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How Keystone Set a Template for Pipeline Opposition Nationally

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Melissa Cronin for Grist:“Another Pipeline Rejected” is now the go-to headline for updates on new fossil fuel infrastructure in the United States. Does the growing file of scrapped pipeline plans forecast the “Keystone-ization” of our energy future? Yes — proposals for pipelines to transport oil and natural gas are being brought down by public protest so frequently, we now have a term for it.A quick review: On Friday, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation announced that it would not grant a necessary permit for the 124-mile Constitution Pipeline proposed to run through the northeastern United States. The Earth Day announcement came after backlash regarding potential safety issues from residents, as well as from Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who said that the plan would be “catastrophic to our air and our climate.” The DEC ultimately refused to grant the permit after concluding that the pipeline would interfere with water resources in its path.This latest decision follows the rejection, just days prior, of a $3.1 billion natural gas plan proposed by Kinder Morgan. Before that, the 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would have run through Virginia and West Virginia, was delayed earlier this year. Georgia’s 360-mile Palmetto Pipeline and Oregon’s 232-mile Pacific Connector Pipeline were both thwarted in March. All that went down in 2016 alone.The mother of all these killed projects is, of course, the Keystone XL pipeline, a $7 billion undertaking that would have ferried 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Canada to the Gulf Coast — had President Barack Obama not vetoed it last November. Since that decision, the phrase “Keystone-ization” has come to connote the death of a proposed oil and gas pipeline — often due to public backlash.“Fifty years ago, people in the U.S. were much more accepting of new pipelines and new infrastructure,” Rob Jackson, a professor at the Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment who studies energy use and climate change, told Grist. “Today, people don’t want new pipelines and nuclear power plants near their homes and schools. The failure of Keystone emboldened people to fight the next project.”“Keystone-ization” is the fossil fuel industry’s new nightmare How Keystone Set a Template for Pipeline Opposition Nationallylast_img read more

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On the Blogs: Coal and Gas Are Cheap. So Are Renewables.

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Katherine Tweed for Greentech Media:Coal is cheap and relatively abundant. So is natural gas. We can now say the same for renewables. By 2040, carbon-free electricity will make up 60 percent of installed power capacity worldwide, according to a new analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).The demise of coal is largely driven by the slowdown in consumption in China, and to a lesser extent coal’s decline in North America and Europe.Just last year, there were questions about whether coal use in China was actually falling, given the inconsistencies in government data. At the beginning of 2016, new data showed a 4 percent drop in electricity generation from coal-fired power plants in China, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.IEEFA now has new data from the Chinese government suggesting a more dramatic decline for coal. Overall coal production is down by 15.5 percent, IEEFA reports.“Electricity demand has decoupled from economic activity,” Tim Buckley, IEEFA’s director of energy finance studies for Australasia, wrote in a blog post. “China is diversifying away from coal faster than anyone expected.”China’s relatively sluggish economy and shift away from manufacturing to a service-sector economy is largely responsible for the decoupling. At the same time, nuclear, solar and wind are up 20 percent year-over-year in China, according to government data.Emerging economies will be responsible for much of the increase in installed renewables in coming years. China is already leading the world in installing solar and wind. China has plans for 30 gigawatts of wind capacity additions this year alone, and expects to add 15 to 20 gigawatts of solar annually for the next five years.In its latest New Energy Outlook, BNEF forecasts that renewables will make up 61 percent of deployment in non-OECD countries, led by China and India.Are We Reaching Peak Fossil Fuel for Power Generation? On the Blogs: Coal and Gas Are Cheap. So Are Renewables.last_img read more

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FirstEnergy, Failing on Its Own, Seeks a Multimillion Hand Up Now From Customers

first_imgFirstEnergy, Failing on Its Own, Seeks a Multimillion Hand Up Now From Customers FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Parkersburg (W.V.) News & Sentinel:The first of three hearings in front of the West Virginia Public Service Commission is scheduled for this Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Parkersburg City Council Chambers. The power company is hoping you stay home. FirstEnergy is seeking approval for its MonPower and Potomac Edison subsidiaries to buy the Pleasants Power Station from out of state FirstEnergy subsidiary Allegheny Energy Supply for $195 million.FirstEnergy’s rationale for the sale is a bunch of high-minded double talk about how it will benefit energy consumers. Once you understand the issues, however, it becomes clear it is actually a cynical ploy to bail out a non-competitive drag on their portfolio with a hefty subsidy forced onto their customers.Approving the sale would move the plant from the competitive energy market in Ohio into West Virginia’s regulated environment. This outdated coal-fired plant can’t compete with newer, more efficient gas-fired, wind and solar sources in Ohio. It is losing money for FirstEnergy’s investors. In West Virginia’s regulated environment, utilities must be granted rate increases until they become profitable. A transfer would likely cost customers $470 million over the next 15 years, or $69/yr. for residential customers, according to testimony from energy consultant David Schlissel filed with the PSC Aug. 25.FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones has described the proposed Pleasants transfer as being modeled on the sale of the Harrison Power Station from AES to Mon Power 3 years ago. If he’s right it doesn’t bode well for us. An Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) report concluded that this sale has cost customers more than $160 million in excess fees and deficits so far.FirstEnergy dubiously claims that energy prices are going to rise. In this contrived scenario they say the acquisition would benefit ratepayers to the tune of $636 million over the next 15 years. If this plant will be such a spectacular performer why are they so desperate to unload it? The IEEFA explains the contradiction by undermining the power company’s rosy scenario in an Aug. 28 article, citing “the ongoing environment of low wholesale power prices… driven by cheap natural gas, relatively flat power demand, and increasing penetration of renewable energy and the growing uptake of energy efficiency.”FirstEnergy knows its cost saving argument can’t withstand scrutiny. They’re hoping the PSC will swallow their assertion that they’re in the beginning of a capacity shortfall that will peak in 2027 and require Pleasants to shore it up. In filings with the PSC analyst Schlissel concluded that FirstEnergy overstates the projected shortfall by 400 MW and doesn’t need another plant. Their need for Pleasants is based on them having disingenuously sized a system to meet peak demand in West Virginia during the winter. This is not necessary or good policy. These temporary shortfalls are most economically provided for by purchases from the grid — not the purchase of an entire plant.Energy companies are not guardians of the public interest. They exist to make a profit. And sometimes they shave the truth pretty closely. The responsibility to protect the public lies with the PSC. However, recent PSC decisions are cause for concern. The application of FirstEnergy to sell the Harrison Power Station to MonPower mirrored the current Pleasants Power request, yet the PSC granted the sale. An agreement from the Harrison sale triggered the PSC to issue a request for competitive proposals from FirstEnergy for additional capacity. This FirstEnergy did not want. So they dug up and resubmitted a different set of data that showed no shortfall. FirstEnergy’s projections seem highly conditional: There is a shortfall when it suits their purposes and it disappears when it doesn’t.An IEEFA study “First Energy, A Major Utility Seeks A Subsidized Turnaround” describes the level of mismanagement that has landed FirstEnergy in the financial hole it is currently in. It is banking on being able to continually stay ahead of the consequences of its poor decisions by benefiting from equally poor decisions from our Public Service Commission.This deal stinks. FirstEnergy is hoping this sale gets connected to “war on coal “ hysteria in enough people’s minds to obscure what’s really happening: A shameless, predatory corporate bailout. More: Op-ed: Shedding light on FirstEnergy requestlast_img read more

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Norwegian wealth fund continues long-term push for sustainable investments

first_imgNorwegian wealth fund continues long-term push for sustainable investments FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Financial Times ($):It is not perhaps the most obvious idea for an investor that derives all its inflows from oil and gas revenues to prioritise sustainability. But Norway’s $1tn oil fund has been different from the beginning. One of the few sovereign wealth funds in a democracy, the Norwegian fund has put ethical issues at the heart of what it does.“We are a fund for future generations,” says Carine Smith Ihenacho, chief corporate governance officer at Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages the fund for the Norwegian people. “Sustainability in investments is essential for long-term value creation and also safeguarding the value we have,” she adds.Because of the fund’s size — on average it owns 1.4 per cent of every listed company globally and 2.4 per cent of each European business on the stock market — its pronouncements are followed closely by many investors, with a smaller subset aping its actions.The fund has not been able to shy away from controversy or charges of hypocrisy. Some of the most charged debates have revolved around what the fund should do with investments in fossil fuels. After years of political debate, Norway’s parliament decided in 2015 to force the fund to sell out of any mining company or power producer that derived more than 30 per cent of its revenues or operations from coal.The biggest problem has been finding proper information as many companies do not disclose the share of coal in their revenue or energy production mix. The fund has been forced to try to find out much of the information itself. “The work is in many ways ongoing,” says Ms. Ihenacho, with the fund having barred more than 70 companies from its portfolio. Nonetheless, many environmentalists are annoyed with how the fund interprets the criteria, with several pressure groups recently urging it to sell out of German utility RWE, which runs several coal-fired power plants.To help it secure more information on climate risk and other topics, the fund has developed its own proprietary tool, called Angle. This gives portfolio managers not just information on financial and governance issues but also non-financial measures, such as carbon emissions. Ms. Ihenacho says the fund, with other investors, is pushing companies for better disclosure of such non-financial measures as well as greater standardisation to enable shareholders to compare businesses more easily.More ($): Sustainable investment key to Norway sovereign wealth oil fund strategylast_img read more

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EIA: U.S. coal production to fall to 40-year low in 2019

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):The U.S. Energy Information Administration projected lower U.S. thermal and metallurgical coal exports in 2019 and 2020 than it estimated in June.The administration forecast that U.S. thermal coal exports will sink by 17.6% to 44.6 million tons this year and by another 12.6% to 39 million tons in 2020, according to its July 9 “Short-Term Energy Outlook.” The administration had projected in its June report that steam exports would total 46.3 million tons in 2019 and 41.3 million tons in 2020.The EIA projected that total U.S. coal exports will fall by 16.9% to 96.1 million tons this year and by another 8.6% to 87.8 million tons in 2020. Export prices dropped and have remained low through the first half of 2019, which may hinder certain producers’ ability to compete internationally as their contracts roll off.U.S. coal miners are expected to produce 684 million tons of coal this year, a 9.5% decrease from 2018. Output may drop by another 6.5% in 2020 to 639.4 million tons as domestic utilities consume less coal and seaborne demand for U.S. coal weakens.The administration expects coal consumption to drop 14.3% this year to 589 million tons and then 3.7% to 567 million tons in 2020. The domestic power sector has retired nearly 18 GW of coal-fired capacity since the beginning of 2018, and another 4 GW and 3 GW are slated for retirement by the end of this year and 2020, respectively.“The 2019 forecast production of 684 [million tons] would be the first time U.S. production would be less than 700 [million tons] in more than 40 years,” the EIA said.More ($): EIA projects lower U.S. coal exports in 2019-2020 compared to June estimate EIA: U.S. coal production to fall to 40-year low in 2019last_img read more

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SECRET TO HAPPINESS

first_imgSometimes, life if tremendously difficult and complicated.People stop loving you, they leave, they get sick, they die.Life plans are disrupted by chaos, financial hardship, tragedy, illness.Days are spent in loneliness and isolation though surrounded by others.New parents must balance work, kids, money, kids, work and that leaves no time for each other.We need counseling, medicine, down time, time away, a house cleaner, a nanny, an understanding spouse, a friend to listen, a different job – something, anything STAT. We need help.I recall a time recently when despite all of my ‘best efforts,’ I felt lonely, bitter and angry. I kept a mental score card of all the wonderful things I was contributing to family life that had not been appreciated. I spent minutes each day wondering why those close to me were not encouraging me in the way I needed. Blaming others for my unhappiness.Despite my bitterness, many tears and difficult conversations, I learned something about myself. I learned that NO ONE ELSE IS RESPONSIBLE  FOR MY HAPPINESS. And Frankly, it was time I stopped looking outwardly in blame, anticipation, and realize my life was my responsibility.I didn’t have time for myself because I didn’t make it.I didn’t feel whole because I was not engaging in the activities that made me whole.I felt overwhelmed because I refused to ask for help.I blamed others/circumstances for not making me happy because that was easier than taking responsibility for myself.I was cold, bitter and hurt because I thought blame would lead to apologies, and apologies would lead to healing.I was wrong. On all accounts.I realized the secret to happiness for me is pretty simple. I need a pen. A journal. Some running shoes. Books. My dog Gracie’s black jowls. Occasionally, coffee or tea. Email free weekends. And about 30 minutes to myself every day.That’s it. Total cost for happiness is probably around $25 a month, on average. I sign up for running classes. I write prayers in my journal. I read about service, God, and on days when my head needs a break, I read easy fiction. I laugh at work. I stop keeping score. I let things go. I forgive, not for others but for me.I am watching people struggle. suffer. Live in anxiety and not in joy. I am watching smart men and women expect someone else to take their pain away. 1 2last_img read more

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Alone Time

first_imgGetting out on a hike by yourself can help you refocus and recharge.In today’s constantly connected world, alone time can almost seem like a novel idea from the past. You try to find a good tree and read a book and then your cell phone goes off. You go out for a run and then find yourself seeing past acquaintances.My friends can attest to the fact that I like to talk and socialize, but I also find alone time a critical thing for a healthy lifestyle. Having time alone allows your mind to wander, sort through your priorities, try to find answers to your problems or issues you are experiencing, and really tune into how your body and mind are feeling.Don’t take what I am saying wrong though: I love hanging out with friends. Heck, most of my runs, bike rides, and so forth are done in the company of my buddies. I do however always make time to find seclusion. Whether this is a normal weekday run, or a hike in the woods all depends on my schedule.A good example of how important alone time is comes from this past weekend. On Saturday I left town and headed to Sherando Lake to meet up with a few friends for a mountain bike ride. For 3 hours we had a blast, following each other’s lines, trading jokes, and catching up. At the bottom of the last downhill I bid them adieu and headed out for another loop. I pedaled back up the downhill and headed out Torrey Ridge, one of my favorite trails. During this time I took in the sounds of nature, gave more thought to things that have been on my mind as of late, and took stock of how my body and mind were feeling on the ride.I encourage you to try to find a few moments of solitude this week. While I love to be outdoors, alone time doesn’t have to be. Find a good nook in your house and read a book, cozy up on the couch and watch Girls like my girlfriend does (I have no shame in saying I watch it with her 99.9% of the time), go to a less populated park and take a walk, or if you enjoy exercise go out for a run by yourself. While you enjoy the quiet time, be sure to leave the cell phones, iPods, and other devices at home. Really tune into your thoughts and enjoy the accompanying silence, and when you come back to company you will feel recharged and focused.Enjoy the ramblings from Chase? Then read more of his blog Young Charles.last_img read more

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Daily Dirt: March 19, 2013

first_imgYour outdoor news for March 19, 2013Jocks Not That Dumb After AllAccording to a new study out of the University of Illinois elite athletes may not only be sweet jocks, but may have superfast brains as well. Using the aesthetically pleasing focus group of 87 top-ranked Brazilian volleyball players (What? The Ballroom Dance team wasn’t available?) researchers found the athletes performed better in processing information quickly, changing between multiple tasks, and memory tests. They were also better at accomplishing tasks while ignoring irrelevant information and quicker with peripheral vision and subtle changes. On the surface, this makes sense: athletes spend a lot of their time making instantaneous decisions based on their field of vision, situational awareness, and speed. They constantly gauge their own abilities against that of their opponent and finding weakness. This takes a lot of brain power, maybe that’s why some don’t do as well in the class room.The study appears in the journal Frontiers of Psychology (bet that’s a page turner…although here I am talking about it, so who knows what’s what anymore. Maybe they should do a study on that, bring the Brazilians.)Biting the Hand That FeedsWhy do people insist on insulting Mother Nature? Nothing good can come of it. An interview conducted by the Outdoor Nation Blog aims to answer this question as it pertains to the ski resort industry. The interview is with Auden Schendler, vice president of sustainability at the Aspen Ski Company, and describes how and why the majority of ski resort CEOs and executives are climate change deniers. Climate change deniers despite a report on its negative effects on the ski industry co-written by the Natural Resources Defense Organization and widely circulated. Climate change deniers despite the fact that their whole industry relies on the weather. It’s an interesting read and Schendler expresses some strong opinions on the matter.New Mountain Bike Trails in NOVANorthern Virginia got some new mountain biking trails this week at the Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area in Lorton. According to this post from the Virginia Bicycling Federation, the 4.7-mile South Branch Loop Trail is the “first constructed natural surface trail open to mountain bikes on Bureau of Land Management-managed land east of the Mississippi River.” The BLM built the trail in partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE) and plan on adding several more miles of mountain bike only trails by the end of August (South Branch Loop Trail is mtb and hike). They need donations and volunteers to help out with finishing the project. Find out more here. GET INVOLVED PEOPLE, KEEP THE MOMENTUM!last_img read more

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BORN TO BE WILD : Get Out of the Gym and Into the Woods

first_imgWhat can human beings do better than any other animal on the planet? We don’t have sharp claws or teeth to fight with. We’re not large, overpowering beasts. And we’re certainly not very fast compared to other animals, even ones in our backyard: the fastest Olympic sprinters would get dusted by a squirrel or rabbit. We are uniquely adapted to do one thing: run long distances without overheating.This was one of the central insights in Christopher McDougall’s bestselling book Born to Run, which revealed how running has been key to the survival and evolution of our species. Our ancestors chased their prey to exhaustion in persistence hunts that continue to this day in hunter-gatherer societies.If running is our birthright, where did we go wrong? We screwed it up in the same way that we screw everything up: we tried to cash in on it. We were sold fancy cushioned shoes, expensive clothing, and high-tech gear. Products became more important than people. Running became a mundane chore endured for 30 minutes on a treadmill to burn off last night’s pizza.But for most of our existence, running has been a joyous cultural, social, and spiritual experience. The Tarahumara—an indigenous tribe living deep in Mexico’s Copper Canyons—continue to live that running tradition. They run for dozens of miles in handmade huaraches—old tire tread fastened to their feet with goat leather. Sometimes they are chasing deer to exhaustion or running between villages to deliver produce carried on their backs. But mostly, they are running because it’s fun. Running to the Tarahumara—and to our ancestors—was a celebration of life.Now McDougall is launching another fitness revolution with his new book Natural Born Heroes. It’s not just runners who can benefit from a rediscovery of their primal roots, he argues. All athletes need to take fitness out of the gym and into the wild.Outdoors, you might get caught in a downpour or stumble over a few rocks, but there’s nothing wrong with falling down. It’s okay to get hurt sometimes, McDougall reminds us. Our culture seems to fear knee scrapes and bruises, but we do even more harm sheltering ourselves from them.This is about more than fitness. Athletics are meant to make us stronger, more resilient human beings who can adapt to the unexpected challenges of everyday living. In the woods—as in life—there’s unpredictability that the sanitized gym can never prepare you for. And the deepest and most lasting rewards are not in calories burned, but in the moments of sublime beauty which can’t be experienced behind glass.last_img read more

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Home Trail Advantage

first_imgIn the past two weeks we have covered over 180 miles of the Mountains to Sea Trail. But if we were on any other path, in any other state, I doubt we would have made it this far. After we started in the Smokies and Brew got sick on DAY TWO, we knew that we needed some extra help so that he could rest and start to feel better. Immediately people stepped up and stepped in to help us on our journey. We had friends offer to shuttle me to the trailhead, family members took turn watching our kids, once or twice there was food delivered to the trail or to our doorstep.There is something in sports called the ‘Home Field’ or ‘Home Court’ advantage and hiking on the Mountains to Sea Trail it is clear we are experiencing attributes of being on our ‘Home Trail.’ This past week on the trail everything has felt familiar and welcoming. I have walked between Black Balsam and Mount Mitchell and it has felt like playing in the backyard. This is the stretch of trail where I have led guided hikes, gone on Saturday morning trail runs, and taken my kids blueberry picking. For nearly 100 miles the trail stays within an hour radius of Asheville. That has allowed us to spend a few nights at home, do some laundry, and let Brew rest up in his own bed. The fact that I’ve walked every inch of this section already – and covered some of these miles dozens of times does not make it any less interesting. In fact, having a greater knowledge of the trail only makes you appreciate it more. I anticipate coming to viewpoints where I’ve taken photographs in all four seasons, I know the exact forest groves where I can search for the elusive chaga mushroom, and I look forward to passing historic sites and mile markers that tell the story of Western North Carolina. This is the same stretch of trail where George Vanderbilt used to travel 16 miles of MST, known as the shut-in trail, on horseback to reach his hunting lodge near Mount Pisgah. This is where Dr. Ambler, a prominent Asheville physician built an early twentieth century summer home beneath the shadows of Lane Pinnacle and tacked snake skins to the ceiling of his living room, inspiring the name Rattlesnake Lodge. And, this is where President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama decided to take a hike during their vacation to Asheville in 2010.The dramatic views and diverse flora make this a desirable hike for anyone – including sitting presidents and railroad tycoons, but it is the accessibility to Asheville that makes this portion of the MST so special. On my hike this week I met a construction worker, middle school teacher, manufacturing employee, health care professional, and lots – and lots – of retirees. There is nothing exclusive or out-of-reach in this section. The MST is here for anyone and everyone, especially for the folks who live and work in North Carolina. This is our state, our path, and we can all share in the ‘Home Trail’ advantage.last_img read more