Great Western Cities ‘On-the-Air’ tour: Coos Bay, Oregon

The ninth and last in this series.

This tour winds up in Coos Bay, Oregon and I think fittingly. How so? Picture this “Great Western Cities ‘On-the-Air’ tour” series as a train. It has a beginning (the locomotive), a middle (the rolling stock) and an end (the caboose – you remember those, right?). In the lead-off spot is Grand Prairie, Texas followed by Vail, Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Luis Obispo and Long Beach, California (in that order); Flagstaff, Arizona; Mountain View, California; Reno, Nevada and last but by no means least, today’s entry, Coos Bay, Oregon – the caboose. Funny how the two – Coos Bay and caboose – syllable- and pronunciation-wise even sound alike. And, as it turns out, as words spelled out, there are many common letters.

A seaport city, Coos Bay isn’t what I would call “typical,” like Newport News or Norfolk in Virginia; Charleston in South Carolina; Seattle in Washington; or even Los Angeles or Long Beach or Stockton in California are. Nope, this coastal port situated in Oregon along the eastern Pacific is one of the cleanest and greenest I can think of anywhere in the continental U.S. In fact, during my stay – which was back in the early 1990s – I can’t remember at any time the air not being good. Moreover, nowhere on the American Lung Association’s “Most Polluted Cities” list for ozone, daily or yearly particle pollution can Coos Bay, Oregon be found. And, that’s a good thing and I hope it stays that way.

So back to the visit, on vacation then in late summer, I had driven north along the California coast on Highway 1 and on some parts on combination SRs (state routes) 1 and 101 this resulted in my entering Oregon south of the appropriately named Pacific Ocean seaport town of Harbor and Brookings just north of that. It was a relatively long trek from there to the town of Coos Bay which sits a little ways inland from the ocean on an inlet.

One of the things that really stood out about Coos Bay was in its own harbor were these huge ships that were docked there. I also remember rain and the extremely craggy and rocky coastline. And, as well, I very distinctly remember seeing a place called Simpson Reef – named for a prominent family whose own roots were in tree (wood) harvesting and processing? I was amazed by all the local lumber-related industry, there and elsewhere in state. I also recall the weather being cool but not cold.

Like this account, short but sweet my Coos Bay visit was.

Oh, and incidentally: In getting to and from there were many highlights. Driving up and down the Oregon coast took me to and through towns like Florence, Gold Beach, Newport, North Bend, Reedsport and Tillamook (known for its cheeses) to name a few. Thinking back, places along the way through which I had traveled were some of the most picturesque this side of the Mississippi. I even spotted a covered bridge or two.

“This side of the Mississippi,” the river, that is, what this whole “Great Western Cities ‘On the Air’ Tour” series really is about.

This concludes the “Great Western Cities ‘On-the-Air’ tour” series. Hope you enjoyed the tour.

Coos Bay Waterfront Coos County Oregon scenic images cooD00881 Great Western Cities ‘On the Air’ tour: Coos Bay, Oregon
Coos Bay Waterfront

Image above: Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

Ground lost in 2012 vs 2011 in California GHG-emissions-reduction fight

On Feb. 24, 2013 in “Global greenhouse gas emissions reduction a work in progress,” I remarked: “Being that on the world stage California contributes a sizable chunk of GHG emissions, I would like to think the state is among an amalgamation of front-lines leaders making progress on the fight against global greenhouse gas emissions. I believe California is and that is good.”

The California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board (ARB), meanwhile, released its latest greenhouse gas emissions inventory report for California: “California’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory: 2000-2012” in May 2014. I want to know if California is winning the war in its effort to appreciably reduce its GHG.

What I found was, “In 2012, total GHG and per capita emissions increased by 1.7% from 2011 emissions. This increase was driven largely by the increased reliance on natural gas-generation sources of in-state electricity due to the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) as well as dry hydrological conditions in 2012 (drought) causing a drop in the in-state hydropower generation. Total statewide greenhouse gas emissions have decreased from 466 million [metric] tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) in 2000 to 459 MMTCO2e in 2012, a decrease of 1.6 percent,” as reported by the ARB. Even more encouragingly, Golden State GHG dipped below 2000’s mark, to 458.4 MMTCO2e in 2009, the first time this had happened since 2000, this after reaching a high of 492.9 MMTCO2e in 2004.1

Not surprisingly, since 2000, both California and the U.S. in this regard have trended negatively. Encouraging, such news is.

To give some perspective, the biggest GHG improvement between 2000 and 2012 occurred between years 2008 and 2009, which saw emissions drop from 487.1 MMTCO2e to 458.4 MMTCO2e, or a decrease of nearly six percent. Between those same two years, this mirrored the national trend.2 The then recessionary economy was likely responsible for the improvement.

But there is more going on in California in this regard than may meet the eye.

The ARB in its Dec. 2011 report: “California’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory: 2000-2009” stated, “The California Legislature and Governor took significant steps to address the concerns raised about climate change with Assembly Bill (AB) 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32, 2006), with the California Air Resources Board (ARB) as the lead implementation agency. In addition, Executive Order S-3-05 requires California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 (EO, 2005).3

Moreover, in the Golden State, with AB 32’s passage along with the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (Calif. Senate Bill 375) enactment in 2008, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) in 18 state regions are tasked with meeting agreed-upon GHG-emissions-reduction targets for years 2020 and 2035. For example, throughout the entire San Joaquin Valley, those reduction targets are five percent and 10 percent, respectively. In other regions of the state, the GHG-reduction targets are more ambitious.

So you know, in being broken down into its constituent parts, by far carbon dioxide (CO2) represents the single biggest source and accounts for 86.5 percent of GHG in state. Other GHGs including chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), methane (CH4), nitrous oxides (N2O), perfluorocarbons (PFC) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) contribute lesser quantities to the total amount. CFC, HFC and PFC, incidentally, are classified in a broader group known as “Other halogenated gases.”4

Notes

  1. “California’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory: 2000-2012,” California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board, May 2014, pp. 6, 7 & 9
  2. Ibid, p. 11
  3. “California’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory: 2000-2009,” California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board, Dec. 2011, p. 5
  4. “California’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory: 2000-2012,” California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board, May 2014, pp. 2 & 7

For one praiseworthy program business is ‘cleaning up’

Longtime Air Quality Matters blog readers are no doubt well aware of the fact that one of the included categories is “Clean up.” Now, it’s interesting: Most though not all Air Quality Matters posts have this one category listed. “Clean up” is in reference to “Air pollution;” another of this blog’s categories.

And on cleaning up, well, there is this praiseworthy program in Fresno, California known as “Operation Clean Up.”

In “Garbage in = garbage out? Not always” I made brief reference.

What I wrote was: “Described as follows, ‘Operation Clean Up program is designed to assist City of Fresno (not county residents) single-family homeowners and residents in the removal of excess trash, rubbish, and other bulky goods (such as old stoves, refrigerators, water heaters, sofas, etc.) not picked up by Solid Waste.’”

The program is quite commendable because it is effective in terms of having all of the aforementioned refuse picked up and hauled away in what I would call a sustainable way.

Interestingly, there are typically those “rummagers” making their rounds as they course in their motor vehicles (cars, pickup trucks, pickup trucks with trailers) through and around neighborhoods rummaging through quite a bit of the discarded materials searching for “finds,” that is, prior to when the material is removed by paid city employees whose jobs it is to pick up and haul away the curb-placed items. To give an example, seen can be quite a number of people who in pickup trucks outfitted with trailers have loaded on them such things as: old refrigerators, washing machines and dryers. I even saw one individual transporting in a trailer attached to a pickup truck a soda dispenser of all things. Some of this stuff probably gets refurbished and then resold.

Much of the waste is greenery; clippings from trees mainly, that more than likely ends up getting chipped in a chipper or shredded in a shredder and hence turned into compost. This very effort is praiseworthy indeed. And, as a result a goodly proportion of the throwaways are kept out of the waste stream and out of landfills.

This once-per-year city cleanup service is an excellent way to prevent at least some of the debris from being incinerated, the smoke from which would needlessly add to an already local dirty air condition.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that there are a host of city employees operating a contingent of front-end loaders, refuse trucks, street sweepers, etc. that are themselves cleaner-burning.

The business of Operation Clean Up and others like it is, well, cleaning up – literally.

Tighter restrictions on wood-burning in Valley could make for cleaner winter air

With a focus on winter, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, the air district in this region is at this time contemplating tightening wood-burning restrictions and, as I see it, with good reason: The Valley is one of America’s dirtiest air basins.

Fireplace Burning1 300x225 Tighter restrictions on wood burning in Valley could make for cleaner winter air In the Valley, meanwhile, the standard for fine particulate matter is currently 30 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The air district may decide to tighten wood-burning restrictions making it illegal to burn wood in either a fireplace or woodstove whenever PM 2.5 concentrations are expected to rise above the 20-micrograms-per-cubic-meter-of-air level. The exception: for those with federally certified wood-burning appliances and for residents whose living spaces lack a connection to a natural gas line and therefore rely on a wood-fire for heat instead, for both, under the proposed new rule, via a special permit, wood-burning above the daily 20-micrograms-per-cubic-meter level up to 65 micrograms per cubic meter inclusive would be allowed. Above 65 micrograms, all burning would be prohibited. FYI: A wood-pellet stove is cleaner-burning than what burning firewood in a fireplace is. And cleaner still is the burning of natural gas via a natural gas fireplace insert.

In the Valley during wintertime, and being that as much as 30 percent of fine particulate pollution can be tied to wood-burning activity, still, as of this writing the decision to tighten wood-burning restrictions to the more healthful 20-micrograms-per-cubic-meter standard is still very much up in the air. The 30-micrograms-per-cubic-meter-of-air standard (a Valley air district standard), is applied on a 24-hour basis.

Meanwhile, for particulate matter pollution smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter in size – PM 2.5, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s daily ambient air quality health standard is 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air, while 12 micrograms per cubic meter is the federal agency’s annual ambient air quality PM 2.5 health standard. Keep in mind that particulates that fine entering the bloodstream can lead to heart attack, stroke and even premature death.

I’ve mentioned this in this blog before: Considering wood-burning restrictions in the Valley being in effect from Nov. 1st to Feb. 28th, therefore to allow PM 2.5 concentrations to exceed the 12-micrograms-per-cubic-meter threshold (anything higher is deemed unhealthful), my question is: Can the standard ever be reached and healthy air realized?

Alternately stated, the Valley, short of meeting the healthy air standard, is, in a word, unacceptable.

I plan to report more in this regard as information becomes available.

Cutting delay on track: Enhanced safety system could improve railway operations, air quality

Railway and train operating environment: Background and basics

At this juncture, there is just a glut of train traffic moving over America’s approximately 140,000-route-mile rail network and the system has gotten bogged down.

Congestion? We don’t often associate that idea with railroads. But like on motor vehicle platforms, railroads are not immune either. Capacity is the operative word here and finding the correct solution to increase it sufficiently is one of the challenges.

And then there is the safety aspect. And relatedly, just this past Aug. 17th at 3 a.m. two freight trains collided head-on in Hoxie, Arkansas. It could be months before a cause or causes are determined and a corresponding statement released. A similar incident happened in June 2012 in the Oklahoma panhandle region. While in the former two of four crewmembers total lost their lives (the other two sustained injuries but survived), in the latter, again, of four crewmembers total, only one survived. Railroads could be made safer in my opinion and in so doing this could be far-reaching in terms of improving overall system functionality.

So, first question: How can all this rail traffic be moved more safely, efficiently and cleanly than what is the case already? Next: Does all of this traffic traversing the rails really need to be moved more safely, fluidly and cleanly than what is the case already? I believe it does.

In “CATS: In ‘passing’: On ‘track’ to trim emissions” I penned: “One of the strategies railroads employ to mitigate air pollution is to cut delay. And, I am not just talking about so-affected motorists delayed while waiting for trains to pass at highway-level crossings (railroad crossings), but those operational inefficiencies within the industry itself; operational inefficiencies such as that which can occur at interlocking plants (junctions) whereby one railroad’s trains might be delayed by another’s in going through and past such interlocking until such time that the waiting train can proceed through such itself.

Is Two over one Railroad Fare1 340x209 300x184 Cutting delay on track: Enhanced safety system could improve railway operations, air quality
Triple Crossing, Richmond, Virginia

“Another would be that which is created by conflicting train movements as is common-place in single-track territory that incorporate passing sidings used as a means to get trains traveling in opposite directions past each other.”

It is the latter condition on which I will focus as it has to do with Positive Train Control or PTC. I earlier discussed other air-pollution mitigation strategies.

PTC: What is it?

From the Federal Railroad Administration document: “Quantification of the Business Benefits of Positive Train Control,” prepared for the Federal Railroad Administration by ZETA-TECH Associates, Mar. 15, 2004 revision, as presented in the “APPENDIX A: Acronyms and Abbreviations” section, PTC is described as follows:

Positive Train Control (PTC) – A generic term (and acronym) used to describe any processor-based system of train control that will: (1) Prevent train-to-train collisions (positive train separation); (2) enforce speed restrictions, including civil engineering restrictions and temporary slow orders; and (3) provide protection for roadway workers and their equipment operating under specific authorities.”1

Meanwhile, more on PTC is found earlier in the document in the “Executive Summary,” Definition of Positive Train Control subsection beginning on page 5.

For purposes of this discussion, PTC and what effect this could have on line capacity is what is being explored.

Line Capacity: How is it determined?

Line capacity is affected by such factors that are both route- and location-specific, such as line curvature and gradient, train speed, signal-control type and the mix of rail-borne traffic.2

In the FRA document, line capacity, it is further stated, can be increased in either of two ways: by adding track or through signal system improvement.3

It is important to note that by incorporating a system of preventing train collisions and at the same time reducing the distance between trains and maintaining system integrity meaning the safe operation of trains is maintained, the opportunity exists to increase railway track capacity and PTC can assist in helping to bring this about.

Elaborating further, the FRA in the document noted: “Dynamic headways can increase line capacity by permitting shorter and lighter trains to operate on closer headways, rather than constraining all trains to the separation by the longest and heaviest trains. … Dynamic headways can also, in conjunction with a local tactical planner reduce average running times. For instance, a 20% reduction in run time means that a train which used to take five hours for a trip will now take four hours. This provides an extra hour when the track is free to run another train. Any reduction in run time produces an equal increase in track availability.”4

From what I understand, a federal mandate is in place for the nation’s railroads to have between 70,000 and 80,000 route-miles of the industry’s total 140,000-route-mile network of track outfitted with PTC and be operational by December 31, 2015. Unless, subsequent to its enactment, this mandate has been amended, that is the deadline. Prompting the legislation was a 2008 head-on collision between a freight train and passenger train in Chatsworth, California; a crash that claimed 25 lives and left scores injured. It was one of the worst train-to-train collisions in modern times.

Notes

  1. “Quantification of the Business Benefits of Positive Train Control,” prepared for the Federal Railroad Administration by ZETA-TECH Associates, Inc., rev. Mar. 15, 2004, “APPENDIX A: Acronyms and Abbreviations,” p. 128.
  2. Ibid, p. 58: (“IV. PTC B Benefits,” A. Line Capacity)
  3. Ibid, p. 60: (“IV. PTC B Benefits,” A. Line Capacity: “2. Cost of Increasing Capacity”)
  4. Ibid, p. 57: (“IV. PTC B Benefits,” A. Line Capacity)

TIFFS: Freight train interference on shared-use trackage and what can be done about it

Number 10 in the Transport in a Fine Fix Series.

“Because of the 1970 Rail Passenger Service Act whereby the federal government allowed private railroads to shed their money-losing passenger services and created Amtrak, the national passenger carrier has exclusive domain to operate passenger trains over their tracks. And while most freight railroads tolerate Amtrak as a nuisance which occasionally occupies their rails, they would have an even lower appetite for private entities with access to their rail lines,” Potomac Express blogger Rich Sampson resolutely wrote on Feb. 11, 2011 in his blog post: “The True Story of High-Speed Rail in the U.S.

DSCN4436 340x255 300x225 TIFFS: Freight train interference on shared use trackage and what can be done about it
Separated freight and passenger tracks (in foreground).

As it relates, I already made it abundantly clear in: “Should American freight/passenger rail go their separate ways?” on the Air Quality Matters blog on Jul. 19th, that “… it was half-a-century ago that the U.S. freight railroad industry by and large begged to be relieved of its passenger carrying responsibility.”

I also expressed: “I’ve been reading where Amtrak – America’s national passenger rail carrier – has been suffering delays, resulting, in fact, in a 74 percent on-time performance rating overall, that is, during fiscal year 2014 which began Oct. 1, 2013.

“I can say unequivocally that much of the delay is outside of Amtrak’s direct control. Keep in mind that a good number of Amtrak trains are dispatched by non-Amtrak railroad personnel. The reason for this is that on lines where the national passenger rail carrier is the tenant these trains fall under the dispatching jurisdiction of host railroad dispatch employees.”

Sampson, moreover, readily acknowledged: “[Amtrak’s] … long-distance trains are chronically late and infrequent.” And this was back in Feb. 2011.

So, short of having dedicated railroad rights-of-way to support a domestic passenger train network and if limited to a shared-use freight/passenger rail operating arrangement, what then is the solution to on-time performance metrics improvement consistently in the 90 percent or higher range, that is, on corridors hosting both passenger and freight train movements?

I see four possibilities: Passenger trains always being granted highest priority status over all other train movements or passenger-carrier-owned railroad tracks with the tenant freight rail concern in question granted operating rights (in place of freight-carrier-owned railroad tracks with the tenant passenger rail concern in question granted operating rights) and/or more multiple-tracking (double-tracking, triple-tracking) under the existing arrangement and/or the implementation on the line of Positive Train Control or PTC.

Writer Michael Grunwald, in Time magazine, in “The truth About Obama’s High-Speed Rail Program,” offers the following:

“Bridge and tunnel repairs, projects to upgrade and straighten tracks, sidings and double-tracking to help passenger trains pass freight cars, and other incremental improvements can all make rail travel more attractive.”

Grunwald further adding: “The Department of Transportation says it has already sliced off a half-hour between Springfield, Mass., and St. Albans, Vt., while also completing projects to reduce delays around San Jose, San Diego, Fort Worth and Oklahoma City.”

amtrak train kandel 300x203 TIFFS: Freight train interference on shared use trackage and what can be done about itMeanwhile, on Amtrak’s 457-mile Northeast Corridor (NEC) connecting Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., begun is an $850 million upgrading program on a 23-mile section of track in the state of New Jersey which will increase speeds of trains to 160 miles per hour and cut delays, according to Grunwald, this being the very first such project of its kind; part of a long-term program of similar upgrading on Amtrak’s NEC.

I’ll be exploring PTC in a third, later article devoted to this topic.

Partnership to advance Asia-Pacific region air-cleanup underway

Carbon Monoxide concentrations in spring.1 300x225 Partnership to advance Asia Pacific region air cleanup underway
“CO mixing ratio (ppbv) @ 850 hPa”

Joining in the fight to make world air right is a new multi-agency partnership.

Official word of the endeavor and launch came on Friday, Aug. 8th via a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) news release. Here is some of what the federal agency offered in its “Asia-Pacific Clean Air Partnership Launched to Fight Global Air Pollution” release.

“The Cities Clean Air Partnership, the first major clean air certification and partnership program to encourage air quality protection in cities across the Asia-Pacific region, was launched today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration, Clean Air Asia, and the Bay Area and South Coast Air Districts.

“‘The EPA, California and cities from L.A. [Los Angeles] to Fresno have decades of experience in reducing harmful air pollution,’ said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. ‘But air pollution is still causing more than 3.7 million deaths a year and costing the global economy over $3.5 trillion a year in sickness and premature deaths. This partnership is taking a huge step forward to reduce global air pollution and achieve more livable, healthier cities for all.’

“‘The Cities Clean Air Partnership will greatly accelerate air quality improvement in Asian cities and Taiwan is proud to help initiate this program with the U.S. EPA,’ said Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration Minister Kuo-Yen Wei. ‘We are looking forward to forming ties with other city partners in Asia under this program and International Environmental Partnership framework.’”

This comes on the heels of the World Health Organization’s own announcement that, worldwide, in 2012, an estimated seven million people passed away prematurely from air pollution’s effects.

According to information in the EPA release, it is the partnership’s mission to strengthen Asian cities’ air quality management, encourage progress and lend Asia a helping hand as a further means to reduce impacts to human health caused by both polluted air and climate change. Added to that, is fighting to lower air pollution levels and grow economies that are clean-energy based. “The program includes: a certification and scoring system that encourages a city to take clean air actions by earning certifications as it achieves milestones and progresses towards better air quality; empowering cities through training, financial incentives and other partnership and collaboration support; and fostering cooperation and peer-to-peer learning among cities through a cities partnering program,” noted the EPA.

“With today’s Cities Clean Air Partnership launch, cities in California and around the U.S. will be able to collaborate with cities in the Asia-Pacific to share experiences and innovations to reduce and control air pollution.”

The EPA further pointed out, “Clean Air Asia, a non-governmental organization based in the Philippines working on air quality issues in Asia, is developing the partnership, which will drive progress for participating cities, helping them make targeted decisions about the best way to deploy resources to improve air quality.”

As far as I’m concerned, a program such as this is long overdue.

More importantly, I hope the effort is tremendously successful and more and more cities and nations also become similarly involved in time.

Find out more about Clean Air Asia at: http://www.cleanairasia.org

Find out more about the EPA’s work in the Asia-Pacific region at: http://www2.epa.gov/international-cooperation/epa-efforts-asia-pacific-region

Image above: NASA

Great Western Cities ‘On-the-Air’ tour: Reno, Nevada

The eighth in this series.

Reno renown

Yeah, I’ve been to Reno on occasion, the northwest Nevada town also known by another name: “The biggest little city in the world.” In fact, I even traveled on through by train once, on my way back to California. Interesting that Nevada (the Silver State) and California (the Golden State) are neighbors.

The Reno I know

For example, in 2003 the city in cooperation with the Union Pacific Railroad embarked on a three-year trenching project as a means to separate UP’s mainline tracks (in that locale) and cross streets through town for a distance of 2.25 miles. It was a monumental project in scope to be sure and today motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic crossing above the trench zone via provided overcrossings, do so without any interference whatsoever from either stopped trains or those passing through below, thereby completely eliminating the opportunity for motor vehicle idling and associated emissions releases stemming from delay related to that. The way I see it, there was a quadruple benefit regarding the undertaking and completion of this massive infrastructure improvement project. Progressive and forward-thinking? You bet!

Reno with mountains1 Great Western Cities ‘On the Air’ tour: Reno, Nevada

On the subject of wagers, if I were to make one, which I wouldn’t, but if I were, my bet would be Reno’s two biggest industries are tourism and gambling. And, you would be correct to conclude my visits were tourism and not gambling related.

Golden through and through

Besides what is in town there’s a wealth of nearby attractions. For example, west of town Lake Tahoe is close; it having, of course, its own appeal with its many recreational opportunities such as wintertime skiing and snowboarding and summertime boating out on the lake itself. Then, there to the east is Virginia City with its virtually right in its backyard gold and silver mines, the mines themselves being the town’s main claim to fame. Virginia City being a quite historic venue, complementing this attribute, is a mid-19th-century-themed Virginia and Truckee Railroad. As it happens, the very first stop once departing Virginia City and not surprisingly is Gold Hill.

And, if that isn’t quite enough to whet your gold appetite, located west-northwest of Reno is Gold Lake, in Plumas County in California. Not surprisingly, close to the lake itself, there is this abandoned mine. What I can’t say for sure is if it was for the extraction of gold but it would make sense that it was.

Far closer to Reno itself, meanwhile, and not far off the beaten trail and maybe even on it, is Carson City, the Nevada State Capitol. In addition, Carson City which owes its name to Kit Carson, a mountain man, houses the Nevada State Railroad Museum among other interesting attractions.

In coming full circle, Reno is home to the National Automobile Museum with its collection of classic cars and included among them is the Golden DeLorean automobile, probably the facility’s most popular attraction. Moreover, and in the museum category is the Nevada Museum of Art. And certainly by no means least is the Reno Whitewater Park.

For what it is worth, I found myself spending the overnight one night back in the late 1970s in the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which happens to be the second biggest of all of the Silver State’s airports.

My Reno, Nevada experiences: golden and then some.

Image above: U.S. Geological Survey

Great Western Cities ‘On-the-Air’ tour: Mt. View, California

The seventh in this series.

If at any time during the life of this site (now 21 months young) you have dropped on by and read all or a portion of any of the now 365 Air Quality Matters posts, by now you no doubt know, Fresno, in the middle of California’s 24,000-square-mile San Joaquin Valley, is where I reside. And, the “Valley” is just one of many … Golden State (California) – and right now golden – valleys.

363px San Francisco Landsat7 Lg1 181x300 Great Western Cities ‘On the Air’ tour: Mt. View, California
Aerial view of San Francisco taken from space

It’s another valley – Silicon Valley, mostly centered around the San Francisco Bay Area’s southern third on both sides and south of the Bay bearing the same name and which encompasses an area roughly the size of the Santa Clara Valley – that I am going to concentrate on today, focusing on the community of Mountain View in particular. Flanked by both San Francisco and San Jose, Mountain View lies far closer to the latter than it does to the former.

It just so happens, Mountain View is where I made my home if only for a brief period of time. It was for just about a year that I was there, working in neighboring Sunnyvale. That was in the late 1970s. Though others might disagree, to me in this place there is little if anything out of place. And, by that, I mean, I didn’t notice anything that really, really stood out with the possible exception of Moffett Federal Airfield, with an on-site ginormous airship hanger.

Don’t say a word. I know what you might be thinking: if not extraordinary, why write about the community, especially after I’ve already covered two other California cities in this series – Long Beach and San Luis Obispo? Truth is, there is some extraordinary-ness about Mountain View.

Being a San Francisco peninsula-based city, Mountain View is what’s called a conurbation, meaning it is part of a cluster of contiguous or side-by-side communities. Perhaps uncommon at one time, this is no longer the case.

But this is not what makes this city – sandwiched between the Bay on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west – different or special.

Steeped in high-tech history

If you remember earlier my mentioning of Silicon Valley, well, Mountain View has a high-tech tradition and as such a storied past. This is where in 1956, as a matter of fact, the very first semiconductor devices, the transistor among them, were created.

In fact, some of the world’s most recognizable names in the high-tech sector are headquartered here. And speaking of high-tech and history, the two come together under one roof in the Computer History Museum.

The three T’s: Traffic, trains, trolleys

Traffic on the California 101 freeway at times can be considerable; to the point of being backed-up even, and on an alternate route, Central Expressway, it can be more of the same.

320px FLV California train1 Great Western Cities ‘On the Air’ tour: Mt. View, CaliforniaIf every cloud has a silver lining, the good news is that there are a number of transportation options to choose from; everything from the Caltrain commuter rail and Santa Clara Valley (there’s that “valley” word again) Transportation Authority light rail to the soon-to-be-arriving or should I say “soon-to-be-passing-through” statewide high-speed rail system, that is, if all goes as planned.

Cleaner air, more comfortable climate

If there is one thing that really shines here besides the sun, it is air. And the climate, well, it shines too in that there is not much variation between temperature extremes as the yearly average high and low temps, according to Wikipedia, are 69.6 degrees and 48.7 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively.

What’s in a name

Last but by no means least, is the Mountain View name. Just in case you’re wondering, it is none other than the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains from which the town name is derived.

Upper image: NASA

Why reporting accurately air quality information is crucial (cont’d.)

When it comes to reporting on air quality the mission should be to get that reporting right the first time and every time. In reality, though, that doesn’t always happen. Reference “Why reporting accurately air quality information is crucial” and below.

Today the discussion continues.

Nearly nine months ago, I wrote: “In a nutshell: The good and bad of Valley air-pollution reduction.”

Toward the end of that piece I wrote:

“An 80 percent reduction in [San Joaquin] Valley air pollution levels overall sounds impressive. And, not a single exceedance of the federal one-hour standard of 125 parts per billion of ozone anywhere in the Valley this year to boot? Awesome! But the more stringent federal and state [California] – eight-hour ozone standards – ones that are more protective of human health – have yet to be met and meeting these standards seems years away at best, decades away at worst.

“Add to this that Valley fine particulate matter pollution also persists.

“And what this means is the Valley is not out of the air-pollution woods just yet and what that sounds like is in getting that additional 20 percent air-pollution reduction is not going to be easy.”

Complicating matters is when numbers, from one year to the next, don’t jibe.

What I am getting at exactly is in making comparisons between the separate 2012-13 and 2013-14 editions of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s “Report to the Community,” there appears to be disagreement regarding certain aspects.

For instance, in the 2012-13 Report, in the “County Days over Federal 8-hr Ozone Standards” graph over the 1997 standard (blue plot) of 84 parts per billion (ppb) and over the 2008 standard (red plot) of 75 ppb, for year 2012 the corresponding numbers are roughly 105 (blue plot) and 320 (red plot), respectively. Meanwhile, in regards to the like graph in the 2013-14 edition, for year 2012 and also for the “County Days over Federal 8-hr Ozone Standard,” the numbers are right around 150 (blue plot) and 375 (red plot), respectively. It’d be one thing if this was the only conflict, but it’s not.

In the same two reports and graphs, such is the case again. In the 2012-13 Report as it pertains to the “County Days over Federal 8-hr Ozone Standards” graph and as it has to do with the 2008 ozone standard of 75 ppb (red plot), 320 is the number of “County Days over Federal 8-hr Ozone Standards;” in fact, the number of such days (320) is the same for years 2011 and 2012. Not so in the 2013-14 Report regarding those same two years (2011 and 2012). The number of “County Days over Federal 8-hr Ozone Standard” for year 2011 is 320, but for year 2012, on the other hand, the “County Days” number is 375. A similar situation exists with respect to the two reports concerning the blue plots, also for years 2011 and 2012. So, why the above discrepancies? I’m not even going to speculate.

Meanwhile, another curiosity and a seeming inconsistency, this time related to “PM2.5 Trends,” the Report (2012-13) for both the “24-hour PM2.5 Design Value Trend” and “Annual PM2.5 Design Value Trend” graphs show the last year as being 2011. But, in the Report (2013-14) regarding the same two graphs, like graphs show the last year as being 2013. Again, I do not care to speculate as to why the difference. It seems to me, though, regarding the two said graphs, that if the latter Report has year 2013 as the last, logic would have it that the former Report should have shown as its last year, year 2012.

The bottom line is that when there are inconsistencies it is difficult to know just what information is accurate and what isn’t and leading one to question the accuracy of all information.

Remember: These being annually-released “Report to the Community” reports, every attempt at accurate reporting and corresponding information dissemination should be maintained. If such is not strived for, why report at all? All of which supports the whole premise of this dialog that it is crucial to report air quality reporting information accurately regardless of location and who is reporting.

640px Californias Central Valley Why reporting accurately air quality information is crucial (cont’d.)