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KSBR News Briefs on Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2018


Lawmakers voice frustration with pace of air bag repairs

Members of a Senate panel voiced frustration yesterday with the pace of repairs for vehicles with defective Takata air bag inflators.

They're urging regulators to complete work on a federal rule that would require automakers to use email and other forms of electronic communication when notifying car owners about recall campaigns.

Takata air bag inflators can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 22 people have died worldwide and more than 180 have been hurt.

A year’s long recall involves about 50 million Takata air bag inflators in the United States. To date, about 21 million defective air bags have been repaired.


Judge holds climate change class in suits against big oil

A federal judge presiding over lawsuits that accuse big oil companies of lying about global warming to protect their profits is turning his courtroom into a classroom in what could be the first hearing to study the science of climate change.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup has asked lawyers for two California cities and five of the world's largest oil and gas companies to come to court today to present "the best science now available on global warming." He also wants them to go over the history of climate change research, focusing on ice ages and previous cooling and warming cycles, among other topics.

Legal observers say they have never heard of a court holding a tutorial on climate change, and they are eager to see how the oil companies explain global warming.

Alsup is considering two lawsuits, one by San Francisco and the other by neighboring Oakland, that accuse Chevron, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, BP and Royal Dutch Shell of long knowing that fossil fuels posed serious risks to the climate, but still promoting them as environmentally responsible. They also allege the companies mounted campaigns to downplay the risks of global warming and discredit research that human activity was to blame.

The companies have asked Alsup to dismiss the lawsuits.


US regulators renew scrutiny of menthol, tobacco flavors

Federal health officials are taking a closer look at flavors in tobacco products that appeal to young people, particularly menthol-flavored cigarettes, which have escaped regulation despite nearly a decade of government scrutiny.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a call for more information about flavored cigars and electronic cigarettes, which currently have no flavor restrictions. Extra attention will fall on menthol, the only cigarette flavor permitted by Congress under the 2009 law that brought tobacco under FDA regulation. The FDA's past efforts to begin regulating the ingredient have been stalled by industry.

Studies have shown the minty flavor appeals more to younger smokers. More than 50 percent of underage smokers reported smoking menthols in a government survey, compared with only 36 percent of adult smokers.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement "We need to take every effort to prevent kids from getting hooked on nicotine. For years we have recognized that flavors in these products appeal to kids and promote youth initiation."


Ladera Ranch Civic Council

The Ladera Ranch Civic Council now understands how the Santa Margarita Water District’s new reservoir, the Trampas Canyon Reservoir will impact the community.

Council Chair Stephanie Ramsey says District External Affairs Director Jim Leach made a presentation on the new recycled water reservoir in which the district recently broke ground on.

She says by having the reservoir for storage of recycled water, 4,000 gallons of potable water would be saved instead of being released into the ocean. And the reservoir would reduce the need to purchase water from the Metropolitan Water District. It would also provide an emergency water supply that could be used to fight fires.

She says the reservoir will be fully functional in 2020.

Ramsey says in other business, the Council talked about having a Farmer’s Market in the community. The interest is high as 700 residents replied in a survey that they would patronize one if it became available in the community.

She says the possible location could be the Town Green, and it would be held twice monthly.


San Onofre Community Engagement Meeting

The San Onofre Community Engagement Panel will discuss decommissioning milestones and storage of used fuel during the panel’s quarterly meeting tomorrow in Laguna Hills.

Southern California Edison Vice President and Chief Nuclear officer Tom Palmisano will brief the panel on decommissioning milestone through major structure removal and the current work to transfer used nuclear fuel from storage pools to on-site dry cask storage.

In 2013, Southern California Edison, which is the majority owner of the San Onofre nuclear plant had announced it would retire San Onofre Units 2 and 3.

It has begun the process to decommission the facility.

Tomorrow’s meeting is scheduled at the Laguna Hills Community Center at 5:30 in the evening. Staffed information booths will be open between 4:30 in the afternoon until the start of the meeting. The meeting will be livestreamed via www.Songscommunity.com


Jimmy Kimmel brings Katie Couric to his colonoscopy

Jimmy Kimmel's audience got to see more of the host than usual when he had his first colonoscopy.

The talk show host brought Katie Couric along for the test, which aired on last night’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live." She was with him before and after the examination.

Kimmel turned 50 in November, which is the age the American Cancer Society recommends for the colorectal cancer screening.

The exam found no sign of polyps. But Couric joked with Kimmel that keys, toy soldiers and a harmonica were recovered.

Couric's late husband died of the disease in 1998. She had the screening done on TV in 2007.

March is colon cancer awareness month.