Sunday, June 27, 2010

California Letter - To My Chinese Friends (June 27)


To My Friends in China & Beyond:

I am in Sacramento, where  the temperature is now 86 F (30 C) and may reach 101 F (38 C) today.   

However, it is dry heat, not humid heat - not like China, or the eastern half the  US.   So it is hot, but the shade is more comfortable; evenings cool down; sleeping is ok and not too many bugs.   Sacramento is in between the sea (San Francisco) and the mountains where gold was found (Sierra Nevada).   The sky is almost always blue and sunny, and the land is very flat and good for agriculture.  This is northern portion of California's Central Valley and the location of the State capital.  Here the buses are always air-conditioned in summer but the price is dear:  9 rmb.  (But almost everyone drives their car.)

visited an elementary school in Sacramento that will start teaching  half in English and half in Chinese, beginning in kindergarten.  The school has a Chinese teacher, but there are starting to be more programs in the US which teach Chinese.  I think it is good.

I read a long article about increasing trade between China and Russia's Siberia.  Historically, Russia has always wanted ports that are open in winter (one reason why Dalian was so important), but now there is more talk about Russian raw materials (iron, wood, oil) going to China and, in return, Chinese manufactured goods heading west by rail through Siberia to Europe.  In 2012, Russian oil will go to China by a new pipeline (1 MM barrels of oil each day; about what California uses EACH day).  This will free up freight trains to carry commodities and manufactured goods.   (I remember discussions in Chongqing about a rail line going north to Russia that enable China's interior to export goods.  Anyone know more?)

When Americans think about Siberia or Manchuria - which unfortunately we seldom do - we think about vast, desolate, cold lands with political prisoners.  Because of border disputes between China and Russia,  there was little development or relatively little Chinese trade with Russia (ok, maybe not in Shenyang).   This may be changing in a bit way.

Westerner newspapers are full of information about Chinese strikes at large foreign factories. (Honda, Toyota)   The results seem to be slightly better wages and working conditions for the millions of young migrants who come for a better life.     I heard even the KFC in Shenyang gave the workers a bit more money.  Do you hear about this?  I don't think Chinese companies treat workers very well and it will take  time to change.

Hope everyone is well.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

California and China - CPRA Update

Jiangsu-California MOU Update

As I posted before,  California and Jiangsu Province signed a landmark, subnational agreement on energy cooperation in October 2009 (MOUhereherehere),  Since then, California has quietly initiated a range of activities, bodies, work plans.   At least 2 Calfornia delegations have visited China and in April there was California-Shenzen  conference.   Nanjing University and UCSB have begun cooperation on efforts to effect community energy reductions.  NRDC will do a building/DSM study in Jiangsu.

Although the Calfornia governor's legal office has blocked release of all documents related to the MOU (also here), some of the pieces can be put together through information obtained from various State agencies via CPRA requests, the California Public Records Act.   Early on, Susan Kennedy, of the Governor's Office, and Dian Grueneich of CPUC, acknowledged knowledge of the MOU and activities but did not returned repeated phone calls or emails.  

CalEPA and CARB have dragged their feet for months, including accusations of defamation, but did release limited information on June 8 in response to an April CPRA request.   They have not explained omissions or  responded to subsequent emails to obtain the remainder.  They also redacted a document while I was looking at it, which said in part "I don't think I can put him off much longer", a reference to me.  

Similarly the Energy Commission and CPUC have released limited information, but only under the CPRA.  

Below is a brief summary of some of the California-China activities.   The original goals of the MOU are quite good: to work together on policies, technologies, standards that would lower GHG and energy.   Some of projects (NRDC, UCSB) seem quite encouraging.  As information beomes clearer on the State's polcies I will update and post on this  DOE energy wiki. 
Besides the State of California, several non-profit organizations play active, but poorly understood roles in California-China relations: Ex:  CFEEiCETecolinx.    

CFEE's Study trips abroad are reported by Tom Knudson of the Sacramento Bee. (7/26/2009). is a foundation of Margaret Kim, China Program Director for CalEPA.

The reason for California state government's acute sensitivity to an energy and environmental MOU is not known.  The situation at this moment is to obtain missing information from CalEPA,CARB.   I think preferable the State of Government disclose all of its China efforts and include public participation; unfortunately, it has chosen this route.

Caution:  Much of the following information has been obtained by CPRA, and I have reason to believe that the State of California is withholding key information which may shed additional facts and interpretations  to this information.   However, what I write I have physical paper to back up or credible second or third-party websites to support.  Nor is this a complete list of activities.  
Clarification is needed.

October 2009
-California-Jiangsu MOU signed

-Calfornia Regulatory & Legislative Delegation visits China and Jiangsu, includes Jeffrey Bryon  (CEC) and Michael Peevey (CPUC), California business leaders, legislators.   Trip paid by CFEE, includes:
John Perez $7,847 gift
Bonnie Lowenthal $8037 gift
Carol Liu, $7469 gift
Curren Price, $8259 gift

November 2009
-UCSB and Nanjing University researchers report on opportunties (under MOU) for coordinated, joint research.  (Based on visit to Suzhou Industrial Park and Nanjing on October 28-30, 2009) 

December 2009
-CalEPA, NRDC, WRI meet in Copenhagen to discuss MOU implementation

-Chinese delegations visit CEC (several each year)

Februrary 24, 2010
-C3 (and earlier?) organized by CalEPA, meets privately at Energy Foundation in SF. [I was not allowed to attend, listen or obtain information.] Sponsors?

March 2010
Following verbal request to CARB and Mary Nichols, Margret Kim, China Program Director, released minimal C3 information, accused me of 'defamation.'  Neither she nor Mary Nichols return emails seeking additional C3 or MOU information, or the role of Ms. Kim's non-profit

April, 2010  (CalEPA omits April information from CPRA request; many questions)

-California Delegation visits China, led by Linda Adams, CalEPA, and James Boyd, CEC.
includes at least these 3 distinct conferences
-members of California delegation - unknown; 
-other activities in China - unknown; 
-who pays - mostly unknown; 
-objectives, outcomes - unknown
-process by which CalEPA approves these activities is unknown, not public

April 16-18, 2010  - "2010 International Low-Carbon Development Forum - Shenzen - California", including "deliverables": [from CPRA response]
-"California-Shenzhen PKU Energy Efficiency Research Centers" [established by State of California, University of California (Davis) and Shenzhen City.]
-"California-China Clean Tech Initiative (C3) hub in Southern [sic] China" (State of California is 'partner')
- Low Carbon Sister City relationship between Shenzhen city and Sacramento, California
"US-China Low-Carbon Industries Alliance (UCLCIA) formed, includes the State of California
-Shenzhen signs C3, R20?
-Keynotes include:
Dan Sperling, UCD, CARB
Michael Siminovitch, UCD
Linda Adams, CalEPA
Nancy Skinner, California Legislator [Rep Skinner's office said she did not visit China; emails and phone calls were not returned]

-April 19 - 20, 2010 - "energy and clean transportation conference and strategy meetings" (UC Davis - Institute of Transportation Studies),  CalEPA requests Boyd attend (Shanghai, Chongming Island - ZEV), payment by UC Davis.  MOU pending?
-April 21 - 23, 2010 - study tour, Jiangsu & Beijing, solar PV, manufacturing, joint venture discussions.  CalEPA requests Boyd attend, paid by iCET 

May 2010
(NRDC &  Jiangsu Research Institute of Building Science Co, Ltd & State Grid DSM Instruction Center) to be completed by 12/2010 - thanks to Barbara Finamore of NRDC who provided this.

(2 year workplan - details coming - CPRA - CalEPA)

-MOU Steering Committee formed (1 member ?? -   James Boyd)

June 2010
Bren School, UCSB and Nanjing U. begin cooperation
(also CPRA info)


Organizations mentioned in this article (partial)
C3 (invitation), C3 (ecolinx)
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council - US NGO)

Bren School of the Environment, UCSB  also:

Links mentioned in this article (partial)
Open energy wiki, (The Open Energy Information initiative (OpenEI) is a platform to connect the world’s energy data. Run by US Dept of Energy; public)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sacramento - English Word for Someone Who Speaks Only 1 Language?

Sacramento public schools are about to offer "Chinese immersion," instruction in Chinese from day 1, in Kindergarten, at its Elder Creek Elementary School.  Next year two more Sacramento schools will offer "Chinese immersion."  It is a modeled on a successful program in San Francisco.

When I started school - (no hints when) - schools were named for Presidents, we had rabbits and one choice for language of instruction.  A foreign language was for high school.

But times change.  Ask Mark Pinto, Applied Materials CTO who started his young children on Chinese and then took them and his company's solar R&D manufacturing center to Xi'an, China.  And we all know that young children pick up languages with ease while most of us struggle. [age 3-11 is the best time.]

Though the Sacramento program starts with about 80% Chinese (the rest English), it slowly starts to shift toward 50-50 Chinese-English by the 6th grade.  It is not a choice of somehow choosing one language over the other; children can learn both.  

The community around Elder Creek is has a large number of immigrants:  Vietnamese, Hmong, Chinese, Russian, Hispanic.   The school aims for about half the students in the 'Chinese Immersion' program  to be native Chinese speakers and half native English.

The school hopes to form a relationship with a school in Beijing.

In China, a school offering free instruction in 2 languages would soon have parents from the entire province surround it. [Chinese don't like to queue.]   Multilingual education is really something new here; I wish I had it.   

The Sacramento program  is also about globalization in the best sense.  When I first went to China, I met a young New Zealand couple who were sending their daughter to a regular Chinese school.   The little girl was  like any other happy, well-adjusted child - and a world citizen.    When I asked the blond-haired, blue-eyed lady where was her home, she thought for a moment, smiled and said, "China."    It meant she had one foot firmly in each culture (Chinese/New Zealand) and was already light-years ahead of me.

But again, there is a joke in China.  "What is the English word for someone who can speak 3 languages?   Trilingual.    And   2 languages?  Bilingual.   And the English word for someone who only speaks one?   American."

[More information about the Chinese Immersion Program:  call the school principal Mary DeSplinter, 916-277-5978, during working hours.  School has good popcorn, too.]

Monday, June 7, 2010

California Energy - Game Change?

The massive Gulf oilspill was a called a "Game Changer" by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, of the Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry group, at a recent Climate One - Commonwealth Club event on May 21, 2010.

Four panelists and a moderator spoke on a wide range of energy policies and technologies.  They were

-(DM) Dan Miller, Managing Director, Roda Group
-(CRB) Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President, Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA)
-(MB) Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club 
-(JB) Jim Boyd, Vice Chair, California Energy Commission (CEC) [Mr. Boyd and Ms. Reheis-Boyd are related by marriage.]
-(MOD) Greg Dalton, Moderator

Although Michael Brune (Sierra Club) and Catherine Reheis-Boyd (WSPA) disagreed on many things, both did agreed this oilspill is  "Game Changing."   At least as interesting  were the nuanced policy differences between Jim Boyd (CEC) and Michael Brune (Sierra)

The full audio is here plus some video clips.  Climate One website is here.
A few summaries by topic:

Off-Shore Drilling
JB: Did support off-shore drilling; now is cautious; but seems to like new slant technology oil drilling which would generate State revenues, including funds for education.
MB: Wants permanent off-shore drilling ban.

Plan to move away from oil
JB:  "our most optimistic projections show that we are going to be using petroleum for a long, long time."  And added it be nice if all domestically produced, but not realistic.
MB: We will use oil as long as we allow ourselves to use oil.   Instead, he suggested immediately create policies - policies to electrify transportation (rail, cars), switch heavy trucks to natural gas, green the grid.  

Electric Vehicles
JB - Likes PHEV (ARB opposed?), likes Chevy Volt, says he wanted 40 mpg in 2003
MB - electrify transportation, beginning with fleets (like postal service)

California ZEV policy
JB - Was instituted on his 'watch.'  Battery technology disappointed. Favors PHEV.  [California pioneered ZEV regulations; but withdrew and car companies removed models.  It may now be making a comeback at ARB.]

JB - insufficient but likes; hydrogen is in the future 
MB - environmental concerns about water use and full life cycle GHG emissions
DM - With right rules and investment, can be done by 2015.
[CEC was criticized at recent Biofuels workshop]

Canadian Coal Tar Sands
JB -  Better we use it then send it to China  because we will get air pollution back because of their unregulated use.
[Mr. Boyd led a Calfornia delegation to China in April to discuss low-carbon economy, solar, ZEV, policy, etc.]
MB - Global problem, need global leadership

Natural Gas - fossil source
JB - cleanest fossil fuel, wants Combined Cycle (heat & power), use as bridging fuel; concerns about shale gas
MB - natural gas industry must be cleaner; increase regulatory standards for drilling and production

On energy policy
JB - Target #1 in California is building -not just home - efficiency
MB - Wants goals and use criteria: fastest, cleanest, cheapest, quickest

On electricity generation for the grid
JB - defers to MB
MB - No new coal; retire old coal plants; loading order is (1) energy-efficiency (2) small scale distributed generation (solar, wind, etc.) (3) large scale solar/wind (4) if necessary, large Natural Gas 
[CEC has a policy of supporting CCS]

MB - $1 Trillion will be invested in the energy in next 10 years.  How to apportion it?

JB - against for waste, cost 
MB - nuclear comes in last on his criteria (fastest, cleanest, cheapest) - so no nukes
DM - nukes vs. coal - which is worse?

I think the game change is presence of Michael Brune.  He seems to have clear objectives.

Climate One at the CommonWealth Club