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California versus Trump and his mentally-retarded supporters…

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Author Topic: California versus Trump and his mentally-retarded supporters…  (Read 1015 times)
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« Reply #50 on: August 04, 2018, 04:41:03 pm »

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times…

California defends mileage rules; Automakers seek compromise

State rejects bid by Trump officials to freeze standards for fuel economy in 2020.

By EVAN HALPER, TONY BARBOZA and DAVID LAUTER | Friday, August 03, 2018

California and 13 other states with stringent rules account for over a third of new vehicles sold in the U.S. — Photograph: Photograph: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times.
California and 13 other states with stringent rules account for over a third of new vehicles sold in the U.S. — Photograph: Photograph: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times.

WASHINGTON D.C. — The Trump administration pushed ahead on Thursday with plans to unravel the federal government's most effective action to fight climate change — aggressive fuel economy standards aimed at getting the nation's cars and trucks to average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

After months of discussion and drafts, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration formally unveiled their plan to rewrite those rules and replace them with some so lax that even automakers are wary.

The administration's plan would freeze mileage targets in 2020 for six years. It would also move to end California's power to set its own tougher greenhouse gas emissions standards and nullify the state mandate that automakers sell a specified number of electric vehicles.

EPA officials sought to portray the proposal as the administration's opening bid in a negotiation with California. State officials, however, denounced the plan as too extreme and threatened to fight it in court. California and the 13 other states that follow its more stringent rules say the Clean Air Act empowers them to keep the Obama-era standards in place in their markets.

Together, California and the other 13 states account for more than a third of the new vehicles sold nationwide.

The rollback would undermine those states' efforts to meet commitments the U.S. made in the Paris agreement on climate change. It would also worsen air quality problems in Southern California and other areas where officials are already struggling to reduce smog and ease rates of asthma and other illnesses.

The administration asserts that the fuel economy rules should not be used to attempt “to solve climate change, even in part,” because such a goal is “fundamentally different” from the Clean Air Act's “original purpose of addressing smog-related air quality problems.”

Administration officials acknowledged that flat-lining fuel economy improvements would come at the expense of pollution reductions and public health.

“If we lock in the 2020 standards, we're not getting as much emissions reductions as we otherwise would, and that translates into incrementally less protection of health and the environment,” said EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum, who oversees air and radiation issues.

“But balanced against that … we get substantial improvement in vehicle and highway safety,” he said. The administration argues that fuel economy and safety are inevitably in “tension,” as Wehrum put it. The Obama administration's higher efficiency rules would raise vehicle prices and “restrict the American people from being able to afford newer vehicles with more advanced safety features,” they assert.

“More-realistic standards can save lives while continuing to improve the environment,” said acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Environmental advocates and many outside scientists dispute that reasoning, pointing to extensive studies done during President Obama's administration that found higher fuel standards could be achieved without compromising safety.

The EPA's own scientists also have questioned the administration's position. Wheeler, who took over the agency after Scott Pruitt resigned in early July, warned during recent internal debates that the evidence behind the proposal was questionable and might not stand up in court, administration officials have said.

The release of the administration's proposal was repeatedly delayed in recent weeks as officials debated how aggressively to push. In the end, the White House approved taking a hard line.

California Governor Jerry Brown vowed to push back, saying the state would fight the new plan “in every conceivable way possible.”

“For Trump to now destroy a law first enacted at the request of Ronald Reagan five decades ago is a betrayal and an assault on the health of Americans everywhere,” Brown said, referring to the Clean Air Act. “Under [Trump's] reckless scheme, motorists will pay more at the pump, get worse gas mileage and breathe dirtier air.”

That combative stance seems likely to have broad support in the state. For example, Brown's Republican predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has championed efforts to combat global warming, blasted in an online post “fake conservatives” who “believe in states' rights to make their own policies — as long as state policy is to pollute more.”

By contrast, the Trump administration's internal tensions were on display during a call with reporters on Thursday as transportation officials steadfastly defended the proposal while the EPA emphasized that it was not final and that a compromise with California and the auto industry could be reached.

“There's nothing about how greenhouse gases and potential climate change affects California that's any different than any other state in the country,” Wehrum said, adding, “There's no justification for California to have its own standards.”

But he left room for compromise: “Having said that, this is just a proposed rule, and on the other hand we are committed to working with California to try to find a mutually agreeable set of regulations.”

The California Air Resources Board will submit comments on the proposal but has no meetings planned with the administration, a spokesman said.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the state would “use every legal tool at its disposal to defend today's national standards and reaffirm the facts and science behind them.”

The prospect of an extended legal fight has discomfited automakers, who had asked the administration to relax the Obama-era rules but don't want to see the U.S. market split in two, with different models of cars required in blue and red states.

In letters to Brown and Trump, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers, the industry's two lobbying groups, repeated their desire for changes in the Obama-era rules but notably did not endorse the administration's proposal to freeze the fuel standards in 2020.

The groups urged both sides to negotiate. “In our eyes, a negotiated settlement is preferable to a bifurcated system and years of litigation,” they wrote in the letter to Trump.

Vehicles are the single largest source in the U.S. of emissions that cause global warming, recently surpassing the electricity sector. The plunge in natural gas prices and other market forces have steadily lowered utilities' impact on the climate, but transportation is proving more stubborn. Electric cars and trucks still account for a tiny fraction of those sold, and driver preference for SUVs, along with relatively low gas prices, have inhibited progress.

The existing federal fuel economy targets, which were championed by California, ensure automakers keep moving toward higher-efficiency vehicles, as other nations also require. Those rules require automakers to meet fleet-wide averages of more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025, which when factoring in credits and other flexibility options translates to about 36 mpg in real-world driving conditions.

In comparison, the Trump proposal would freeze real-world fuel economy at about 30 miles per gallon, according to projections by the Rhodium Group, a research firm that tracks the progress nations are making in meeting climate goals.

The emissions impact of freezing those targets, as the administration favors, could be enormous. Official projections show the plan would increase daily fuel consumption by 2% to 3%, or about 500,000 barrels per day, increasing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to the rise in global temperatures.

The Bay Area firm Energy Innovation, which models the environmental impact of energy policies, projects the proposal would increase U.S. fuel use 20% by 2035. The firm projects the policy would cost the U.S. economy $457 billion and cause 13,000 deaths by 2050 as air quality suffers.

The administration projects the efficiency rules would drive up the price of cars enough to push some buyers out of the market, leaving them to remain in older vehicles lacking life-saving new technologies like assisted braking and blind-spot warning. Flat-lining emissions standards, officials contend, would allow the auto industry to sell cars at lower prices, resulting in an additional 1 million new vehicle sales over the next decade.

The argument may prove a tough sell in court, where attorneys for states and environmental groups will come armed with a wealth of data undermining it.

“The fleet of new vehicles today is the most fuel-efficient ever, and they have gotten safer every year,” said Luke Tonachel, director of clean vehicles and fuels at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “These arguments are not new. They have failed before.”

Federal data show the increased cost consumers would pay for the more-efficient vehicles is dwarfed by the amount of money they would save at the pump, undermining the argument that drivers will stay in older, unsafe vehicles, advocates for the tougher rules say.

Trump administration officials conceded on Thursday that labor, parts and other costs — not fuel economy rules — are the main reasons cars and trucks are getting more expensive.

Automakers themselves have also confirmed that they can build lighter cars to meet tougher emissions standards without sacrificing safety, UCLA environmental law professor Ann Carlson wrote on Thursday. “The arguments about cost and safety are makeweights designed to provide cover for a proposal that is likely to be struck down in court.”

At a May meeting at the White House, auto firms appealed to Trump to tap the brakes on the administration's aggressive rollback plan. He assured them he would, ordering his EPA chief and Transportation secretary to try to broker a deal with California.

Those negotiations have gone nowhere. California is confident the administration has no legal authority to revoke the waiver the state has been granted under the Clean Air Act allowing it to keep the Obama-era rules in place. In May, California and 16 other states filed a preemptive lawsuit arguing the rollback would be illegal.

“There is no precedent for revoking California's waiver,” said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign of the Center for Auto Safety, an advocacy group in Washington. “There is no provision in the Clean Air Act for revoking a waiver…. The world is looking to California to hold its ground.”


• Evan Halper writes about a broad range of policy issues out of Washington D.C. for the Los Angeles Times, with particular emphasis on how Washington regulates, agitates and very often miscalculates in its dealings with California. Before heading east, he was the L.A. Times bureau chief in Sacramento, where he spent a decade untangling California's epic budget mess and political dysfunction.

• Tony Barboza is a reporter who covers air quality and the environment with a focus on Southern California. He has been on staff at the Los Angeles Times since 2006, is a graduate of Pomona College and completed a Ted Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado.

• David Lauter is the Los Angeles Times' Washington bureau chief. He began writing news in Washington in 1981 and since then has covered Congress, the Supreme Court, the White House under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and four U.S. presidential campaigns. He lived in Los Angeles from 1995 to 2011, where he was the L.A. Times' deputy Foreign editor, deputy Metro editor and then assistant managing editor responsible for California coverage.

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« Reply #51 on: August 04, 2018, 04:41:26 pm »

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times…

EDITORIAL: Trump steps on the gas pedal

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | Friday, August 03, 2018

OF ALL the Trump administration's assaults on the environment, there may be none more destructive than the decision to weaken fuel economy standards and let cars, passenger trucks and SUVs burn more gas and spew more pollution.

The fuel economy standards adopted by the Obama administration in 2012 were a central part of the United States' efforts to reduce the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. The regulations pushed automakers to move faster, requiring the new cars and trucks they sold to average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

The Trump plan announced on Thursday would freeze average fuel economy at 37 miles per gallon in 2021. Worse, it seeks to revoke California's longstanding authority to set its own standards for cleaner vehicles. If successful, the Trump administration would be stunting decades of progress in California and other states toward cleaner, healthier air, and it would be hobbling the worldwide effort to combat climate change.

The administration's decision to roll back the standards is especially appalling now. We're already feeling the effects of global warming in more extreme weather events, from prolonged droughts, endless wildfire seasons and unprecedented heat waves to severe hurricanes and floods. And cars and trucks are the nation's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet despite the grave risk of delay, the Trump administration has put forth the flimsiest of justifications for the rollback. The plan, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, asserts that lower fuel economy standards will save lives — the higher price of more fuel-efficient vehicles (about $2,300 more per car, they say) encourages some people to continue driving older, less-safe vehicles, the agencies say. That ignores the fact that more fuel-efficient vehicles are cheaper to operate since drivers have to buy less gas.

It also ignores the very significant impact President Trump's threatened tariffs could have on imported cars. Automakers estimate the tariffs could increase the average cost of a car by more than $5,000, dwarfing any potential bump in cost from fuel efficient technology.

Manufacturers are clearly capable of producing more fuel efficient vehicles. In fact, most of the major car companies have already pledged to develop more electric vehicles in response to demands by China and European countries.

The Trump administration would leave Americans stuck in gas-guzzling vehicles and breathing smoggy air while the rest of the world enjoys the benefits of automotive innovation. And it would be yet another sign that the current president and his allies in Congress have totally abdicated their responsibility to protect the health of Americans and the environment.

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« Reply #52 on: September 30, 2018, 02:39:56 pm »

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times…

L.A.'s bad air days: Smoggy skies for nearly 3 months

Ozone readings violated standards for nearly three months straight, the longest span in 20 years.

By TONY BARBOZA | Saturday, September 22, 2018

Unhealthful summer haze is not unusual in Southern California, but this year's persistence is troubling. — Photograph: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.
Unhealthful summer haze is not unusual in Southern California, but this year's persistence is troubling. — Photograph: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIANS might remember the summer of 2018 for its sweltering heat waves, record ocean temperatures and destructive wildfires. But it also claimed another distinction: the summer we went nearly three months without a day of clean air.

The region violated federal smog standards for 87 consecutive days, the longest stretch of bad air in at least 20 years, state monitoring data show. The streak is the latest sign that Southern California's battle against smog is faltering after decades of dramatic improvement.

The ozone pollution spell began on June 19 and continued through July and August, with every day exceeding the federal health standard of 70 parts per billion somewhere across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. It didn't relent until September 14, when air pollution dipped to “moderate” levels within federal limits for ozone, the lung-damaging gas in smog that triggers asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

It's not unusual for Southern California summers to go weeks without a break in the smog, especially in inland communities that have long suffered the nation's worst ozone levels. But environmentalists and health experts say the persistence of dirty air this year is a troubling sign that demands action.

“The fact that we keep violating and having this many days should be a wake-up call,” said Michael Kleeman, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis who studies air pollution.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District, which is responsible for cleaning pollution across the region of 17 million people, said that consecutive bad air days is an inappropriate way to gauge progress curbing ozone, that this smog season was not as severe as last year's and had fewer “very unhealthy” days.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency judges whether the region meets Clean Air Act standards based on the highest pollution readings, not how long bad air persists. By federal metrics, air district officials argue they are making strides. The highest ozone levels recorded this summer, they point out, were lower than those in the previous year, and the smog season began later.

“By all accounts this year is not great, but it's a little better than last year,” said Philip Fine, deputy executive officer for the South Coast air district.

The bad air spell follows an increase in smog over the last few years that has bucked a long-term trend of improving air quality and left officials searching for answers. In 2017, the region logged 145 bad air days for ozone pollution, up from 132 ozone violation days in 2016 and 113 the year before.

By the same measure, this smog season is on par with last year, with 126 ozone violation days logged through Monday, according to air district statistics.

The district could not say if there had ever been a stretch of bad air days longer than the one this summer. The agency does not track consecutive violations of federal health standards, a spokesman said, because it “is not a useful or meaningful metric to gauge ozone air quality trends.”

Not everyone agrees. Joseph Lyou, a South Coast air quality board member who heads the Coalition for Clean Air, said he's concerned that although the intensity of Southern California's air pollution has dropped, its longevity is increasing.

“It's a disturbing trend no matter what the law says you're accountable for,” said Lyou, who asked about the streak of bad air days at a public meeting earlier this month. “It's telling us we have a persistent problem and that we still have a long way to go.”

Regulators blame the dip in air quality in recent years on hotter weather and stronger, more persistent inversion layers that trap smog near the ground. They're also planning a study into whether climate change is contributing to the smog problem, as many scientists expect, due to higher temperatures that speed the photochemical reactions that form ozone.

Hotter weather from global warming is not accounted for in pollution-reduction plans required under the Clean Air Act, even though scientists expect it to hinder efforts to control smog.

“This is one example of the close ties between air pollution and climate change, which makes meeting air quality standards even more challenging and illustrates the urgency for addressing climate change at all levels of government in the U.S. and globally,” said Barbara Finlayson-Pitts, an atmospheric chemist at UC Irvine who studies air quality.

Lyou worries that a failure to account for climate change could pose another obstacle to meeting federal ozone-reduction deadlines in 2023 and 2031. The air district's latest cleanup plan says the region can get there only by increasing local, state and federal cash incentives for lower-polluting vehicles by more than tenfold to $1 billion a year. But so far, it's falling far short.

Environmentalists and community groups say the string of smoggy days is a symptom of insufficient regulation. They criticize air quality officials as too quick to blame the weather when they could be doing more to crack down on some of the biggest hubs of pollution, including truck-choked warehouses and ports and oil refineries.

“We know that it's getting hotter and drier from climate change, but the law says we need to breathe clean air no matter the weather,” said Adrian Martinez, an attorney for the environmental law non-profit Earthjustice who chronicled the mounting number of ozone violations from his Twitter handle @LASmogGuy.

“The last time we met the standard, Justice [Anthony] Kennedy had not announced retirement yet & the World Cup just started,” Martinez tweeted on September 7, some 80 days into the spell. “This isn't right. Our lungs deserve better.”

Regulators blame the dip in air quality in recent years on hotter weather and stronger, more persistent inversion layers that trap smog near the ground. A display at Calvary Church in West Hills in the San Fernando Valley registered 117 degrees on July 6. — Photograph: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times.
Regulators blame the dip in air quality in recent years on hotter weather and stronger, more persistent inversion layers that trap smog near the ground. A display
at Calvary Church in West Hills in the San Fernando Valley registered 117 degrees on July 6. — Photograph: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times.

Experts say the unsteady progress in Southern California is expected, and a reflection of the difficulties in controlling ozone, which is not emitted directly but forms when combustion gases and other pollutants react in the heat and sunlight. The formation of smog is so influenced by weather conditions and the precise mix of pollutants in the air that scientists and regulators are not surprised to see ozone pollution tick up, despite a long-term trend of declining emissions.

“As we work to bring the whole region down, we're actually seeing some areas where the ozone production is getting more efficient,” said Kleeman, who thinks scientists should reconsider the effectiveness of control measures and whether targeting different types of pollutants could bring swifter reductions.

“Are we really doing the right things for the right reasons and is it having the effect that we think?” Kleeman said.

At the same time, health scientists are publishing more research linking ozone and other regional air pollutants to a wider array of health problems at levels well below regulatory limits. Such findings, they say, underscore the need to do as much as possible to curb smog and ease the number of asthma attacks, missed school days, emergency room visits and premature deaths — all of which increase when ozone pollution is high.

“There's no question that people with pre-existing lung diseases, particularly asthmatics, have had a harder time this year than they would have in previous years where there weren't so many exceedances,” said Michael Jerrett, who chairs the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health.

Such problems can be most acute in the smoggy Inland Empire. There, some are starting to view past success cleaning air pollution as an impediment to easing its health damage today. They say clearer mountain views can belie the fact that the air still exceeds health limits for much of the summer.

Smog's less visible presence can make it easier to live in denial about the health effects, said John Cadavona, a registered respiratory therapist who supervises Arrowhead Regional Medical Center's Breathmobile, a fleet of RVs that treat schoolchildren in San Bernardino County, where asthma rates and ozone pollution are both high.

“We have parents that think that a cough that their child has is normal, when it may be asthma,” Cadavona said. “If we had cleaner air, we'd have kids who were healthier, whose lungs can function normally and can play sports without having to take medication.”


• Tony Barboza is a reporter who covers air quality and the environment with a focus on Southern California. He has been on staff at the Los Angeles Times since 2006, is a graduate of Pomona College and completed a Ted Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado.

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« Reply #53 on: September 30, 2018, 02:40:57 pm »

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times…

State counters Trump on air rules

In an escalating fight, regulators vote to require automakers to hold to California's emissions standards.

By TONY BARBOZA | Saturday, September 29, 2018

The low-carbon fuel standard is expected to cut the cost of a new electric vehicle by up to $2,000 over the next 12 years. — Photograph: Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
The low-carbon fuel standard is expected to cut the cost of a new electric vehicle by up to $2,000 over the next 12 years.
 — Photograph: Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

IN AN escalation in the fight against climate change and the Trump administration, California regulators approved new measures to defend the state's vehicle emissions standards and bolster rules to cut carbon pollution from transportation.

The state Air Resources Board voted on Friday to require automakers to comply with California's strict rules on car and truck pollution if they want to sell vehicles in the state. It's California's latest move against the Trump administration's plan to freeze fuel economy targets and revoke California's power to set its own standards. State officials said the counterstrike was necessary to close a potential loophole automakers could use to avoid compliance with California's more stringent rules.

“The health of our state, our nation and the globe are at stake, and that is a fight worth having,” said state Senator Ricardo Lara (Democrat-Bell Gardens), who sits on the board.

The measure seeks to strengthen California's footing as it fights to preserve its emissions rules, both in court and in negotiations with the White House. At the same time, the move brings the nation one step closer to having two standards: one for California and the dozen other aligned states that account for one-third of the U.S. auto market, and another for the rest of the country.

During the board's meeting in Sacramento, the 16-member panel also expanded a climate rule that reduces carbon pollution with tradeable credits that gasoline and diesel producers must purchase from producers of lower-carbon fuels, such as hydrogen and biodiesel. By further incentivizing those cleaner technologies, the low-carbon fuel standard is expected to cut the cost of a new electric vehicle by up to $2,000 while raising gas prices by up to 36 cents a gallon over 12 years.

The market-based program, first adopted in 2009, aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by spurring technology advancements that reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels. The state imposes a gradually declining cap on carbon intensity from “well to wheel,” including oil extraction, fuel production and distribution. Companies that produce gasoline, diesel and other fuels must meet those carbon-reduction targets each year, either directly or by purchasing credits from clean-fuel producers that exceed those standards.

In extending its low-carbon fuel standard, the state will require a 20% cut in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 2030, compared with a 10% reduction by 2020 under the current mandate.

“These amendments will take California's climate fight up another notch,” air board chair Mary Nichols said.

Taken together, the actions show some of the ways California can forge ahead fighting global warming in spite of the Trump administration's moves to dismantle climate regulations. Much bolder actions will be needed to slash greenhouse gases to meet state targets, including the latest ambitious goal Governor Jerry Brown issued in an executive order earlier this month: making California's entire economy carbon neutral by 2045.

The transportation sector remains the biggest obstacle to California meeting its climate goals. Pollution from cars and trucks, already the state's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, has been rising the last few years as a result of more driving and the popularity of bigger, less-fuel-efficient SUVs.

The vehicle emissions standards the state is fighting to preserve would boost fuel economy of cars and trucks to about 36 miles per gallon in real-world driving by 2025, while the Trump administration proposal freezes it at the 2020 level of about 30 mpg.

The federal proposal would result in 12 millions of tons of excess greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in California, both from vehicle tailpipes and from refineries as a result of increased gas consumption, according to an air board analysis. That additional pollution would wipe out any benefits from the strengthened low-carbon fuel standards approved on Thursday, the board projected.

Automakers asked the Trump administration early on to relax emissions rules, but now say they don't want the market split into two, requiring them to build different models of cars. Auto industry representatives on Friday urged the Air Resources Board to hold off on the measure and try to reach a compromise with the federal government.

California officials dismissed that idea, but said they've continued negotiations with the Trump administration. After a meeting last month, the White House, federal officials and the California Air Resources Board issued a joint statement agreeing to future meetings “with the shared goal of achieving one national set of standards for vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions.”

The low-carbon fuel standard reauthorized this week is one of the lesser-known pillars of California climate policy and is crucial for the state to meet its ambitious target of slashing greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Some of the changes to the program approved on Friday were designed to stimulate sales of zero-emission vehicles and the installation of electric charging and hydrogen fueling stations. Electric vehicles account for about 6% of vehicles sold in California, and that must ramp up dramatically if California is to meet its climate goals.

One notable provision directs utilities to use low-carbon fuel credits to offer increased rebates at car dealerships at the time of purchase, rather than by reimbursement after the fact. Customers would be offered an upfront rebate of up to $2,000 on the purchase of a zero-emission vehicle. The state-wide program, being developed by utilities and automakers, could begin as soon as 2019.

“This is money on the hood that can go to driving down the purchase price,” said Will Barrett, director of clean air advocacy for the American Lung Association in California. “It gives people a real tangible, on-the-spot incentive to make the clean-air choice.”

The auto industry says more generous rebates are needed because several car manufacturers are close to running out of federal tax credits of up to $7,500 per electric vehicle.

The fuel standard won't get California to its pollution-reduction targets on its own, but is an important part of state officials' three-pronged approach to reducing transportation emissions by shifting to cleaner fuels, slashing tailpipe emissions and reducing driving through transit-oriented development.

As part of the expansion of the program, the air board also established new protocols for generating credits through carbon capture and sequestration projects that collect emissions before they spew into the atmosphere and injects them underground. Those adjustments reflect a growing recognition by experts and regulators that sequestration will be essential to keeping global temperatures from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius and avoiding the most devastating consequences of climate change.

The expansion of the low-carbon fuels program was greeted enthusiastically by biofuel producers and other renewable energy interests who benefit from the credit-based program and say it will help continue the shift toward cleaner technology.

The oil industry, the main target of the rules, has warned of increased costs that will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher gas prices.

Air Resources Board spokesman Dave Clegern said the low-carbon fuel standard is just one part of a portfolio of state greenhouse gas reduction policies that “has the potential to save individual California households money, as efficiency-related actions that reduce the amount of fuel used offset the somewhat higher costs of some low-carbon fuels today.”

During the two-day meeting, the state air board also approved a list of 10 communities hard hit by health-damaging air pollution from freeways, ports, warehouses, rail yards, oil wells, refineries and other industry that will be targeted for air monitoring, emissions reductions or both.


• Tony Barboza is a reporter who covers air quality and the environment with a focus on Southern California. He has been on staff at the Los Angeles Times since 2006, is a graduate of Pomona College and completed a Ted Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado.

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« Reply #54 on: January 19, 2019, 01:45:31 pm »

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times…

Memo to state GOP: Separate from Trump

President Trump helped sink congressional candidates.

By GEORGE SKELTON | Friday, January 18, 2019

Ousted Representative Dana Rohrabacher was among seven GOP congressional candidates to lose in November, costing the party half its seats in the state. — Photograph: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times.
Ousted Representative Dana Rohrabacher was among seven GOP congressional candidates to lose in November, costing the party half its seats in the state.
 — Photograph: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times.

A NEW dissection of votes from the November election has produced solid evidence that President Trump cost California Republicans seven congressional seats.

That was half of the state's already measly GOP House contingent. Democrats now outnumber Republicans 46 to 7 in the California delegation.

More precisely, it was the Republican candidates' kowtowing to the very unpopular president and his congressional agenda that cost them the support of local voters.

As it turned out, even little-known gubernatorial candidate John Cox ran better in six of their districts than did the Republican congressional candidates. And four were well-established incumbents with a long history of election victories.

The smart thing for the California Republican Party to do would be to stop living in denial and accept the costly lesson: To survive in competitive California congressional districts, a GOP candidate must stay as far away from Trump as possible.

If the president asks for a vote, leap to the other side. If he flies out to California, run for cover.

That, of course, carries different risks. A partisan elected official who repeatedly crosses party leadership — especially if it includes a president or governor — is apt to lose campaign money, key committee assignments and any hope of passing bills.

But a wise political leader — for example, legendary Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (Democrat-San Francisco) — would advise his members to vote however necessary to win re-election and keep the party in power.

Clearly, House Republicans in California got no such advice from Trump or their then-majority leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.

“Republicans are now at this historic low in California, but it will only get worse if Trump heads the ticket in 2020,” longtime Republican political analyst Tony Quinn wrote last week in the blog Fox & Hounds.

“Any Republican up [for re-election] next year ought to hope that somehow Trump is impeached and convicted, and that Vice President Pence is at the top of the ticket.”

Quinn is editor of the non-partisan California Target Book, which handicaps congressional and legislative races. A Target Book researcher, Rob Pyers, analyzed the election votes in each district. Quinn reported the numbers in his blog post.

The Republican losers were Representatives Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, Mimi Walters of Irvine, Steve Knight of Palmdale, David Valadao of Hanford and Jeff Denham of Turlock, plus two nonincumbent former state legislators, Young Kim of Fullerton and Diane Harkey of Dana Point.

In all but Valadao's district, underfunded Cox ran better than the congressional contenders. So did former Republican Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, bidding unsuccessfully for his old job as a nonpartisan independent. Also, the failed Republican-sponsored gas tax repeal, Proposition 6, carried every GOP-held congressional district.

“Had the Republicans run as well as the gas tax repeal, they would have picked up three seats instead of losing seven,” Pyers says.

Republican John Cox with Young Kim, one of six GOP House hopefuls he out-ran in his bid for governor. — Photograph: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times.
Republican John Cox with Young Kim, one of six GOP House hopefuls he out-ran in his bid for governor. — Photograph: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times.

The crucial mis-step for the Republican losers was voting for Trump's tax cuts — which actually were tax hikes for many of their constituents — and to kill popular Obamacare. Only Rohrabacher opposed the tax bill.

The tax and Obamacare votes tied the Republican House members tightly to Trump and made them fat targets.

Democratic candidates wisely ran on healthcare, pledging to preserve the ban on insurance companies denying coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions.

The so-called tax cut especially hit upper-middle income and wealthy Californians. Many reside in the Orange County suburban districts that Republicans were trying to defend. It hurt these voters by capping state and local tax deductions at $10,000 on federal returns.

It's not as if the seven Republican House candidates hadn't been fore-warned about Trump's toxicity. In each of their districts, Trump lost in 2016 to Hillary Clinton. But they didn't adapt, which is symbolic of the GOP itself in California.

GOP leaders have been blaming their shellacking on everything except Trump: The Democrats raised more money, they were better organized, they used a new law to “harvest” votes — collecting people's sealed mail ballots and delivering them.

“Republicans can point their finger at anybody they want but unless they're pointing it at themselves, they're not going to learn the lesson of the 2018 election,” says Darry Sragow, a long-time Democratic strategist who publishes the Target Book. “The lesson is what the Republican Party is selling in California under Donald Trump, the voters simply aren't buying. The [border] wall is one example.

“Second, for some perverse reason, he has made a habit of sticking a finger in the eyes of California. Beyond policy, it's gotten personal.

“The numbers,” Sragow adds, “paint a crystal clear picture of why the Republicans did so badly in California.”

“It's hard to dispute that and I'm not going to try,” says Republican consultant Wayne Johnson, Cox's campaign guru. “If the election was a referendum on Trump — and to an extent it was — that was a losing hand in California.”

Johnson says the GOP congressional candidates “were saddled with a Beltway message, talking about low unemployment, business is doing great, the tax cuts. Well, none of that translated to California voters.

“Cox's message was the exact opposite: We're actually in trouble in California. The homeless population is going through the roof, we've got the highest poverty rate in the country, high cost of living….”

Cox got walloped by Democrat Gavin Newsom. Yet he still won roughly half a million more votes than the Trump lemmings running for Congress.


George Skelton reported from Sacramento.

• Political columnist George Skelton has covered government and politics for more than 50 years and for the Los Angeles Times since 1974. He has been a L.A. Times political writer and editor in Los Angeles, Sacramento bureau chief and White House correspondent. He has written a column on California politics, “Capitol Journal”, since 1993. Skelton is a Santa Barbara native, grew up in Ojai and received a journalism degree at San Jose State.

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« Reply #55 on: September 07, 2019, 10:57:17 pm »

from The New York Times…

Justice Department Investigates California
Emissions Pact That Embarrassed Trump

The investigation escalates a standoff between President Trump, California and
the auto industry over one of his most significant rollbacks of climate regulations.

By HIROKO TABUCHI and CORAL DAVENPORT | Friday, September 06, 2019

The automakers under anti-trust investigation are Ford, Volkswagen, Honda and BMW. — Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
The automakers under anti-trust investigation are Ford, Volkswagen, Honda and BMW. — Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

THE Justice Department has opened an antitrust inquiry into the four major automakers that struck a deal with California this year to reduce automobile emissions, according to people familiar with the matter, escalating a standoff over one of the president's most significant rollbacks of climate regulations.

In July, four automakers — Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda and BMW — announced that they had reached an agreement in principle with California on emissions standards stricter than those being sought by the White House. The announcement came as an embarrassment for the Trump administration, which assailed the move as a “P.R. stunt.”

Now, the Justice Department is investigating whether the four automakers violated federal anti-trust laws by reaching a deal with California, on the grounds that the agreement could potentially limit consumer choice, those people said. The Justice Department declined to comment on the investigation, which was reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The investigation comes amid a battle over the Trump administration's effort to drastically roll back Obama-era rules intended to reduce emissions from cars and light trucks that contribute to global warming, a rollback that major automakers have publicly opposed. The administration is also considering a plan to revoke California's legal authority to enforce stricter greenhouse gas emissions rules within its state borders, putting the two sides on a collision course.

In a clear signal that the administration intends to increase the pressure on California, top lawyers from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department on Friday sent a letter of rebuke to Mary D. Nichols, the state's senior clean air official. “The purpose of this letter is to put California on notice” that its deal with automakers “appears to be inconsistent with federal law,” the letter read.

The letter asserts that California is overstepping its authority under the Clean Air Act, which allows it to write statewide air pollution rules, by attempting to set fuel economy standards and to influence regulations nationwide.  Those powers, the letter says, are “squarely vested” with Congress.

An E.P.A. spokesman referred questions about the investigation to the Justice Department.

Governor Gavin Newsom of California said in a statement his state would “remain undeterred.”

“The Trump administration has been attempting and failing to bully car companies for months now,” Governor Newsom said. “California stands up to bullies and will keep fighting for stronger clean car protections that protect the health and safety of our children and families.”

If the Justice Department decides to take action against the car companies as a result of the investigation, anti-trust experts said, its lawyers would most likely argue that, by agreeing to a tougher standard than federal law requires, the companies could end up imposing a more expensive range of cars for sale nationwide.

“That anti-competitive theory relies on the idea that it is improper to agree to do more than what is required by the federal government,” said Nicholas S. Bryner, a professor at Louisiana State University who specializes in environmental law.

“Given that California has the legal authority to create emissions rules that are stricter than federal rules, this case doesn't make any sense,” Mr. Bryner said. “From an environmental perspective, this move seems designed to intimidate California and the automakers that signed onto the deal.”

Other legal experts and people close to the Trump administration agreed that the investigation was meant as a show of force to companies that have displeased the president.

“These are four car companies standing in the way of something the president wants to do,” said Richard Revesz, a professor of environmental law at New York University. “Now the enormous prosecutorial power of the federal government is brought to bear against them. This should make any large companies very nervous.”

He said the Justice Department investigation was surprising because the agreement between California and the auto companies has not yet been signed or legally formalized. “It is extremely unusual for a prosecutor to investigate a deal that hasn't even been signed,” Mr. Revesz said.

Myron Ebell, who led the administration's E.P.A. transition team and who now heads the energy program at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an industry-funded research organization, said antitrust laws were often used as a “shot across the bow to get the attention of corporations.”

“The anti-trust statutes give the government quite a lot of power to threaten companies with anti-collusion charges,” Mr. Ebell said.

The investigation appears to have already had an effect. Another auto company, Mercedes-Benz, had been poised to join the California agreement. But after the German government learned of the federal investigation into the other companies that had signed on, it warned Mercedes not to join, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke anonymously about it because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

The original Obama-era standards would have required automakers to roughly double the fuel economy of their new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs by 2025. That would have meant manufacturing vehicles that would average roughly 54 miles per gallon.

The agreement reached between California and the four automakers, which account for about 30 percent of the United States auto market, allows for slightly lower fuel economy, requiring an average fleetwide fuel economy of 51 miles per gallon by 2026. California has legal authority under the Clean Air Act to write air pollution rules that go beyond the federal government's.

In comparison, the Trump administration's plan would roll back those standards to about 37 miles per gallon.

Automakers had feared that the rift would split the domestic market — with California and the 13 other states that follow its lead enforcing one set of standards, and the rest of the country following the more lenient federal standards — resulting in a messy patchwork of regulations requiring two separate lineups of vehicles.

To avert that outcome, the four automakers entered secretive negotiations with California to agree on standards that would apply to vehicles sold nationwide. Some of their peers have been more cautious, saying they fear retribution from an unpredictable administration.

The Trump administration's plan would have immense climate effects. Assuming that the plan is finalized and survives the expected legal challenges, cars and trucks in the United States would emit an extra 321 million to 931 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere between now and 2035 as a result of the weaker rules, according to an analysis by the research firm Rhodium Group.

“The motivation for the anti-trust suit is to prevent car companies from voluntarily fighting climate change by limiting pollution,” said Ann Carlson, a professor of environmental law at the U.C.L.A. School of Law. “So it's hard to call the D.O.J. position ‘in the interest of consumers’.”

Honda, Ford and BMW confirmed that they had been contacted in the matter by the Justice Department and said they were cooperating. Volkswagen declined to comment.

A BMW spokesman, Mathias Schmidt, said in an email the company was looking forward to explaining the California agreement's “benefits to consumers and the environment.”


Katie Benner and Jack Ewing contributed reporting to this story.

Hiroko Tabuchi is a climate reporter for The New York Times, based in New York. She previously wrote for the paper on Japanese economics, business and technology from Tokyo. In 2013, Ms. Tabuchi was part of the team awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting “for its penetrating look into business practices by Apple and other technology companies that illustrates the darker side of a changing global economy for workers and consumers.” In 2011, Ms. Tabuchi was part of a team whose coverage of the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. Ms. Tabuchi came to The New York Times in 2008 after a year as a Tokyo correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered an eclectic beat ranging from politics and labor issues to fashion and consumer culture. Prior to The Wall Street Journal, she spent three years as a reporter at the Tokyo bureau of the Associated Press. She is a native of Kobe, Japan, and is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Coral Davenport covers energy and environmental policy, with a focus on climate change, from The New York Times' Washington bureau. She has covered these issues since 2006, reporting for Congressional Quarterly, Politico and National Journal before joining The New York Times in 2013. Her coverage at The N.Y. Times has included reporting from atop the Greenland ice sheet, breaking the news of Volkswagen's illegal use of software devices to evade pollution regulations, and a 2016 interview with President Obama about his efforts to build an environmental legacy. Before covering environmental policy, she worked as a freelance reporter and food and travel writer in Athens, Greece, covering culinary trends, arts and culture, the economy, terrorism and security, and the 2004 Athens Olympics for publications from the Christian Science Monitor to Conde Nast Traveler. She got her start at the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, after graduating from Smith College with a degree in English literature.

• A version of this article appears in The New York Times on Saturday, September 7, 2019, on page A1 of the New York print edition with the headline: “U.S. Investigates Emissions Pledge”.


Related to this topic:

 • White House Prepares to Revoke California's Right to Set Tougher Pollution Rules (September 5, 2019)

 • 84 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump (June 2, 2019)

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« Reply #56 on: September 09, 2019, 11:17:26 pm »

from The Washington Post…

Trump can't erase a decade of clean air progress with a Sharpie

By ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER | 7:11PM EDT — Sunday, September 08, 2019

Commuters navigate morning traffic as they drive toward downtown Los Angeles in July 2019. — Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters.
Commuters navigate morning traffic as they drive toward downtown Los Angeles in July 2019. — Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters.

CALIFORNIA has been a leader in the fight to clean our air since one of my heroes, Ronald Reagan, was our governor.

The Trump administration, for some reason, is hell-bent on reversing decades of history and progress. Whether it is political pettiness, short-sightedness or just plain jealousy, I couldn't tell you.

I can tell you that it's wrong. It's un-American. And it's an affront to long-standing conservative principles.

To understand why I'm so angry about the administration's move to revoke California's waiver to regulate automobile emissions, you must understand the history. In 1967, Reagan established the California Air Resources Board to fight crippling pollution. He appointed as its first director not a political hack or lobbyist, but a scientist, Arie Jan Haagen-Smit, who was a pioneering researcher of the causes and impacts of smog. The 1970 Clean Air Act, signed by another California Republican, President Richard M. Nixon, gave California the authority to regulate air pollution — and ever since, we have had what is called a waiver from the federal government to set car pollution limits.

Historically, it worked well. We set our standards, and the federal government didn't just respect our authority, it generally made our rules the standard for the entire nation. During my time as governor, we had some hiccups with George W. Bush administration officials. They told us greenhouse gases were not a pollutant, and we won in the Supreme Court (duh). Then they didn't approve our clean air waiver, but that ended when President Barack Obama took office and made a compromise version of our state standard the national standard.

The Trump administration's threat to revoke our waiver to clean our air is more extreme. And coming from a Republican White House, it's downright hypocritical.

How many times have you heard conservatives beat the drum of states' rights? But suddenly, when a state wants to pollute less and protect its citizens from deadly pollution, conservatives throw states' rights straight out the window. Nixon and Reagan understood the importance of California's right to clean air, but some so-called Republicans today seem to only believe in states' rights when it's convenient, when the state voted for their party, or when the state is doing something really dumb.

How many times have you heard Republicans talk about being pro-business? But now, when automakers plead with the administration that they don't want the Stone Age standards the White House is fighting for, some Republicans aren't acting very pro-business. This administration is even taking the extraordinary step of investigating four companies — Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen — that made an agreement with California to reduce their emissions. That agreement is another compromise, because California isn't anti-business. And I guarantee you that more big car-makers will be joining those forward-thinking companies.

How many times have you heard Republicans talk about security and public safety? When Americans are attacked or bridges collapse, we demand action. We know pollution sickens and kills hundreds of thousands; the administration's own EPA says lowering the automobile standard will literally kill more people. But suddenly public safety doesn't matter much anymore.

So why is revoking California's waiver even being discussed?

I'm sure the EPA and the White House will continue to say this dumb policy decision is all about stopping regulations that “cripple the economy.”

They should come out to California. Last year, the U.S. economy grew by 2.9 percent. California's economy, with our supposedly crippling regulations, grew by 3.5 percent . We've outpaced the nation's economic growth even as we've protected our people.

Our success is built on our consistency. Ever since Reagan, each governor has continued the legacy of moving toward a clean energy future. We don't play the games Washington does, with each administration changing the trajectory of the United States and forcing businesses to guess about where we are headed.

That's a big reason nearly half of the venture capital in the United States comes to California. Businesses aren't just thinking about their talking points for their next campaign. They're planning for five years, 10 years, 20 years. Businesses must have long-term vision to succeed.

Knee-jerk reactionary policies such as the move to revoke our clean air waiver create uncertainty. These companies have been planning and working toward cleaner cars for a decade. They didn't ask for the Trump administration's backward thinking, and they know it won't help them. This “solution” in search of a problem reminds me of the nine words that most terrified Reagan: “I'm from the government and I'm here to help.”

Business leaders — and Californians — know that you can't just erase decades of history and progress by drawing a line through it with a Sharpie. It's time the administration learns that lesson.

California will fight this decision. And I promise you, we will win.


• Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, is a former governor of California.


Related to this topic:

 • Dana Milbank: Donald and the Black Sharpie

 • Eugene Robinson: Trump's Sharpie-doctored hurricane map embodies the man

 • Greg Sargent: Not just Sharpie-gate: 7 other times officials tried to fabricate Trump's ‘truth’

 • Jennifer Rubin: Trump isn't even good at lying anymore

 • Dana Milbank: Trump's Dorian response: Par for the course

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« Reply #57 on: September 14, 2019, 06:56:43 pm »

so says the white trash post
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« Reply #58 on: September 14, 2019, 10:43:33 pm »

Trump is going all-out to kill the American car-manufacturing industry.

Faaaarking hilarious, eh?

And California will tie Trump up in the courts for many years to come.
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