Mary Nichols Named One of Time’s World’s Most Influential People of 2013

If, as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis claimed, states are the laboratories of democracy, then Mary Nichols is the Thomas Edison of environmentalism. Head of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), she has been a fierce champion of cutting-edge technology that is changing her state, a nation and the world.

This is actually Mary’s third turn at CARB. She served twice under then governor Jerry Brown, who held office from 1975 to 1982. She came back to CARB in 2007, preceding Brown’s return to the statehouse by four years. Prior to her most recent CARB stint, Mary worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Chevron Defies California On Carbon Emissions

Chevron Corp. (CVX) helped write the first-in-the-nation rule ordering reduced carbon emissions from cars and trucks. Its biofuels chief spoke at the ceremony where California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the executive order in 2007, the same year the oil company pledged to develop a gasoline replacement from wood.

Now Chevron is leading a lobbying and public relations campaign to undercut the California mandate aimed at curbing global warming, two years after the state started phasing it in. Research on commercially viable climate-friendly products has come to naught, stymied by the poor economics of coaxing hydrocarbons from plants’ stubborn cell walls, according to Chevron officials.

More Voices Emerge in Support of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard

In the past few weeks, California’s California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) received a heavy dose of positive news: strong support from major companies to develop cleaner transportation fuel options and solid evidence to prove the standard is working.

On April 2, major business interests and non-profit organizations across the state filed four separate briefs supporting the LCFS in the state Appeals Court in Fresno. The briefs, filed in response to a letter from the court in February, say definitively that the LCFS is a necessary program for California because it creates a market signal for new, cleaner fuels and solutions that can grow California’s economy and improve air quality.

Air quality app gives real-time pollution readings

Anti-pollution officials had two reasons to celebrate Wednesday: They launched a real-time app that lets San Diego County residents check their neighborhood air quality, and they officially confirmed that the region’s level of unhealthy ozone is the lowest on record.

The officials touted the app, which downloads real-time air-quality readings on smartphones or computer tablets, during a crisp morning outside the County Administration Building.

Valero to Keep Two California Refineries

SAN ANTONIO–Valero Energy Corp. VLO -4.27% won’t try to sell its two California refineries but will instead attempt to bring in low-priced, domestically produced crude to make them more profitable, the company’s chief executive said.

Last year, Valero was said to be trying to sell its 170,000 barrels-a-day Benicia refinery outside San Francisco and its 78,000 barrels-a-day Wilmington refinery outside Los Angeles as refiners in the state were preparing to deal with the impact of stringent emissions laws.

UC Davis study says it found source of air pollutants

Researchers at UC Davis have established, for the first time, a link between toxic substances that pollute the air and what causes them.

The research, announced Monday by theCalifornia Air Resources Board and the Electric Power Research Institute, holds the potential to better regulate sources of air pollution – an issue of great import to the asthma-plagued Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.