On the Blogs: The German Transition

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享ChinaDialogue.net:If Angela Merkel is to win another term in Germany’s upcoming election on September 24, then winning the western state of North-Rhine/Westphalia (NRW) will be essential.NRW is the country’s most populous state, making up a fifth of the electorate. It’s also the epicentre of another political tussle: What to do about Germany’s coal sector?The state is the historic heart of Germany’s industry; an industry that is largely powered by coal. NRW sits atop Europe’s biggest lignite coal region, and despite Germany’s rapid adoption of renewables, NRW still generates 75% of its electricity from coal, making it responsible for almost 1% of global annual greenhouse gas emissions.So it’s no surprise that the Rhineland coalfields near Cologne have become a hot spot for climate activists in the past few years. Internationally, Germany is well-known for its Energiewende energy policy, a transition away from nuclear and fossil fuels to renewables. But despite the aggressive push toward renewables, coal remains central to Germany’s power supply. In recent years, electricity production from coal has hardly fallen, unlike in other developed countries such as the UK and US. In fact, lignite coal provided 23% of gross power production in 2016, and hard coal 17%.Some critics argue that coal still dominates Germany’s power generation because the country has chosen to phase-out nuclear power, with the remaining plants to shut by 2022. In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, around a dozen new coal plants opened in Germany.What’s missing from reports about the alleged “German coal renaissance” though is that Germany’s coal surge was part of a Europe-wide trend, and not just a reaction to the nuclear phase-out. Construction of many of the plants started long before the meltdown in Fukushima.German utilities began abandoning coal projects around 2011 for the simple reason that there was no demand for them. By then, it was clear that renewables growth had been underestimated. Investors cancelled two dozen projects. The surge in wind and solar power combined with on-going coal power production led to an oversupply of electricity. As a result, power exports hit a record high by 2016. Almost 8% of electricity generated in Germany last year was used in neighbouring countries.These developments have led to the so-called “Energiewende paradox”: Germany’s rapid development of renewable power has barely dented carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions even though electricity generated from renewables has more than replaced nuclear power.The result is that Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions actually increased in 2016, and are expected to grow even more in 2017.This begs the question: how will Germany kick its coal habit?To get back on track with climate targets, Agora Energiewend is calling for Germany to adopt an emergency “Climate Protection 2020” programme as soon as possible after the federal elections this month.And some utilities are already shutting down old coal plants for economic reasons. The power company STEAG, for instance, will decommission five coal-fired units because of low wholesale electricity prices. Other companies are hoping that a political agreement on phasing-out coal power will be sweetened by financial benefits for those shutting down plants.An EU agreement on stricter pollution standards for existing power plants starting in 2021 will also factor into plans for a phase-out. Notably, the German government voted against these stricter standards.Gerard Wynn from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) estimates that Germany has many gigawatts of coal and lignite generating capacity above the new limits. Owners are facing multiple headwinds: competition with renewables, sluggish power demand growth, and carbon emissions targets. Owners will have to decide whether to retrofit or close their plants. “Utilities may use this opportunity to close or sell certain coal plants before the new standard is implemented in 2021,” he said.Germany’s current government coalition has avoided specific discussion of a coal phase-out. But there are signs that preparations for one are underway.More: Future of Germany’s coal sector hangs on elections On the Blogs: The German Transitionlast_img read more

Conservatives Pan Coal, Nuclear Bailout Plan

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Washington Examiner:Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s statement that the Trump administration is looking “very closely” at using at using a Cold War-era law to save coal and nuclear plants sparked skepticism from energy experts and industry officials, who questioned how legislation designed to protect national security could apply.The Defense Production Act of 1950 was created as America’s security and economy were recovering after World War II and early in the Cold War period. President Harry S. Truman used the newly passed law at the start of the Korean War, capping wages and imposing price controls on the steel industry. Energy experts say using the Defense Production Act for that reason would stretch the law beyond what it’s meant for because there is no imminent national security threat from the [FirstEnergy] plants closing in several years.“What DOE is doing now is essentially scrubbing all potential statutes to find something that could be the most legally defensible case,” Devin Hartman, electricity policy manager at the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank, told the Washington Examiner. “The constitutionalist in all of us should just be crying out and saying this isn’t what any of these statutes were meant to do. Abusing something like a defense statute for civilian purposes undermines national security and our rule of law.”Tom Pyle, president of the free-market American Energy Alliance and Trump’s former Energy Department transition team leader, said the administration will run into the same problems with the Defense Production Act. “They are clearly in a tough spot,” Pyle told the Washington Examiner. “The Department of Energy realizes these approaches are pretty dramatic and probably not doable. So what they are doing is struggling with the idea of needing to gently tell the industry we can’t do these Hail Mary passes. It’s impossible to do legally, and they’d be stretching the intent of the law to the point it could be challenged in court.”Mike McKenna, a conservative environmental adviser with close ties to the Trump transition team, argues those considerations are not worth the effort. “It is ridiculous,” he told the Washington Examiner. “If we think coal has value that is not being properly accounted for, let’s figure that out and find a way to account for it. This is using a cleaver in lieu of a scalpel.”More: Trump’s ‘Hail Mary’ To Save Coal And Nuclear Plants Draws Skepticism Conservatives Pan Coal, Nuclear Bailout Planlast_img read more

Skeptics question hype around U.S. gas export market in Europe

first_imgSkeptics question hype around U.S. gas export market in Europe FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Washington Post:Europe is unlikely to veer from its current plans to build a small number of new plants for importing liquefied natural gas, energy experts said, casting doubts on President Trump’s claims Monday that he had secured commitments from the European Union for the construction of nine to 11 plants to boost U.S. exports.In comments at the end of a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Monday, Trump portrayed the commitment as a victory in his “fantastic meeting” with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker last week.But while there have already been about a dozen proposals on the drawing boards, no more than three or four new plants will be built anytime soon. That’s because the existing 24 LNG import facilities now operating in Europe are running at about a quarter of their capacity, said Thierry Bros, senior fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.What’s more, there are limited tools the E.U. can use to speed up construction of new plants by private companies.“We have enough capacity. We may need a little bit more in some dedicated areas. Otherwise I don’t see how we can need 11” new plants, Bros said. “There may be a few more to be needed such as one in Croatia. But all the others are there, and at end of day it is private money going into it even if regulated.”LNG will also have to compete against three large gas pipeline projects — two from Russia and one from the Caspian Sea. The NordStream 2 will deliver gas from Russia to Germany.The TurkStream will bring gas from Russia to Turkey and then Central Europe, circumventing Ukraine. And the Shah Deniz 2, which just started transporting gas from the Caspian to Turkey, will be extended into Greece, Albania and Italy.“The E.U. does not decide how many LNG terminals to build; those are commercially driven decisions,” Jason Bordoff, director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, said in an email. “Those that are built will source gas from the most competitive sources, which may or may not be U.S. LNG. The market will decide whether the E.U. takes more LNG from the U.S., not Juncker.”Over the past three years, Europe’s gas consumption has grown 17.5 percent to 470 billion cubic meters, Bros said. LNG imports accounted for 12.5 percent of that total, and they will increase as Europe’s domestic gas production declines and as consumption grows. Existing facilities for the import of LNG could meet 40 percent of current European demand.More: E.U. unlikely to build up to 11 plants to import LNG from U.S., as Trump sayslast_img read more

European, U.S. oil majors taking different roads in recovery efforts from pandemic, price crash

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Europe’s top oil and gas companies have diverted a larger share of their cash to green energy projects since the coronavirus outbreak in a bet the global health crisis will leave a long-term dent in fossil fuel demand, according to a Reuters review of company statements and interviews with executives.The plans of companies like BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total are in step with the European Union’s efforts to transition to a lower-carbon economy and away from a century-old reliance on oil, and reflect the region’s widening rift with the United States where both the government and the top drillers are largely staying committed to oil and gas.Global oil majors have all cut capital spending sharply as worldwide stay-at-home orders triggered by the coronavirus outbreak slammed fuel demand and sent oil prices to record lows. But Europe’s top five producers – BP, Shell, Total, Eni, and Equinor – are all focusing their investment cuts mainly on oil and gas activities, and giving their renewables and low carbon businesses a relative boost, according to Reuters calculations. Company executives and investors say they expect fossil fuel demand to peak earlier than previously thought. At the same time, the EU is expected to focus economic stimulus on green energy infrastructure in the wake of the crisis to further align it with the ambitions of the Paris agreement to fight climate change, making investments in the sector more attractive.The biggest U.S. oil and gas companies are taking a different path, encouraged by a government that is a vocal supporter of expanding fossil fuel production: investment in business ventures outside petroleum hardly register, and that is not going to change without a shift in government policy.Chevron CEO Mike Wirth told investors in a conference call on May 1 he expects demand for oil and gas to rebound after the coronavirus pandemic lifts. Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods echoed the view in a call with analysts on the same day.[Ron Bousso, Shadia Nasralla]More: Coronavirus widens climate rift between European and U.S. oil majors European, U.S. oil majors taking different roads in recovery efforts from pandemic, price crashlast_img read more

Siemens wins turbine contract for 325MW wind farm in Texas

first_imgSiemens wins turbine contract for 325MW wind farm in Texas FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享ReNews.biz:Siemens Gamesa has won turbine orders for two wind projects in Texas with a total installed capacity of 325MW.The projects, being developed by an undisclosed client, comprise the supply of 65 SG 5.0-145 wind turbines and a multi-year service agreement. Deliveries will begin in the summer of 2021 with both sites expected to be commissioned by end of that year.The win takes Siemens Gamesa’s total installed capacity close to 6GW in Texas.Siemens Gamesa onshore North America CEO Shannon Sturgil said: “An order of this size evidences the strong suitability and success of the SG 5.0-145 for the US market. We are proud to contribute enough low cost, clean energy for nearly 100,000 average US households to Texas, a leading state in wind energy.”The SG 5.0-145 wind features a control system with “enhanced blade aerodynamics to optimise power generation”. It has a flexible power rating that ranges between a 4.0 and 5.0, to provide a “tailored solution that fits specific site conditions”.Siemens Gamesa has supplied 22GW in the US, across 34 states, providing enough energy for over 6.5 million average US homes.More: Siemens Gamesa scores 325MW Texas orderlast_img read more

Off The Beaten Path: A Family’s Global Journey

first_imgWelcome to a new online series we call ‘Off the Beaten Path’, where we showcase the many inspirational folks from across the Blue Ridge who have stepped away from the mainstream path of everyday existence to live a more intentional and adventurous life. From thru-hikers and van-lifers to off-the-grid warriors and tiny house disciples, we’ll be bringing you the true stories behind some of the region’s most interesting and inspiring characters.This time around we’re featuring the incredible global sojourn of a family of four from Asheville, North Carolina. These days Maria Rusafova is back in her Asheville home readjusting to normal life, but for some 450 days she and her husband Kuba Markulis and their two children lived a nomadic, globetrotting lifestyle, staying in hostels and camping while soaking in the cultures of such countries as Laos, Cambodia, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, South Africa, and many, many more.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.27.16 PM“One day I woke up with the idea to take the family around the world,” Maria, who is an architect by trade, writes in a meticulously well-kept blog that chronicles nearly every aspect of the life-changing journey. “It surprised me that (my husband) Kuba cheered me on. The kids—8 & 10—were psyched. Together we told all of our friends about our plan, to prevent us from flaking out, and then spent two years working our bums off and saving while waiting for our US passport application to get approved (originally I am from Bulgaria and Kuba is from Poland).”Read on for Maria’s first-hand account of this epic family odyssey.♦♦♦BRO: What inspired you to leave home and take up a life on the road?Maria Rusfova: Taking up a life on the road was a spontaneous decision. We had happy lives here in Asheville – the kids were going to a great little school, we were content with our architecture business which was picking up pace and we had a wonderful community of friends. Still, I was itching to leave it all for a while and explore the world.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.34.01 PMI felt like our life was too fast paced and we weren’t spending a lot of quality time as a family, but most of all I was suffering from wanderlust. Selfishly I wanted to run away from chores and everyday responsibilities and live a lifestyle of surprise and adventures. At the time the idea seemed like a dream. Now, two months after coming home, the 21 month trip seems even more like a dream that the four of us shared. I am happy that we decided to keep a blog as we managed to keep a tangible memory, however tiny, of what we saw and experienced in words and photos.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.33.06 PMBRO: Where did your journey begin, and what kinds of places did you discover along the way?MR: We started the trip in Asia getting a taste of Japan, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka. At first our pace of travel was fast – we were curious and hungry to experience as much as we could. With time we slowed down and started to veer away from the backpacker trail that sneaked through this part of the world.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.32.59 PMWe noticed that we prefer visiting less popular spots and spending more time in one place, lingering and meeting locals instead of other travelers. By the time we reached India we were very comfortable traveling with no idea of what is coming next  and where the road would take us. We truly started living in the moment. This blog post captures our feelings 6 months into our journey.BRO: Where did you stay while on the road? Was there a lot of camping involved or were you mainly in hotels and hostels?MR: Our accommodations varied. We never stayed in hotels, instead we did tons of camping (Africa and South America), couch surfed, crashed at hostels, and guest houses. Whenever we could we stayed with friends we met on the road or supported local home stays which brought us closer to the culture of the place we were visiting. This way of travel was not only more rewarding but also cheaper.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.35.58 PMBRO: Of all your extensive traveling, was there one place that you and your family enjoyed the most?MR: There is no such place. We often hold a sweet spot for a place because of a certain memory or a friend we made or a food we tasted, but I can’t even begin to rate them all.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.32.43 PMBRO: Where did you find the best food on your journey?MR: The food was such a highlight of our trip and such an incredible way to explore a new culture and get immediate connection with the people preparing the meals, but it is impossible to rate our food experiences.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 4.26.40 PMI was surprised how easy it was to find good food anywhere in the world, but if I close my eyes a few meals stand out – the incredible feast prepared by our Sri Lanka friend in Colombo, our very first meal on the road prepared in a tiny Tokyo restaurant by an older lady, the colorful food cooked by Anisha, our hostess in Kerala India, our friend Mashka’s cooking in South Africa, the Banh mi sandwiches we got addicted to in Hoi Ann, Vietnam.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.21.12 PMOf course there was the fresh pad thai on the streets of Thailand and the Bulgarian food in a little restaurant in Istanbul run by a Macedonian man who became our friend and gave us extras of everything. The list is endless and we will need hours to recall all the fantastic meals we have had along the way.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.21.26 PMBefore flying home we spent two weeks in Dominican Republic with my brother’s family and in terms of food these two weeks had the greatest impact on our current lifestyle. Our sister in law is a great cook and she taught us how to bake bread, make simple and healthy meals and best of all bake delicious black bean cupcakes!BRO: How did you get around?MR: We traveled by buses, cars, rickshaws, scooters, bicycles, boats, pick up trucks – anything that moves. We took a few flights only, the rest of the time we traveled by land. We also walked a whole month in Nepal and took short hiking trips in pretty much every country we visited.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.34.43 PMBRO: What advice would you give other families that want to follow in your footsteps and take up the mobile, travel-based lifestyle?MR: I would advice them to embark on a journey like ours with no preconceived expectations and notions of how things are supposed to be. Enjoy every moment with all the good, bad, or ugly an adventure like this would inevitably bring you and keep an open mind.BRO: What is the most challenging or trying thing that happened along the way?MR: Nothing specific comes to mind. Mainly it was the daily challenge of having to constantly adapt to what was happening around us and to search for balance and home whenever we went. Yet overcoming those same daily challenges gave us an immense feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment. We learned to cherish challenges and difficulties as they provided not only entertainment and stories to recall, but also invaluable lessons of patience, compassion and resilience.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.34.37 PMBRO: You are back at home in Asheville, North Carolina now. Tell is about your life here and where you plan to go next.MR: Everything in our life is back to how it was but a little different. The kids go to new schools, we work for ourselves now and life is slowly getting busier and denser. We are determined though to keep fostering the strong family bond this trip gave us and make time for each other and we would love to be able to travel during the school breaks. We are going back to Dominican Republic for Christmas, Cuba in April and hopefully during the summer we would either hike the AT or visit Spain – the family is divided in two on that decision.Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.33.46 PMBRO: Has it been difficult to readjust to a traditional lifestyle? How has the journey changed the way you approach your everyday life in Asheville?MR: It has been surprisingly easy to readjust back to living a traditional life style. We enjoy having our kitchen, our kitty and all of our friends back in addition to our beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Yes, we did go through a culture shock, but we consider ourselves lucky to call Asheville home. In terms of how we approach life differently – we can live with less and we try to leave as much free time so we can all pursue the things that make us happy.After the trip we don’t take for granted what we have and are full of gratitude about all the opportunities for growth we have experienced as a family.last_img read more

Will you be footing the cleanup bill for bankrupt coal companies?

first_imgCoal’s share of the U.S. energy market is rapidly plunging. Low-cost fracking-generated natural gas has overtaken the use of coal at America’s power plants. Impending implementation of the Obama administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which would place stringent regulations on coal-fired power plant emissions, has also helped to drive coal production to its lowest level in decades. Government sources predict further decline.Fifty U.S. coal companies have filed for bankruptcy since 2012. Competition and more stringent environmental regulations played a role in this decline. But, just before coal prices collapsed, speculating top producers borrowed billions to finance unwise acquisitions. Now, unable to pay loan interest and principal, they have sought bankruptcy protection to restructure US$30 billion in debt. The bankrupt companies include Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources, Patriot Coal and Jim Walter Resources.Last month Peabody Energy Corp., the world’s biggest private-sector coal producer, followed suit. Peabody seeks to restructure $8.4 billion in debt. Its capitalization has fallen from $20 billion in 2011 to $38 million at the time of bankruptcy.Amid this turmoil, many observers fear that bankrupt coal companies will be able to shift their huge liabilities for reclamation, or restoring land that has been mined, to taxpayers.Panoramic image of mountaintop removal mining, West Virginia. Dennis Dimick/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND Panoramic image of mountaintop removal mining, West Virginia.Dennis Dimick/Flickr, CC BY-NC-NDCongress passed the Surface Mining Control & Reclamation Act, or SMCRA, in 1977 to prevent such a scenario. But, in my view, state and federal coal regulators have failed to ensure that coal companies have enforceable financial guarantees in place, as the law requires.I have interacted with the coal industry for 40 years, first as a government enforcement lawyer and then litigating issues relating to coal mine reclamation cases on behalf of conservation organizations and coalfield communities. I believe that if the unfunded liabilities of bankrupt coal companies are not covered by new guarantees and additional companies seek bankruptcy protection, there is a real chance that taxpayer-funded billion-dollar bailouts will be necessary to cover their cleanup costs.Planning for reclamationSMCRA was designed to prevent bankrupt coal companies from foisting onto taxpayers the costs of restoring thousands of acres of mined land and treating millions of gallons of polluted mine water.When Congress enacted the law, it identified many of the adverse impacts when mined land was not reclaimed:…mined lands burden and adversely affect commerce and the public welfare by destroying or diminishing the utility of land for commercial, industrial, residential, recreational, agricultural, and forestry purposes, by causing erosion and landslides, contributing to floods, polluting the water, destroying fish and wildlife habitats, impairing natural beauty, damaging the property of citizens, creating hazards dangerous to life and property, degrading the quality of life in local communities, and by counteracting governmental programs and efforts to conserve soil, water, and other natural resources.In the decades preceding SMCRA’s enactment, thousands of bankrupt companies abandoned mines without reclaiming them. Many of these sites remain untreated today. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, restoring streams and watersheds across Pennsylvania that were damaged by acidic drainage from mines abandoned before 1977 would cost $5 billion to $15 billion. Similarly, reclaiming mining lands abandoned in West Virginia before SMCRA will cost an estimated $1.3 billion or more.Impacts of acid mine drainage in Pennsylvania. U.S. Geological SurveySMCRA is designed to force a coal company to address and incorporate the cost of reclamation in its business planning. The law mandates that when state or federal regulators issue mining permits, coal companies must provide bonds or other financial guarantees to ensure that if they fail to fully reclaim mines, the state will have money available to do the job.Most coalfield states administer the federal law through state-law-based regulatory programs overseen by the Department of the Interior. SMCRA offers states several options. They include requiring companies to provide financial guarantees in the form of corporate surety bonds, collateral bonds or self-bonds.When companies use site-specific surety or collateral bonds, SMCRA requires states to calculate the cost of reclamation before any mining can begin. These studies must consider each mine site’s topography, geology, water resources and revegetation potential.Strip mining, Powder River Basin, Wyoming. WildEarth Guardians/Flickr, CCBY-NC-NDStates may also set up an “alternate” to a bonding system that achieves the objectives and purposes of a bonding program. This option has been described by a court as a “collective risk-spreading system that … allows a State to discount the amount of the required site-specific bond to … less than the full cost needed to complete reclamation of the site in the event of forfeiture.”Surety bonds and collateral bonds are backed by cash, real property assets and financial guarantees from banks and surety companies. If a coal company goes bankrupt, regulators can collect on these bonds and use the money to fully reclaim abandoned mined land. However, state-approved “alternative” reclamation funding systems and self-bonding by coal companies do not provide the same certainty.For example, both Pennsylvania and West Virginia approved systems in which coal operators paid nonrefundable fees into state funds that would be used to reclaim any bankrupt coal company sites. But neither required site-specific calculations of what reclamation would actually cost. Pennsylvania imposed a per-acre permit fee, and West Virginia required a few cents per-mined-ton reclamation fee.Regulators in these states – enabled by lax federal oversight – failed to ensure that companies set aside enough funds. As a result, these agencies have exposed taxpayers to potentially enormous reclamation liability.Reclamation IOUsIn 2001 a federal district court found that West Virginia’s federally approved state “alternate” bonding fund was hugely underfunded and could not guarantee reclamation of mines abandoned by bankrupt coal companies as required by SMCRA. The court held that state and federal regulators’ decade-long failure to institute a fully funded bonding system had created[A] climate of lawlessness, which creates a pervasive impression that continued disregard for federal law and statutory requirements goes unpunished, or possibly unnoticed. Agency warnings have no more effect than a wink and a nod … Financial benefits accrue to the owners and operators who were not required to incur the statutory burden and costs attendant to surface mining …SMCRA also allows companies to self-bond, if they meet rigorous asset requirements. But a self-bonding corporation’s promise to reclaim is little more than an IOU backed by company assets.In 2014 federal regulators began, in the Interior Department’s words, “exploring concerns related to the efficacy of self-bonding practices and procedure” used by states. Instead of taking action, they opted to study the issue despite strong indications of financial collapse on the horizon. Now enormous western surface mines and mountaintop removal strip mines in central Appalachia are covered by $3.6 billion in self-bonding obligations, of which $2.4 billion is held by bankrupt Peabody, Arch and Alpha.Home below a strip mine, Campbell County, Tennessee. Appalachian Voices/Flickr, CC BYCompanies reorganizing under federal bankruptcy laws will continue to mine and market coal, hoping to shed mountains of debt and eventually emerge from bankruptcy. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to obtain conventional surety bonds after they reorganize, or whether bankruptcy courts will direct the companies to use their remaining assets to partially fulfill their self-bonding obligations.One thing is clear, however. Against the backdrop of a century of coal company bankruptcies and attendant environmental damage, regulators ignored a looming coal market collapse with a wink and a nod. Properly administered, SMCRA’s reclamation bonding requirements should have required secure financial guarantees collectible upon bankruptcy.Unfortunately, coal regulators viewed America’s leading coal companies like Wall Street’s mismanaged banks – too big to fail. As a result, American taxpayers may have to pick up an enormous reclamation tab for coal producers.The ConversationPatrick McGinley, Professor of Law , West Virginia UniversityThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.last_img read more

Did Mount Everest shrink?

first_imgScientists suspect that Mount Everest may have shrunk by at least three feet following Nepal’s massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2015. Satellite data suggested the mountain may no longer measure 29,029 feet in height.A team of thirty scientists will be on the mountain this spring, lugging up specialized equipment to precisely measure the mountain. With new technology, they will be able to determine the height of Everest to the centimeter Everest was last officially measured in 1955.Mount Everest is 700 feet taller than the second tallest mountain, K2 in the Karakoram Range in Pakistan. This expedition could take up to six months due to the extreme conditions needed in order to safely summit the highest mountain on earth. After they place the equipment on the summit, it will take four days to determine the accurate measurement.Mount Everest sits at the border of Tibet and Nepal, and both the Nepalese and Chinese governments must be consulted in order to conduct the expedition.Learn more here.last_img read more

Bald Eagle Found and Treated for Injuries the day before July 4

first_imgWhile alert during his examinations, Justice was said to have no obvious fractures or other signs of trauma according to Kristy Jacobus, the clinic director at City Wildlife in a report by The Washington Post.The male eagle weighed in at 9 pounds with wide, bright yellow eyes and its tongue out panting from the distress of close contact with humans and being in an unfamiliar environment. Nevertheless, the eagle was in wonderful hands with a plan to rehabilitate the bird and get it back to the District.The next step on the road to recovery is for the eagle to be transported to a center in Delaware for further examinations including X-rays. Once the bird is cleared, it will be on its way back to the nation’s capital. Washington D.C. is home to two known bald eagles’ nests, even though they are rare in urban areas. The nest at the National Arboretum is home to the beloved pair of eagles named “Mr. President” and “First Lady,” and the other pair has been located in a nest at the D.C. police academy with the names of “Liberty” and “Justice”.Photo by: Jahi ChikwendiuFollowing a brutal rain storm on Saturday, one of the eagles was found and taken to be treated Monday at City Wildlife in D.C. The injured bird is predicted by Wildlife Biologist, Dan Rauch, to be Justice based on its talon size and weight.Justice fell victim to chance as heavy rain conditions put bald eagles at risk of water being trapped under their feathers. This weighs them down, making it common for them to be grounded- where birds don’t thrive like they do in the skies.last_img read more

Survey of On-Road Incidents Between Motorists and Cyclists

first_imgAt one point or another, nearly all of us have been either the car stuck behind the cyclist on a winding country road or the cyclist furiously pumping uphill and leading a convoy of moderately annoyed drivers. It’s an uncomfortable situation, for both the driver and the cyclist, but sometimes these encounters escalate beyond moderate annoyance to physical assault. After we posted this video of an Asheville-area driver punching a cyclist in the face, we were floored by the deluge of comments our readers had, both in support of the cyclist and in defense of the motorist.“What the video didn’t show, was the old man waiting for 10 minutes to get around the DB on the bicycle, wondering why he didnt pull that piece of shit off the road and let the 45 cars that were behind him, on a windy, blind curved, no passing lane, HIGHWAY road, go by. All while acting like he belongs there, and whining behind the “it’s my road too” BS when he gets the taste slapped out of his dumbass mouth.”“What a POS. Hope they track him down and charge him with assault.”“Why should cyclists be allowed on the road. They hold up traffic and their not registered, plated or insured.”“I almost never ride my bike on busy roadways because of all the cars. But I have that right, I pay taxes also.”The debate got us wondering—what is going on here? Is the world just so tied up in anger and hate that it’s playing out on our roads and neighborhoods? Are cyclists really paying taxes for road infrastructure? Are motorists adhering to bicycle safety laws, or being properly and consistently reprimanded when they don’t? As more and more people look to the bicycle as a means of commuting and recreation, it seems likely that motorist-cyclist altercations are destined to increase in frequency and intensity. So how can we #sharetheroad safely and fairly moving into the future?You can help! Fill out this anonymous survey and share your on-road experiences with us!last_img read more