappage, encourage move to low-emission vehicles and reduce air pollution, according to Policy Exchange thinktank. The move, proposed ahead of George Osborne’s budget on 16 March, would encourage motorists to move towards lower emission vehicles and significantly reduce air pollution… http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/11/call-for-pollution-tax-on-sales-of-new-diesel-cars-in-britain CO2 levels make largest annual leap in 56 years – NOAA. The last time the Earth saw such a sustained increase was over 11 millennia ago, says US agency. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide last year rose by the biggest margin since records began, according to a US federal science agency. Fossil fuel burning and a strong El Nino weather pattern pushed CO2 levels 3.05 parts per million… http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/03/10/co2-levels-make-largest-annual-leap-in-56-years-noaa/?utm_source=Inside+Climate+News&utm_campaign=0a0903f710-Today_s_Climate12_10_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_29c928ffb5-0a0903f710-327747457 CLIMATE CHANGE Obama, Trudeau target methane emissions in new agreement. The leaders of the United States and Canada committed on Thursday to curbing methane emissions by undertaking regulations that would target oil and gas production. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama committed to reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sectors… http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_US_CANADA_METHANE_EMISSIONS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT OTHER RELATED STORIES http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2016-03-10/u-s-canada-agree-to-cut-methane-emissions http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-sej-canada-arctic-climate-20160310-story.html http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/u-s-canada-sign-pact-to-fight-climate-change/ How Will the U.S. Curb Methane Pollution? The timeline for the EPA’s methane crackdown remains unclear. U.S. EPA said yesterday it will for the first time regulate existing sources of methane from the oil and gas industry. The announcement came as part of a new joint U.S.-Canada pact to cut domestic emissions of the potent greenhouse gas… http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-will-the-u-s-curb-methane-pollution/ Panel: Finding climate fingerprints in wild weather is valid. Climate science has progressed so much that experts can accurately detect global warming's fingerprints on certain extreme weather events, such as a heat wave, according to a high-level scientific advisory panel. For years scientists have given almost a rote response to the question of whether an instance of weird weather was from global warming… http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_SCI_EXTREME_WEATHER_CLIMATE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT Related Story https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/03/11/its-official-we-can-now-say-global-warming-made-some-weather-events-worse/ Are Emissions-Free Fossil Fuel Power Plants Too Good to be True? A fossil-fuel power plant that will produce low-cost electricity with zero emissions? It sounds too good to be true. And it is for the forseeable future. A fossil-fuel power plant that will produce low-cost electricity with zero emissions? It sounds too good to be true. And it is for the forseeable future. http://www.environmentalleader.com/2016/03/11/are-emissions-free-fossil-fuel-power-plants-too-good-to-be-true/#ixzz42cpOwVrB Climate change surprise: Biosphere contributes to warming. Yes, plants absorb carbon dioxide, but plants and animals also emit greenhouse gases. The world's biosphere is now adding to global warming, turning traditional assumptions about greenhouse gases on their heads, according to a new study published Thursday in the scientific journal Nature. Most students learn that plants absorb carbon dioxide… http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2016/0310/Climate-change-surprise-Biosphere-contributes-to-warming FUELS United Airlines is flying on biofuels. Here’s why that’s a really big deal. On Friday, United Airlines will launch a new initiative that uses biofuel to help power flights running between Los Angeles and San Francisco, with eventual plans to expand to all flights operating out of LAX. It’s the first time an American airline will begin using renewable fuel for regular commercial operations, and the occasion is part of a bigger movement when it comes to clean transportation in the U.S. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/03/11/united-airlines-is-flying-on-biofuels-heres-why-thats-a-really-big-deal/ Oil and gas boom not to blame for methane spike – study. The U.S. oil and gas industry has boomed in recent years, but the expansion has not resulted in a global spike in methane levels, finds a landmark new study. The study comes on the heels of a new pledge by President Obama yesterday to expand regulations of the energy industry to cut down leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is the primary component of natural gas. http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/2016/03/11/stories/1060033841 VW RECALL Volkswagen Sales Slide, VW Brand Under Pressure. Group sales dropped 1.2% in February from the same month last year to 693,300 units. Volkswagen AG’s global vehicle sales declined in February, with gains in Europe eclipsed by slumping sales in troubled emerging markets and a further decline in demand for the German automotive group’s namesake VW brand, notably in the U.S. http://www.wsj.com/articles/volkswagen-sales-slide-vw-brand-under-pressure-1457705127 Volkswagen's top US executive out amid emissions scandal. Volkswagen's top U.S. executive is stepping down amid the company's ongoing emissions cheating scandal, the company announced Wednesday. U.S. President and CEO Michael Horn is leaving "to pursue other opportunities effective immediately," the automaker said in a statement. He had been with the German auto maker for 25 years, assuming his most recent post in 2014. http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Volkswagen-s-top-US-executive-out-amid-emissions-6880419.php VW enhanced software (made it dirtier) to save money on exchanging particle filters – this update may have resulted in the discovery of the illegal software. TRANSLATION: VW enhanced software (made it dirtier) to save money on exchanging particle filters – this update may have resulted in the discovery of the illegal software. NDR, WDR and Sueddeutsche Zeitung’s research shows that VW’s manipulation of the software was even more comprehensive than initially believed and continued months after CARB started its investigations concerning the higher emissions. VW software designers are believed to have enhanced the illegal software at the end of 2014, unbeknownst to the US Governmental Agencies. The engine control unit, after the upgrade to the software, was able to better detect testing vs. street driving. The software upgrade involved the detection of the movement of the steering wheel. This detection was more reliable in differentiating testing vs. street driving modes and it made the reduction of the emissions more reliable. The background and reasoning for this software update was that VW believed that the software “reduced” the emissions too often, even while “in street driving condition” which brought about a higher wear and tear on the diesel particle filter. According to internal VW documentation, this affected roughly 6,700 US and Canadian diesel particle filters by November 2014. VW was expecting another 50,000 filter claims through this additional wear and tear. VW knowingly installed additional codes into the software! By request of NDR, several experts have tested the engine control unit software – before and after the alleged update – on a US VW Passat. All came to the conclusion that the new software version included the code to detect movement of the steering wheel. The software code was refined so that it was able to detect, much more clearly, whether or not the vehicle was in testing mode. This according to Thorsten Holz, professor for IT Systems Security at the University of Bochum. They not only replaced data, but also added code – this according to Felix Domke, Hacker from Hamburg. The vehicles will not wrongfully drive in the “clean” testing modes, but now will drive in the dirty emissions street mode! The CA EPA demanded an explanation from VW in early summer 2014 concerning the discrepancies of the emissions test results during street driving testing vs. lab tests. VW offered a voluntary recall of those vehicles, in order to update the software to reduce the emissions during street driving and thereby fixing the problem. VW also wanted to “fix” the issues with the particle filter and claimed this to be unrelated to the update to correct the high emissions output. Between late December 2014 and early Spring 2015, 280,000 vehicles were, according to VW, updated with the new software. Discovery of the angle of the steering wheel. CARB experts, during their May 2015 reexaminations of the affected vehicles, found that the NOX emissions results were reduced via a different software update. The experts intensified their investigations since the emissions, after the update, still were 15x the legal limit. Now the investigators found that the combination of the angle of the steering wheel, air pressure, speed and duration changed the emissions output and that the vehicles clearly could identify the testing. This software enhancement is believed to have been the key to CARB identifying the illegal software in the first place. VW declined to comment. http://www.tagesschau.de/wirtschaft/vw-skandal-125.html U.S. Volkswagen dealers revolt amid turmoil. Volkswagen dealers are revolting over the sudden departure of their popular U.S. CEO, compounding the German automaker's troubles amid a sales slump triggered by an emissions scandal. Nearly six months after the crisis erupted, Volkswagen dealers are airing their grievances over the automaker's failure to fix scandal-plagued vehicles… http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2016/03/11/volkswagen-dealers-michael-horn-emissions/81647998/ GREEN ENERGY Super-sized turbines. Researchers looking to triple the size of wind farms. In efforts to increase wind power, the blades on turbines designed by engineers, scientists and researchers keep getting bigger and bigger. But a new design in the works takes the idea to levels most people can barely imagine: Blades up to 200 meters, or 656 feet, long — more than two football fields. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/mar/10/super-sized-wind-turbines/ MISCELLANEOUS This beautiful electric bike will charge itself with built-in solar panels. Electric bikes are all the rage these days, especially among urban dwellers — and for good reason, too. E-bikes are a green mode of transportation, can be ridden just about anywhere, and are a much more affordable alternative to owning a car in the city. As with any electric vehicle, though, keeping it charged can sometimes be a headache. http://www.businessinsider.com/this-beautiful-electric-bike-will-charge-itself-with-its-built-in-solar-panels-2016-2 OPINIONS Stacking the AQMD board. In the month since business-friendly Republicans became the majority on the board overseeing the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the agency has fired its longtime general manager and reconfirmed a controversial rule that would let oil refiners, power plants and other major polluters keep spewing more smog-producing emissions for a longer period of time. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-0311-scaqmd-20160311-story.html BLOGS Only Renewable Energy Revolution Can Reverse Runaway Climate Change. The recent United Nations Climate Summit's (COP21) stated intention to keep planetary warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius was giddy-making news. While we are not out of the woods yet, there just might be a way. Transitioning to an electrified world running on wind, water and solar power ONLY would get the climate back on track… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/belinda-waymouth/only-renewable-energy-rev_b_9422770.html Gov. Brown to sign landmark renewable energy bill Friday. Gov. Kate Brown is getting her pen ready for signing the Oregon Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan into law Friday. The governor will publicly sign Senate Bill 1547, which boosts renewable energy and eliminates coal-fired power in Oregon… http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/sbo/2016/03/gov-brown-to-sign-landmark-renewable-energy-bill.html Seattle wants to cut emissions in half by 2025. An electric fleet and biofuels are the key. In the face of global climate change, city after city and country after country are taking steps to reduce their emissions and cut their carbon footprint. As the transportation sector is a huge contributor to greenhouse gases, it's an obvious place to start, especially with the gradual shift toward electrification and alternative fuels. http://www.autoblog.com/2016/03/11/seattle-wants-to-cut-emissions-in-half-by-2025/ California is in a drought emergency. Visit www.SaveOurH2O.org for water conservation tips.