Archived Environmental Articles
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"State drops delay to air cleanup deadline"
Following sharp criticism, the California Air Resources Board has retracted a recent proposal it made to extend the cleanup deadline for dangerous diesel soot and other airborne debris in California by five years. Catherine Witherspoon, executive director of the air board, suggested the deadline extension in a March 12 letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the two air districts that are struggling to meet the current 2015 deadline objected to the proposed extension, saying it would unwisely relieve pressure on state and federal officials to help in reducing pollution.
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, March 21, 2007
"Texas utility TXU is sold in boon for environmentalists"
TXU Corporation, the largest provider of electricity and related services in Texas, has announced that it will be the object of a $45 billion buyout by a group of private corporate investors. More significant than the dollar amount, however, are the conditions that call for environmental reforms and responsibility on a scale heretofore unseen at such a large energy company.
Los Angeles Times Janet Wilson and Peter Pae, February 26, 2007
"2 new voices to join air board. Fresno has representation for first time in 13 years"
Two minority candidates, Fresno City Council Member Henry T. Perea and Arvin Council Member Raji Brar, have won an election for seats on the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District governing board. Perea’s election marks the first time in 13 years that Fresno the largest city in Central California is represented on the Board. Local air activists called the elections a major victory after weeks of campaigning for minority candidates who emphasize health issues and alternative energy.
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, February 23, 2007
"More delay is not okay"
In this editorial, the Stockton Record argues against the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s plan to request an extension from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean the Valley’s air. While the Record agrees with district officials that they face “an immense challenge...You don’t just pile delay on top of delay and label it progress.”
Stockton Record Editorial, February 11, 2007
"Report: Cleaner valley air possible by 2013"
According to a recently released report, cleaner air that meets federal smog standards in the San Joaquin Valley is achievable by the current deadline of 2013. The report challenges a plan released by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control district that claims it will take until 2023 to come into compliance with the federal air standard. The independent study was conducted by the International Sustainable Systems Research Center, and funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
The Bakersfield Californian Stacy Shepard, February 6, 2007
"Revving up air district"
In this editorial, The Fresno Bee argues that California’s San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Board needs to become more aggressive in efforts to clean the Valley’s air. It notes that most of the achievements that it has presided over have been driven by outside influences, usually by lawsuits by environmentalists, or legislation from Sacramento.
The Fresno Bee Editorial, January 28, 2007
"Fresno again passed for seat"
Central California’s largest city may not get a seat on the local air district governing board after 12 years of waiting. Clovis, a neighboring city five times smaller than Fresno, had its mayor recommended for a seat on the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District governing board ahead of Fresno City Council Member Henry T. Perea. The recommendation frustrated air quality advocates who want some of the 11 air board members to represent large cities and minorities, as well as to have health or science backgrounds.
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, January 24, 2007
"Panel urges officials to spare air in Valley from big dairy pollution"
At a recently held public forum aimed at county officials who are weighing additional regulations for new and expanding dairies, a broad spectrum of people came to urge greater regulation of the incoming facilities for Fresno County. Among the San Joaquin Valley’s eight counties, Fresno County is the only place where there is no formal screening process for new dairies. Valley Air officials consider dairies to be the biggest source of smog-forming volatile organic compounds.
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, January 18, 2007
"EPA sued for Valley air ruling"
Environmental and community groups are suing the federal Environmental Protection Agency, claiming it ignored data showing high levels of airborne dust, smoke and soot in the San Joaquin Valley when it ruled in October that the region met clean air standards. Plaintiffs are asking the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals to review the EPA’s findings that the Valley’s air was no longer polluted by PM-10; the plaintiffs said they also plan to file a separate petition with the EPA asking the agency to reconsider its own finding.
The Fresno Bee December 29, 2006
"Study links pesticide to learning disorder"
A study by Columbia University scientists has established a link between learning disorders in children and the insecticide chlorpyrifos. Marketed as Lorsban, the insecticide was banned for residential use by the federal Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 after tests showed adverse effects on lab animals and other tests found traces of the chemical in children’s blood samples.
The Palm Beach Post John Lantigua and Christine Stapleton, December 25, 2006
"Heavy agenda: Valley air district has much work ahead of it in the new year"
In this editorial, The Fresno Bee notes that 2007 is slated to be a busy and difficult year for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. In addition to its efforts to secure additional state and federal funding to combat air pollution, the Valley air district will also have to deal with a problem concerning representation on its governing board. Five of the 11 members of the board must be chosen, and questions and controversy over the selection process have begun to surface.
The Fresno Bee Editorial, December 10, 2006
"Clean air could save Valley $3.3b in ‘07"
According to scientists speaking at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s annual symposium, Valley residents would save $3.3 billion in costs for health care and suffering if the air met California’s health standards. “We would like to think that making the air safe and healthy for people is enough to get everyone’s attention,” said Jane Hall, a California State University at Fullerton researcher. “But the truth is that the bottom line probably drives it just as much.”
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, December 7, 2006
"Advocates cry foul on air vote"
Clean-air advocates say the public was excluded from an important vote to determine who fills a seat on the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Governing Board. The Fresno-based Central Valley Air Quality Coalition has publicly requested that the nomination by the California League of Cities be rescinded. “We are disturbed that public members were denied the right to participate and be present,” the air quality coalition wrote.
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, December 6, 2006
"Construction pollution linked to illness"
According to a report release by the Union of Concerned scientists, the bulldozer, backhoes and excavators building up Bakersfield are pumping noxious fumes into the air that contribute to illness, asthma and early death. The study found that air pollution from construction equipment in California’s growing cities contributed to more than 1,100 deaths statewide last year, including at least 50 in the San Joaquin Valley. “Construction pollution is taking a heavy toll on the health of all Californians,” said Don Anair, author of the study. “The construction equipment being used to build our hospitals shouldn’t be filling them up."
The Bakersfield Californian Stacy Shepard, December 5, 2006
"Some fear pollution’s rise on the import list"
A report released last week by a coalition of clean-air groups says freight transport will cost Californians $200 billion in health care over the next 15 years. Residents of predominantly low-income neighborhoods adjacent to the busiest transportation hubs are the ones who suffer most. With an anticipated fourfold increase in the amount of shipping statewide, including a planned expansion at the Port of Stockton, many feel that the companies that move freight through California should shoulder a greater responsibility for those health effects.
Stockton Record Alex Breitler, November 25, 2006
"Activists seek to join defense of air quality"
Three clean-air activist groups announced that they will join the legal defense of an air quality rule that will bring in millions of dollars from builders to reduce pollution from city sprawl. The groups Fresno-based Medical Advocates for Healthy Air (MAHA), Environmental Defense, and The Sierra Club support the local air district against builders and other groups that sued the district last June over the Indirect Source Rule. “I see children and adults every day who are suffering from lung disease aggravated by the region’s air pollution,” said Kevin Hamilton, co-founder of MAHA. “We can’t continue to stand by and do nothing.”
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, November 1, 2006
"Group disputes EPA air ruling"
San Joaquin Valley air authorities have been accused of ignoring pollution violations in their haste to acknowledge a milestone cleanup of dust and soot. Earthjustice, an Oakland-based legal watchdog group, threatened a lawsuit over recent Air District findings that the Valley has not violated the dust and soot standard in three years. Earthjustice lawyer Paul Cort said authorities disregarded readings last November that showed violations in Bakersfield and Corcoran. “When the data is inconvenient, they run away from it,” he said.
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, October 22, 2006
"Air board will do the real work on global warming"
The legislation California enacted last month in the fight against global warming is only the beginning of what will likely be five years of intense, behind-the-scenes battles over just how to reduce greenhouse gases to 1990 levels. AB 32, titled the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, establishes the goal of reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent below levels now projected for 2020. Most of the heavy lifting will be done by the state’s Air Resources Board, which has been granted extraordinary powers to set policies, draw up regulations, lead the enforcement effort and levy fees to finance it all and fines to punish violators.
The Sacramento Bee Editorial, Daniel Weintraub, October 5, 2006
"$7.5b price tag put on cutting pollution"
San Joaquin Valley air officials recently proposed a hefty new cost to clean up the Valley’s biggest pollution culprits $7.5 billion to help replace polluting cars, trucks and other vehicles by 2013. Community activists criticized the cost estimate as a scare tactic to delay the federally set smog cleanup deadline of 2013. Advocates noted that residents will pay much more if the air is not cleaned up soon, referring to a 2006 study that showed Valley residents pay $3 billion annually over air pollution-related illness, suffering and death. “Why isn’t that cost reflected in the price tag?” asked Carolina Simunovic of Fresno Metro Ministry. “We need real solutions that get us clean air.”
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, October 4, 2006
"New EPA rules on soot, dust under fire"
Rejecting the recommendations of its own scientific panel, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new rules for controlling particulate matter (PM, or soot) in California that environmental and public organizations quickly decried. The agency strengthened the standard that governs people's daily exposure to PM, but did not change one that deals with annual exposure. The EPA abandoned another standard for coarse particles that are found in dust. Two of 22 members on the EPA’s scientific panel wanted tougher standards due to the impacts of soot pollution on human health.
Los Angeles Times Janet Wilson, September 22, 2006
"Valley air comes clean"
San Joaquin Valley air quality officials announced that the region no longer violates the federal health standard for PM-2.5 (particulate matter). However, the celebration was premature, given the federal government announced the next day that the existing 24-hour PM-2.5 standard does not protect public health. With undeniably more work to be done to clean up the air, Valley officials now have a much higher threshold to meet.
The Fresno Bee Mark Gross, September 21, 2006
"California tightens rules on emissions. Supporters hope law will spur federal action"
California’s Legislature recently approved the broadest restriction on carbon dioxide emissions in the nation, marking a new stage in the accelerating drive for a more aggressive national response to global warming. The California bill requires a 25% cut in carbon dioxide pollution produced within the state’s borders by 2020 to bring the total down to 1990 levels. "I really believe the effort to curb global warming is a bottom-up effort in this country," Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D), who is a co-author of the bill, said in an interview. "For us, this is not just about California. This is about making a push from the bottom up to get the Congress to take action."
The Washington Post Juliet Eilperin, September 1, 2006
"Farmworkers sickened by fungicide in Kern County"
Twenty grape farmworkers were recently poisoned by pesticide drift when a fungicide from a neighboring vineyard drifted over them south of Bakersfield. Most of the workers, who became nauseous, vomited and complained of irritated eyes and throats, were treated at the scene, but several were taken to the hospital.
The Bakersfield Californian August 31, 2006
"A new smog war"
This San Francisco Chronicle editorial focuses on SB 999, a state bill that for the last few years has sought to re-shuffle the makeup of the San Joaquin Valley’s smog control board. The measure followed a series of other laws aimed at reining in emissions, sprawl and pollution exemptions that have saddled the state’s farm country with filthy, toxic air. In the past, industry lobbyists successfully convinced nervous legislators that the bill would jeopardize the Valley’s economy, and the bill stalled. A new version of the bill, SB 999, was back for legislative approval this year; the Chronicle commented that this bill is a small step in the war on air pollution, which legislators should help the state take.
San Francisco Chronicle Editorial, August 29, 2006
"A better air board"
In this editorial, The Fresno Bee calls for support for SB 999, sponsored by Senator Michael Machado (D-Linden), which would expand the 11-member board of directors of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District by adding permanent representatives from the cities of Fresno, Stockton and Bakersfield, as well as two public members.
The Fresno Bee Editorial, August 28, 2006
"California builders fight air pollution fee"
Developers and air quality regulators are locked in a legal battle over new construction fees for California’s San Joaquin Valley intended to reduce the region’s chronic smog problem. The fees are part of a new regulation by the regional air district requiring builders of commercial and residential projects to use energy-saving technology and traffic-reduction features in their projects, or pay a fee into a fund for pollution control efforts. The fees went into effect in March of this year and are the most far-reaching in the country in their effort to link development and air pollution.
The New York Times Carolyn Marshall, August 27, 2006
"Residents air pesticide complaints at workshop"
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation recently held a workshop in Parlier to gather public comment about the Department’s strategy to cut air pollution emissions from pesticides. Representatives of the Department heard from farmworkers complaining of chronic pain from agricultural overspray, those who blame pesticide companies for the problem, and a grower who defended his industry. By the Department’s estimate, pesticides are the source of 6.3% of volatile organic compounds that dirty San Joaquin Valley air.
The Fresno Bee Jim Guy, August 15, 2006
"Group protests pesticide drift"
According to a coalition of scientists and concerned citizens, residents of Lindsay, California, are breathing air laced with unsafe levels of chlorpyrifos. Chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic insecticide, is linked to a number of health risks including headaches, slow heartbeat and breathing problems, and accounts for almost 9 percent of pesticide emissions in the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
The Porterville Recorder Aaron Burgin, July 19, 2006
"New air rule for dairies targeted"
Air quality activists have sued over a rule targeting dairies, arguing the rule calls for “phantom” pollution reductions while ignoring plumes of methane and ammonia. The suit, filed by the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment on behalf of the Association of Irritated Residents, asks a Fresno County Superior Court judge to order the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to rescind the rule and write a new one in six months. “The public suffers tremendously from air pollution in the Valley,” said Kern County resident Tom Frantz, president of the Association of Irritated Residents. “The district chose to break the law by favoring dairymen over our children.”
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, July 18, 2006
"Clovis mayor is poster boy for bad air"
Fresno Bee Columnist Bill McEwen takes Clovis Mayor, Nathan Magsig, to task for his role in a recently-filed lawsuit against the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District for its approval of an Indirect Source Rule. The rule requires developers to pay fees when building new construction or reduce fees by making environmentally-friendly mitigations at those sites. McEwen writes: “There's a huge need for more affordable housing in the Valley, but the issue is separate from air quality. We need them both.”
The Fresno Bee Bill McEwen, June 29, 2006
"Air district’s baby steps"
A new rule regulating dairies adopted by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Governing Board will “do little to roll back the Valley’s pollution.” Rather than requiring large confined animals facilities (LCAF) to do more to meet air quality standards, the new regulation reinforces the “status quo.” As a result of legislation passed in 2003, the District was required to pass the LCAF rule. The San Joaquin Valley is the state's biggest source of livestock emissions. “The air district clearly could have set the bar higher…” as it approved the LCAF regulation.
The Fresno Bee Editorial, June 17, 2006
"Large animal farms should meet smog rules"
In this editorial, Lebec resident Linda MacKay articulates why San Joaquin Valley residents need to be concerned about proposed exemptions for large animal facilities from federal laws that require air quality monitoring, as well as from financial responsibility for any pollution cleanup resulting from their operations.
The Bakersfield Californian Linda MacKay, May 18, 2006
"State pesticide curbs ordered"
State regulators have failed to meet their legal obligation to crack down on airborne pesticides and must do so now, a Sacramento federal judge has ruled. The regulators broke a 1994 promise to reduce smog-forming emissions from pesticides by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2005; instead, the problem has only worsened.
The Sacramento Bee Denny Walsh, April 28, 2006
"San Joaquin tops list for worst smog"
IThe San Joaquin Valley has risen to the top of the nation’s worst-air chart at the American Lung Association. The rankings are the first in six years of annual “state of the air” reports to dethrone the Los Angeles basin as the nation’s king of smog.
The Sacramento Bee Chris Bowman and Elizabeth Hume, April 28, 2006
"EPA looks to nix rural clean air protections"
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent proposal to overhaul pollution regulations includes de-regulating coarse-particle pollution in urban areas with less than 100,000 residents as well as in areas with population densities under 500 per square mile. Critics say the new regulations would violate constitutional and Clean Air Act mandates by discriminating against rural areas that are more vulnerable to the pollution generated by mining and agricultural activities. “If the goal was to protect two industries mining and agriculture from having to be regulated, then that’s what these proposals do very well,” said Janice Nolen, director of policy with the American Lung Association. “But they do not do what they’re supposed to do, which is protect public health.”
The NewStandard Michelle Chen, April 21, 2006
"Study puts a price tag on smog. Health impacts said to cost $1,000 a person in San Joaquin Valley"
In a recently released report by a team of economists at California State University, Fullerton, the annual cost of not attaining the federal health-based standards for ozone and fine-particle pollution was estimated to be more than $3 billion for the San Joaquin Valley. While the Valley has made some clean-air gains from emission controls, its rate of progress has been relatively flat compared with Sacramento and Los Angeles, said Frederick Lurmann, one of the report authors. “It means you really need to adopt more aggressive and more effective (pollution) controls.”
The Sacramento Bee Chris Bowman, March 30, 2006
"Critics dust off an EPA panel. Plan would roll back monitoring of soot, dust in small cities."
On March 8, 2006, dozens of witnesses testified at a San Francisco Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing against a new proposal to drop federal monitoring for dust and soot in communities with fewer than 100,000. The EPA hearing was 1 of 3 held around the country, and was intended to gather responses to the proposed adjustment. The residents who testified were joined by scientists, medical experts, environmentalists and air regulators in assailing the proposed change. The EPA’s own scientific review panel opposes the proposal.
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, March 9, 2006
"Exposure to fine particle air pollution linked with risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases"
A study in the March 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) indicates that exposure to fine particulate matter air pollution increases a person’s risk for hospital admission for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. According to the researchers: “Our findings indicate an ongoing threat to the health of the elderly population from airborne particles and provide a rationale for setting a PM 2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standard that is as protective of their health as possible."
Science Daily March 8, 2006
"Air rule may raise building costs"
The San Joaquin Valley Indirect Source Rule (ISR), passed by the air district board earlier this year, requires Valley builders to make their projects more environmentally friendly or pay financial penalties. The regulations are aimed at indirect sources, like construction-related pollution, that contribute to the region’s pollution problems. With rising asthma rates in the Valley, the ISR is hailed by air quality advocates, while builders consider the rule unfair.
Visalia Times-Delta March 1, 2006
"Study finds no safe level for ozone"
According to a nationwide study to be published in the April edition of the journal Environmental Health, ozone, the principal ingredient in smog, increases the risk of premature death even at very low levels. According to Michelle Bell, lead investigator on the study and assistant professor of environmental health at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies: "Our findings show that even if all 98 countries in our study met the current ozone standard every day, there would still be a significant link between ozone and premature mortality."
Science Daily February 16, 2006
"Keeping up with cows"
In this editorial, The Fresno Bee applauds Fresno County’s recent decision to begin studying the growing dairy industry’s environmental impacts. While every other county in the San Joaquin Valley has taken steps to at least understand the impacts from having such high cow concentrations, Fresno County officials had maintained for years that the county’s dairy industry, dwarfed by that of adjacent Tulare County, wasn’t large enough to merit attention. While Fresno’s herd is only 20% of Tulare’s, it is still in the Top 10 nationally.
The Fresno Bee Editorial, February 8, 2006
"Town Hopes Pesticide Study Will Bear Fruit"
A pesticide-monitoring project in the Central Valley town of Parlier will examine pollutants for one year to determine to what degree pesticides are linked to increased asthma in children. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation project will monitor 40 pesticides as well as other airborne pollutants with a goal of assessing what levels damage children’s health. In 2003, commercial growers applied 249 chemicals 2.4 million pounds of them to crops within a five-mile radius of Parlier.
Los Angeles Times Lee Romney, January 28, 2006
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed new dust and soot rules, which include a higher standard for cities and a less protective one for rural areas like California’s San Joaquin Valley. According to The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board, “Such a distinction is unprecedented, unwarranted and unfair.” The health of citizens in rural regions will be jeopardized by the new rules while mining and agricultural interests will benefit. The EPA’s dust proposal “can and should be withdrawn. All of us breathe the same air. We should all have the same protection.”
The Sacramento Bee Editorial, January 27, 2006
"Groups gasping over air proposal"
Local air officials are concerned that people in the Central Valley might breathe dirtier air if a proposed rule ends federal dust monitoring in rural areas. The Bush Administration proposal, through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, would establish a new dust standard and provide a national exemption for farming and mining in rural areas. According to Brent Newell, staff attorney at the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, “If this proposal goes through, rural residents will have lesser protection under the law than urban residents.”
The Modesto Bee Michael G. Mooney and Mark Grossi, January 19, 2006
"Is It Warm in Here?"
Scientists now believe that new habitats for butterflies are early effects of global climate change, but unless that environmental phenomena affects one’s personal life, humans aren’t likely to change their behavioral patterns. Some researchers believe that the severe drought conditions in the Amazon are irreversible, and this frustrates scientists who predicted more than 20 years ago that global warming was real and dangerous. The author concludes that the U.S. may be “all but ignoring the biggest story in the history of humankind” by not recognizing the tragic consequences of climate change.
The Washington Post David Ignatius, January 18, 2006
"States Adopt California's Greenhouse Gas Limits"
Despite auto industry opposition, Massachusetts has joined Oregon, Connecticut and five other states in adopting California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions rules, which restrict the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases from vehicles. California’s rule signed into law in 2003 and approved by the California Air Resources Board in 2004 takes effect for the 2009 model year and requires a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2016. If California is allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency to impose the new regulations, the federal Clean Air Act enables other states with poor air quality to adopt California's rules after Agency approval.
The Washington Post Sholnn Freeman, January 3, 2006
"EPA Issues New Plan to Limit Soot"
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new standards for fine particulate matter, which many critics say will do little to prevent thousands of Americans from dying prematurely. The proposed rules are substantially weaker than those recommended by the agency’s own staff and scientific advisory panel after their review of approximately 2,000 new studies on the pollutant’s health effect.
Los Angeles Times Miguel Bustillo and Marla Cone, December 21, 2005
"Another small step"
In this editorial, The Fresno Bee explains why the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s decision to impose fees on new construction is good for the region. “It’s another small, but important step, in the long struggle to clean up the dirty air we all breathe.”
The Fresno Bee Editorial, December 17, 2005
"Pollution fees fall to builders"
The San Joaquin Valley became the first region in the nation to tackle air pollution created by city sprawl. After over four hours of deliberation, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Governing Board approved unprecedented rules that will charge fees for new construction on the edge of towns. These fees, estimated to raise $103 million in the next three years, will buy clean-running buses and street sweepers, as well as pay for other fixes to reduce the smog, dust and soot that make the Valley one of the worst air basins in the country.
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, December 16, 2005
"Air rules target Valley sprawl"
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Board of Directors is considering a controversial rule that would place fees on new housing, businesses, and commercial buildings. The Building Industry Association is opposed to this Indirect Source Rule (ISR) saying that all homeowners not just new ones should pay fees for development. The ISR would require builders to “make air-quality-friendly developments or ante up fees for pollution coming from the additional traffic.” Environmentalists support the rule saying that it will help the Valley address its severe air pollution problems by better regulating sprawl.
The Fresno Bee Mark Gross, December 12, 2005
"Fresno’s cow count rising. As dairies arrive, expand, county isn’t following area’s lead in regulation"
Despite having the third-highest dairy growth in the San Joaquin Valley in comparison to other counties in the region, Fresno County leaders are doing little to address this threat to environmental and human health. “Fresno County is in the Stone Age when it comes to protecting residents from dairy pollution,” says lawyer Brent Newell of the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment. “When you have one in six children carrying inhalers for asthma, it’s neglect of their duty for the county to look the other way.”
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, December 5, 2005
"Hot on Parkinson’s Trail"
Scientists have amassed evidence that long-term exposure to toxic compounds, especially pesticides, can trigger Parkinson’s disease. While several pesticides have been implicated in Parkinson’s symptoms in animals, hundreds of agricultural and industrial chemicals probably play a role. Researchers are trying to obtain more data on this link by studying populations in agricultural regions such as the San Joaquin Valley which suffer disproportionately high exposures to pesticides.
Los Angeles Times Marla Cone, November 27, 2005
"Haze dims hope of clean air milestone"
Over the Thanksgiving week, the San Joaquin Valley’s air became especially bad, causing violations of the PM-10 standard particulate matter including dust, soot and other microscopic debris. Even for adults with sound lungs, the air was considered unhealthy through most of the eight-county Valley from Stockton to Bakersfield. If the Valley had remained clean until the end of the year, it would have achieved the standard for the first time.
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, November 24, 2005
"Winter may be setback for air"
On November 1, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District will begin its third season enforcing wood-burning restrictions. Given the forecast for higher-priced heating bills and $3-a-gallon-plus gasoline, air quality authorities are concerned that an expected increase in fireplace usage this winter will wipe out the Valley’s chances of achieving the federal health standard for PM-10, tiny specks of ash, soot, dirt and chemicals. If there are no violations between now and December 31, the Valley will achieve the standard for the first time since its existence.
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, October 30, 2005
This Terrain Magazine article explores how the San Joaquin Valley, described as the birthplace of industrial agriculture, has become the largest dairy region in the world, and notes that the Valley concurrently became the most polluted air basin in the country.
Terrain Magazine John Gibler, Fall 2005
"Air-quality fee causes furor"
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has spent two years refining a complex formula that would determine how much money to collect from new commercial and residential development. These indirect-source rules, mandated by California’s Clean Air Act of 1988 and Senate Bill 709 adopted two years ago, are gaining national and international attention as the fees would be the first of their kind adopted by a large air district and might serve as a model elsewhere. A coalition of builders, businesses and anti-tax groups has mounted a campaign to block the adoption of these fees on most new buildings from Stockton to Bakersfield. If the fees are approved on December 15, 2005, builders would start paying in February.
The Modesto Bee Garth Stapley, October 24, 2005
"Pesticide Case Is Upping the Ante"
The March 2004 poisoning of an agricultural worker in Oakdale, California, triggered California’s first criminal prosecution in a pesticide-related matter in 14 years. The trial is scheduled to begin next month, as regulators and farmworker advocates press for stricter and more consistent pesticide enforcement.
Los Angeles Times Lee Romney, October 10, 2005
"Diesel Fumes From Ports Raising Cancer Risk in Region, Study Says"
According to a new study, diesel fumes from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are elevating the risk of cancer not only adjacent to the ports, but many miles inland. The study concludes that potential cancer risk from port-related diesel fumes exceeds 50 additional cases of cancer per million people for residents within 15 miles of the two ports. According to Jerry Martin, spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, with two million residents in the study area, that results in 100 individuals “who are going to have cancer for no other reason than the diesel pollution from the ports.”
Los Angeles Times Deborah Schoch, October 5, 2005
"Bad air, bad health show stronger ties"
Recent air pollution studies illustrate that the San Joaquin Valley has new impetus to clean up its air. One University of Southern California (USC) study indicates that pollution is causing more premature deaths than previously thought (see "Air Pollution Found To Pose Greater Danger To Health Than Earlier Thought” below). A second USC study describes how children who live next to busy freeways are more likely to suffer from asthma. Children living one quarter of a mile away from a freeway had an 89% higher risk of asthma than those living one mile away from the heavy traffic.
The Fresno Bee Barbara Anderson, September 21, 2005
"Air Pollution Found To Pose Greater Danger To Health Than Earlier Thought”
A new University of Southern California study indicates that scientists have been underestimating air pollution’s role in causing early death. American and Canadian researchers studied 20 years’ worth of data on Los Angeles metropolitan area residents and found that pollution’s chronic health effects are two to three times greater than earlier believed.
Science Daily September 21, 2005
Sequoia-Kings Canyon has become America’s most polluted national park, with more smoggy days than in Atlanta or New York. While the federal Clean Air Act designates Sequoia-Kings Canyon as a “Class 1 Airshed,” which gives the park service some control over big emitters within 90 miles of the park, most of the pollution that reaches Sequoia comes from many sources outside and inside the San Joaquin Valley. Hundreds, if not thousands, of small sources such as cattle feedlots, household chemicals, boats, pain fumes, diesel trucks, unpaved roads, pesticides, petroleum refining, manufacturers, small businesses and auto tailpipes are polluting Sequoia’s blue skies.
Los Angeles Times Gary Polakovic, September 13, 2005
"San Joaquin Valley battles state’s worst air. Community works to make the mountains visible again and let everyone breathe easier"
This San Francisco Chronicle articulates how Valley residents are mobilizing in a way they haven’t in the past. “Five years ago, there was nothing. No Central Valley Air Quality Coalition. We didn’t have a program,” says Mark Stout, an air quality consultant for Fresno Metro Ministries.
San Francisco Chronicle Greg Lucas, August 30, 2005
"Air quality monitoring OK’d"
Assembly Bill 841, authored by State Assembly Member Juan Arambula (D-Fresno), has passed the Assembly on a 51-22 vote, and now goes to Governor Schwarzenegger for his signature. The bill would require local air officials to start monitoring pollution in western Fresno County. While nearly 30 monitoring sites operate in the San Joaquin Valley near big cities and in the east, no sites are currently located in the 230 miles between Tracy and Taft on the west side.
The Fresno Bee Jennifer M. Fitzenberger, August 30, 2005
"Changing air board is worth a try"
In this endorsement of California Senate Bill 999, authored by State Senator Mike Machado (D-Linden), The Bakersfield Californian notes that the bill would give more clout to the southern San Joaquin Valley in deciding air cleanup strategies by securing a permanent seat for the city of Bakersfield on the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District governing board. In addition to giving permanent seats to the Valley’s three largest cities, the bill would also add a physician and air quality scientist to the board.
The Bakersfield Californian Editorial, August 24, 2005
"FOLLOW-UP: A cleaner smog board"
As a follow-up to an August 7 editorial, the San Francisco Chronicle reminds readers why it believes the California Assembly should pass Senate Bill 999 authored by State Senator Mike Machado (D-Linden). This legislation would expand the membership of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Board of Directors from 11 to 15 members in order to include additional representation from urban areas and members of the public. Supported by the Central Valley Air Quality (CVAQ) Coalition, of which the Kirsch Foundation is a member, SB 999 would broaden the voices setting regional air quality policy and put the region on a path to solving its air quality.
San Francisco Chronicle August 17, 2005
"Bill seeks to shake up valley air board"
A controversial bill is currently pending with California lawmakers that would shake up the San Joaquin Valley’s Air Pollution Control Board by giving permanent seats to the Valley’s three largest cities and adding a physician and air quality scientist to the board. The bill’s author, Senator Mike Machado (D) from the Stockton area, says the current air board has failed in its responsibility to protect Valley residents from the smog that has been blamed for an epidemic of asthma and other health problems.
The Bakersfield Californian Vic Pollard, August 13, 2005
"Where are the smog police?"
In its forceful endorsement of California Senate Bill 999, authored by State Senator Mike Machado (D-Linden), the San Francisco Chronicle has joined the media chorus in support of this critical legislation. SB 999 would expand the membership of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Board of Directors from 11 to 15 members in order to include additional representation from urban areas and members of the public. The Chronicle's editors write: "It's time to broaden the voices and the debate over cleaning the valley's air."
San Francisco Chronicle Editorial, August 7, 2005
"In San Joaquin Valley, Cows Pass Cars as Polluters"
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District recently announced its estimate for volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions from cows. According to the new estimate of 19.3 pounds of VOCs per cow per year, the region’s bovine population is the single biggest source of smog-forming gases.
Los Angeles Times Miguel Bustillo, August 2, 2005
"Some balk at blaming dairy cows for Valley air pollution"
Five university scientists say local air authorities could be making a major mistake in a new estimate that makes dairy cows the San Joaquin Valley’s biggest source of one smog-making gas. The local air district is expected to make its estimate of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) final on August 1, 2005, increasing the amount of VOCs credited from cow waste by more than 60% over the old estimate.
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, July 15, 2005
"Reading, Writing & Human Experimentation"
In this Environmental News Network guest commentary, a Los Angeles-area high school student explains why AB 405 (Montañez) is important. Currently, California law allows pesticides that have not received full health, stability and efficacy tests to be used on school campuses. This oversight in the law exposes school children, teachers and other members of the public to unreasonable and unknown health risks. AB 405 would close this loophole, prohibiting the use of experimental pesticides in schools.
Environmental News Network Brandon Stirling Baker, July 12, 2005
"Possible interstate status stirs fears"
California's Highway 99, which at times carries four times the number of cars and trucks as Interstate 5, is currently under consideration to become an interstate. While the issue has divided the Central Valley, leaders have agreed to let state and federal officials begin discussing the interstate move.
The Bakersfield Californian Sarah Ruby, July 4, 2005
"Dairy built without permit"
A former Chino dairyman faces a federal lawsuit seeking a $15 million fine for allegedly building his new Tulare County dairy without an air permit. The lawsuit was filed by the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment on behalf of San Joaquin Valley advocates. "It's about time dairies start doing their part," says local resident Tom Franz, president of the activist group Association of Irritated Residents, the plaintiff. "We will not subsidize the dairy industry with our lungs."
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, June 20, 2005
"Official smog season begins"
The San Joaquin Valley, which typically leads the nation in daylong smog violations, officially begins smog season. Although the air has not recently been particularly bad the Valley has only five bad air days so far this spring, about a quarter of last year's total to date the clean spring does not necessarily mean easy breathing in summer.
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, June 7, 2005
"Study links asthma, freeway proximity"
The closer children live to a freeway or major thoroughfare, the more likely that they will develop asthma, say researchers from the University of Southern California. Presented at the American Thoracic Society's annual meeting on May 23, 2005, this conclusion resulted from a study of the health of 5,300 children in 13 communities. Study investigator Dr. Rob McConnell believes the report is important "because about 15 percent of our population lives within 80 yards of a major road and one-third live within 160 yards."
The San Diego Union-Tribune Cheryl Clark, May 24, 2005
"Valley air board needs strength of new voices"
The Modesto Bee joins The Fresno Bee in endorsing California Senate Bill 999, authored by State Senator Mike Machado (D-Linden), which would strengthen the leadership of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Board of Directors. The Bee editorial board writes that the region's air creates a significant health hazard for area residents and "it needs to be an urgent concern for everyone in the Valley."
The Modesto Bee Editorial, May 16, 2005
"The public interest Expanding air district's board will limit special interests' power"
The Fresno Bee endorses California Senate Bill 999, authored by State Senator Mike Machado (D-Linden), which would "strengthen the leadership" of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Board of Directors. By adding members representing medical, scientific and environmental fields, the Bee argues that these "useful changes" to the Board's makeup will help clean up the Valley's dirty air.
The Fresno Bee Editorial, May 3, 2005
"Air board needs to embrace the truth"
Fresno Bee Columnist Bill McEwen criticizes the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Board of Directors for its opposition to California Senate Bill 999 authored by State Senator Mike Machado (D-Linden). This legislation would add six public members, including experts in air quality, health, and land use/transportation. With 1 in 6 of the Valley's children suffering from asthma, McEwen argues that SB 999 is critical to solving the region's pollution problems.
The Fresno Bee Bill McEwen, May 1, 2005
"Florez backs pesticide warnings"
This Fresno Bee article highlights issues surrounding two bills dealing with pesticide use in California. SB 509, authored by State Senator Dean Florez (D-Shafter), requires agricultural commissioners to notify people within one mile of a pesticide spray at least 24 hours before the application. SB 879, authored by State Senator Martha Escutia (D-Whittier), requires fines to be levied against violators of pesticide laws and speeds up the investigation process. The state's San Joaquin Valley ranks the highest statewide for pesticide use, with hundreds of violations annually but few penalties assessed.
The Fresno Bee Jennifer M. Fitzenberger, April 20, 2005
"Bus fumes worse for kids on board"
In a study published in this month's journal of Environmental Science & Technology, researchers have determined that children riding buses in the L.A. Unified School District inhale as much, or more, bus exhaust than the rest of the city's population. Exhaust from the buses, particularly older vehicles, was found to leak into the cabin.
Los Angeles Times Shari Roan, April 18, 2005
"Grants aimed at addressing air quality"
A series of recent grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation will help fund environmental advocacy work and air pollution monitoring in the San Joaquin Valley. The Hewlett Foundation's New Constituencies for the Environment program will fund efforts by grassroots organizations such as Fresno Metro Ministry and Latino Issues Forum to raise awareness of the serious public health impacts of air quality.
Fresno Bee Barbara Anderson, March 13, 2005
"Air district issues alert over high level of pollution"
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued an unhealthy air quality alert last week in response to an unexpected spike in particulate matter (PM) levels. Levels of PM 2.5 the smallest form of the fine particles that can irritate lungs and exacerbate breathing problems exceeded 153, meaning the air was unhealthy for everyone. During such spikes, the Air District recommends that individuals limit outdoor activity.
Bakersfield Californian March 12, 2005
"In Search of Farm Equipment to Lessen Air Pollution"
Legislation approved last year in California to regulate agricultural pollution has prompted San Joaquin Valley farmers and growers to seek innovative solutions to the regional air quality problem. Alternative products and methods, such as wood chippers that eliminate the need for burning waste, have led to reduced emissions from smoke, dust, pesticides, and fertilizers.
Los Angeles Times Jerry Hirsch, February 12, 2005
"Bush's 'Clear Skies' Plan Is a Step Back, Report Says"
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) predicts the Bush administration's "Clear Skies" proposal could set back environmental protection laws for over 25 years, according to the Los Angeles Times. The NAS interim report, written by a panel of university professors and researchers, found that new regulations would significantly weaken air pollution controls currently in place under the existing Clean Air Act.
Los Angeles Times Miguel Bustillo, January 14, 2005
"Can a divided world tackle global warming in 2005?"
The Financial Times explores why global warming will be a key dividing issue in 2005. Prime Minister Tony Blair plans to push the issue on the G8 agenda, but he faces opposition from President Bush and other worldwide leaders whose countries have refuse to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Business groups and conservatives in the US are skeptical of scientific evidence for climate change, while employers in the UK have welcomed government action to reduce emissions.
Financial Times Fiona Harvey, January 3, 2005
"Catching our breath"
Two years ago, The Fresno Bee published "The Last Gasp," which extensively profiled the San Joaquin Valley's air quality woes. With this update, the author writes: "The air in America's most productive farm belt often remains more dangerous than the nation's two dirtiest metropolitan areas, Los Angeles and Houston." The article focuses on asthma impacts, legal actions, and regulatory compliance in the Valley.
The Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, December 19, 2004
"Governor names state EPA chief"
California Governor Schwarzenegger announced this week that Dr. Alan Lloyd, chairman of the state's Air Resources Board, would serve as the new secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency. He will replace Terry Tamminen whom Schwarzenegger recently promoted to Cabinet Secretary. Lloyd brings a wealth of experience on environmental issues, with a focus on air pollution and vehicle emissions laws.
San Jose Mercury News Paul Rogers, December 17, 2004
"Schwarzenegger Vows to Defend Emissions Law"
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vowed to fight a lawsuit filed by the nine major automakers this week to block the state's new vehicle emissions law. According to The New York Times, the auto industry is suing in federal court arguing that the law is preempted by federal authority to regulate fuel economy. Environmental groups disagree and say they are prepared to defend the new law in court.
The New York Times - Danny Hakim, December 8, 2004
"Cleaner cars, cleaner air for R.I."
Rhode Island may soon join Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York in adopting the California vehicle emissions standard. According to this Providence Journal op-ed, Rhode Island consistently ranks among the worst states for smog pollution and risk of cancer development from air toxics.
The Providence Journal Matthew Auten and Margaret Kane, November 15, 2004
"Peering at the Sticker on a Cleaner Car"
Environmental groups and the auto industry disagree about how much cars will need to change to conform to California's new air quality standards requiring manufacturer's to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Tom Austin, consultant for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, found that proposed modifications would cost $4,361 for each vehicle and would result in less attractive cars. Louise Bedsworth, representing the Union of Concerned Scientists, argues that the changes could be accomplished for around $1,000 per car through modifications in aerodynamics, tire tread, engine efficiency, and air conditioners.
The New York Times Danny Hakim, November 2, 2004
"Respiratory Ills in Kids Linked to Traffic Pollution"
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a recent Bay Area study was the first in the United States to evaluate the health risk to children from traffic pollution. The survey monitored the respiratory symptoms of 1,109 children and found evidence that contaminants from busy roadways contributed to moderately higher levels of asthma and bronchitis-related illnesses.
San Francisco Chronicle Jane Kay, October 20, 2004
Scientists recognize that climate change could have a devastating effect on fragile ecosystems around the world. This article describes a dozen of the most threatened places where global warming could have serious impacts on land, air, water, and wildlife. Among the places listed: the Sahara desert, Amazon forest, and Greenland ice sheet.
The Guardian (UK) Ian Sample, October 14, 2004
"Too Young to Die, Part Two: Toxic Legacy"
In Part 2 of a 5-part series on infant mortality, the San Francisco Chronicle describes high rates of infant death in communities impacted by pollution. In the Central Valley, Kern County contained ten ZIP codes with the highest rate of infant death for 1992 through 2001 and the Hispanic infant-mortality rate was twice as high as it was for all of California. The article cites air pollution, agricultural waste, and pesticides as potential causes of permanent health problems for mothers and babies.
San Francisco Chronicle -- Reynolds Holding and Erin McCormick, October 4, 2004
"Putting the heat on: New regulations could help forestall frightening changes from pollution."
This Fresno Bee editorial urges the California Air Resources Board to maintain pressure on the auto industry in the effort to limit greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. The Board is meeting this week to consider recommendations from its staff for new regulations for passenger cars, light trucks and SUVs in the state. Environmentalists generally support the draft regulations, while automakers continue to raise objections.
Fresno Bee Editorial, September 19, 2004
"Smog harms children's lungs for life, study finds"
The Los Angeles Times reports that despite decades of cleanup efforts to reduce smog, the amount of air pollution still found in parts of Southern California can stunt lung growth in children and lead to a lifetime of health problems. According to the study to be released by the New England Journal of Medicine this week, children breathing dirty air were nearly five times more likely to grow up with weak lungs than children in less polluted communities. The damage was similar to what is found in kids whose parents regularly smoked around them.
Los Angeles Times Miguel Bustillo, September 9, 2004
"Warning about warming state faces dire impacts of inaction"
The Sacramento Bee editorializes about California's future "based on a continuation of today's head-in-the-sand political waffling at the national level over global warming." A new study published in the National Academy of Sciences journal illustrates that fossil fuel emissions and deforestation cause climate change. California's weather patterns are expected to change dramatically in future years, with increasingly higher average temperatures, unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. California must set the bar for the rest of the country by passing and implementing laws and regulations that halt these trends.
Sacramento Bee Editorial, August 19, 2004
"A broader view: Expanding the board of the Valley's air district makes plenty of sense"
This Fresno Bee editorial urges the California Legislature to support SB 999, authored by Senator Mike Machado, which would remake the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District board of directors so that it becomes more regional. The Bee argues that the current narrow-minded view of the board is not effective given the region's air quality woes. SB 999 would expand the board to include three public members with air quality expertise, making it "more responsive and less parochial."
Fresno Bee Editorial, August 1, 2004
"Good climate fight: state vs. carmakers"
California is again leading the nation by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles. This Mercury News editorial points out that the new state regulations will save consumers money in addition to fighting global warming.
Mercury News Editorial, June 21, 2004
"EPA approves Valley plan to clean up air"
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved a proposed plan to clean up the San Joaquin Valley's particulate matter air pollution. The plan, however, would extend deadlines to clean up the air and provide no clear path to ensure that the predicted reductions are realized.
Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, April 30, 2004
"Valley now has worst air in nation"
Based on the Environmental Protection Agency's evaluation of the U.S. under a new health-based smog metric, California's San Joaquin Valley is now officially the smoggiest region in the country. While the new standard has resulted in new cleanup deadlines, advocates of clean air are pushing to retain smog deadlines created under the old rules as well.
Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, April 15, 2004
"We did nothing; now we must pay"
Because automakers opposed modest increases in fuel economy for the past 25 years, they will eventually have to face a government mandate of significant major mileage increases, according to this Automotive News op-ed. The author argues that if manufacturers had embraced continuous gradual fuel economy increases, both the economy and the environment would be better off.
Automotive News Keith Crain, April 5, 2004
"Carbon Dioxide Levels Rising Faster; Buildup Sets Record"
According to a high-altitude atmospheric observatory in Hawaii, the rate of carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere is accelerating. Carbon dioxide is one of the major greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. The United States is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world.
LA Times AP Newswire, March 21, 2004
"Insurer warns of global warming 'catastrophe""
Swiss Re, the world's second largest insurance company, has warned the public that the amount of damage caused by climate change will be $150 billion per year by 2014. The company's new report urges governments to take action to avert massive loss of life and property in the near future.
CNN - Reuters, March 4, 2004
"Science group accuses Bush administration of twisting research"
According to an open letter from 60 scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, the Bush Administration regularly eliminates and ignores government scientific data that does not support its policy decisions. The letter outlines a number of cases, including the Administration's removal of global warming analyses, over the past three years.
Mercury News Seth Borenstein, February 19, 2004
"Air plan closes in on EPA approval; But environmental group threatens to sue if plan advances"
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signaled its intent to approve a proposed particulate matter clean up plan for the San Joaquin Valley. Advocates of clean air argue that the proposal lacks tangible measures to improve air quality and will likely sue the EPA for a stronger plan if approved.
Fresno Bee Russell Clemings, January 29, 2004
"Panel of Experts Finds That Anti-Pollution Laws Are Outdated"
The National Research Council of the National Academies concluded that today's air pollution laws are inadequate to protect public health. The panel found that without significant action taken immediately, substantial increases in pollution would occur in the future due to economic and population growth.
New York TImes Andrew C. Revkin, January 30, 2004
"Lawmaker wants gas guzzlers to pay more for registration"
In a bold environmental proposal, an Arizona Republican State Senator proposed a vehicle registration system to incentivize clean vehicles. Sen. Slade Mead's approach would account for the societal costs of pollution and road wear in larger vehicles through increased registration fees. That revenue would be used to lower registration fees in clean fuel-efficient vehicles.
Arizona Daily Sun Howard Fischer, January 14, 2004
"District seeks air quality downgrade"
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, unable to meet federal standards by 2005, has applied for the nation's dirtiest air designation, extreme. Joining Los Angeles, the only other city in America to carry such status, the Valley will have more time to clean its air, but will put itself under a stricter penalty and cleanup schedule.
Oakland Tribune Dave Myhra, December 19, 2003
"Court Blocks U.S. Effort to Relax Pollution Rule"
A federal appeals court has issued a temporary injunction against the Bush Administration's efforts to relax power plant pollution rules. The Environmental Protection Agency's proposed new rules would have allowed power plants to expand without having to upgrade their clean up technology.
New York Times Katharine Q. Seelye and Jennifer 8. Lee, December 24, 2003
"Bay Area's air flunks standards; EPA says region violates new federal clean-air rules"
The San Francisco Bay Area did not meet a new health-based clean air standard for 2003, according to this San Francisco Chronicle article. As a non-attainment region, the Bay Area must create a plan to clean up its air or face sanctions under the federal Clean Air Act.
San Francisco Chronicle Jane Kay, December 5, 2003
"Funding Studies to Suit Need"
Large polluters, particularly oil companies, have silently become major funders of research initiatives crafted to protect themselves from liability. Pointing to studies ranging from the dangers of large jury awards to the non-existence of global warming, companies are paying for research with the goal of bringing obscure theories that support their business models into the mainstream.
Los Angeles Times Alan Zarembo, December 3, 2003
"Better Energy Legislation"
In this editorial, the Washington Post discusses the shortcomings of the failed federal energy bill and advocates for its wholesale rewrite next year. Characterizing the legislation as a handout to special interests, the editorial board suggests that a successful measure would best be written by removing incentives for fossil fuels and allocating those funds toward research in clean technologies.
Washington Post Editorial, November 29, 2003
"Valley smog season worst in 14 years"
California's San Joaquin Valley now holds the title of the smoggiest region in the United States due to its number of days in violation of the eight-hour ozone health standard. According to air district records, the Valley has had unhealthy levels of smog for 128 days thus far in 2003.
Fresno Bee Mark Grossi, November 2, 2003
"U.S. Senate Preempts California's Curbs on Small-Engine Smog"
The Senate has approved an amendment weakening the Clean Air Act by removing states' ability to require cleaner burning small engines. By inserting a trailer amendment in an unrelated appropriations bill, the Senate was able to pass a bill that significantly hinders California's ability to clean its air.
Los Angeles Times Elizabeth Shogren and Gary Polakovic, November 13, 2003
"Lockyer rips EPA on Clean Air Act"
In response to the federal Environmental Protection Agency's ruling that global warming gases are not pollutants and its refusal to regulate them as such, California and eleven other states filed suit against the EPA. Bill Lockyer, California's Attorney General who initiated the lawsuit, expressed his disappointment in the EPA's lack of commitment to environmental protection and committed to persevere in the case to protect the public health of all residents.
Sacramento Bee Jim Sanders, October 24, 2003
"Global Warming Deaths on the Rise"
Global warming causes the deaths of approximately 160,000 people every year according to this article in Wired. Effects ranging from disease to famine are responsible for the numbers, and could double by 2020 if global warming pollution is not reduced.
Wired September 20, 2003
"Study Finds Net Gain From Pollution Rules"
A cost-benefit analysis by the Federal Office of Management and Budget has found that environmental regulations hold significant net benefits to society that far outweigh their initial cost to industry. The Washington Post reports that such environmental laws yield payoffs of five to seven times the cost of their implementation.
Washington Post Eric Pianin, September 27, 2003
"The polluter's EPA"
In this editorial, the Sacramento Bee examines the revolving door between industry lobbyists and EPA employees in light of recent regulatory relaxations. After the Bush Administration eased rules governing power plant emissions, several of the officials responsible left to work for the industry they previously regulated. The editorial board uses this example to highlight the continuing erosion of environmental laws by industry representatives working within the federal government.
Sacramento Bee Editorial, September 6, 2003
"Electric vehicles are far from a 'disaster'"
The Kirsch Foundation's Vice President, Public Policy, Susan Frank, defends zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and their positive impact on air quality in this letter to the editor. Ms. Frank provides evidence of the enormous success of California's ZEV program and urges continued support of the fight for clean vehicles.
Mercury News Susan Frank, August 18, 2003
"Taking care of No. 1: Children come second for some Valley pols"
Some elected officials put business interests above the public health of the Central Valley, according to this Sacramento Bee editorial. At a recent Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing, 10 legislators abstained from voting, which resulted in the failed passage of a critical clean air bill, SB 700 (Florez). The Editorial Board admonishes Assemblymembers not supporting the measure and urges them to vote in favor of clean air at the bill's next hearing.
Sacramento Bee Editorial, August 26, 2003
"Carmakers, state drop suits; Both sides agree to focus on gas-electric hybrids"
A coalition of auto manufacturers and dealers has dropped their suit against California's clean vehicle requirements. After the California Air Resources Board passed new rules reducing the number of pure zero-emission vehicles and increasing the number of gasoline-hybrid vehicles to be produced, the auto coalition agreed to drop its lawsuit and comply with the regulations.
Mercury News Paul Rogers, August 13, 2003
"Politics Reasserts Itself in the Debate Over Climate Change and Its Hazards"
According to this New York Times reporter, the partisanship inherent in the national debate on global warming has created an environment hostile to the objective evaluation of scientific evidence. As a result, the boundary between science and politics has become difficult to distinguish in policy hearings and media sources.
New York Times Andrew C. Revkin, August 5, 2003
"Thinking in a rut: Business as usual means the Valley's air will get worse, not better"
The Fresno Bee expresses the need for the Central Valley to change its approach to air quality policy. As a necessary ingredient to clean air, the editorial board advocates that business groups and local government embrace clean air legislation and regulations by removing their opposition to bills such as California Senate Bill 999 (Machado).
Fresno Bee Editorial, July 22, 2003
"EPA Withholds Air Pollution Analysis"
According to the Washington Post, the EPA did not disseminate an internal analysis indicating that a Senate-proposed alternative was much more effective than the Bush Administration's Clear Skies initiative. This latest action by the EPA continues a pattern whereby high-ranking officials have blocked and amended agency action that conflicted with the Bush Administration's policy views.
Washington Post Guy Gugliotta and Eric Pianin, July 1, 2003
"Air board bill a tight fight"
Senate Bill 999 authored by Mike Machado (D-Linden), which would add new board members to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD), faces staunch opposition from local elected leaders. Under the current structure, the SJVAPCD has never had a legal plan for ozone or particulates and is approaching the worst air quality in the nation according to EPA ozone and particulate matter standards.
Stockton Record Will Shuck, June 19, 2003
"Censorship on Global Warming"
This New York Times editorial decries the Bush Administration's decision to remove pages of an EPA report detailing the threat of global warming. By refusing to acknowledge the greatest threat to the environment, the editorial board suggests the EPA is neglecting its duty.
New York Times Editorial, June 20, 2003
"Peter Buys an Electric Car"
Peter Horton, a Santa Monica-based actor, writer, and director, investigates the rise and fall of GM's EV1, the first electric vehicle made available to California consumers in the mid-1990s. During Mr. Horton's pursuit of an EV1 lease, GM went from staunchly supportive to decisively against electric vehicles.
Los Angeles Times Peter Horton, June 8, 2003
"Energy industry touts dubious climate study"
Many studies downplaying the existence and role of global warming have been funded by industries that would be regulated by greenhouse gas emissions laws. Spurred by the possibility that Congress may act to rein in global warming, the leading carbon dioxide emitters privately funded studies to cast doubt on academic global warming research.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Jess Nesmith-Cox, June 1, 2003
"Central Valley pollution bills pass Senate"
The San Francisco Chronicle highlights SB 700 (Florez), a bill to remove the air pollution exemptions currently applicable to the California agricultural industry that is proceeding through the California legislature. The farming industry, responsible for 25 percent of the air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley, has enjoyed a loophole from the U.S. Clean Air Act permitting process for decades, and strongly opposes the bill.
San Francisco Chronicle Paul Feist, May 23, 2003
"Smog Fears High in Central Valley"
According to this Los Angeles Times article, residents in California's Central Valley are more concerned about air quality than Los Angeles residents. The study by the Public Policy Institute of California also found that air quality has become so poor that one in three respondents reported a family member with a respiratory ailment.
Los Angeles Times Eric Bailey, April 30, 2003
"California board votes to weaken emissions regulation"
This San Francisco Chronicle article highlights the California Air Resources Board's redesign of the state's zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) program to favor cleaner vehicles over pure zero-emission cars in the short-term. In addition, automaker lobbyists signaled their intent to further loosen the program in the future.
San Francisco Chronicle Brian Melley, April 24, 2003
"U.S. Renewable Energy Fueled by Local Efforts"
The federal government is not keeping pace with states' policies and demand for renewable energy according to this article from the Environmental News Service. Many states, such as California and New York, have renewable portfolio standards that guarantee certain percentages of clean electricity. A federal version of such a program would further drive demand, however the House and Senate versions of the latest energy bill demonstrate that U.S. policies are lagging behind innovation in the states. Environmental News Service J.R. Pegg, April 17, 2003
"Fuel savings where the rubber meets the road"
Roland Hwang, a Senior Policy Analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, explains the virtues of fuel efficient tires in this San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece. By making replacement tires as fuel efficient as the original equipment tires on a vehicle, consumers can save money and America can reduce its dependency on foreign oil.
San Francisco Chronicle Roland Hwang, April 6, 2003
"Rewrite of emissions rule may roll out more hybrids"
The California Air Resources Board is likely to revise the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program to include more flexibility for automaker compliance and larger numbers of hybrid vehicles according to this Los Angeles Times article. The revised regulations would also include incentives to create plug-in hybrids that could run on either gasoline or electricity.
Los Angeles Times John O'Dell, April 7, 2003
"Arctic saved for now"
The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board applauds the U.S. Senate for rejecting drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). In a close 52 to 48 vote, the Senate narrowly rejected a proposal that would have opened ANWR to oil exploration. Though the issue has come to a vote several times in the past year, the paper asserts that the fight will continue and environmentalists need to stay alert to future threats.
San Francisco Chronicle Editorial, March 21, 2003
"Hold to Zero-Emissions Rule"
The Los Angeles Times editorial board advocates for the preservation of California's Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program given all the advances it has made possible. In the context of record gasoline prices and California's inability to meet Federal Clean Air standards, the paper argues that a strong ZEV program is critical to continue the pressure to advance vehicle technology and achieve clean air in California.
Los Angeles Times Editorial, March 24, 2003
"No free pass for smog farms"
The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board discusses the shift in California state politics taking place with its new focus on improving chronically poor air quality in the Central Valley by targeting the agricultural industry. State Senator Dean Florez (D-Shafter) has authored a package of ten bills aimed at cleaning up the region's air, ranging from removing smog rule exemptions from old cars to banning wood-burning fireplaces to "reining in agriculture." With asthma rates soaring, and farming contributing one-fifth of the air pollution, the Chronicle argues that Florez's bills are worthy of support.
San Francisco Chronicle Editorial, March 9, 2003
"Taming the Oil Beast"
This Business Week cover story highlights the importance of reducing U.S. petroleum consumption and makes suggestions for new federal polices. Some of the recommended policy solutions include aiding renewable energy development and increasing vehicle miles per gallon through Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) changes.
Business Week John Carey, February 24, 2003
"California air rules key in hybrid, fuel cell vehicle debate"
California's groundbreaking zero-emission vehicle program was the driving force behind the creation of hybrid vehicles and continues to advance fuel cell vehicle development. In order to delay producing cleaner vehicles under the program, several automakers sued to stop its enforcement and are attempting reduce the number of clean vehicles they must produce.
San Francisco Chronicle Don Thompson, February 19, 2003
The Washington Post editorial board closely examines the fuel cell plan President Bush laid out in his State of the Union address and emphasizes opportunities for improvement. Though fuel cells may become an important technology in the future, the Washington Post argues that they should not obscure nor overshadow debates about pollution and efficiency for the present generation of vehicles on the road.
Washington Post Editorial, February 9, 2003
"Smog-Forming Emissions Badly Underestimated, Officials Say"
The California Air Resources Board announced this week that smog emissions from motor vehicles are approximately 30% higher than the state previously thought. As a result, major air pollution districts have been experiencing worse than expected smog and Los Angeles may be unable to meet its federal deadline for clean air.
Los Angeles Times Gary Polakovic, January 16, 2003
"Pataki Backs Wind and Solar Power"
New York Governor George Pataki announced he would seek to adopt California's new greenhouse gas emission requirements in his state. In addition, Pataki pushed for an increased renewable portfolio standard for clean electricity production. The new goal would make New York the first state in the union to generate 25% of its energy from completely renewable sources.
New York Times Peter Eisler, January 9, 2003
"California emissions law now a model. It's cited in major new Senate bill"
The greenhouse gas reduction bill introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Lieberman (D-CT) could signal a pro-environmental shift in national climate policy, if passed. In 2002, California successfully passed AB 1493 (Pavley), which has been credited as a turning point in the fight against global warming and has set the stage for potential federal efforts.
San Francisco Chronicle Edward Epstein, January 9, 2003
"Wildlife seeks cooler climes"
Two studies of global warming's impact on animals demonstrate that species' habitats are shifting based on rising temperatures. The studies, published in the journal Nature this month, reveal that climate change has a demonstrable impact on animal behaviors around the globe.
BBC News Alex Kirby, January 1, 2003
"New Rules In Works For Diesel Emissions"
The Bush Administration is conducting a review of diesel emission standards for off-road vehicles. In an uncharacteristic move, the President is siding with environmentalists over industry by backing tougher air pollution standards on construction and farm vehicles.
Washington Post Eric Pianan, December 30, 2002
"Interest Fizzles in All-Electric"
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) plans to review the regulations implementing its landmark Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program, which supports the development of vehicles emitting little to no pollution. The ZEV Program has been credited with bringing many cleaner vehicle technologies to market, including gasoline hybrids. The CARB staff's newest plan proposes that 1% of the new vehicles sold by automakers would need to be ZEVs compared to a 4% goal established in 2001 during the program's last review.
Los Angeles Times John O'Dell, December 14, 2002
"U.S. Seeks Modest Increase in SUV Fuel-Efficiency"
The U.S. Transportation Department announced its intention to raise the average light truck and sport utility vehicle (SUV) mileage 1.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2007. The announcement comes in response to a stronger U.S. Senate proposal earlier this year that sought to raise the corporate average fuel economy for all passenger vehicles to 35 mpg by 2015.
Washington Post Eric Pianin and Dana Milbank, December 13, 2002
"The Highest Patriotism Lies in Weaning U.S. From Fossil Fuels"
United States dependence on oil not only damages our ecosystem, but threatens world security by ensuring that unstable regimes remain in power, according to actor and activist Robert Redford in this Los Angeles Times commentary. Redford believes America should decide that implementing existing technology, such as renewable energy and cleaner vehicles, is central to its national security.
Los Angeles Times Robert Redford, December 2, 2002
"Clean Air is the State's Right"
The Los Angeles Times sharply criticizes the Bush Administration's legal assault on California's zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) program in this op-ed piece. In the context of other environmental rollbacks by the Administration, the editorial board rebukes the federal government for trampling states' rights and undermining California's efforts to clean up its own air.
Los Angeles Times Op-ed, October 14, 2002
"Steal this Car"
Despite widespread interest among the drivers of the General Motors EV1 electric vehicle to keep their cars, GM refuses to renew leases or let individuals purchase the vehicles. This Salon.com piece highlights the carmaker's controversial decision to reclaim the vehicles, most of which will probably be destroyed. GM's pronouncement has been widely criticized by environmentalists and fans of the technologically advanced zero-emission vehicle.
Salon.com - Katharine Mieszkowski, September 4, 2002
"In California, Clean Air Rules Force Changes in Autos"
The New York Times examines California's role as a catalyst for clean vehicles and clean air across the nation. From its groundbreaking adoption of the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, to its recent enactment of greenhouse gas emissions reduction legislation from autos, California has repeatedly pushed the envelope on clean vehicles. The entire nation benefits as automakers offer an array of electric, hybrid, and other advanced technology cars that directly resulted from California's actions.
New York Times Danny Hakim, July 22, 2002
"California Leads on Warming"
By reducing greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles through the passage of Assembly Bill 1493, California paves the way for the rest of the country. The New York Times commends the California legislature for being the only government in the U.S. to respond to global warming and its potentially catastrophic impact.
New York Times Editorial July 8, 2002
"C02: The ultimate sellout to big energy firms"
Jack Blum of the Sacramento Bee highlights the ironies and contradictions apparent in Congress's consideration of comprehensive energy legislation. This behind-the-scenes account of special interests and the legislative process brings to light many interesting policies and environmental impacts. By examining the implications of increasing the domestic petroleum supply as opposed to reducing demand, the author calls many of the energy legislation's provisions into question.
Sacramento Bee Jack A. Blum, June 16, 2002
"Get greener: Assembly Needs to Pass Bill to Diversify Sources of Energy"
In this editorial, The Mercury News advocates for the passage of California Senate Bill 532, which calls on energy retailers to purchase at least 20 percent of the state's electricity from renewable sources. The bill, authored by state Senator Byron Sher (D-Stanford), would, by 2010, increase the state's share of renewable energy from current levels of approximately 10 percent. This legislation would create major incentives to explore alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar, instead of relying overwhelmingly on fossil fuels.
The Mercury News Editorial, June 18, 2002
"President Distances Himself from Global Warming Report"
Despite a new report from his administration detailing the link between humans and climate change, President Bush does not feel that global warming requires a rapid response. The Environmental Protection Agency report includes predictions on how U.S. industries such as agriculture would be affected by altered weather patterns.
New York Times Katharine Q. Seelye, June 4, 2002
"Report: Pollution kills 9,300 in state annually"
The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy organization, released a report today detailing how floating particles, especially those from car exhaust and factories, cause more than 9,300 deaths in the state each year. This report was funded in part by a Kirsch Foundation grant. To read the press release, see the Environmental Working Group's website.
San Jose Mercury News May 15, 2002
"Car Makers' Vintage Whine"
In this editorial, the Los Angeles Times reflects on the Automotive Industry's historical tendency to steadfastly oppose legislation in the public interest. In the past, automobile manufacturers tried to defeat the regulations that mandated seat belts, airbags, and catalytic converters on the basis that technical limitations and cost would make them completely unfeasible. Similarly, the manufacturers are now making the same arguments opposing Assembly Bill 1058 (Pavley), which would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California vehicles.
Los Angeles Times, Editorial- April 26, 2002
"California cool cars: Any auto entrepreneurs left?"
In this guest commentary, Foundation Chairman Steve Kirsch and Sybase Founder Bob Epstein write about the automotive industry's lack of an entrepreneurial approach to resolving environmental issues. They point out that California has a tremendous opportunity to innovate with Assembly Bill 1058 (Pavley), currently before the legislature. If passed, the bill would dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles by encouraging automakers to be innovative in addressing the global warming problem.
Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, Steve Kirsch and Bob Epstein- April 12, 2002
"A Failure of Energy"
In this recent editorial, the New York Times accuses the Senate of compromising the United States' security and environment by refusing to raise CAFE standards. The proposed standards in the Senate's energy bill would have saved more fuel than is currently imported from the Middle East daily. The Times further points out that the average mileage for vehicles sold in America has dropped to the lowest levels since 1985.
New York Times March 15, 2002
"Soot Particles Strongly Tied to Lung Cancer, Study Finds"
A new study released found significant evidence directly linking air pollution to major human health risks. The 16-year study followed over 500,000 people nationwide and further explains the link behind non-smoker deaths from lung cancer. Microscopic soot particles were found to increase the risk of death from lung cancer as well as other lung and heart diseases. The results, which were published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, strongly support Environmental Protection Agency efforts to reduce fine-particle pollution, particularly in light of automotive and power industry lawsuits attempting to block the government's action.
New York Times, Andrew C. Revkin March 6, 2002
"Ending the Oil Addiction"
This New York Times editorial urges President Bush to take a conservationist approach to reducing America's dependence on imported oil from regions such as the Persian Gulf. The Administration's current plans focus on increased domestic drilling to replace the need for oil imports. The editorial argues that the only long-term solution must be conservation. The Times rebukes the Administration's plans to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and suggests alternatives, including increases in the corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ) standards as the best method to reduce U.S. dependency.
New York Times February, 18, 2002
"Running on fumes Bay Area bucks clean trend, buys diesel buses"
This article chronicles the decisions by the majority of Bay Area transit agencies (13 out of 15) in 2000 and 2001 to keep diesel buses in their fleets, instead of reducing pollution by slowly incorporating alternative fueled buses. Now the diesel industry confesses it cannot produce the clean engines it promised and Bay Area transit agencies are left scrambling to meet future emission standards. Diesel exhaust accounts for 70 percent of cancer risks from air pollution, which could lead to 14,000 Californians developing cancer.
San Francisco Chronicle, Jane Kay - January 13, 2002
"Silicon Valley Execs Unite as Members of E2"
Lynn Graebner reports on Silicon Valley executives and venture capitalists joining forces to help pass California Assembly Bill 1058, which would force the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions in passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks. The group of executives, which includes Foundation Chairman Steve Kirsch, is called Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), and focuses on impacting national and state legislation on key environmental issues. Actively supported by the Kirsch Foundation, AB 1058 goes to the Assembly in January. With the auto industry lobbying heavily against it, E2 members and other proponents face a tough battle in the new year.
Silicon Valley Business Ink, Lynn Graebner - December 14, 2001
"Zero-Emission Front Faltering"
Earlier this year, the states of Vermont, New York and Massachusetts joined together to adopt California's Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program, which requires automakers to sell a minimum of two percent passenger cars rated as ZEVs starting in 2003. While California and Vermont are still on track, New York and Massachusetts have announced that they may postpone implementation of their ZEV programs until 2007. The environmental community feels strongly that imposing a ZEV requirement simultaneously in California and the Northeast will help foster national interest in zero-emission cars and trucks. Therefore, any delay would be a significant setback.
LA Times, John O'Dell - December 5, 2001
"Land of the Oil-free? Redefining the 'American Way of Life'"
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, several conservative lawmakers have tried to push drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a matter of national security. However, many legislators and environmentalists are questioning this position, as well as the United States' overall dependence on fossil fuels. This article points out the shift in priorities and cites the inadequacies of drilling in the refuge, which according to the U.S. Geological Survey, would generate less than two percent of American's daily oil consumption.
Grist Magazine, Keith Schneider - November 20, 2001
"Gasoline Mileage for New Cars Declines Slightly, E.P.A. Reports"
John Heilprin of the Associated Press reports in the New York Times that new 2002 vehicles get worse gas mileage than 2001 models. Although the United States has been working to decrease its dependence on foreign oil and the use of fuel-efficient vehicles could save owners more than $1,500 a year, top Bush administration officials are reluctant to embrace government standards to increase gas mileage. As a result, more than one-third of new models get less than 20 miles per gallon and most 2002 vehicles over 450 models manage only between 20 and 30 miles per gallon.
NY Times, John Heilprin, Associated Press October 10, 2001
"Running on Empty"
SF Weekly reporter Michael Gougis chronicles the ongoing fight between Detroit automakers and the California Air Resources Board about electric vehicles (EVs). Since the first zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) program was adopted in 1990, auto manufacturers have spent millions trying to prove that EVs are too expensive to manufacture. In the first half of 1995, an L.A. lobbying-firm hired by Detroit to kill the ZEV program is estimated to have poured $500,000 into the fight. In the last quarter of 2000, GM alone spent nearly $175,000. This article highlights the money, and influence, of automakers in lobbying against clean cars.
SF Weekly, Michael Gougis - June 27-July 3, 2001
"Critics Say Behind-Scenes Efforts to Scuttle Program May Be Out of Gas"
This Associated Press article by Steve Lawrence discusses what many environmental and public health groups including the Kirsch Foundation feel is the real reason behind Assembly Bill 1390: to weaken California's zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) program. The author also points out that a lobbyist hired by GM to fight the ZEV mandate may have originated the basic premise of AB 1390 to repeal the ZEV program with the pretext that the bill addressed environmental justice issues. The environmental community agrees that a long-term strategy to reduce emissions in low-income communities is necessary, and that ZEVs are an important piece of that effort.
Sacramento Bee, Steve Lawrence June 20, 2001
"Electric & Hybrids Vehicles"
NoHo>LA writer, Gina Van Name, provides information about the pros and cons of electric and hybrid vehicles. She includes a list of electric and hybrid vehicle benefits, from state grants and federal tax credits to free meter parking and carpool lane privileges. While very few electric vehicles are available now, Van Name urges her readers not to be discouraged. She points out that seven of the largest auto manufacturers must roll out substantially more of these vehicles by 2003. This article also provides telephone numbers and websites for those interested in learning more about what options are currently available and how to lease these vehicles.
NoHo>LA, Gina Van Name - May 2001
"Bush Criticized as Fear for Environment Grows"
The results of a nationwide environmental survey conducted by the Los Angeles Times show that the majority of Americans polled are "growing increasingly concerned about the environment and believe that protecting it should take precedence over economic development." Over 50% of Americans oppose the current Administration's environmental decisions specifically, the reversal of a campaign pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the withdrawal from the Kyoto global warming treaty, and the move to overturn the ruling that would have reduced arsenic levels in drinking water.
LA Times, Mark Z. Barabak April 30, 2001
"Still a Bright Idea? Local Experts Stand Behind Efficiency of the Electric Car Even During a Power Crisis"
In light of the energy crisis faced by California, Los Angeles Times writer Talia Starkey discovers that electric vehicles (EVs) are an extremely viable transportation option. According to the article, electric utility companies, environmental groups and EV drivers agree that the amount of electricity needed to operate these vehicles is small and the costs minimal. Add to that the benefit of lower emissions and EVs are a win-win-win for consumers. One driver emphasized how reasonable it was to charge her EV, which only cost $20 per month for electricity, allowing her to drive around 1,000 miles. Starkey points out that the energy shortage is during the day, when businesses are flooding the power grids with demands for electricity. The majority of EVs are charged at night, when electricity needs are light and off-peak rates are available and inexpensive.
LA Times, Talia Starkey April 20, 2001
"I Want My ZEV"
Prior to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) decision about the future of the state's Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program on January 25, Mother Jones reporter Amos Kenigsberg shared his thoughts on why more ZEVs aren't on the roads: availability. (The approved ZEV program will now require the automobile industry to offer around 10,000 full-function zero-emission vehicles for sale by 2010, a number far below what the Kirsch Foundation and environmental groups were supporting.) In lobbying CARB, automakers made it clear that they wanted the number reduced and argued there is no demand for ZEVs in California. In this article, Kenigsberg reveals that between fleet operators and average consumers, there is in fact a waiting list today estimated at 40,000 individuals and companies, therefore nullifying the automakers' argument.
Mother Jones, Amos Kenigsberg January 23, 2001
"Diesel Must Die"
The battle over what fuel path alternative or diesel the Santa Clara (California) Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) should take is the subject of a November Metro newspaper article by Dara Colwell. Read how VTA's diesel-fuel-burning buses are under attack by critics, including the Kirsch Foundation. We believe the agency should convert to clean-burning natural-gas-powered vehicles, not more diesel.
Metro, Dara Colwell November 2-8, 2000 Issue
"He Got a Charge Out of Assignment"
Los Angeles Times staff writer, John O'Dell drives and reviews seven different electric vehicle models from the Ford Think city car to the GM EV1. Although he didn't start out as an EV fan, after this assignment O'Dell predicts, "Once word gets out that a well-designed EV with its all-torque all-the-time motor can run circles around most conventional ICE-Vs (Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles), demand will go up." He points out the benefits of driving an electric vehicle, including no tailpipe emissions, low maintenance, plus the convenient home charging that averages "$1 per fill-up."
LA Times, John O'Dell October 25, 2000
"Diesel Controls Adopted: State Addresses Health Concerns By Clamping Down on Exhaust"
Chris Bowman of the Sacramento Bee reports in this article on the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approval to reduce diesel exhaust pollution. Diesel particle emissions contain cancer-causing substances such as benzene, formaldehyde and hexavalent chromium. The new rule, strongly supported by environmental groups as well as the state trucking and oil industries and national manufacturers of diesel engines, affects about 90 percent of the estimated 1.2 million diesel engines in the state. Starting in 2007, diesel engines in big-rig haulers, bulldozers, pile-drivers, motor boats, and various equipment will contain catalytic converters, substantially decreasing pollution. Once fully implemented, the controls should reduce harmful exhaust particles an estimated 75 percent by 2010 and 85 percent by 2020.
Sacramento Bee, Chris Bowman September 29, 2000
"California Upholds Rule for Pollutionless Car by '03"
New York Times writer, Andrew Pollack, reports on the California Air Resources Board's (CARB) unanimous vote to maintain California's Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program, which requires that up to 10 percent of cars offered for sale in California in 2003 emit little or no pollution. The public hearings leading up to the vote have been watched nationwide "because of the huge size of California's car market." According to Pollack, "The California rules have been instrumental in prodding the automobile industry to develop cleaner vehicles." It is expected that the decision will lead to an increased number of electric vehicles on the road, not only in California but also in states like New York, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont all of which are choosing to follow California's lead in cleaning up the air. The automobile industry is hoping that changes will be made to the proposal before Governor Gray Davis signs off on it, but according to Dr. Alan Lloyd, CARB chairman, "it [is] unlikely that the overall 10 percent goal by 2003 [will] be changed".
NY Times, Andrew Pollack September 9, 2000
"Don't Zap ZEVS: State Needs Zero-Emission Vehicles for Clean Air Fight"
The Sacramento Bee makes its position clear in this editorial pointing out that with a majority of Californians living in regions that fail to meet the minimum federal health standards, the California Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program must be allowed to continue. The auto industry argues that California's air quality can be saved with cleaner conventional cars and that demand for electric vehicles is too low to mass-produce them. However, California regulators disagree, saying that even the cleanest internal combustion engine will break down over time, which will continue to lead the state to unacceptable levels of pollution. Regulators also counter that nearly 100 percent of electric vehicles offered for lease in California are already on the roads, with long waiting lists for more. The Bee editorial closes with: "California can't afford to step away from a mandate that offers such benefits for its environment and for public health."
Sacramento Bee September 6, 2000
"Why Electric Cars are a Smart Choice"
Dorothy Beer, a high school science teacher, first drove her EV1 onto campus in 1997, immediately igniting enthusiasm among her students for the new technology. In this op-ed piece, Beer describes how her students' interest evolved into projects about alternative fuel technology, ranging from term papers to web sites, and how their excitement prompted parents to look into leases for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). Unfortunately, parents quickly realized that, despite the obvious benefits of electric vehicles, none were available and the waiting lists were months long. Beer makes the case that the California ZEV program is the only way to encourage automakers to make these vehicles accessible to the public that clearly wants them. She lists the many benefits of the program, from decreasing Californian's 14 billion gallons-of-oil-a-year habit, to supporting breakthroughs of new technology, to improving our air quality. Beer urges readers to work for the preservation of the ZEV program and its benefits for the future of California.
San Diego Union Tribune, Dorothy Beer August 24,2000
"Keep Spark in Electric Car Market"
The Los Angeles Times adds its voice to the growing number of newspapers that support California's Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program. The editorial clearly states that weakening the state's ZEV standard would seriously harm the EV market and potentially "undermine other emerging clean technologies." It states that, by retaining the program, production of ZEVs could be revived from its currently dormant state. In order to meet state and federal guidelines for clean air, ZEVs may be California's one hope to achieve those standards. With significant improvements in advanced vehicle technology over the last several years, the editorial writer urges the California Air Resources Board to reaffirm the state's commitment to ZEVs and air quality.
LA Times August 21, 2000
"State Must Stay on Road to Zero-Emission Vehicles"
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) will vote this September about the state's Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program. In her Sacramento Bee op-ed piece, former CARB board member, Jananne Sharpless, asks for the state to uphold the program and carry out the original vision of a clean-air future for California. Although technology has brought about cleaner fuel alternatives, air quality challenges still exist today. Sharpless points out "95% of Californians still live in areas that don't meet the health-based federal or state air quality standards." The oil and auto manufacturing industries have already succeeded in weakening the original ZEV program and are working on killing it in its entirety. However, the auto industry has shown it can manufacture cars that meet the ZEV program standards; its only challenge is allowing the ZEV market to grow. According to Sharpless, the ZEV program is the best way to maintain California's Clean Air Act while continuing the development of transportation technology.
Sacramento Bee, Jananne Sharpless August 7, 2000
"A Clear Lane: Low-Emission Cars Are Few, but They Roll Freely"
The benefits of last year's passage and the July 1st implementation of AB71 allowing single-occupant electric vehicles (EVs) and natural gas vehicles (NGVs) in the carpool lanes are described in this Los Angeles Times article. Drivers are celebrating the bill's passage and shaving significant time off of their commutes. Meanwhile, automakers are making their collective "there is no market for these vehicles" claim with hundreds of people on waiting lists for zero-emission vehicles across the state. Clearly, AB71 is a tremendous incentive for EV and NGV owners as they drive their vehicles in the fast lane to a cleaner California.
LA Times, Douglas P. Shuit July 14, 2000
"Is 4% Pure ZEV Attainable in 2003? - Part 2"
This is the second part of a two-part op-ed piece by EVWorld.com's contributing correspondent Noel Adams. Adams breaks down the amount of EVs the auto industry will have to provide to meet the 2003 California Air Resources Board requirements and if they are achievable. He also writes about the wide gulf between what the auto industry has been providing in ZEV fleet vehicles versus what they market to the general public, and how the requirements could change all that.
EVWorld.Com, Op-Ed by Noel Adams July 14, 2000
"Is 4% Pure ZEV Attainable in 2003? - Part 1"
This EVWorld.com op-ed piece, by contributing correspondent Noel Adams, is the first part of a two-part story exploring the California Air Resources Board's Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with automakers for California's Zero-Emission Vehicle Program. Adams highlights how many vehicles the six major auto manufacturers have manufactured, in terms of meeting the MOA commitment and building a viable ZEV market.
EVWorld.Com, Op-Ed by Noel Adams June 26, 2000
"Electric Cars Gain Entry to Carpool Lanes"
Electric vehicle (EV) drivers gear up to drive solo in California's carpool lanes thanks to the passage of AB71 last year. The law allows single-passenger EVs, compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vehicles in HOV lanes. AB71 goes into effect July 1 and drivers are already lining up at their local DMV offices to register for this exciting incentive. This article quotes Steve Kirsch, who lobbied heavily for the bill's passage, and other EV drivers, about the legislation's positive impacts.
LA Times, Eric Bailey June 16, 2000
"Studies Link Heart Attacks to Moderate Air Pollution"
Recent scientific research shows that moderate air pollution may trigger sudden deaths by altering the heart rhythms in people with weak or diseased hearts. Tiny pieces of soot, called particulates, are the offending elements that create some of the worst smog concentrations in California and the nation. Particulate pollution may cause 1% of heart disease fatalities in the United States; this translates into 10,000 deaths per year. "Epidemiologists in 70 cities around the world have found that more people die and are hospitalized during periods when particulate pollution rises even a moderate amount." The studies highlighted in the article are likely the closest that science can come to proving a causal relationship between air pollution and heart problems.
LA Times, Marla Cone June 5, 2000
"Crack Down on Diesel Polluters"
The Mercury News supports the Environmental Protection Agency's requirement for cleaner trucks and buses in this recent editorial. With the hearing and public comment process still to come, the EPA proposal states that, by 2006, diesel fuel must contain 97 percent less sulfur than it does now. By 2010, all new diesel engines must release 95 percent less nitrogen oxides and 90 percent less particulate matter. With diesel trucks and buses contributing 60 percent of the soot that comes from motor vehicles and 30 percent of the nitrogen oxides that create smog, this strict requirement is a welcome breath of fresh air for California and the rest of the nation.
The Mercury News, Editorial May 19, 2000
"Emission Mandate: Regulators Need to Keep the Pressure on for Clean Cars"
In this Sacramento Bee editorial, the newspaper's editors urge the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to continue the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program. The public interest in the benefits of the ZEV Program (such as battling the high price of gasoline and reducing air pollution) is too great to ignore. This piece praises the program as being "responsive and flexible" in relation to automobile manufacturers and the best way to achieve "transportation that's efficient and kind to the air, water and climate." For the 10 years the ZEV Program has been in place, analysts show it has been essential in pushing the envelope of technology with regard to cleaner and more durable vehicles. This is one of many editorials from around the state that strongly endorses California's ZEV production requirements.
Sacramento Bee, Editorial April 6, 2000
"I Sing the Pickup Electric."
In this article, Chronicle columnist Scott Ostler writes about his spirited spin down Highway 101 in an electric Ford Ranger, as thoughts of expensive gasoline are left in the dust behind this super-clean vehicle.
San Francisco Chronicle, Scott Ostler March 16, 2000
"EV1 Recall: GM Fails to Learn from Its Own Success and Pulls the Plug on Drivers of the Future"
This March 6, 2000, op-ed piece by David A. Kirsch (no relation) in EVWorld.Com relates to General Motors recall of the first generation EV1 a recall considered by many, including the author, as unwise and a "botched decision."
EVWorld.Com, Op-Ed by David A. Kirsch March 6, 2000
"Calculating ZEV Requirements: John O'Dell's Feb. 2 article A Clean Air Detour? greatly overestimated the number of zero-emissions vehicles, or ZEVs, that major auto makers are required to produce beginning in 2003 under existing California law."
Read this Letter to the Editor from David L. Modisette, executive director of the California Electric Transportation Coalition, in response to the February 2 article below. The numbers of ZEVs to be produced by automakers in 2003 are more modest than ODell portrays.
LA Times, Letter to the Editor February 23, 2000
"A Clean Air Detour? Fuel-efficient, low-emissions hybrids are here. Now theres fear that car makers may use them to compromise the states zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate."
As the environmental community does battle with automakers over Californias ZEV production requirements, the need for the mandate remains clear. With a ZEV 200 times cleaner than the Honda Insight hybrid, automakers must be held accountable for the rules that go into effect in 2003.
LA Times, John ODell February 2, 2000
"Buzz into the future with electric cars."
Read this positive editorial from the Oakland Tribune about the importance of Californias zero-emission vehicle production requirements. The Oakland Tribune accurately points out that if the California electric vehicle market were opened up by automakers, demand would increase significantly. With fossil fuels as finite resources, Californias ZEV production requirements keep us headed in the right direction.
Oakland Tribune, Editorial January 25, 2000