California Air Resources Board News Clips

Updated November 16, 2012

AIR POLLUTION

DWP sues air district over Owens Valley dust rules. The department accuses the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District and one of its officials of issuing unreasonable and unlawful orders. As a boy, Ted Schade couldn’t get enough of old westerns with heroes standing alone in defense of towns that wouldn’t stand up for themselves. Now a 55-year-old man, Schade believes he is experiencing his own version of “High Noon.” As air pollution control officer in the 110-mile-long Owens Valley. Posted.

LA sues over Owens Lake dust control. The powerful Los Angeles Department of Water and Power sued air regulators Friday over demands to control dust from Owens Lake nearly a century after the exploding metropolis siphoned water to quench its growing thirst. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fresno, marks the latest salvo in a bitter back-and-forth over water rights in the arid region that was set in motion in 1913, when Los Angeles began diverting water from the lake 200 miles to its north. The lake went dry in 1926 and has since been plagued with massive dust storms and poor air quality. Posted.

UCLA researchers say last year’s Carmageddon improved air quality.  The reprieve lasted for only one weekend, but UCLA researchers say that last year’s Carmageddon closure of the 405 Freeway rid Los Angeles of both traffic and another notorious problem: pollution.  Air quality near the closed 10-mile portion of the freeway reached levels 83% better than typical weekends, according to research released Friday by a team at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.  Posted.

Bay Area no longer among 25 most-polluted regions. The San Francisco metropolitan area has dropped off the list of the top. 25 most polluted regions in the nation, the American Lung Association said in a report Wednesday. The State of the Air report ranked regions across the United States on particle and ozone pollution, finding that three of the nine least smoggy counties in California are located in the Bay Area and that, with a few exceptions, the air in Northern California is safe to inhale. Posted.

E.P.A. Weighs Texas Plan to Cut Haze in National Parks. Last year, as wildfires raged in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, visitors to Guadalupe Mountains National Park had to settle for a more limited view when hiking up Guadalupe Peak, Texas’ highest point. “All summer, there was a haze here,” said Jonena Hearst, the park’s geologist. Even before the fires, she said, visibility had been decreasing slightly over time. Posted.

Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District investigates its top management. It’s a good thing for air quality on the Monterey Peninsula that there’s not enough sun or water to easily grow grass; running a lawnmower for an hour emits as much air pollution as a new car driving 300 miles. But a proposed $15,000 trade-out program at the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District, which would allow tri-county residents to swap diesel hogs for electric lawnmowers, is unlikely to ever rev up. Posted.

OPINIONS

No Need for Carbon Auction Says California’s Most Independent Voice.  Last week the most independent voice in California policy analysis said the following in a letter:  a cap-and-trade “allowance auction is not necessary to meet the AB 32 goal of reducing GHG emissions statewide to 1990 levels by 2020.” The impartial Legislative Analyst (LAO) responded in a decisive letter to Sen. Henry Perea who had asked three formal, basic and highly appropriate questions: Is a cap and trade allowance auction necessary? What are the advantages and disadvantages? What are the steps the California Legislature would have to take to stop the November auction?  Posted.

Well, Duh: L.A. Has Some of the Dirtiest Air in America. For yet another year, Los Angeles has been named by the American Lung Association as one of the cities with some of the dirtiest air in America. The just-released annual State of the Air report indicates that Californians are still waiting to exhale: More than 90 percent of Californians still live in counties plagued with unhealthy air, particularly in the Central Valley, Los Angeles, Inland Empire, Sacramento, and San Diego. That means more people are at risk for asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature death. Posted.

Viewpoints: Potential of low carbon fuel will drive California forward.  For the first time since the 1950s the United States is exporting more gasoline and diesel than it imports. To become energy secure, we need to invest in homegrown fuels, but also develop fuel-efficient vehicles that go farther on a gallon of gas, while producing as little pollution as possible. That’s where California’s low carbon fuel standard comes in.  The low carbon fuel standard, the first of its kind in the world, was enacted in 2009 and incentivizes all producers of motor fuels, including gasoline and corn ethanol, to reduce by 10 percent the carbon content of motor fuels sold in California.  Posted.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Trial run for cap and trade auction. Come November, California will open North America’s first full-scale carbon market, in which companies buy and sell the right to emit greenhouse gases from their factories, power plants and oil refineries. It’s a major undertaking involving hundreds of companies and – potentially – billions of dollars. Success or failure could have big implications for California’s fight against climate change, not to mention the state’s fragile economy. So on Thursday, California officials plan to stage a dress rehearsal. Posted.

Bid to overhaul California Environmental Quality Act falls short. A late-hour bid to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act fell apart Thursday, with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg saying the upper house will not take up the measure before the legislative session ends next week. “The Senate will not take up comprehensive CEQA reform in the last days of the legislative session,” Steinberg, D-Sacramento, told reporters at the Capitol. “This law, for all of its strengths and its faults, is far too important to rewrite in the last days of the session.” Posted.

Scientists unlock ocean CO2 secrets key to climate: study. From giant whirlpools to currents 1,000 km wide, scientists said on Monday they have uncovered how vast amounts of carbon are locked away in the depths of the Southern Ocean, boosting researchers ability to detect the impact of climate change. Oceans curb the pace of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. The Southern Ocean is the largest of these ocean carbon sinks, soaking up about 40 percent of mankind’s CO2 absorbed by the seas. Posted.

Calif. plans to go it alone on cap and trade, at least at first. California’s foray into carbon emissions trading will begin as a solo venture, regulators announced yesterday at a hearing originally intended to secure the Canadian province of Quebec as the state’s first trading partner.California air pollution officials said they still plan to include other jurisdictions in their economywide cap-and-trade program, but it won’t happen in time for the inaugural auction this November of allowances to manufacturers, oil refineries and other industries, which must obtain them to cover their carbon dioxide emissions starting next year. Posted.

Fracking’s risk of causing quake small, panel says. Pumping high-pressure water and sand underground to break up shale rocks and harvest natural gas or oil – the practice known as fracking – poses little risk of triggering significant earthquakes, a government-sponsored scientific committee reported Friday. But the method of disposing the wastewater from fracking by injecting it permanently underground could cause an increased risk of earthquakes strong enough for people to feel, the scientists said. Posted.

Activists urge Discovery to acknowledge climate change science. Forecast the Facts, the activist group that first confronted GM about its support of climate change doubters the Heartland Institute, now plans to muster a public campaign targeting the Discovery Channel. The purpose: to get Discovery to acknowledge the scientific consensus on man-made climate change in its programming. The flap follows the recent airing of the final episode of Discovery’s lush exploration of the polar regions, “Frozen Planet.” Posted.

Carbon Traders Ask California to Add Offset Projects to Curb Projected Rise in Compliance Costs. Carbon traders and regulated entities have urged California to boost the supply of offset projects available under its greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program to avoid skyrocketing compliance costs during the second phase of the program. Their plea came April 11 at the Climate Action Registry’s 10th annual conference, which focused largely on California’s economy-wide emissions trading program and efforts to link it with the cap-and-trade program adopted by the Canadian province of Quebec. Posted.

South Africa says climate deal took delicate touch.  Pushing too hard at international climate change talks might have killed the only treaty regulating carbon emissions, host South Africa said Monday after concluding tense negotiations on how the world should respond to global warming.  Given the international financial crisis and competing national political interests, trying to force countries to do more than they are willing and able to do “would have resulted in a ‘no deal’ in Durban, not only killing the Kyoto Protocol therefore, but possibly even the U.N. Convention on climate change itself,” Edna Molewa, South Africa’s environment minister, told reporters. Posted.

GREENHOUSE GASES

Eye on the Environment: California’s green building codes get greener.  Last week, California renewed its reputation as a national leader in sound environmental building practices.  The CalGreen Building Code, initially adopted in January 2011, made California the first state to create statewide green building codes. Effective July 1, 2012, a set of enhancements and improvements to the code took effect. These changes not only set higher standards for conserving water, saving energy and improving indoor air quality, they also introduce regulatory flexibility.  Posted.

EPA keeps threshold in place for greenhouse gas emissions. U.S. EPA reaffirmed today that it would not regulate smaller sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the near future. The Clean Air Act required EPA to consider the feasibility of reducing its threshold for regulation of greenhouse gases, but its final “step three” of the so-called tailoring rule confirmed that the agency will regulate only new sources that emit at least 100,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide equivalent, or existing sources that meet the same threshold when they expand to increase their emissions by at least 75,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide equivalent. Posted.

GREEN ENERGY

Sacramento Catholic girls’ school completes huge installation of solar panels. A Sacramento Catholic girls’ school has completed the installation of a huge array of solar panels. Next week the students of St. Francis High School in east Sacramento will wear flip flops and sunglasses during the dedication of the new photovoltaic system. Solar power generation from 1,316 panels on the rooftops of 7 campus buildings is expected to produce about. 30 percent of the school’s current electrical demands – and save the school $1 million over the next 25 years. Posted.

BofA to fund SolarCity’s military housing project. A billion-dollar project by SolarCity to stick solar panels on military housing across the country will proceed solely with private financing, after the federal government backed out in the wake of Solyndra’s bankruptcy. SolarCity, based in San Mateo, will report today that it has reached an agreement with Bank of America Merrill Lynch to fund the effort, which is expected to cost more than $1 billion and take five years. SolarCity calls it the largest residential solar project in history, potentially providing electricity to 120,000 military housing units. Posted.