To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cleaning Up Diesel Exhaust Improves Both Health & Climate


April 29, 2014


Diesel engine exhaust has long been known to promote cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. A new understanding of one of the components of diesel exhaust shows it is also a powerful driver of climate change, with black carbon particles 3,200 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide in the near-term. By controlling the dangerous components in diesel exhaust, as many OECD countries have done, we get co-benefits: reduced harm to both health and climate.

“Addressing these emissions is a possible win-win. It’s not only about health but potential climate benefits as well,” said World Bank Senior Environment Specialist Sameer Akbar, who led a new report examining the co-benefits of reducing diesel emissions for development and climate action.
In the near term, reducing the amount of black carbon emitted into the environment can slow the rate of global temperature increase.

A number of OECD countries have already cut these emissions dramatically. However, in low- and middle-income countries, where the majority of all black carbon is emitted, emissions are expected to grow as economies develop. Transportation accounts for nearly 20 percent of global black carbon emissions and most of it is estimated to come from older diesel engines without emission control equipment and using high sulfur diesel fuel in low- and middle-income countries. These countries have the opportunity to learn from the experience of OECD countries in reducing emissions, and achieve significant benefits for both climate and health.

To help decision makers estimate the benefits of diesel emission controls, the World Bank has published a new study, Reducing Black Carbon Emissions from Diesel Vehicles: Impacts, Control Strategies, and Cost-Benefit Analysis.

The study, conducted by the International Council for Clean Transportation, summarizes a series of technical and policy options already demonstrated to cut the health and climate risks from diesel emissions. It also introduces a new analytical framework to monetize the benefits of black carbon emissions reduction.

Diesel Exhaust

In countries without adequate controls, diesel engines spew a toxic mix of small particles known as particulate matter. These fine particles, which can be inhaled deeply into the lungs, have long been known to harm health. The International Agency for Cancer Research, a UN agency, has labeled them as carcinogenic. The American Heart Association has warned that these particles can result in premature deaths and disability from cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and stroke. The particles are also believed to trigger or exacerbate chronic bronchitis and childhood asthma.

The health case against particulate matter is so solid that several industrialized countries have taken steps to nearly eliminate it. Controlling dangerous diesel exhaust can be accomplished in a number of ways including changing to cleaner fuels, requiring the use of specialized exhaust filters, encouraging better engine design and even buying older vehicles, to send to scrap heaps, or to replace them with cleaner vehicles.

Lately, climate researchers have focused on one of the components in fine particulate matter, the particles of black carbon. A 2013 assessment concluded that after CO2, black carbon is the second most important pollutant in the atmosphere in terms of its global warming impacts in the near-term, and that diesel exhaust is one of the predominant sources that are very rich in black carbon emissions.

A New Framework

All diesel emission controls produce benefits, but they also have costs. To aid countries in choosing ways to control diesel emissions, the World Bank study introduces a new analytical framework.
The framework broadens existing analytical approaches by estimating values for the social benefits of black carbon mitigation for climate impacts as well as for health impacts. Determining the social costs of black carbon is a piece of work in its early days, building on the on-going work  on the social cost of carbon, which is increasingly being used in OECD countries to monetize the impacts of CO2 emissions.

In the World Bank’s study, the framework was applied to four different project simulations: diesel engine retrofits in Istanbul, Turkey; green freight in Sao Paulo, Brazil; fuel and vehicle standards in Jakarta, Indonesia; and compressed natural gas buses in Cebu, Philippines. In all four cases, health benefits dominated the cost-benefit calculus and, in two simulations, the benefits of the control measures were enhanced by the climate benefits.

The framework is an early effort toward a more comprehensive assessment of the ways sustainable development can contribute to multiple benefits, including toward climate mitigation. For example, the framework could be broadened by adding other components, such as loss of agriculture production and damage to ecosystems. It is a significant advance because it allows for assessing the health and climate benefits of diesel black carbon emissions reduction initiatives.

“We are now beginning to have the tools, the metrics, and the information to start expanding the economic analysis to factor climate benefits of black carbon mitigation into the cost-benefit equation,” Akbar said.

Oakland Tribune editorial: Bullet train scam is a bad budget deal


June 12, 2014

Enough with the high-speed rail lunacy.

The Legislature needs to derail the budget deal reportedly cobbled together Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders that calls for spending 25 percent of future cap-and-trade revenue on California's high-speed rail boondoggle.

The Legislature at a minimum has to re-establish its own credibility in having passed AB 32, the greenhouse gas reduction law, in 2006. But it also should withdraw its support for the bullet train and tell the governor to give it up.

Brown has been the voice of reason on many other budget issues, including the need to build a rainy-day fund as California's economic outlook brightens. But his fixation on high-speed rail defies logic.

The cap-and-trade program in AB 32 creates incentives to cut greenhouse gas emissions and allows polluters to buy credits if they can't. The goal was to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Yes, 2020.

Even the most starry-eyed believers in the bullet train would not claim it'll be running in six years, let alone producing cost-effective environmental gains. Using cap-and-trade revenues for this purpose is legally questionable at best. Critics from the start said the revenue would just become a slush fund, and Brown wants to prove them right.

The Legislature should set rigorous, performance-based standards for the use of cap-and-trade dollars to achieve the goal by 2020. Fortunately, there are plenty of feasible projects that would, for example, increase affordable housing near employment centers to cut long commutes and expand cities' public transit. Both could swiftly produce gains.

The budget deal reportedly would send only 15 percent of the cap-and-trade money to local transportation projects, 20 percent to affordable housing and the remaining 40 percent to a combination of energy and natural resources projects. All of these could pay off by 2020.

Brown knows he's going to get re-elected. But he also knows the original, $10 billion high-speed rail line approved by voters in 2008 is a far cry from the $68 billion (and growing) project now under consideration.

The Legislature also has backed high-speed rail, but it should draw the line at siphoning away cap-and-trade revenue for it. Brown wants the train as his legacy, but this scheme smacks of desperation.

Instead he and the Legislature should go back to voters to ask if they support the stripped down bullet train now planned at exponentially higher cost.

The Legislature's approval of AB32 was one of California's proudest moments of the past decade. It set a standard for the nation. The Legislature has an obligation to maintain its integrity.

Lawmakers face a constitutional deadline to pass a budget by Sunday or their paychecks stop. There's still time. They need to stand up for the emissions law and tell Brown to look elsewhere to bankroll his bullet train -- or, better still, forget it.

Responsible Alhambrans Against the 710




Responsible Alhambrans Against the 710 is a community organization formed to collect, develop, provide and disseminate accurate information about the 710 extension to the citizens of Alhambra at community meetings, in newspapers, and other public forums.
We are “responsible” in that we are not only against the 710 freeway extension, but are intent on having our council members consider all alternatives, especially environmentally friendly alternatives that reflect 21st century solutions.

We say yes! to light rail for commuters and yes! to heavy rail for freight.

Fact vs. Fiction

if they close the gap flyer
Fiction: The tunnel will never be built. They’ve been talking about it for years!

FACT: They’ve been talking about an above-ground freeway for years which would’ve put all the homes in Emery Park and South Pasadena at risk for demolition. The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is coming out in Feb. 2015 to assess how safe the tunnel will be. If the tunnel is deemed feasible, Caltrans will try to have it built.

Fiction: A tunnel will help ease traffic congestion on Fremont and protect the children and pedestrians.

FACT: 60,000+ cars daily will avoid taking the 710 tunnel because of the $6-15 toll per vehicle, according to CalTrans/Metro, and they will siphon onto Alhambra’s streets.

Fiction: The polluted air from the tunnel will stay in the tunnel and/or be cleaned by special vents before it ever comes above ground in Alhambra.

FACT: Seriously?!?

Fiction: Alhambrans will be able to take the tunnel freeway and get where they need to go.

FACT: The entrance to the tunnel would be 1/2 mile south of the 10 freeway, in the City of Los Angeles.   There will be no way to enter or exit the tunnel from Alhambra.  (See map of planned tunnel portals) The tunnel would be 4.5 miles long without any off-ramps. If you do want to drive the extra few miles south to enter the tunnel and pay the toll, get ready for clogged traffic at the east-west 134-210 junction where the tunnel would let out its traffic.

FictionThe tunnel will promote more business in Alhambra because people will come to Alhambra more easily.

FACTWith no exits in the tunnel, this is not good for Alhambra business.  Drivers coming from the north would have to exit the tunnel south of the 10 freeway (not at Valley or any other exit, as there would be none) and circle back several miles to get to back Alhambra.  Shoppers from the east, west and south will get to Alhambra the same way they do now, on surface streets. (See map of planned tunnel portals)

Fiction: A freeway tunnel under ground is better than an above-ground freeway, at least.
FACT: It’s not either-or. A tunnel freeway is just as hazardous and problematic as a freeway running through our back yards. Construction costs 10x more than surface work, and $100,000,000 a year to maintain.  Let’s not forget the 10 years of construction it will take to build, according to Caltrans/Metro: 10 years of shaking, dirt, noise and trucks in Alhambra.

Fiction: Modern technology will make the tunnel safe.

FACT: If there is an fire or explosion, there will be no way to escape. Would  YOU want an explosion under your house?

FictionVoters and residents want the tunnel.

FACT: Voters were not considering a tunnel 13 years ago when LA County voted on the 710 extension. That vote is no longer relevant because the above-ground freeway is out of the question. (See what Alhambran residents are saying.) Who will be profiting from this tunnel? Who exactly wants this tunnel?

Fiction: A lot of communities want the tunnel.

FACT: Resolutions and statements against the 710 extension.

The Bottom Line: Times have changed! There are other options.

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