U.S. Taxpayers at Risk of Being Saddled With Coal Cleanup Bills FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Michael Corkery for the New York Times:Regulators are wrangling with bankrupt coal companies to set aside enough money to clean up Appalachia’s polluted rivers and mountains so that taxpayers are not stuck with the $1 billion bill.The regulators worry that coal companies will use the bankruptcy courts to pay off their debts to banks and hedge funds, while leaving behind some of their environmental cleanup obligations.The industry asserts that its cleanup plans — which include turning defunct mines back into countryside — are comprehensive and well funded. But some officials say those plans could prove unrealistic and falter as demand for coal remains weak.The latest battle is over Alpha Natural Resources, once a high-flying coal company that borrowed hundreds of millions when the coal market was booming but imploded in the face of competition from cheaper natural gas and tougher environmental regulations.West Virginia faces perhaps the greatest fallout from the flood of coal bankruptcies that have hit the courts in the last year because many of its mines are scheduled to close and will require extensive cleanup. The state took the unusual approach of hiring a seasoned bankruptcy lawyer from New York who grew up in West Virginia to represent its Department of Environmental Protection in the Alpha case.“The goal is to make sure the coal companies clean up the mess when they leave,” said the lawyer, Kevin W. Barrett of Bailey & Glasser, who was named a special assistant attorney general for West Virginia and is taking the lead on the Alpha case.The coal industry has a history of shunting its obligations — so much so that Congress has created a specific law aimed at preventing the industry from walking away.The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 requires coal companies to purchase bonds — effectively, insurance policies — that can be used to pay for reclamation if the companies are insolvent.But in the past, regulators in states like West Virginia and Wyoming had allowed coal companies — particularly the giant mining ones — to “self-bond,” which meant that they had only to promise to pay for reclamation work, but not to actually post bonds.Full article: Regulators Fear $1 Billion Coal Cleanup Bill
German energy company floats takeover plan to shutter RWE’s lignite plants FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Clean Technica:Germany electric utility Greenpeace Energy has proposed a takeover bid for the lignite open-cast mines and power plants currently belonging to German electric utilities company RWE, to shut them down by 2025, and replace them with renewable energy projects such as wind and solar boasting a total output of 8.2 gigawatts.Greenpeace Energy was founded in 1999 as a legal cooperative, independent of banks and major shareholders, and financially and legally independent of Greenpeace itself. Currently, Greenpeace Energy boasts 24,000 members and 130,000 customers and generated 100% of its electricity from wind and water power.Announced on Monday, Greenpeace has announced it is planning to move forward with a takeover bid for RWE’s coal assets in the Rheinische Revier. The company’s plan is to shut down the various parts of RWE’s coal operations in the region — decommissioning the Hambach open-cast mine and the six oldest and least efficient power plant units in 2020, the Inden mine and a further six plant units in 2022, and the Garzweiler mine and three final units by 2025. In its place, Greenpeace Energy wants to build 8.2 GW worth of renewable energy capacity made up of 3.8 GW worth of wind power and 4.4 GW worth of solar PV. Together, the renewable energy capacity would generate 15 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity in 2030 — around a quarter of what the Rhenish lignite currently supplies.“What we propose is a huge chance for the Rheinische Revier – and brings us a big step forward in climate protection,” said Sönke Tangermann, CEO of Greenpeace Energy. “Our concept is financially fair for all sides and designed so that redundancies can be avoided.”More: Greenpeace Energy plans takeover bid for RWE’s coal business to replace with renewables
Low gas prices ‘another nail in the coffin’ for coal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Especially low natural gas prices coupled with projections of weak 2020 coal exports are laying the groundwork for another difficult year for U.S. thermal coal producers.Natural gas prices recently fell below $2/MMBtu, which could drive down both coal prices and utility coal demand this year, experts said. Coal-fired power plants are expected to run at lower capacity factors, and the pricing environment may force some units into earlier retirement amid competition with gas generators.The timing also intensifies the situation; coal plants rely more heavily on winter margins to make it through the year, said Gregory Marmon, a Wood Mackenzie senior research analyst. This will be “especially problematic” for many coal plants, particularly those in competitive independent system operator markets. “It’s just going to be another nail in the coffin going forward because very few coal plants are going to be directly competitive at $2 [per MMBtu] natural gas,” Marmon said.Steve Piper, director of energy research for S&P Global Market Intelligence, said on a Jan. 22 webcast with the American Coal Council that harsh winter conditions could draw on the natural gas surplus and bring storage back closer to “normal levels.” However, near-term forecasts suggest the nation will have “relatively mild weather to close out January into February and March,” which is contributing to the low price expectation. “This is not a positive development for coal producers by any stretch of the imagination,” Piper said.John Rogers, senior vice president with Moody’s chemicals team, said part of the natural gas surplus stems from new pipelines being built in recent years to carry natural gas from the Permian Basin to market, rather than those oil producers flaring the gas. Additionally, Appalachian shale gas producers continue to increase their volumes despite low pricing. Current low natural gas prices may remain for at least the next six months, Rogers said.Moody’s wrote in a recent report that it expects its rated coal mining portfolio’s EBITDA to fall by about one-third this year. Benjamin Nelson, senior credit officer and the company’s lead coal analyst, said the sector may perform even worse financially if the low gas prices bring down coal prices even further.[Ellie Potter]More ($): Low winter gas prices shaping up to be ‘another nail in the coffin’ for coal
Shell to buy output of 100MW battery storage project in U.K., Europe’s largest FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Oil major Shell has signed a multiyear offtake deal with what is slated to be Europe’s largest battery installation.The 100-megawatt Minety project in the southwest of England, an area with a high concentration of solar power capacity, is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The project consists of two 50-megawatt systems.The financial backers of the Minety development are a state-run utility firm China Huaneng Group and the Chinese sovereign wealth fund CNIC.Minety could be the first 100-megawatt battery project completed in Europe. In contrast to the U.S., grid batteries in Europe have only rarely topped 25 megawatts, although there are a few 100-megawatt projects in the planning pipeline, notably in the U.K.Shell subsidiary Limejump, acquired in March 2019, will use the power to optimize local renewable power usage.“Projects like this will be vital for balancing the U.K.’s electricity demand and supply as wind and solar power play bigger roles in powering our lives,” said David Wells, VP of Shell Energy Europe. “Batteries are uniquely suited to optimizing power supplies as the U.K. moves toward a net-zero-carbon system.”[John Parnell]More: Shell signs offtake agreement with ‘Europe’s largest battery’
The Asheville Track Club is hosting the 37th annual Thomas Wolfe 8K this Saturday, October 19th at 10:00am. The event will benefit the Literacy Council of Buncombe County’s Augustine Project, Riverlink, and Connect Buncombe. This year, the race will start and end at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial House on North Market Street. Seems like you can, in fact, go home again.Pre-race registration is $30. Part of this fee will go to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Fund. You can pick up your race packet Friday, October 18th, from 4-7pm or on Saturday, October 19th, from 8:30-9:45am. Race day registration will be from 8:30-9:30am at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial House. The first 300 runners will receive an official Thomas Wolfe 8K long sleeve shirt as well as a bag of goodies. Don’t wait, sign up now!The course takes you through Asheville’s beautiful downtown, the historic Montford community, Reed Creek Greenway, and even by Thomas Wolfe’s burial in Riverside Cemetery. There will be an awards ceremony immediately following the race. There will be pizza and refreshments for all participants as well as door prizes and live music from Asheville’s own, The Glampas.There are many ways to volunteer before, during, and after. If you’re interested, take a look at this spreadsheet and sign up as needed. The more the merrier!View Larger Map
Photo Via FlickrThere’s nothing quite like packing up the canoe or kayak for a weekend on the water. Whether you’re floating down a lazy stretch of Lowcountry flat water or taming rapids during a multi-day paddle in the Southern Appalachians, there’s something primal about abandoning society for a night or two of temporary subsistence on the banks of your favorite waterway.Luckily the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions are loaded with world class paddling destinations, many of which are perfect for overnight trips. Here are four BRO favorites.1. South Fork of the Shenandoah, VirginiaThis 28-mile stretch of river is a true scenic wonder that showcases the iconic Shenandoah Valley while offering unparalleled views of the Massanutten Mountain Range and the peaks of Shenandoah National Park. For a three-day trip on the South Fork of the Shenandoah we recommend launching at Bixler’s Ferry Bridge. After about 13 miles you’ll find a sandy beach near the class II High Cliff Rapids—the site of a decommission Forest Service campground where camping is still permitted. During day two the South Fork gets a little wilder with the biggest rapid being a class II-III wave train called Compton. This section comes complete with the perfect swimming hole and offers boaters the opportunity for repeated laps. Day three will take you along a peaceful 10-mile stretch of the South Fork through National Forest land and conservation easements. Take out at the Low Water Bridge in Bentonville.2. Capers Island, South CarolinaThis undeveloped barrier island is accessible by boat only, and it’s one of the few barrier islands you can camp on in the Charleston area. Getting there requires a three-mile paddle from Gadsdenville Public Boat Landing along Copahee Sound to Capers Inlet. Once there you’ll find three miles of pristine shoreline with plenty of wildlife—species such as alligators, bottle nose dolphins, and loggerhead sea turtles—and an 850-acre of maritime forest. The island is also an ideal place for surf fishing, offering anglers the opportunity to catch sea trout, red drum, flounder, black drum, king whiting, spot, pompano, and croaker.Photo via Flickr3. Greenbrier River, West VirginiaOne of the longest free-flowing rivers in the east, the Greenbrirr is a triburarty of the New River that runs through some wild portions of mountainous West Virginia near the Monogohela National Forest. What makes this river particularly inviting for overnight paddlers is the 78-mile Green River trail, which runs alongside much of the river offering drinking water, campsites, and restrooms to overnight canoeists. Launch at the Beard access point off County Road 31 across the river from Calvin Price State Forest. You’ll find a primitive campsite at mile post 28.5. Day two will take you on a 15-mile excursion past the 500-foot Coleman Cliffs to a take out access on County Road 21 in Anthony.4. The Chattooga River, Georgia-South Carolina BorderWidely recognized as one of the best stretches of whitewater in the East, the Wild and Scenic Chattanooga River is also home to some amazing riverside campsites. Start off by paddling the 13-mile section III from Earls Ford to Highway 76. Campsites await at the end of this section and offer hiking, swimming and fishing opportunities. If you’re up to the challenge, head out for section VI on day two, the steepest and most intense section of this famed waterway.Photo Via FlickrFor additional paddling adventures check out this article on Flatware Favorites in the June issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.
Pregnant women in Tanzania trek 10 kilometers to reach the nearest clinic. Reta Graham challenges you to run or walk in their footsteps on May 7 in Asheville.Every two minutes, a woman dies from pregnancy-related complications. Almost 99% of those women are from developing countries like Tanzania.Reta Graham wants to change that. An obstetrician and accomplished runner in Asheville, N.C., Graham has spent the past several years working to improve maternal health care in Tanzania. In 2013 and 2014, she spent several months in rural Tanzania providing medical care, often seeing 100 patients a day in a one-room school with little equipment or medicine.“I was stunned,” Reta recalls. “Women and children trekked for many miles to reach the makeshift clinic, and there was not a single blood pressure cuff or ultrasound machine.” Many of her patients were pregnant women who had not received even basic health care. Some women showed up in labor. “I learned firsthand that the biggest health disparity in today’s world is maternal health,” a figure confirmed by the World Health Organization.It was a powerful experience that deepened her commitment to improving the lives of the women and children she served. After returning home to Asheville, Reta and her husband Jeff—also a physician and competitive runner—established Mama Maisha, a nonprofit working to improve maternal health care in rural Tanzania. They focus on the three pillars of maternal safety: healthy pregnancy, safe delivery, and family planning.Their strategy is simple: train maternal health advocates in rural villages to educate, support, and empower women. These local advocates meet regularly with women to educate them about healthy pregnancy and family planning, assist with checkups, and attend deliveries, whether at clinics or at home.To support their work, Mama Maisha is hosting the Mama’s Day 10K on May 7 at Asheville’s Carrier Park. The flat, fast, spectator-friendly course follows paved and gravel greenways along the French Broad River. “It’s one of the fastest 10K courses in the mountains—and also one of the most scenic,” says race director Jeff Graham.All proceeds directly benefit Mama Maisha’s efforts to assist pregnant women and their children in rural Tanzania. A single race entry fee covers the cost of four safe birth kits that Mama Maisha’s community health workers provide to pregnant mothers, or can cover the salary of a maternal health advocate for two months. Jeff and Reta hope to raise enough money from the event to expand their services into three neighboring villages.“Rarely do you have the opportunity to make your miles so meaningful,” says Reta. “Participants in the Mama’s Day 10K will literally be saving lives.”For more information, visit mamamaisha.org or register here!
Remember when your Mom used to say Try it. You’ll like it? Well, stoke up the way-back machine ‘cause we’re throwing around the same line! However we spell it TRI as in Triathlon. Since Corrigan Sports took the reins, we have been working tirelessly to build on everything you love about the Columbia Triathlon & Duathlon and the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon. If you missed the memo, here is everything you need to know about Corrigan Sports and our love for endurance events (heard of the Baltimore Marathon?). The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults is still very much involved. The primary beneficiary continues to share their knowledge and input for both events. Along with their support, we have a plethora of amenities coming to you for the 2017 events. Did someone say GREAT beer?The Columbia Triathlon is an Olympic distance and has 4 race options- Go swim, bike, run (triathlon); or run, bike, run (duathlon); or just swim, bike (aquabike). Or split the swim, bike, run with a couple of friends and do it relay style.The Iron Girl Columbia is a shorter sprint distance triathlon that you can do alone or as a 2 or 3 person relay. This one is ladies only- sorry guys. But don’t hesitate to come as a fan and cheer them on!Bottom line- 2017 is YOUR year to do a Tri. And with two awesome events to choose from, you can’t say no!USE THE CODE TryATri AND SAVE $15 OFF YOUR ENTRY ON EITHER EVENT. Some restrictions apply. Not valid on previous entries. Offer expires on April 15th.
Do you rock climb, mountain bike or paddle in the Pisgah or Nantahala National Forests of Western North Carolina? If so, American Whitewater wants to hear from you.The well-known conservation organization has teamed up with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), the Outdoor Alliance and Access Fund to create a comprehensive survey that aims to assess the economic impact of mountain biking, rock climbing and paddling in Western North Carolina’s two largest national forests.According to a press release issued by American Whitewater, “results from this study will be used to quantify the economic impact of outdoor recreation and will help the human powered outdoor recreation community provide important public input to the Nantahala and Pisgah Forest Service Plan, which is currently under review.”So do your part in giving the outdoor recreation community a voice in the important planning process of the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. But act fast. The survey will shut down at midnight tonight.
*Marathon and Half Participants Only Let us roll out the red carpet and give you a race experience fit for a king (or queen)! You’re going to train hard, so be sure to make race day easy. This add-on is available when registering online. During your race, you’ll also encounter live bands, DJs, spirit groups, and Party Zones that will offer plenty of encouragement and motivation. Need an extra burst of energy? We have you covered with junk food stops, wet washcloths, and, for marathon and half marathon participants, a shot of pickle juice! Once you cross the finish line, you’ll be greeted with a well-earned celebration on Brown’s Island complete with pizza and a Sierra Nevada Beer on the house! If you can recruit the most participants, all members of your team will receive a special shirt that will let the world know your squad was the biggest at the VCU Health Richmond Marathon! Shirts will be delivered to your team tent in the CoStar Post Race Party. Sports Backers Training Teams (Virtual, too!) Are you part of your local running club? Or do you run with a group of friends or co-workers? Either way, running as a team is always more fun and at the VCU Health Richmond Marathon, we invite you and your squad to join in on that fun, TOGETHER! Team perks include: A donation to Kids Run RVA of $50 will automatically reduce your marathon or half marathon entry fee by $20. Everyone loves our swag! More Friends, More Fun! Help us help the next generation of runners! 10+ people on your team – Each team member will receive a 10% off coupon to our merchandise store.20+ people on your team – You become eligible for a team discount. Email us for a discount code.50+ people on your team – Receive a 10×10 tent at the CoStar Post Race Party for your team/club to celebrate together! Complete your #RunRichmond Experience with More Great Options! Experience Richmond at its best! No matter which distance you choose, when you run Richmond, you’ll receive VIP treatment! With thousands of volunteers and spectators encouraging you, and more race perks than you can count, you’ll see why we’ve earned our rep as ‘America’s Friendliest Marathon.’ Sign up at www.richmondmarathon.org. Gender specific long sleeve technical race shirtCustom medal at the finish linePremium finisher item*Our famous fleece Finisher Blanket* You know what’s better than running? Running for a purpose! Kids Run RVA, our official event charity, motivates thousands of youngsters across our region to run and walk on a regular basis. Kids Run RVA places a particular emphasis on outreach to youth from underserved neighborhoods, where opportunities for physical activity are often limited. Kids Run RVA helps schools establish run clubs, encourages schools to produce their own running events, and covers expenses for kids to attend local running events like the Marathon Jr. Take some time to revel in your accomplishment, but don’t let your Richmond experience end there. Whether you’re a local or from out of town, there’s a whole city to explore. You might just decide you don’t want to leave! We want to make sure you do your best in whichever race you choose! Sports Backers offers training plans for each race to help you get to the finish line and reach your goals! Official Event Charity Along with phenomenal course support and VIP treatment, all runners receive some great swag to celebrate the race-day accomplishments, including: Run Richmond Premium Package Come run Richmond and find out why The New York Times and Travel & Leisure say we’re a Top Destination! Each of our scenic courses showcase some of our city’s favorite attributes. With street art, river views, historic architecture, and beautiful parks, our race routes treat runners to a unique and unforgettable tour of RVA that ends with our renowned downhill finish and CoStar Post Race Party on the riverfront!