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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

New LA electric car sharing program for disadvantaged communities; Bolloré BlueLA

June 11, 2017

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti launched the BlueLA Electric Car Sharing Program alongside California State Senate Leader Kevin de León, Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, the California Air Resources Board, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, and representatives from Blue Solutions—a division of the Bolloré Group—which has invested more than $10 million to bring its EV car share program to Los Angeles.

The program is funded in part by a $1.7-million grant through California Climate Investments (CCI), a statewide program designed to spend billions of cap-and-trade dollars to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the economy, and improve public health—particularly in disadvantaged communities.

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Researchers use Google Street View cars for high-resolution air pollution mapping

June 07, 2017

Engineering researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and colleagues have demonstrated a measurement approach to for urban air pollution mapping at 4–5 orders of magnitude greater spatial precision than possible with current central-site ambient monitoring.

The team equipped two Google Street View vehicles with the fast-response Aclima Ei measurement and data acquisition platform and repeatedly sampled every street in a 30-km2 area of Oakland, CA, over the course of a year, developing the largest urban air quality data set of its type. The resulting maps of annual daytime NO, NO2, and black carbon at 30 m-scale revealed stable, persistent pollution patterns with “surprisingly” sharp small-scale variability attributable to local sources, up to 5–8× within individual city blocks. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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California ARB petitions US EPA for “Tier 5” stricter locomotive emissions standards

April 14, 2017

In an effort to accelerate the movement to zero- or near-zero emission locomotives, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has petitioned the US EPA take action to adopt more stringent emission standards for locomotives. These new standards are to include standards for newly manufactured locomotives (which ARB refers to as “Tier 5”), and a new standard for Tier 4 locomotives upon remanufacture.

ARB is also requesting new remanufacturing standards equal to or more stringent than current Tier 4 emission levels for Tier 2 and 3 locomotive engines. ARB Chair Mary Nichols said the moves are needed to clean up the air in “high-risk” communities in and around the nation’s railyards.

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California ARB to award $6M to Car Sharing and Mobility Options Pilot Project

April 05, 2017

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has opened a grant solicitation for applicants to implement the Car Sharing and Mobility Options Pilot Project for Fiscal Year 2016-17.

The overarching goal of this project is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and also achieve criteria pollutant emission reductions and other co-benefits through the introduction of advanced clean car sharing fleets and other mobility options into the State’s most disadvantaged communities.

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California ARB receives VW’s 1st $200M, 30-month ZEV investment plan

March 15, 2017

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has received Volkswagen’s (VW) first 30-month Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Investment Plan. This Plan is The Plan, required by California’s partial settlement with VW over the use of illegal defeat devices, describes how VW is proposing to spend the first $200 million in California on ZEV fueling infrastructure (including the development and maintenance of ZEV charging stations), public awareness, increasing ZEV access, and a green city demonstration.

ARB may approve, partially approve or disapprove the Plan. ARB is initiating its review of the Plan and is inviting public comment on whether the Plan meets the terms and goals of the 2.0-liter Consent Decree.

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First of 27 BYD electric trucks arriving in Southern California freight and rail yards; $19.2M project

March 13, 2017

The State of California, San Bernardino Council of Governments (SBCOG) and partners Daylight Transport and BYD Motors celebrated the arrival of the first of 27 electric yard and service trucks for freight and rail yards in three disadvantaged communities in San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Fontana. The demonstration truck project is funded by $9 million from the State’s climate change-fighting cap-and-trade program and another $10.2 million in cash and in-kind matching funds.

The project demonstrates 23 battery-electric 80,000-pound (GCVWR) Class 8 yard trucks and four 16,100-pound (GVWR) Class 5 service trucks. Three yard trucks and a service truck will operate at Daylight and the other 23 will operate at two BNSF Railway rail yards in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. BNSF will take delivery of the electric trucks this summer.

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WHO attributes more than 1 in 4 deaths annually of children under 5 years to unhealthy environment

March 06, 2017

In 2015, 5.9 million children under age five died. The major causes of child deaths globally are pneumonia, prematurity, intrapartum-related complications, neonatal sepsis, congenital anomalies, diarrhea, injuries and malaria. Most of these diseases and conditions are at least partially caused by the environment, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports.

WHO estimated in 2012 that 26% of childhood deaths and 25% of the total disease burden in children under five could be prevented through the reduction of environmental risks such as air pollution, unsafe water, sanitation and inadequate hygiene or chemicals.

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Study links air pollution to heightened risk of Type 2 diabetes in overweight and obese Latino children

February 08, 2017

Latino children who live in areas with higher levels of air pollution have a heightened risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) and published in the journal Diabetes. The study, the researchers said, is the first to follow children for years to find a connection between air pollution and diabetes risk in children.

Scientists tracked children’s health and respective levels of residential air pollution for about 3.5 years before associating chronic unhealthy air exposure to a breakdown in beta cells—special pancreatic cells that secrete insulin and maintain the appropriate sugar level in the bloodstream. By the time the children turned 18, their insulin-creating pancreatic cells were 13% less efficient than normal, making these individuals more prone to eventually developing Type 2 diabetes, the researchers said.

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California ARB releases discussion draft of plan to cut GHG by 40% by 2030

December 02, 2016

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released its initial draft plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030—the most ambitious target in North America. The 2030 Target Scoping Plan Discussion Draft builds on the state’s efforts to reach its more immediate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and outlines the most effective ways to reach the new 2030 goal, including continuing California’s Cap-and-Trade program.

In his January 2015 inaugural address, California Governor Jerry Brown identified five key climate change strategy “pillars,” which recognize that several major areas of the California economy will need to reduce their emissions to meet California’s ambitious climate change goals. These five pillars are:

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Berkeley study finds clean vehicle rebates have predominantly benefited wealthy, white Californians

November 08, 2016

The distribution of California’s clean vehicle rebates across different socioeconomic groups has been uneven, with higher income groups more likely to receive rebates, according to a new study by a team from the University of California, Berkeley. The analysis, published in the journal Transportation Research Record further suggests that census tracts where the majority of the population is Hispanic or African-American are less likely to receive rebates, even when income is accounted for.

Researchers Dana Rubin and Evelyne St-Louis, two recent graduates of the University of California, Berkeley’s master’s program in city and regional planning, analyzed 98,901 rebates issued to Californians buying or leasing low-emission vehicles from the inception of the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project in 2010 through March 2015.

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UNICEF: 300M children worldwide breathing air exceeding WHO pollution guidelines by 6x or more

October 31, 2016

Almost one in seven of the world’s children, 300 million, live in areas with the most toxic levels of outdoor air pollution—six or more times higher than international guidelines set by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO)—according to a new UNICEF report.

The report, “Clear the Air for Children”, uses satellite imagery to show that some 2 billion children live in areas where outdoor air pollution, caused by factors such as vehicle emissions, heavy use of fossil fuels, dust and burning of waste, exceeds WHO minimum air quality guidelines. The findings come a week ahead of the COP 22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, where UNICEF is calling on world leaders to take urgent action to cut air pollution in their countries.

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CARB approves $363M plan that includes putting more clean vehicles in disadvantaged communities; low-carbon transportation, ZEVs, scrap-and-replace pilot

October 21, 2016

The California Air Resources Board has adopted a revised funding plan for proceeds from the cap-and-trade program that includes putting more clean vehicles in disadvantaged communities. The investments range from supporting increased numbers of zero-emission heavy-duty trucks and buses to rebates for low- and zero-emission passenger vehicles.

The revised plan for fiscal year 2016-17 keeps much of the original funding plan (approved in June 2016) intact while addressing the smaller budget appropriation of $363 million under AB 1613 and additional direction from the Legislature. Key highlights of the revised plan include:

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Coming HEI study suggests air pollution regulations likely contributors to improvements in air quality and children’s health

October 20, 2016

The Health Effects Institute (HEI) will soon publish a study by Frank Gilliland and his colleagues at the University of Southern California the findings of which suggest that US and California regulations directed at reducing emissions of mobile-source pollutants were likely contributors to improvements in air quality between 1985 and 2012 that were in turn associated with improvements in children’s respiratory health.

The researchers analyzed pollutant monitoring and pulmonary health effects information as well as multiple covariates that they had collected over more than 20 years from participants in several cohorts recruited into the Children’s Health Study (CHS) in Southern California. The children lived in communities that differed in sources and levels of the outdoor pollutants PM, NO2, and ozone.

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EPA releases national assessment of strategies to reduce air pollution at ports

September 23, 2016

A new report from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finds that air pollution at US ports can be reduced significantly at all port types and sizes through a variety of strategies and cleaner technologies. Implementing these approaches, the report finds, would reduce greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions from diesel-powered ships, trucks and other port equipment.

“The National Port Strategy Assessment: Reducing Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases at US Ports” examines current and future emission trends from diesel engines in port areas, and explores the emissions reduction potential of strategies like replacing and repowering older, dirtier vehicles and engines and deploying zero emissions technologies.

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California Governor signs new super-pollutants legislation into law; black carbon, fluorinated gases and methane

September 20, 2016

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed SB 1383, establishing the nation’s toughest restrictions on super pollutants including black carbon, fluorinated gases and methane. The law is in addition to California’s existing raft of climate legislation.

SB 1383 reduces the emission of super pollutants (also known as short-lived climate pollutants) and promotes renewable gas by requiring a 50% reduction in black carbon and 40% reduction in methane and hydrofluorocarbon from 2013 levels by 2030. Sources of these super pollutants include petroleum-based transportation fuels, agriculture, waste disposal and synthetic gases used in refrigeration, air conditioning and aerosol products.

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MIT team calculates lead emissions from avgas fuel in US contribute to ~$1B in annual damages due to IQ losses

August 24, 2016

Researchers at MIT have produced the first assessment of the annual costs of IQ losses from aircraft lead emissions in the US. Their study, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that that atmospheric lead pollution attributable to leaded aviation gas (avgas) contributes to US$1.06 billion (the mean from a range of $0.01–$11.6 billion) in annual damages from lifetime earnings reductions, and that dynamic economy-wide methods result in damage estimates that are 54% larger.

Because the marginal costs of atmospheric lead pollution are dependent on background concentration, the researchers also expect the costs of piston-driven aircraft lead emissions to increase over time as regulations on other emissions sources are tightened.

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EPA awards $4.5M to advance air monitoring technology

August 10, 2016

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will award a total of $4.5 million to six research organizations to develop and to use low-cost air pollution sensor technology, while engaging communities to learn about their local air quality.

While recent advances in technology have led to the development of low-cost air pollution sensors, they have not been widely tested, especially under field conditions. These grants will help fund research projects that explore how scientific data can be effectively gathered and used by communities to learn about local air quality.

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New report suggests bioenergy crops are not a risk to food production

June 15, 2016

In a new report, researchers have challenged the belief that growing crops for bioenergy will cut food production, a concern they say is stalling new schemes. The report also identifies five ways that countries as diverse as the United States and Brazil can achieve their targets to increase energy security, foster rural economic development and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Experts contributed from ten institutions across Africa, Europe and America, including the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the World Bank and Imperial College London in the UK.

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