Editorial: End This Coal-Industry Scam

first_imgEditorial: End This Coal-Industry Scam FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the Seattle Times:When coal-mining operations go bust, companies can duck environmental-reclamation obligations, and the taxpayers get the shaft. Or actually the open pit or strip mine.U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., is asking Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to protect taxpayers from a long-standing scam in federal legislation that lets coal companies avoid their duty to clean up the lucrative mess they have made.Coal companies are technically bound by the 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act to clean up, but the commitment might have nothing more behind it than bonds issued by the companies — self-bonds. The pledges and assurances can turn into dust.If companies go bankrupt, as has happened with the recent downturn in the global coal market, the bonds are virtually worthless. The huge tab to clean up the coal-mining sites falls on state and federal taxpayers.The senator does not use the word “scam.” But we can.Cantwell is concerned about several elements of the process. For example, the law has natural-resource regulators working outside their skill sets. They do the initial financial analysis on self-bonding proposals, assessing the coal company’s financial health.Cantwell’s recent letter to Jewell points out neither the U.S. Interior Department nor any state is required to accept self-bonds, but it happens.In Wyoming, coal giant Arch Coal received clearance to issue self-bonds from the state in September 2015, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection four months later.Bankruptcy proceedings are no assurance of accountability. A bankruptcy court in Virginia allowed a coal company to juggle debts and reclamation obligations, but pay 15 executives $12 million in bonuses.Cantwell has other concerns about coal pricing and royalty payments, but her questions come down to a point that ought to resonate with taxpayers looking at billions in reclamation liabilities:Would the administration support a prohibition on any new self-bonds for coal-mining reclamation going forward?End this scam available to the coal industry.End coal’s self-bonding scamlast_img read more

Report finds China is using green bonds to fund coal projects

first_imgReport finds China is using green bonds to fund coal projects FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Chinese financial institutions provided at least $1 billion in “green” financing to coal-related projects in the first half of this year, a review of financial data showed, with fossil fuels still playing a major role in Beijing’s energy strategy.According to Shanghai-based financial data provider Wind, 7.4 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) in green corporate and financial bonds were issued by 13 coal projects in the first half of the year. They involved power plants fueled by coal or coalbed methane as well as coal-to-chemical projects.Cutting coal and encouraging cleaner forms of energy is a major part of China’s efforts to reduce smog and greenhouse gases. The share of coal in the country’s total energy mix fell to 59% last year, down from 68.5% in 2012, and it aims to cut that share to around 50% by 2030. But overall capacity is still set to grow even as it falls as a share of the total, and China also needs to upgrade existing mines and plants. Thus, while many global financial institutions have said they will no longer fund coal projects, their Chinese counterparts have not followed suit.Last year, more than a quarter of the green bonds issued in China failed to meet international criteria, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), a non-profit group that promotes global green bond standards.Chinese regulators were planning earlier this year to devise new standards to prevent coal projects from issuing green bonds to bring the nation more in line with global norms. But the move has been opposed by state planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, with funding still needed for ultra-low emissions technology and to develop cleaner coal revenue streams such as coal chemicals and coalbed methane.More: China provides $1 billion in ‘green’ finance to coal projects in first half of the yearlast_img read more

Western Australia energy minister: ‘All future generation will be renewable’

first_imgWestern Australia energy minister: ‘All future generation will be renewable’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Western Australia energy minister Bill Johnston has all but ruled out the development of any new thermal fossil fuel generation of any sort in the state, due to the cheap cost of renewable energy and the government’s aspirational target of net-zero emissions by 2050.Speaking at the online Stimulus Summit, co-hosted by Renew Economy and the Smart Energy Council on Wednesday, Johnston said the Labor McGowan government – one of Australia’s only state or territory governments without a formal renewable energy target – had no plan for new energy generation beyond renewables.“I can’t see new thermal generation being built in Western Australia,” Johnston told the summit. “All new generation currently being built is renewable, so there isn’t any reason to have any other plan.“All future generation will be renewable because that’s now the lowest cost. The whole system plan is about guiding the investment to make sure it’s done at the lowest unit cost, so we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to avoid needing to build new transmission infrastructure by using the whole system plan to guide the inevitable investment in new generation here in Western Australia which, as I say , will all be done in renewables.”This might seem like a statement of the obvious – as Renew Economy reported here just last week, further cost reductions in both large-scale solar PV and onshore wind projects mean that these two technologies are now by far and away the cheapest form of new build energy generation in areas that count for two-thirds of the world’s population, and 85 per cent of the globe’s electricity generation.But not all governments in Australia are prepared to concede that it doesn’t make economic – or environmental – sense to build new coal or gas plants on a grid rapidly shifting to low-cost renewables and storage. The federal government, for one, steadfastly refuses to close the door on new coal or gas “baseload” power generation, with federal energy minister Angus Taylor just this week talking up a “gas-fired recovery” for Australia’s economy, post Covid-19.[Sophie Vorrath]More: W.A. sees no new thermal generation being built, even with no state RETlast_img read more

Snow

first_imgThe snow is here. It came so suddenly, falling quickly onto mud-soaked trails still warm from an Indian Summer.Even the weekend was warm, although the skies threatened what was soon to come. Maybe it was my little brother Timmy gracing the Pisgah Forest from his home in Moab that kept the cold rain at bay for yet another day. We had an old-homey ride. Magic like that can turn the sucker hole of a storm into a glory hole, which it did. The dark clouds hung around the periphery, only slightly glistening us with drizzle in only the sweatiest of climbs.I guess I was just in denial. After all, November is over. I begrudgingly built a fire with soggy kindling, and spent the day trying to get it hotter and hotter. I never really accomplished that task despite expending all of my energy into making other people’s body’s better through massage. I just couldn’t shake the chill. The electric heater in the corner buzzed relentlessly, yet never really morphed into what I wanted it to be: a down comforter in a big bed with hot tea.I got the kids from school in my mud-spattered truck and the puppy greeted us with sloppy paws. I shivered in my down jacket. We slopped across the house in a stream from the back door to the front hall closet where we dumped our wet things. All the kids wanted to do was shoot their new cap guns, which I had banned to the outside for my own sanity. I built the fire bigger as I compromised with a gun battle in the garage where they also spun their bikes across the cold cement.Already the back yard is a quagmire, and the pump track a small swimming hole. This can’t bode well for what the trails look like, which is excellent justification for not riding. It was a true soaking over the last two days. The steady rain covered the region, quenching a rather dry crust, like leftover summer. If the snow falls like it has been we will see another lush spring. The moss finally came back this summer, but only in patches. I see that I’m already looking forward to meadows of wildflowers.So I dig through the back of the closet past the summer riding clothes and find the fleece tights and thermal shirts. It is time. Perhaps if I get warm enough I will work up the courage to leave the woodstove…last_img read more

Food and Pesticides

first_imgPesticide Action Network’s “What’s On My Food” website and iPhone app help consumers know specifically which pesticide residues are likely ending up on their foods (and in their bloodstreams). Photo Cred: Pesticide Action NetworkEarthTalk®E – The Environmental MagazineDear EarthTalk: How do I learn about what pesticides may be on the food I eat?                                                                                                             — Beatrice Olson, Cleveland, OHAlong with the rise in the popularity of organic food has come an increased awareness about the dangers lurking on so-called “conventionally produced” (that is, with chemical pesticides and fertilizers) foods.“There is a growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during vulnerable periods such as fetal development and childhood,” reports author and physician Andrew Weil, a leading voice for so-called integrative medicine combining conventional and alternative medical practices. He adds that keeping one’s family healthy isn’t the only reason to avoid foods produced using chemical inputs: “Pesticide and herbicide use contaminates groundwater, ruins soil structures and promotes erosion, and may be a contributor to ‘colony collapse disorder’, the sudden and mysterious die-off of pollinating honeybees that threatens the American food supply.”In general, fruits and vegetables with an outer layer of skin or rind that can be peeled and discarded are the safest in terms of pesticide residues. Most pesticides are sprayed on the outside of produce. So if you are going to toss the rind of that cantaloupe, you might as well save money and buy a conventional version. But a red pepper would be a different story: For those items consider it money well spent to go organic.The non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) lists a “dirty dozen” of fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide load so that consumers know to look for organic varieties of them when possible. The dirty dozen are: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce and kale/collard greens.Another non-profit working hard to raise awareness about pesticide residues on foods is the Pesticide Action Network (PAN). The group’s recently launched website and accompanying iPhone app called “What’s On My Food” helps consumers know specifically which pesticide residues are likely ending up on their foods (and in their bloodstreams). In creating the database, PAN linked pesticide food residue data with the toxicology for each chemical and made the combined information easily searchable. “Pesticides are a public health problem requiring public engagement to solve,” the group reports, adding that “What’s On My Food” can be an important tool in raising awareness.While the website version of “What’s On My Food” is helpful for advance planning, the iPhone app is handy while plying the supermarket produce aisles to help decide whether to go for organic vegetables or stick with the cheaper conventional ones. For instance, the database shows that conventionally grown collard greens likely contains residues of some 46 different chemicals including nine known/probable carcinogens, 25 suspected hormone disruptors, 10 neurotoxins and eight developmental/reproductive toxins—not to mention 25 different compounds known to be harmful to honeybees. Spending a little quality time on the website or app is enough to drive anyone to more organic food purchasing.CONTACTS: Andrew Weil, www.drweil.com; PAN, www.whatsonmyfood.org; EWG, www.ewg.org.EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine ( www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: [email protected] Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.last_img read more

Mountain Mama | Rediscovering Holiday Joy

first_imgThis year I had planned to skip Christmas. My four-year-old son was going to his dad’s house, and the holidays didn’t seem nearly as amazing and joyful without him. I doubted I’d find the magic of the season without sharing his excitement on Christmas morning, and so I opted not to celebrate.On Christmas Eve Santa delivered every paddler’s dream – lots of rain. My friend and his son were going paddling so I tagged along. We met up with two other boys and another dad in Hot Springs. All six of us piled into a car and headed to the put-in.The boys swapped stories about where they’d paddled since the last time they saw one another. One had recently kayaaked the Green River Narrows, another had styled Wilson’s Creek for the first time.  We stopped at the Laurel River Store to check to gauge. The water kissed the marker a few inches above two feet and was on the rise. The dads conferred and decided that a swim would be long and cold so we opted for a Section 9 run of the French Broad instead of paddling the Laurel.The river ran brown, carrying whole trees in its swirling rage. The waves loomed over our kayaks, casting shadows on our decks. The paddlers in front disappeared entirely from view. We high-fived and smiled at the bottom of the bigger rapids, all feeling happy to be on the water.1934184_1662308987376717_3072866356966009963_nWe pulled our kayaks onto the bank at the confluence of Laurel River and the French Broad. The dads decided to add to the adventure by hiking the boats up the river trail and putting on so that the boys could have at least a little taste of the Laurel at high water.Two of the boys glanced the rapids and started reconsidering whether they wanted anything to do with the creek at that level.  Their pace slowed and then they took a break to shuffle the boats from one shoulder to the other.When the dads offered to help their boys, one of the boys told his father how scared he was by the Laurel River, which escalated into a general fear of paddling the last two rapids on the French Broad that day.His dad said, “Take it one little adventure at a time.”  He assured his son that he didn’t have to paddle anything that he didn’t want to, but that he shouldn’t make a decision about the rest of the river until he got there.A few minutes later we saw deer swimming down a rapid, their bodies nearly vertical as their heads bobbed amongst the waves. When the rapid subsided, they frantically swam toward the shore and scrambled up the bank. The boys and I watched their dads paddle the Laurel, and then all got into our boats to paddle the rest of the French Broad, pausing to gape at a bald eagle flying high above.By the time we drove to the put-in, Christmas lights sparkled in the twilight. Carols looped in my head as we recounted the small adventures that unfolded that day.1525112_1662309040710045_262446807883075700_nI spent Christmas day still basking in the afterglow of big water paddling and indulged in a poetry bender that lasted until the late afternoon when I finally peeled myself off my futon to join another family’s post-holiday hang out. Sitting in the easy company with people I barely knew, I felt a sense of peace that comes with understanding that the magic of Christmas doesn’t require spending time with any one person, not even my own sweet boy.I thought about the conversation I had overheard between father and son, how I had been like the son, indulging my fear until it loomed so large I wanted to avoid the holiday. I realized that letting fear snowball results in missing out on the best parts of life.By taking it one little adventure at a time, whether it’s paddling a river at a higher level than I’m accustomed to, diving into the quiet space of being alone, or spending a holiday with new friends, the joy of life on and off the river becomes more apparent.last_img read more

Our Step-by-Step Video Guide to Crushing Friday in Martinsville-Henry County!

first_img Check out our step-by-step guide for how to #CrushFridayVA in Martinsville-Henry County, including learning new skills at The Sustainable Homestead Institute, hitting the water at Philpott Lake, and rocking out at RoosterWalk (tickets still available!).last_img

Kayak Fishing 101

first_imgKayaking is an ancient form of transportation, dating back over 4,000 years. Indigenous peoples of the Artic are credited for the first kayaks, mainly using them for hunting on open rivers, lakes, and coastal waters, and for transportation during times of travel and migration. And now kayak fishing is gaining popularity in the South East.Kayak fishing has recently exploded in the sport fishing world. They are relatively inexpensive (compared to drift and motor boats), low maintenance, and can easily be stored and transported. They provide a stealthy way to sneak up on fish and can easily access hard to reach habitats.ram-mount-fly-2_1716_detailKayak Fishing with a fly rod is no different than beginning any other hobby. It can be overwhelming with all the options available and can be frustrating at first, but like all things, practice makes perfect. Take your fly fishing game to the next level with these 5 quick tips on where and how to begin in the world of kayak fishing.1. Boat Selection is key. Kayaks come in all shapes, sizes and colors. You need to analyze where you fish the majority of the time, and what is important to you when you’re out on the water. Ask yourself, what fish do you want to catch and where do they live?Do you paddle on open waterways where tracking and speed make life easier? Maybe you’re out chasing reds in the coastal regions or taking on bigger lakes in search of striped bass. Look for a longer kayak with tracking ability that will allow you to cover more ground quickly and with less effort.ATAK Redfish1Unedited2. What is life without accessories right?Here are a few key accessories that you need to have for successful kayak fishing.PFD – Find a PFD (Personal Floatation Device/Lifejacket) that fits you and is comfortable. Now wear it. It can SAVE YOUR LIFE. Make sure it works with the seating of your kayak, so you can stay comfortable during long outings. Pick one that will also act as a fishing vest. Keep your essential fishing tools easily accessible.Paddle & Paddle Leash- Again, endless options out there. Know the width of your boat, your height and arm span. Pick a paddle that is the right length for you. You need to get the most of each stroke. Picking the wrong paddle will only make you work harder on the water. Save your energy to get more casts in. Have some way of connecting your paddle with your boat at all times. Nothing would suck more than being stuck off-shore (or up the creek) without a paddle.Rod holders- Several fishing kayaks now come with top of the line rod holders. Test a few out to see which ones you like best. Move them around to different places on your kayak and experiment to find a setup that works for you. Two I recommend are Scotty Rod Holders and Mounts and Ram Mounts Rod & Accessory HoldersOrion-Big-Rig-2-e1440968608118Cooler – You need to have a cooler, and it needs to fit on your boat. If you have a sit-on pick a good collapsible cooler that can fit in your dry storage or behind your seat. The Yeti Hopper is a great example. For sit-on-tops most kayaks have a large deck in the front or back of your boat that a cooler will fit on. The Orion Coolers by Jackson Kayak provide a great seat and/or standing platform on several of their fishing kayaks. With 4 tie down points, you can easily strap it down to your kayak.Once you pick out your accessories and have your ideal set-up, test it out. Find out how to rig everything for a successful day of kayak fishing. Distribute the weight as evenly as possible. It will help you with stability. Plan on a capsize. Make sure everything is secured to the boat before heading out. Again, practice your cast after you have your set-up figured out. Know where your line will go and where everything is located so you can access it quickly.3. Plan to get wet, try to stay dry.Wear the right clothing.Quick drying and self-wicking apparel can make a big difference on the water. If you’re in the sun, pick clothing with SPF capabilities. In colder environments, focus on keeping your extremities warm. Elements can be more severe on the water. Plan on quick weather changes. Be prepared and check your forecast, tide schedules, and/or river flows & releases before getting on the water.It’s all in your HEAD! Keep your head centered in the kayak. Most fishing kayaks are designed to be as stable as possible within their design. But if your center of balance goes too far one way or the other, so will the boat. Keeping your head centered will drastically reduce your chances of capsizing. Again, practice your cast, sitting and standing, so you can find your balance. Lean over the edge only when you need to, and lean with your body keeping your head as close to the center of the boat as you can.coosaproductpage34. Casting from your kayak. Where you are fishing will determine the cast you use the most. Big open water allows for more overhand cast, whereas tight streams require more roll and side arm cast. Practice your cast before heading out. It will feel a bit different from your kayak at first.   Naturally, the less body movement and body weight shifting the better. Casting with your rod and line closer to the water can be difficult. Maintain a firm wrist when casting and put more emphasis on an abrupt stop no further than the 2:00 position. It is easier to drop your rod and cause line slap out of a kayak. Keeping a firm wrist and paying attention to your stop points can help you avoid spooking fish. Always pay attention to your line. Line management is key, and remember to anchor up before casting and secure your paddle before grabbing your rod.5. Landing a Fish.If you’re standing when you set the hook, most anglers will try to ease their way to a sitting position while playing the fish. Stabilize yourself. Keep your line tight and rod above head. (Head centered in kayak) This will allow you to maneuver the fish and avoid obstacles such as anchors. Use your seat and foot pegs for balance. Fish grips are a popular way to handle fish on a kayak, but many keep a net ready. Your preference.img_1221Many local outfitters have demo and rental kayaks. Take advantage of this. Rent a few different styles of kayaks/SUPS to see which one fits you best. A good test drive before committing to buy is always recommended![divider]About the Author[/divider] 12743498_223674107977541_6632161688953423639_nJessica Whitmire is the Operations and Marketing Director for Headwaters Outfitters, a Fly Fishing and Paddle Sports Outfitter located in Rosman, North Carolina on the banks of the French Broad River. Headwaters was voted Best Fly Fishing Outfitters in 2016 by Blue Ridge Outdoors readers.last_img read more

Alpine Helen, North Georgia Mountains: No Passport Required

first_imgTaste: Helen offers over 25 restaurants, including cafés, bakeries and farm to table. Our many candy shops are open to tempt your taste buds.  Explore: the many waterfalls and hiking trails in the region – including Unicoi State Park’s lake trail where you can canoe, swim, geocache, and take part in daily activities. Rent or bring your own mountain bike to tackle the many adventurous trails in the area. Enjoy: mining for gemstones in three different locations. Tube, kayak, or canoe down the Chattahoochee River, ride horses and ATV’s in the mountains, zip line at three breathtaking locations, and mini golf with your family.   Travel: to a place that has Old World towers, gingerbread trim, traditional German foodstuffs, and strasses and platzes spilling over with Scandinavian goods.  Stay: downtown in one of our hotels and condominiums or in the woods at one of our cabins or campgrounds.  Take: the Unicoi Wine trail and enjoy seven award winning White County Wineries/Tasting rooms. Photograph Indian mounds, old mills, historical buildings and nature at its best.  Tour: the Historic Hardman Farm and Smithgall Woods Conservation area, as well as several Antique shops. Go: fly fishing on Smith Creek, Dukes Creek, or the Chattahoochee River, and golfing on a Champion par 72 mountain course See: a natural beauty perched on the Chattahoochee River in the Northeast Georgia Mountains. Alpine Helen-White County is an outdoors persons dream come true.  For these and many more options visit us at helenga.org or call 1-800-858-8027last_img read more

Breathe in the Fresh Air at Raystown Lake

first_img Explore four season travel to the Raystown Lake Region of Pennsylvania. Luxury mountain homes, houseboats, bed & breakfasts, hotels and campgrounds are available to fit any size group, family or couple’s getaway. With many outdoor public spaces, the Raystown Lake Region has opportunities aplenty to breathe in the fresh air, walk through the forest, enjoy the wilderness scenery of Raystown Lake and paddle the gentle waters of the Juniata River. So bring your boots, kayak, fishing pole and mountain bike to really get the most out of your time in Huntingdon County. You will find many spots to relax and unwind that are free to access like Trough Creek, Greenwood Furnace and Whipple Dam State Parks, the Juniata College Peace Chapel, Standing Stone Trail with the unique Thousand Steps section, the Allegrippis Trails, Raystown Mountain Bike Skills Park, the Mid State Trail and the Seven Points Recreation Area. Other options include kicking back on a seasonal Raystown Lake boat tour, delving into the natural wonders of Huntingdon County underground on a cave tour or discovering one of our local museums filled with living history and local lore. You can always contact the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau (HCVB) office either prior to or during your “Raycation” for more information: (888) 729-7869, [email protected] or online at www.Raystown.org. center_img last_img read more