New EPA Rules Would Make Your Car Run Better And Cleaner

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency finally proposed a new set of regulations — known as Tier 3 Vehicle Standards. The rules would reduce the amount of sulfur present in gasoline before our cars burn it. It brings the rest of the country in line with the environmental standards that have regulated California’s automobile industry for years.

Cutting back on the use of sulfur in gasoline by two thirds will have indirect environmental and public health benefits. While sulfur dioxide is not itself a greenhouse gas, reducing the amount of sulfur in gasoline will increase the efficiency of catalytic converters, reducing emissions and gasoline consumption. (Video explanation of how catalytic converters pull pollutants out of engine exhaust before it hits the air.)

U.S. to require cleaner gasoline

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is expected to propose new rules Friday that would slash the amount of sulfur in gasoline, one of the most significant steps the administration can take this term toward cutting air pollution, said people with knowledge of the announcement.

The new rules would bring the rest of the country’s sulfur standards in line with California’s gasoline program.

The oil industry and members of Congress from oil states have criticized the standards as onerous with few health benefits in return. Environmentalists have countered that the rules would improve public health considerably.

The next decade could be disastrous for OPEC and Big Oil

Ed Morse, Citigroup’s top energy economist, has taken a fresh swipe at companies and countries that rely on the global petroleum edifice. With a typically vivid title—“The End is Nigh”—Morse argues in a new report that permanent changes in the ways we produce and consume energy are hollowing out oil demand, with head-spinning ramifications.

The nub of the March 26 report: If the market transformation resembles that which occurred after the 1979 Iranian Revolution (which Morse regards as a possibility), global oil demand would plummet by 18%, to around 74 million barrels a day from the current 90 million. Such a plunge would trigger political and economic havoc in petroleum export-reliant Russia and OPEC. It would shake out the oil industry. And it would happen regardless of what steps the major players took.

UCLA Researchers Uncover Air Pollution, Autism Link

UCLA researchers found that Los Angeles County women who were exposed to higher estimated air pollution levels had a 12% to 15% greater chance of having a child who develops autism than women who lived in areas with less pollution during their pregnancies, according to a study published in the March issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Families Spend $3K Per Year on Gas

Gas prices have steadily dropped for nearly a month in Los Angeles County, but a new government energy report shows that families are spending more to fuel up now than in previous years.

The average household spent almost $3,000 — or just under 4 percent of income before taxes — on buying gasoline in 2012, according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration report released last month.

Cleaner fuels bring cleaner air and is worth the price

Re “Cost of fuel standard too high” (Letters, March 12): The American Lung Association in California is invested in the success of California’s clean fuels standard as a part of our mission to save lives and improve lung health. Californians face some of the harshest air pollution in America, largely because we are still hooked on oil.

Our kids, seniors and other vulnerable populations deal with ongoing challenges of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other chronic illnesses made worse by dirty air. Air pollution costs people healthy days, takes kids out of school and sports, and costs our state billions in health care and lost productivity costs.

 

Numbers From the War on State Renewables Standards

At least twenty-two of the 29 state renewables standards have been attacked by legislators or regulators in the last year or are now under attack.

Known as a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) or a Renewable Energy Standard (RES), these mandates require utilities to obtain a portion of their power from renewable sources by a certain date. Research shows they add less than 5 percent, on average, to the cost of electricity bills and are an effective driver of renewables growth.

Cheap natural gas helps Chevron leapfrog Shell in value

Chevron Corp, after years of living in the shadow of Exxon Mobil Corp, has grown accustomed to having to punch above its weight, and it has now landed a notable blow against another big oil company.

Though it ranks fourth in oil and gas reserves among the world’s non-government-controlled producers, the California major recently seized the number two spot from Royal Dutch Shell Plc in terms of stock market valuation.

Can we shift to renewable energy? Yes. As to how …

We will need fossil fuels like oil and gas for the foreseeable future. So there’s really little choice (sigh). We have to press ahead with fracking for natural gas. We must approve the Keystone XL pipeline to get Canadian oil.

This mantra, repeated on TV ads and in political debates, is punctuated with a tinge of inevitability and regret. But, increasingly, scientific research and the experience of other countries should prompt us to ask: To what extent will we really “need” fossil fuel in the years to come? To what extent is it a choice?

California Energy Commission awards more than $5.5M for green transportation

The California Energy Commissionannounced yesterday, March 20, 2013, that it has approved $5,580,773 for clean-energy transportation projects in California. The projects include biofuels production and those related to reducing emissions from trucks.

If the projects are successful, they should help reduce transportation sector emissions which are the largest component of air pollution in Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley. Those emissions significantly contribute to the area having some of the worst air quality in the United States.