Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Must Read: Gas Prices Could Derail Climate Change Law; Japan Disaster Could Dampen Nuclear Power Revival

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 6:58 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Congressional Republicans are attempting to capitalize on rising gas prices by pushing legislation that would overturn California’s landmark climate change law, the Chron reports. The GOP is worried that California’s cap-and-trade system will be adopted in other states and argue that it will lead to higher gas prices, which have surged recently because of the Libyan uprising. Republicans also want to block possible efforts of the Obama administration to regulate carbon emissions. Moderate Democrats who are worried about reelection may go along with the Republican effort.

2. Japan’s scary nuclear-power-plant emergency could doom recent efforts to revive nuclear power in the United States and throughout the world, the LA Times reports. President Obama had been pushing for more nuclear power, but fears of a dangerous power plant meltdown in Japan could derail that effort. Japanese officials are racing to avoid a nuclear disaster in the wake of a monster 8.9 earthquake and a giant 30-foot-tall tsunami that struck the country on Friday.

3. PG&E made up its own gas-line-inspection rules in apparent violation of federal regulations, the Chron reports. The utility unilaterally decided that it would not perform thorough inspections unless gas-line pressure surged 10 percent above the established maximum. But federal rules state that it should have conducted the inspections whenever pressure spiked above the maximum. PG&E’s decision allowed it to avoid costly inspections of the San Bruno gas-line that might have discovered the faulty welds that led to the deaths of eight people and the destruction of a neighborhood.

4. Governor Jerry Brown met with five centrist Republicans over the weekend in an effort to hammer out a budget deal, the SacBee reports. The CoCo Times reports that Brown does not believe his proposed tax measures can win in June unless they get some bipartisan support in the legislature. But he may run out of time for a June election.

5. Your neighbor’s fireplace is not good for your health, the Chron reports, citing a new study. Wood smoke emits fine particulate matter that is especially damaging to children and the elderly. The study also found that fireplace smoke is more likely to harm the neighbors.

6. And the effort to force Amazon.com to pay sales taxes is spreading throughout the nation, The New York Times reports. Illinois recently enacted a law similar to one in the California legislature that would require the online giant to collect sales taxes. Amazon has threatened to sever ties with its affiliates in states that pass such laws. Brick-and-mortar retailers contend that Amazon gets an unfair advantage by not having to collect sales taxes.

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