Lobbying Spending by U.S. Coal Companies Down by Half Since 2012 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Catherine Traywick for Bloomberg News:Cash-strapped coal companies are reaching the conclusion that energy policy is a matter for the courts rather than Congress. As dwindling demand puts pressure on mining companies to cut costs and climate rules threaten their very survival, many are shifting scarce resources from lobbyists to lawyers.“They’re not reducing their political efforts; they’re simply shifting tactics,” said Jeffrey Berry, a lobbying expert and professor of political science at Tufts University. “As we’ve found with many EPA regulations, going to court can put a monkey wrench in the administration’s plans.”“It may be a better investment than going to your friends in Congress and asking ‘Can we have this?’” he said.Lobbying spending by major coal producers in the U.S. is down by about half from $15 million in 2012, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis of disclosure filings. Alpha Natural Resources, which filed for bankruptcy protection in August, last year spent just a third on lobbying as what it had in 2012. Peabody Energy, the country’s top coal producer, halved its D.C. advocacy from $3.8 million in 2012, cutting it by 20 percent between 2014 and 2015. Those declines are much steeper than those seen in the rest of the energy sector, according to Bloomberg Government analyst Bob Meteer.Among mining trade groups, which rely on member fees for their programs, the picture is even starker. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity cut lobbying spending by 51 percent from 2014, while the National Mining Association cut back 44 percent, according to Bloomberg Government data.With shrinking resources, the mining groups said they see little to gain from lobbying the executive branch. President Barack Obama drew a line in the sand with the Clean Power Plan, an EPA rule that mandates a shift from coal-fired power to natural gas and renewable energy. Cheap natural gas is also stealing market share from coal.Coal Lobbying Down as Industry Throws Weight Behind Legal Battle
Bloomberg: Peabody Has Lost the Lifeline That Might Have Kept It Out of Bankruptcy FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Michelle Davis, Jodi Xu Klein and Tim Loh for Bloomberg News:Bowie Resource Partners is scrapping a loan sale that would’ve funded its purchase of mines from Peabody Energy Corp., jeopardizing a deal that would help stave off a Peabody bankruptcy filing, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.The company dropped the $650 million financing after getting a cool reception from investors, said the person, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Bowie had put the loan deal on hold last month and was seeking to renegotiate the terms of the purchase.The asset sale was critical to Peabody, which has until April 14 to make an overdue interest payment. The largest U.S. coal miner, which has been ravaged by the coal market’s worst downturn in decades, this month said it may not be financially strong enough to remain in business in its current form and may seek bankruptcy protection.Peabody spokesman Vic Svec declined to comment. Brian Settles, a representative for Bowie Resource, didn’t respond to e-mail and phone requests for comment.There’s “substantial doubt” as to whether Peabody can comply with its loan covenants “without consummation of the transaction,” the company said in a Feb. 29 filing.Under the terms of the acquisition, Louisville, Kentucky-based Bowie Resource will have to pay Peabody a $20 million fee if the deal can’t be done because of the buyer’s failure to obtain sufficient funding, according to a regulatory filing. The companies have the right to terminate the deal if the transaction hasn’t closed by March 31.Peabody has been seeking ways to ease its debt burden as rivals including Alpha Natural Resources Inc. and Arch Coal Inc. filed for bankruptcy. On March 15, Peabody elected to skip $71 million in semi-annual coupons due and entered a 30-day grace period to make the payments.http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-29/peabody-lifeline-vanishing-as-bowie-loan-deal-said-to-be-dropped
Report argues for quick closure of natural gas transition “bridge” FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Utility Dive:Investment into new natural gas infrastructure like pipelines and power plants is “incompatible” with long-term shareholder value, and thus it is in the best interest of the investor community to push utilities away from natural gas, according to a new report from corporate social responsibility group As You Sow and environmental consulting firm Energy Innovation.The report’s authors note that while natural gas has helped reduce emissions over the past decade or so by serving as a “bridge” fuel away from coal, “to achieve a safe level of climate stabilization and protect investor portfolio exposure to global climate change, the bridge for natural gas and its associated emissions must have a clear end,” they wrote.The question of when or if natural gas investments will become “stranded assets” has been controversial in the investment community. Some argue that even with political and societal pressures to move toward net-zero emissions, natural gas will still be a dominant source of electricity generation and heating, and that utilities are to some degree protected from the risk of stranded assets by the fact that they can recover the costs of natural gas projects with regulatory approval. Others claim, however, that gas will soon become “the next coal” and that regulators’ appetite for charging customers for stranded assets may be waning.The report makes the case for the latter position with three key points, as co-author Mike O’Boyle, director of electric policy for Energy Innovation, described during a webinar about the report.First, he said that natural gas infrastructure that is built now will not depreciate until around 2050, meaning that even if the shift toward clean energy takes decades there is still plenty of time for natural gas assets to become stranded.Second, “renewable and storage costs will continue to drop, while natural gas infrastructure costs are mature and fuel costs are variable,” O’Boyle said.Third, utilities can provide investors with a better return going forward by treating decarbonization as “a massive capital investment opportunity,” O’Boyle said.[Matthew Bandyk]More: Report: Natural gas is a loser for long-term utility shareholder value
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):In another indication of growing U.S. utility interest in energy from hydrogen and in large-scale battery storage, Entergy Corp. and Mitsubishi Power Americas Inc., an affiliate of Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., said that they will jointly develop “decarbonization projects” for Entergy’s utility operations in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.The partnership will focus on tooling combined-cycle power plants to run on a mix of hydrogen and natural gas, creating hydrogen from renewable energy and nuclear power, transporting and storing hydrogen, and developing large-scale battery stations.“New technologies and innovative solutions to the challenges posed by climate change present opportunities for us to significantly decrease carbon emissions from our generation portfolio while maintaining low rates,” Paul Hinnenkamp, Entergy’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.Natural gas-fired generation accounts for roughly two-thirds of Entergy’s power portfolio, which includes more than 30,000 MW of capacity, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. The company also owns over 7,000 MW of nuclear generating capacity and more than 2,600 MW of coal-fired power plants, compared with less than 100 MW of renewables.The collaboration builds on gathering momentum for hydrogen and battery storage to play central roles in what Paul Browning, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Power Americas, called “the next phase of decarbonization.” The companies did not immediately respond to a request for details on the volume, location and timing of the projects.For Mitsubishi, the partnership with Entergy marks its latest hydrogen and battery storage deal with U.S. utilities and power plant developers. In early September, the developers of more than $3 billion in planned natural gas-fired generation projects in New York, Ohio and Virginia selected the company to supply hydrogen-compatible gas turbines as part of a package that includes creation of hydrogen using renewable energy, through the process of electrolysis, and hydrogen storage. That came after Mitsubishi in August announced a contract to build a 200-MW battery storage project in Texas and joined more than a dozen U.S. electric and gas utilities to launch a $100 million five-year research project to explore greater use of hydrogen and other low-carbon fuels.[Garrett Hering]More ($): Mitsubishi, Entergy launch 4-state hydrogen, battery storage rollout Entergy, Mitsubishi team up to boost hydrogen, battery storage in U.S. utility’s service territory
North Carolina’s impressive cycling scene is old news. For years, mountain bikers and road cyclists alike have relocated to The Old North State for its varied and technical terrain.But this week, western North Carolina is attracting national attention from a lesser-known subset of the cycling community. The city of Asheville is hosting the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships at the Biltmore Estate through January 10.“Having the Cyclocross National Championships in Asheville is really an honor,” says men’s masters racer and Sylva-based rider Josh Whitmore. “It recognizes the growing energy of the sport in this region and the grassroots efforts to provide high quality events.”At the core of those grassroots efforts lies North Carolina Cyclo-Cross (NCCX), founded in 1997 by Tim Hopkin. During the late ‘90s, Hopkin, who was born in England, raised in Brazil, and transplanted to the hills of North Carolina, says he was always interested in racing cyclocross, but simply couldn’t find anywhere to do it.“I decided I was going to fix that problem,” Hopkin says, and he did, despite the fact that the entire western North Carolina region had, at best, two or three legitimate cyclocross bikes to even ride. “There were maybe 20 people, mostly on mountain bikes, at the first event we did.”Now, nearly two decades later, Hopkin says NCCX events bring upwards of 400 racers on average. Though cyclocross hotbeds on this side of the pond have historically been in New England and the Pacific Northwest, there’s an increasing number of competitive cyclocross racers who are cutting their teeth right here in the Southeast, claiming western North Carolina as home.“Cyclocross was kinda used as an off-season training for road cyclists back in the original days,” Hopkin says. “Now, it’s its own bonafide winter sport with its own racing season,” which typically runs from early fall to the end of January.So what is cyclocross? And why the upsurge in popularity?“The easiest way to compare it is a mixture of cross-country racing and steeplechase with a little bit of NASCAR thrown in,” Hopkin says.Cyclocross races are typically short, both in course length and the duration. Juniors may race only 20 minutes while Elite men may race for an hour. The course, which ranges from a mile-and-a-half to two miles, covers a wide variety of terrain, including gravel, grass, sand, mud, dirt, and pavement. Oftentimes, sections of the course can become so heinous, riders are better off dismounting to “run-up” the obstacle with their bikes in hand. For spectators, this equates to entertainment—that is, until the winter weather sets in.“Sometimes it’s dry, wet, muddy, snowy, windy, cold, and hot,” says women’s Elite racer and Mills River resident Ally Stacher. “Anything can happen in a ‘cross race.”Of course, veteran spectators know this and have come to expect it of cyclocross races. The muddier, the better, truth be told. Yet with the upcoming National Championships to be held at the Biltmore Estate, which is privately owned and operated, concerns as to the entry fee for the event ($11 for the week) have some locals worried about the turnout for the traditionally spectator-friendly (and often free-to-watch) sport. With onsite parking and discounted rates for tours of the estate, however, Hopkin argues that, really, the deal is a steal.“Having an entry fee is not uncommon,” Hopkin adds. “At the World Cup Cyclocross race in Las Vegas, I paid $13 or $14 for just one evening.”Given the dedicated following of family members, friends, and fans in western North Carolina alone, attendance numbers for the National Championships are expected to reach 6,000 with anywhere from 1,600 to 1,800 competitors throughout the week.The Biltmore’s course will be one for the books. Spectators will be satisfied with easy access and onsite amenities like restaurants and hotels, while racers will endure steep elevation changes, barriers, and likely lots of mud. For western North Carolina riders, this is simply par for the course.“There is a bit of suffering involved but that suffering is short and quick and very satisfying,” adds Hopkins.“Everyone loves to play in the mud at least on some level,” Whitmore says. “The classic analogy that people use is that cyclocross is like a mullet. Business at the front and party at the back,” which translates to a community of cyclists who ride hard to play hard and take their beatdowns with a smile.“Cyclocross is really cool because it combines the best elements of all forms of cycling,” says Hopkin, “the tactics of criterium racing, the skills of mountain biking, and in general the great camaraderie and friendship amongst all of the racers.”Diehard fans looking to get the best view of the course can start with course-side lodging at Biltmore, which is being offered at a group rate. For the rookie cyclocross spectator looking to get a taste of what’s to come in 2016, check out the NCCX’s marquee event, the North Carolina Grand Prix, which takes place from December 12-13th at Jackson Park in Hendersonville, N.C. Stay tuned to BlueRidgeOutdoors.com for real time updates on the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships.
To borrow liberally from Jerry Maguire . . . . . You had me at the harmony.Forlorn Strangers, based out of Nashville, sing with a delight and power reminiscent of the greatest brother/sister combos in traditional music. The band’s five part harmonies are rooted with sisters Hannah Leigh Lusk and Abigail Dempsey who, in the spirit of the Stanleys, Louvins, and the Carters, harmonize in a way that can only happen between those sit on the same limb of the family tree.These delicious harmonies are only accented by the multi-instrumentality of Lusk, Dempsey, and band mates Chris Banke, Benjamin Lusk, and Jesse Thompson. Each member of Forlorn Strangers is more than proficient on a variety of instruments, and this affords the band a flexibility in songwriting and performing that I have come across in very few bands across the years.The band’s debut album, recorded with noted songwriter and producer Phil Madeira at the helm, dropped earlier this month, and it reflects both the strong songwriting and instrumental prowess the quintet has honed through their road warrior approach to touring.So come, friends, and find this band when they take to a stage near you. Let yourselves be strangers no more.I recently caught up with Hannah Leigh Lusk to chat about the new record, singing with family, and working with, and around, legends.BRO – You guys recorded the new record at The Butcher Shoppe, John Prine’s studio. He’s a hero of mine. Any Prine sightings?HLL – Oh, man. He’s a hero of ours, too. We were honored to record there and definitely channeled some of that good energy. He didn’t stop by during our time in the studio, but we got to hear some great stories from the engineers who work with him regularly.BRO – How did having Phil Madeira at the helm for the new record stretch you as a band?HLL – Phil Madeira’s decades of experience as an artist and producer enabled us to explore musical rabbit holes we otherwise wouldn’t have. The primary projects that drew us to him to produce this album were his Mercyland compilations. He managed a wide swath of Americana artists – Emmylou Harris, Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Civil Wars, Shawn Mullins – and maintained an absolutely cohesive sound. Because our band is comprised of five different songwriters and quite different veins of American music, our goal with Phil was to be able to develop each song as deeply and honestly as possible, while still creating a seamless, whole album. Phil continually challenged us to not be afraid of pursuing instrumentation or arrangements that we hadn’t or couldn’t reproduce live. His guidance stretched us, but we think we got the best album out of it.BRO – In traditional music, is there anything more powerful than the harmonies created between family members?HLL – It sure doesn’t seem like it. Arranging harmonies is one of the most life giving parts of being in this band. It is so fulfilling to take a song from one person playing the skeleton on acoustic guitar to a fully structured song with five part harmonies. When we workshopped the bridge on our song “The Light,” and we sang the “ooooohs” for the first time, everything stopped. That’s actually how a lot of things go in this band. Our influences are expanding as well. Traditional music will always be our backbone, but the harmonies in bands like Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Fleetwood Mac, and The Band have been fueling us quite a bit lately.BRO – Each member of the band is a multi-instrumentalist. How do you determine who will play what on a given track?HLL – Everything we do is determined by what will serve the song. We try to approach new tunes without any preconceptions. If the song wants dobro, played by Jesse, then I will play bass. Depending on the groove, Abigail will play percussion instead of the fiddle, or sometimes both. Also, since we tour all year, it just keeps it fun to be able to switch up what we do. Sometimes Benjamin and Chris will write leads together that sound great with two guitars or the mandolin and the banjo. For as many options as we have, it’s surprising how organic and unanimous the instrument choices are.BRO – We are featuring “Bottom Of The Barrel” on this month’s Trail Mix. Got a favorite barrel to get to the bottom of?HLL – The peanut butter jar! On a serious note, this song was inspired by the great work of Pete Seeger and Dr. King in the sixties and beyond. The lyric came from an exasperated place of feeling like we haven’t grown very much since then. The song is a cry towards figuring out how, individually, and collectively, we can do better. We’re trying to get out of this barrel!Our friends out west can catch Forlorn Strangers over the new few weeks as the band stops in Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, among other places, before returning east in mid-September with gigs in Virginia and North Carolina.For more information on Forlorn Strangers, including how you can find a copy of the brand new record, please point your browser here. And, of course, don’t forget to check out “Bottom of the Barrel” on this month’s Trail Mix.
The section is a 3,200-foot, almost-sheer granite wall, the same one Alex Honnold free solo climbed in “Free Solo” in 2017. Honnold was there when she fell and helped stabilize her to prepare for evacuation. Harrington, a five-time US sport climbing champion, posted pictures to her Instagram from her hospital bed Monday, showing the injuries on her face and the intense rope burn on her neck. Her boyfriend, Adrian Ballinger, posted to Instagram saying that Harrington is, “going to be okay,” after she, “crumpled on a ledge after a big fall in below-freezing temperatures with real injuries and a lot of reasons to suspect spinal injury.” Based on where and how she fell, the biggest concern was serious spinal injuries “I had an accident yesterday on El Cap. I’m banged up but gonna be ok thankfully,” she wrote. Ballinger recognized and thanked all the people involved in helping save Harrington while praising her for her, “warrior mentality,” and how, “she dealt with the pain, helped where she could, and stayed positive throughout.” World-renowned climber Emily Harrington, 33, suffered serious injuries after a terrifying fall on Yosemite’s El Capitan on Sunday. She has become one of the most famous figures in the sport, getting sponsored by outdoor companies like The North Face in support of her numerous achievements, including climbing Mount Everest.
Until Christmas, Patagonia will match every dollar you give through their giving campaign In what doctors are describing as an ‘exceptional’ case, a British woman hiking in Spain’s Pyrenees mountains survived a six-hour cardiac arrest caused by severe hypothermia. Audrey Mash, 34, was hiking with her husband in the Catalan Pyrenees when the weather turned. As temperatures dropped, Mash began having trouble speaking and moving and eventually became unconscious. Her husband told TV3 that he thought she was dead. “I couldn’t feel a breath, I couldn’t feel a heartbeat,” he said. It took rescuers two hours to reach the couple. When they arrived, Mash’s body temperature had dropped to 64 degrees. Upon arriving at the hospital she had no vital signs. Doctor’s say Mash’s six-hour cardiac arrest was the longest ever documented in Spain and that the cold temperatures that caused her condition also played a role in her survival. Mast was released from the hospital 12 days after her ordeal began and had no neurological damage. Gross began selling tents in 2012. Today, the company offers four different types of tents, rain gear, lightweight sleeping bags, trekking poles and a line of women’s clothing. They were awarded with the 2019 Small Business of the Year award because of their innovative product offerings, above-and-beyond customer service and fast growth in recent years, Business North Carolina says. Outdoor equipment manufacturer LightHeart Gear wins Business North Carolina’s 2019 Small Business of the Year award Fletcher, North Carolina based LightHeart Gear has taken home Business North Carolina’s top award for small businesses. The company, which manufacturers outdoor gear, began after Judy Gross, 62, saw a large, homemade lightweight tent while attempting to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. “It was a palace,” Gross told Business North Carolina. “It didn’t weigh anything and it packed up very small. The tent I was carrying around was a big-box brand that weighed 4.5 pounds and was much smaller than his. And I though, ‘Well, I’m going to go home and make a tent.” A British hiker survives 6-hour cardiac arrest Want to make your dollar stretch while giving to a good cause this holiday season? Check out Patagonia’s giving campaign, which will match every dollar you give to any Patagonia Action Works group. Send a digital eCard, print a card at home or pick up a physical card in any Patagonia store and Patagonia will match your donation through Christmas. It’s not necessary to purchase any products in order to participate in the campaign.
Molly Seidel, 25, wasn’t expecting much when she toed the starting line at the Olympic marathon trials last weekend in Atlanta. Seidel was an accomplished college athlete, locking in four N.C.A.A. titles, but in the years since graduating had struggled with injuries. Unlike other high-profile runners, Seidel works two jobs—at a coffee shop and babysitting—to pay the bills. She trains a couple of times a day around her work schedule, braving the weather in her adopted hometown of Boston. And, oh yeah, before her race at the Olympic trails on Saturday, she’d never run a marathon before. “I had no idea what this was going to be like,” Seidel told the New York Times. “I didn’t want to oversell it and put way too much pressure on, knowing how competitive the field was going to be. But talking with my coach, I didn’t want to phone it in just because it was my first one.” Photo of Molly Seidel celebrating at the Olympic Marathon Trials by Justin Britton, Co-founder A Runner’s Eye Creative Phone it in she did not. According to the NYT, Seidel ran an unassuming race until mile 21, when she broke away from the pack with two other runners, Aliphine Tuliamuk and Sally Kipyego. At that point, Seidel told the paper that she knew she would either make the Olympic team or “’spectacularly go down in flames.” Her move paid off, and Seidel, along with Tuliamuk and Kipyego, secured their spots at the Olympics this summer in Tokyo.
“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” said Governor Northam.“Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing. I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.” Governor Ralph Northam today issued a statewide Stay at Home order to protect the health and safety of Virginians and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The executive order takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order. The executive order also directs all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction. Private campgrounds must close for short-term stays, and beaches will be closed statewide except for fishing and exercise. The order directs all Virginians to stay home except in extremely limited circumstances. Individuals may leave their residence for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries, prescriptions, and others as outlined in Executive Order Fifty-Three, and engage in outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements. The full text of Executive Order Fifty-Five can be found here. Last week, Governor Northam issued Executive Order Fifty-Three closing certain non-essential businesses, prohibiting public gatherings of more than 10 people, and directing all K-12 schools to remain closed for the rest of the academic year. A Frequently Asked Questions guide about Executive Order Fifty-Three can be found here.For the latest information about the COVID-19 outbreak, visit virginia.gov/coronavirus or CDC.gov/coronavirus.Full Release