Environment Forum

California gas stations defy new pollution rule

Wednesday is the deadline for California’s gas stations to install sophisticated nozzles and hoses to control vapor emissions at the pump, and the Los Angeles Times reports that some one in five station owners are in open defiance of the new state order.

Gas station owners say that the new equipment is so expensive that buying it during the worst economic slump in decades would put them out of business.

“It may be necessary to protect public health, but it’s unaffordable,” James Hosmanek, who owns a Chevron station in San Bernardino, told the newspaper.

Hosmanek, who has already laid off eight employees as his business struggles to survive the recession,  said banks and equipment lenders have rejected his requests for some $60,000 in loans he would need to buy eight new nozzles and hoses and that “even if I could get the funding, I couldn’t make the payments.”

He told the Times that the owner of a Shell station down the street complied with the new order by putting the equipment on credit cards, a solution he calls “financial suicide.”

from Shop Talk:

For Father’s Day, suit shows greener side of Sears

Sears Covington Perfect suitHey guys, this isn't your pop's polyester.

Just in time for Father's Day shopping, Sears will roll out a line of men's suits made of the first high-tech fabric that blends wool with polyester spun from recycled plastic soda bottles.

The suit separates, sold under Sears' Covington Perfect brand, will be on racks in about 500 U.S. Sears stores in May.  Price: $175 for the jacket and $75 for the pants, according to Tim Danser, vice president of marketing for Bagir Group Ltd., the Israeli manufacturer that tailors the garments for Sears' private label.

And get this: This suit is machine washable and can be tossed in the dryer, eliminating the need for dry cleaning and upping the eco-friendly ante, Danser said.

from Tales from the Trail:

What is the cost of staving off climate change?

Republicans in the U.S. Congress say they know how much it is going to cost to save the world from the predicted ravages of climate change. But others say their math is way off.
 
"It would cost every family as much as $3,100 a year in additional energy costs and will drive millions of good-paying American jobs overseas," warned House of Representatives Republican leader John Boehner in response to House Democrats unveiling their climate-change bill on Tuesday.
 
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell offered the same figure. "According to some estimates, this tax could cost every American household up to $3,100 a year just for doing the same things people have always done, like turning on the lights and doing laundry."
 
There's a problem, though. 
 USA/
The Republicans cite a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study as the basis for their cost estimate. But a lead author of that study complained in a letter to Boehner on Wednesday that the calculation is way off.
 
John Reilly, an economist at MIT's Sloan School of Management, said the average annual cost to U.S. families for controlling emissions of carbon and other harmful greenhouse gases is actually $340.
 
In a telephone interview with Reuters, Reilly said updates to his 2007 study that take into account some higher costs could nudge the figure up to around $440 per household per year.
 
Republicans say they simply took a $366 billion revenue estimate from a climate change bill that sputtered in Congress last year and divided by the number of U.S. households to come up with $3,100. The thinking is that the revenues would be collected in pollution permits to industries, a cost that likely could be passed on to consumers.
 
"Taking that number and saying that is the cost is just wrong," Reilly said, adding that many other calculations, including government rebates to consumers, have to be factored in.
 
Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said there are no assurances yet that consumers would get rebates, which the MIT study assumed, and thus the $3,100 figure is accurate and possibly even higher.
 
"If they (Democrats) change their bill to give money back to consumers, the numbers on cost would change (downward)," Stewart said.
 
Eben Burnham-Snyder, a spokesman for Representative Edward Markey, one of Congress' leading advocates of climate control legislation, saw other possibilities.
    
If a range of energy initiatives in coming legislation is factored in -- electric vehicles, improved transmission and other alternative energy steps -- he said that would "significantly cut down the costs and some say would save people money on energy bills."

For more Reuters political news, click here

Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Demonstrators for clean energy hold a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 2) 

from MediaFile:

Nokia retains top spot on Greenpeace list

Nokia has retained the top spot in Greenpeace's latest ranking of 17 consumer electronics companies over their environmental practices, while Philips and Apple made strides up the list.

Philips leaped to 4th place from 11th and Apple moved up to 10th place from 14th -- best among the top 5 PC makers -- in Greenpeace's latest "Guide to Greener Electronics" report. Companies are ranked based on a number of criteria related to chemicals, e-waste and energy, and Greenpeace uses the report to help pressure companies to change.

Samsung moved up to second place from fourth, while Sony Ericcson dropped a spot to third. Sony rounded out the top five.

from Shop Talk:

Did you power down for Earth Hour?

The Las Vegas strip (below) and other global icons went dark on Saturday for Earth Hour.

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McDonald's powered down in Chicago. Twitter was alight with Earth Hour tweets.

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The annual event, launched in 2007 by the World Wildlife Fund, aims to encourage people to cut energy use and curb greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.

Google co-founder may build eco-mansion

Google co-founder Larry Page is building green, according to a local report.

He’s planning a cozy 6,000 square foot eco-mansion on a 0.75 acre lot in Palo Alto, the Palo Alto Weekly’s Web site says. The interim city planning chief told us that’s the biggest house one could build on such a lot, although the total space allowed is nearly 11,000 including garages and other outbuildings.

The paper says Page is kitting the house out with solar panels and paving that lets the rain run through to get it “green points“. Check out Palo Alto Online, whose Web site has strong reaction from foes and fans of Larry’s plan.

(Picture of Sergey Brin and Larry Page by Reuters)

from UK News:

UK minister in a spin over climate change doubters

As a top-flight racing driver, Britain's Science Minister Paul Drayson may seem an unlikely critic of the auto industry.

The self-confessed "car nut" owns a motor racing team and competes in a 200mph Aston Martin in competitions around the world.

 But at a news conference in London, he attacked the "significant minority" of auto industry executives who he claims still deny the evidence for climate change.

China quake leaves CO2 legacy

Last year’s horrendous China earthquake may have big, lingering effects on the atmosphere. Mudslides after the deadly May 12 quake in Sichuan province are likely to trigger a release of carbon dioxide equal to 2 percent of the world’s current carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion, geophysicists say.

“Mudslides wipe away plants and topsoil, depleting terrain of nutrients for plant regrowth and burying swaths of vegetation. Buried vegetable matter decomposes and releases carbon dioxide and other gases to the atmosphere,” according to a statement ahead of a report in American Geophysical Union journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The gases, along with nitrous oxide, another major greenhouse gas, should spew into the atmosphere over a number of decades, according to the report due out on March 4.

from Blogs Dashboard:

Antarctic soccer, barbecues and warming

For anyone who thinks (like I did) that Antarctica is a bone-chilling freezer lashed by constant blizzards, a visit to the Antarctic Peninsula is a surprise.

As you can see from the picture, you can even play soccer at the British Rothera research station -- Stuart Mc Dill of Reuters TV (a skilled left winger) and I (unskilled) joined in a game last night and I have the grazes to prove it. Our team managed to win, 4-2, on the gravel pitch outside the plane hangar -- meteorologist Ali Price brilliantly knocked in three, even though he was wearing a pair of clunking hiking boots.

And last weekend, staff had an outdoor barbecue with steaks and a cooler for drinks made from snow scooped up by a bulldozer.

California wastes no time pressing new EPA

California wasted no time asking incoming U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson to reconsider a request to let the state impose stiff targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars.

 The state’s top air quality regulator sent a letter to Jackson on Wednesday, the Obama administration’s first full day at work. Jackson hasn’t even been confirmed as the new EPA administrator yet, but California isn’t beating around the bush.

Stephen Johnson, the EPA administrator under former President Bush, drew the ire of California and more than a dozen other states in 2007 when he denied the state’s request for federal permission to impose tough new standards on auto emissions. 

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