FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the Associated Press:Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has demanded that a financially shaky Peabody Energy prove it has the $92 million necessary to reclaim coalmines if it shuts down.Madigan sent a letter Monday to the St. Louis-based coal company asking it to produce details showing it has the bond amount available for its Southern Illinois coal mines.Peabody indicated to federal regulators last week that it might “not have sufficient liquidity to sustain operations.” It also delayed for 30 days an interest payment on certain borrowed money.Madigan says she’s making the request because she fears the company’s bond funds would not be sufficient to follow state law requiring used-up mining land to be returned to other uses.Madigan demands Peabody prove it has coal mine-closure money Illinois AG Demands Peabody Show It Has $92 Million in Reclamation Funds
Montana legislator introduces bill for state to buy Colstrip coal plant FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Montana Public Radio:Lawmakers in Helena are starting to debate whether the state could borrow up to $500 million to buy the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip.The future of the plant is up in the air. The West Coast consumers who Colstrip sends most of its power to are pushing away from coal-powered electricity due to climate change concerns. Coal power is also becoming more expensive relative to electricity generated by natural gas and renewables.“There’s many people that work at Colstrip asked me to introduce a bill to save their jobs,” Billings Republican Representative Rodney Garcia said. Garcia introduced the Montana Energy Security Act (HB 203), Monday. It would allow the state to sell bonds to finance the purchase of the coal-fired power plant, and allow plant workers to keep all the benefits they had under their private employer.The Colstrip plant employs roughly 360 people, a workforce that’s the backbone of the town of Colstrip, which has a population of more than 2,000. Two of Colstrip’s four units are already scheduled to close no later than 2020, the result of a federal Clean Air Act lawsuit. The two newer, cleaner burning, units will remain online. But energy policies adopted in Washington and Oregon are trimming those states’ use of coal-fired electricity.Critics of the idea say acquiring Colstrip is a financial risk for the state. They also say the bill has numerous flaws, including creation of a new five-member commission elected by the public, which would ultimately make the purchase decision.As Montana lawmakers consider buying the Colstrip power plant, legislators in Washington state are nearing an initial vote on whether to eliminate all coal-fired power costs from their utilities. This could include Puget Sound Energy, which owns a 50 percent share of Colstrip older units 1 and 2 and a 25 percent in units 3 and 4. The proposal for Washington to cut ties with coal-fired power by the end of 2025 could get an initial vote later this week. With it may come another sign for Colstrip’s future.More: Bill would empower the state to buy Colstrip power plant
Study says new U.S. gas plants at high risk of being undercut by lower cost renewables, storage FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Natural gas-fired power plants, which have crushed the economics of coal, are on the path to being undercut themselves by renewable power and big batteries, a study found.By 2035, it will be more expensive to run 90% of gas plants being proposed in the U.S. than it will be to build new wind and solar farms equipped with storage systems, according to the report Monday from the Rocky Mountain Institute. It will happen so quickly that gas plants now on the drawing boards will become uneconomical before their owners finish paying for them, the study said.The development would be a dramatic reversal of fortune for gas plants, which 20 years ago supplied less than 20% of electricity in the U.S. Today, that share has jumped to 35% as hydraulic fracturing has made natural gas cheap and plentiful, forcing scores of coal plants to close nationwide.The authors of the study say they analyzed the costs of construction, fuel and anticipated operations for 68 gigawatts of gas plants proposed across the U.S. They compared those costs to building a combination of solar farms, wind plants and battery systems that, together with conservation efforts, could supply the same amount of electricity and keep the grid stable.As gas plants lose their edge in power markets, the economics of pipelines will suffer, too, RMI said in a separate study Monday. Even lines now in the planning stages could soon be out of the money, the report found.More: Gas plants will get crushed by wind, solar by 2035, study says
Shareholders to push Australia’s AGL Energy for quicker coal power exit plan FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:AGL Energy will face increased pressure from shareholders to accelerate the closure of two of its largest coal-fired power stations, including the Bayswater power station in NSW and the brown coal fueled Loy Yang A power station in Victoria.A shareholder motion calling for the expedited closure timeline has been lodged by shareholder advocacy group Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), which has cited AGL’s own modelling which suggests that in order to meet goals to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, the power stations need to close by 2036.AGL has indicated that it expects to close the 2,225MW Loy Yang A power station, one of Australia’s most emissions intensive power stations and one of only a few remaining that still uses brown coal, in 2048.AGL also operates the 1,680 megawatt Liddell power station, which is scheduled to close in April 2023. In the past year, more than 80 per cent of its power supply came from coal.Of particular concern to the shareholder group is AGL’s growing expenditure on “sustaining” its existing power station assets, which has increased from an estimated $154 million in 2013, to an expected $592 million in 2020, an almost four-fold increase.“Investors must question whether this expenditure is in the long-term interests of shareholders,” ACCR’s director of climate and environment Dan Gocher said. “Prudent capital allocation is a fiduciary responsibility of AGL to its investors. ‘Sustaining’ capital expenditure has grown from 25% of total capital expenditure in FY2013 to 72% (estimated) in FY2020. This allocation of capital expenditure suggests AGL is maintaining its coal-fired power stations at the expense of accelerating its transition.”[Michael Mazengarb]More: AGL faces call from activist shareholders to accelerate exit from coal power
Wood Mackenzie sees $1 trillion renewable energy investment opportunity in Asia to 2030 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Windpower Monthly:Wind and solar PV could attract more investment than any other power generation source in the Asia Pacific region in the next decade as the two technologies become cost-competitive with coal by 2030, according to new analysis.Consultancy Wood Mackenzie believes the region’s power generation sector could attract investments worth $1.5 trillion through to 2030. It forecasts wind and solar will account for 66% of this ($1 trillion), with fossil fuels – mainly coal and gas – taking the remaining €500 billion.The analysts forecast more than 170GW of new power capacity will be added every year until 2030.Senior analyst Rishab Shrestha said: “Traditionally, energy security and availability of low-cost coal are key drivers of coal investment in Asia. However, investment sentiment towards coal is waning as economies strive for a more sustainable and greener future.”While Wood Mackenzie believe wind and solar PV will be cost-competitive with coal by 2030, this is already the case in many other markets.The analysts forecast that wind and solar’s combined share of generation in Asia Pacific will more than double to 17% by 2030, with more than 50 regional markets out of the 81 modelled exceeding a 10% share.[Craig Richard]More: ‘Wind and solar a $1 trillion investment opportunity in Asia Pacific’
Dear EarthTalk: I don’t hear much about the environmental impacts of our consumer culture any more, but it seems to me that our “buy, buy, buy” mentality is a major contributor to our overuse of energy and resources. Are any organizations addressing this issue today? – M. Oakes, Miami, FLThere is no doubt that our overly consumerist culture is contributing to our addiction to oil and other natural resources and the pollution of the planet and its atmosphere.Unfortunately the tendency to acquire and even horde valuable goods may be coded into our DNA. Researchers contend that humans are subconsciously driven by an impulse for survival, domination and expansion which finds expression in the idea that economic growth will solve all individual and worldly ills. Advertising plays on those impulses, turning material items into objects of great desire imparting intelligence, status and success. William Rees of the University of British Columbia reports that human society is in a “global overshoot,” consuming 30 percent more material than is sustainable from the world’s resources. He adds that 85 countries are exceeding their domestic “bio-capacities” and compensate for their lack of local material by depleting the stocks of other countries.Of course, every one of us can do our part by limiting our purchases to only what we need and to make responsible choices when we do buy something. But those who might need a little inspiration to get started should look to the Adbusters Media Foundation, a self-described “global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age.”Among the foundation’s most successful campaigns is Buy Nothing Day, an international day of protest typically “celebrated” the Friday after Thanksgiving in North America (so-called Black Friday, one of the year’s busiest shopping days) and the following Saturday in some 60 other countries. The idea is that for one day a year we commit to not purchase anything, and to help spread the anti-consumerist message to anyone who will listen, with the hope of inspiring people to consume less and generate less waste the other 364 days of the year. The first Buy Nothing Day took place in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1992 with a few dozen participants, but today hundreds of thousands of people all over the world take part.In recent years some anti-consumerists have added Buy Nothing Christmas to their agendas as well. Some ideas for how to leverage Buy Nothing Christmas sentiment without looking too much like Scrooge include giving friends and family “gift exemption” cards and asking shoppers in line at a big box store, “What would Jesus buy?” Beyond Buy Nothing Day and Buy Nothing Christmas, the Adbusters Media Foundation stokes the fire of anti-consumerism throughout the year via its bi-monthly publication, Adbusters, an ad-free magazine with an international circulation topping 120,000. Do yourself a favor and subscribe…and cancel all those catalogs stuffing up your mailbox in the meantime.CONTACTS: Adbusters, www.adbusters.org; Buy Nothing Day, www.adbusters.org/campaigns/bnd.
Follow Graham Averill’s adventures in drinking and Dad-hood at daddy-drinks.com Everyone get a pencil and some paper. I’m about to drop some knowledge. Ready? Write this down. It’s the recipe for A Good Time.1 bicycle (It can be a road bike, a mountain bike, a fixie, a singlespeed, a 10-speed, a cargo-bike…whatever, as long as it has two wheels and handlebars.)6 cans of cheap beer. (Not just any canned beer, cheap canned beer, because you’re probably going to accidentally crush a can or two. Pabst is fine. Coors works. Avoid local—it’s a sin to waste local beer.)Got that? 1 bike, 6 cans of beer.Now set those cans of beer up in a line, maybe 3-4 feet apart from each other. Then get a few friends and see who can ride through the line of cans the fastest. If you dab a foot, you have to chug a beer. If you knock over a can, you have to chug a beer. If you crush a can, you have to chug two beers.That’s it, that’s the game, which I’ve named A Good Time. Fastest time through the cans (out and back) wins. The beauty of this game is in its simplicity and portability. You can play it anywhere—in your driveway, at the trailhead after a ride, in the parking lot of a PTA meeting…Obviously, the closer the can placement, the harder the game, so I’ll leave that element up to your discretion and ability.I also love A Good Time because it combines the simple bike handling challenges of youth with the simple drinking challenges of adulthood, effectively enabling you to relive the best moments of your childhood while simultaneously enjoying the best bits of adulthood. Call it nostalgic carpe diem.Now, if you really get into the spirit of A Good Time, you’ll create a series of bike skills/drinking challenges to fill out a complete pentathlon of events. May I suggest a bunny hopping/keg stand challenge, and a track stand while drinking a beer challenge (you’ll need a designated beer holder to stand next to the biker with this one). And while you’re in the mood, why not spend hours developing a point system and crafting some sort of trophy for the overall winner of this Epic Bike/Beer Pentathlon. Maybe, something like a bike helmet that holds and dispenses two 12-ounce beers for hands-free biking and imbibing. (See below).1 bike, 6 cans of beer=hours of fun.
Let me just say from the onset that I. Love. This. Guy.It takes a big man to stay calm in the face of such adversity, and Bill Dance is a big man. Whether he is testing the strength of a fishing rod against the speed of a ceiling fan, artfully fending off the sexual advances of a black swan, or riding into the sunset on his four-wheeler, you know he’s going to keep it cool and collected. He may sport a Tennessee Volunteers hat in every shot, but he was certainly raised in the School of Hard Knocks and knows how to handle himself when s$%# hits the fan and the cameras are rolling.Such class and finesse, but what about the power! Watch as Dance absolutely man-handles a trolling motor at 1:00. Witness the brute strength as he throws his boat battery at 1:24. This is truly a man who knows his way around both a tackle shop and a weight room.
Dear Mountain Mama,How do I juggle long runs with parenting young children? My husband and I work opposite schedules, which cuts down on our need to use child care. But it also means my husband is working when I’m off work and can squeeze in long runs. I’ve considered a babysitter, but I feel guilty about starting the weekend by leaving my kids at home while I go running. Any suggestions?Yours,Running Mama Dear Running Mama,As parents, we all want what’s best for our children. Given the staggering rates of childhood obesity, we know getting them active and outside is important. We also want to spend as many non-working hours with them as possible. That includes taking them for walks and bike rides, getting them outside and active. But as parents, we also need to raise their own heart rates.Taking care of our bodies helps us become the best parents we can – relaxed and present for the full plates we constantly juggle. Knowing that, we need to take scheduled exercise as part of our daily lives, scribbling it on our calendar as if it were an appointment.I plan my long runs as a must-do, non-negotiable on my to-do list. And I have a babysitter who meets me at the park where my running group runs. I pack snacks, toys, and a stroller so she and my son can set off for a hike as I run with my friends. He waves good-bye as my friends and I trot into the woods in front of him and disappear between the oaks and hemlocks. On the drive home, we swap stories about our adventures in the woods.The good news is that the younger kids are, the more they want to hang out with you. Take advantage of that and get them in the habit of exercising for fun. And just as important as making sure our kids exercise is modeling good exercise habits for our children. Lead by example. When our children see us socialize with others outside and exercise, they see that a healthy lifestyle is fun.All too often we exercise outside the view of our kids, either when they’re asleep or in the care of others. They see us walk out the door, but they have no idea we’re going for running, paddling, or biking. When they actually see our commitment to the outdoors, they’re more likely to believe when we tell them that we exercise to stay healthy, to be strong, and to have more energy.Reinforcing an outdoor lifestyle as a family value early in life is highly correlated with enjoyment of the outdoors later in life. According to the findings in the 2012 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, the more time kids spend outside during the childhood is the number one predictor of the amount of time they spend outside as adults. And youth report spending time with family and friends as a top reason why they enjoy the outdoors. So the more we can engage our youth and integrate them with outside pursuits, the more likely we are to foster a generation passionate about the outdoors.Think outside the box and you’ll be able to spend time with your kids and get in that long run.Happy Trails!Mountain Mama
“The Grand Canyon of the East,” North Carolina’s Linville Gorge, is located entirely in the Pisgah National Forest. This wilderness area provides a playground for all types of outdoor lovers. Sightseers and day hikers commonly visit the various deep swimming holes and gorgeous waterfalls that mark the Linville River. A wide range of trailheads allows for manageable day hikes to premier climbing routes such as Sitting Bear Rock, Table Rock and Amphitheatre. However, Linville Gorge is probably best known for its hiking circuit. Often said to have the most difficult terrain east of the Rocky Mountains, the Linville Gorge Hiking Circuit attracts visitors from all over the country.Locals to the area cherish this wilderness gem. In fact, those who so often find themselves wandering the woods of the Linville Gorge Wilderness have earned the prestigious nickname “Gorge Rats.” My husband Joel and I spent many months together in the town of Boone – just 45 minutes from Linville. Living in the area surrounding the Linville Gorge, we put in countless hours exploring the rim of the Gorge – hiking short trails and camping on sites along the access roads. This year we sat on the edge of the Wiseman’s View scenic overlook and peered out over the enchanting wilderness. In that moment we decided it was about time we hiked down into the Gorge, camped by the side of the rushing river, and allowed ourselves to be tested by the strenuous hiking circuit.A few months later, we loaded our packs and headed into the Linville Gorge for a three-day backpacking trip. We made several crucial preparations before leaving home that I would strongly suggest to anyone planning to hike the trails of the Linville Gorge Hiking Circuit: we researched the route, read online Linville Gorge hiking forums and purchased Phil Phelan’s guidebook, “Linville Gorge Hiking Circuit.” Not all trails on the Linville Gorge Loop are well beaten and often the blazed trail can be difficult to follow, so, it is imperative to be prepared and well equipped. In my opinion, no one should step foot into the Linville Gorge Wilderness without, at the least, a compass and topographic map.Another important preparation for hiking the Linville Gorge Wilderness is, like with any backpacking trip, to consider your water sources. For shorter hikes, you may choose to carry in your supply of drinking water. However, there are no potable water sources within the Gorge. So, if you plan to hike for an extended time, be sure to bring along a filtering system. Apart from avoiding becoming lost, another great reason to bring along a guidebook is for locating quality spots to replenish your water supply. We had been warned to avoid filtering water from the Linville River as it is polluted with farm runoff. So, we opted to filter water from the springs and streams along our hike. Phil Phelan’s guide was helpful for knowing when and where to fill up our water.There are loads of trailheads that give you the option to hike shorter portions of the Linville Gorge Hikers Circuit. During our three-day trek we made a few mental notes of killer campsites that would be fun to hike into for an overnight trip. Babel Tower, being one of those, can be reached with a day hike from Babel Tower trailhead. However, to complete the hikers circuit, or even a modified version of it, park in the Pine Gap trailhead parking area. The Gorge Circuit begins from the middle of the parking lot on a trail that can be, at times, unrecognizable. A well-beaten trail to the southern corner of the parking lot marked with a “Linville Gorge Wilderness” sign will be the point of return for the hiker circuit.If you are up for the challenge, the Gorge will win your heart as it pushes you, wears you out and then rewards you with beauty. Those who have walked its soil before have left behind many scattered campsites, each with a small fire pit assembled from rocks found nearby. The best sites come with an incredible view and level ground to sleep on. Weekend hikers must apply for a required permit through the National Park Service.However, if you go on a weekday (like we did), not only will you not need a permit; but you might just have the whole place to yourself. During the three days we spent in the Linville Gorge Wilderness, we only saw one other couple and their dogs. It was refreshing to find ourselves secluded among the soaring mountains and rushing river.Completing the Linville Gorge Hikers Circuit entails 16,605 ft. of elevation change and 33.93 miles of scaling several mountains, crawling up and down 70-degree inclines and crossing the rushing river. Be prepared to follow your compass, bathe in the river, be awestruck by flawless views and tango with a few copperhead snakes. Whether day hiking or thru hiking the hikers circuit, anytime spent in the Linville Gorge is a transformative experience. We like to call the seemingly magical effect this wilderness has on those who forge its trails a “gorge cleanse.” It is surly a trip you will not regret taking.In order to maintain the “magic,” the most important piece of advice I can give those planning to hike into the Gorge is, “Play your part in preserving the beauty by leaving no trace behind.”Related: