December, 2020 Archive


Stakes Are High in Federal Review of Coal Lease Program

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享By Devin Henry in The Hill: Miners and Western Republicans are lining up against the Obama administration and environmentalists in what some consider the next front in the “war on coal.”Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a three-year moratorium on new coal leases on public lands in January, launching a review that could potentially result in mining companies paying  higher rates.“It fits tidily into their overall view of coal,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.“You can call it a ‘war on coal,’ you can call it whatever you want. It is a policy directive coming out of this administration that says coal has no part in our country’s energy portfolio. I think that’s short-sighted and very unfortunate.”Administration officials held the first public meeting on the review on Tuesday in Wyoming, with four more to follow. The review is moving ahead at a time when coal has become a flashpoint in the presidential race.Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump is running on a platform of undoing Obama-era environmental regulations and has promised coal-state lawmakers he will do what he can to help prop up the commodity. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has been on the defensive after saying she was going to “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” She apologized for her choice of words but said she was making a broader point about helping coal miners as their industry shrinks.The federal review of new coal leases could take up to three years and will look at several hot-button issues, including whether the cost of climate change should be incorporated into the fees that mining companies pay. Environmentalists, local officials and mining interests all see high stakes in the review.Green advocates say coal companies have skirted paying proper royalty rates for years. They contend the industry should be forced to pay taxpayers a fair return for using public resources and say they should chip in extra to offset the impact of coal on climate change. “This sort of comprehensive look at climate has not happened before,” said Cesia Kearns, the Associate Northwest Regional Director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.“It’s a wonderful opportunity to even have the conversation and to acknowledge the impacts of climate change are bigger than we have considered before in a program like this.”Another underlying issue is the shrinking revenue that the government receives from mining on federal lands. A 2012 report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis blamed flawed Interior market appraisals for undervaluing coal on public land. It said the government has lost up to $30 billion in potential revenue over three decades in the Powder Ridge Basin, a tract of land in Wyoming and Montana that provides 85 percent of the coal mined on public land.“Interior has consistently failed to achieve what the Mineral Leasing Act requires, which is that the taxpayers receive a return based on the fair market value of coal, and that is what Congress has said they are supposed to do and that is what they have failed to do in the past,” Dan Bucks, the former director of the Montana Department of Revenue, told reporters last week. Full article: Stakes Are High in Federal Review of Coal Lease Programlast_img read more

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Wyoming governor signs bill to prop up state’s coal plants

first_imgWyoming governor signs bill to prop up state’s coal plants FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Billings Gazette:Gov. Mark Gordon has signed into a law a measure that aims to keep Wyoming’s coal-fired power plants online and in business by requiring a utility to try to sell the facility first before decommissioning it.The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports Gordon on Friday signed Senate File 159, which was sponsored by Republican Sen. Dan Dockstader, of Afton.It requires power companies that want to decommission a coal-fired plant to seek a buyer first. If a new company bought the plant, the bill requires the utility that sold the plant to buy back the power, even if a cheaper source is available.Dockstader says the bill was about protecting small communities with coal-fired plants.But critics see the move as temporarily extending the life of outdated and costly coal-fired plants.More: Wyoming governor signs bill aimed at keeping coal-fired plants runninglast_img read more

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Florida Power & Light to build world’s largest battery storage system, close gas plants

first_imgFlorida Power & Light to build world’s largest battery storage system, close gas plants FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Energy Storage News:Major U.S. utility Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is planning to build the world’s largest battery energy storage system adjacent to an existing solar power plant, with plans to roll out multiple other storage systems across the state.With the key proposed battery standing at 409MW capacity, the Florida energy company claims it will be four times larger than the largest battery currently operating worldwide. Furthermore, the system will help reduce fossil fuel usage and thereby accelerate the decommissioning of two neighbouring 1970s-era natural gas power units.The FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center will be powered by an existing PV plant in Parrish, Manatee County, and capable of distributing 900 MWh of electricity. It will start serving customers in 2021, with the batteries being used particularly during peak demand periods, thereby reducing the requirement for electricity from other power plants. It will be able to provide energy the equivalent of 329,000 homes for a period of two hours, saving FPL customers more than US$100 million in the process.The company has 18 solar power plants currently in operation and four more entering construction, but it is no stranger to solar-plus-storage, having opened the largest plant combining solar and storage at Babcock Ranch in Charlotte County in 2018, and the company is now also planning smaller battery installations and solar plants across the state. This, while carrying out efficiency upgrades to existing combustion turbines at other power plants, will help to replace 1,638 MW of traditional generating capacity.FPL’s two-decade-long modernisation programme has tended to involve replacing oil-based power plants with U.S.-produced natural gas units. However, it is FPL’s increased knowledge of how to optimise solar and batteries as well as the new technologies’ rapidly declining costs, that is allowing FPL to take on these alternative technologies simultaneously.FPL, which serves more than 10 million people, will also soon shut down its only remaining coal plant in Florida by the end of this year.More: Florida utility plans world’s largest battery combined with solarlast_img read more

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European thermal coal imports year to date are at lowest level since 2000

first_imgEuropean thermal coal imports year to date are at lowest level since 2000 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Argus Media:Intense competition from natural gas cut the EU’s net monthly thermal coal imports to their lowest this century in July, according to provisional Eurostat data.Net EU thermal coal imports from countries outside of the region fell by 3.7mn t on the year to 5.5mn t in July. This was down from 5.7mn t in June and is the EU’s lowest monthly intake since before 2000. The collapse in imports this summer amid weak coal burn and persistently high stockpiles means that January-July receipts have slumped by more than 10mn t, or 16 percent (pc), on the year to 52.3mn t. This is the EU’s lowest net receipt of coal for any January-July period since 2000 — when around 50mn t was imported — and down sharply from the 2016-18 average of 62.6mn t.Weak overall power demand and strong competition from natural gas — the price of which has been heavily pressured by high stocks and firm LNG supply — has weighed heavily on European coal burn this year. In January-August, coal-fired generation across Germany, Spain, UK and France fell by 35.3TWh on the year to around 47TWh. This is the equivalent of around 13.3mn t of 5,700 kcal/kg coal burn in 40pc-efficient plants. Gas-fired generation in the same countries, by contrast, rose by 30.1TWh over the same period to 172TWh.The shift towards greater gas use and away from coal has been driven by a comparatively steeper fall in European gas prices this year. European physical coal prices have typically been low enough in recent years to encourage running 40pc-efficient coal-fired plants ahead of 55pc-efficient gas-fired units, but heavy weakness across European gas hubs this year has pushed this coal-gas fuel-switch threshold lower and made coal increasingly uncompetitive for thermal output.Total power generation in Germany, Spain, UK and France fell by nearly 33TWh on the year in January-August, compounding the impact on demand for the least competitive fossil fuels in thermal generation. Generation from other thermal sources excluding coal and gas — predominantly German lignite — declined by nearly 23TWh on the year in January-August.Renewable output was little changed at 308TWh, compared with 306TWh last year, while total nuclear output was down by 6.5TWh at 377TWh.More: EU thermal coal imports at lowest this centurylast_img read more

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Coal-fired electricity generation in France fell 72% in 2019

first_imgCoal-fired electricity generation in France fell 72% in 2019 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:France’s electricity sector cut its carbon emissions by 6% last year as consumption fell while wind, solar and natural gas displaced coal-fired power generation.The drop in domestic power consumption came as governments across Europe introduced policies to fight climate change by encouraging energy savings in a bid to curb pollution from burning fossil fuels. Record low gas prices, which have been pressured by mild winter temperatures, have also helped to squeeze coal’s share from power mixes across the continent, making gas more competitive than the dirtiest fossil fuel.French power consumption fell by 0.5% last year, when excluding the impact of weather, to a 10-year low of 473 terawatt-hours as energy-efficiency measures and slower economic growth curbed demand, according to Reseau de Transport d’Electricite, the country’s grid operator.Coal-fired power generation plummeted by 72% to 1.6 terawatt-hours last year. It represented just a fraction of total electricity output, which fell by 2% to 537.7 terawatt-hours as state-run Electricite de France SA’s atomic plants faced more outages and reduced rainfall curbed hydropower production.Wind power accounted for 6.3% of electricity output last year, up from 5.1% in 2018 as developers added 1.36 gigawatts of production capacity to reach 16.5 gigawatts at the end of 2019. The addition was the lowest in four years.Power generated from solar energy rose slightly last year, reaching 2.2% of total consumption. This was as capacity climbed by 890 megawatts over the year reaching 9.4 gigawatts.[Francois De Beaupuy]More: France’s power emissions tumbled in 2019 as coal’s share slumpedlast_img read more

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U.S. power demand fell to 17-year low for the week ended April 18, trade group says

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:U.S. electricity demand last week plunged to a near 17-year low as government travel and work restrictions to slow down the spread of the coronavirus led to business closures, according to analysts and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) trade group.EEI said power output fell to 64,061 gigawatt hours during the week ended April 18. That was down 4.2 per cent from the same week in 2019 and was the lowest in a week since May 2003.The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected economic slowdown and stay-at-home orders would reduce electricity and natural gas consumption in coming months.EIA said it expected power sales to the commercial sector to drop by 4.7 per cent in 2020 as many businesses close, while industrial demand will fall by 4.2 per cent as factories shut or reduce output.Electricity sales to the residential sector, meanwhile, will only decline about 0.8 per cent in 2020, EIA projected, as reduced heating and air conditioning use because of milder winter and summer weather is offset by increased household consumption with many people staying home.Overall, EIA said it expects total U.S. power consumption to decline by 3 per cent in 2020 before rising almost 1 per cent in 2021.[Scott DiSavino]More: U.S. power demand falls to 2003 low as coronavirus cuts use by companies U.S. power demand fell to 17-year low for the week ended April 18, trade group sayslast_img read more

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Ultra fear

first_imgAn ultra race distance is basically defined as any distance longer than a marathon. However as most of you probably already know, ultra distances generally start at 50k or 31.2 miles. Then from there you can migrate upward to 40 mile, 50 mile, 100k, 100 mile, 24 hour and 48 hour race distances as the general norm.I’ve been asked so many times how does one run that far. This usually comes from other runners who have already run a marathon and just can’t seem to comprehend the ultra distance. In reality a 50k is only five miles further than a marathon and a lot of runners progress up from half marathons to the marathon which is exponentially a much greater jump in distance. (50% vs 16%) Even using this logic, the mental component to running an ultra distance is as much a road block as the physical it seems.The word “ultra” has that impression that one will be undertaking something truly epic, scary and painful. This is usually not the case, in fact if you prepare properly and have already run at least one marathon within the last year then I see no reason why someone can not make the 16% jump in distance to a 50k ultra.The greatest difference between a marathon and an ultra is that most marathons are run on paved surfaces (more painful but faster pace) and most ultras are run on soft surfaces like trails (less painful but slower pace). Time on your feet is the main difference between the two but ultra running time is usually spent on a more forgiving surface. I have raced the 50k distance in times ranging from three hours to five hours. These times are primarily dictated by the terrain and sometimes weather. When choosing your first 50k look for a race that does not have an extremely technical surface and mountainous terrain and you’ll see the jump in distance is not one to be feared.  You will need to add some time to your long runs and try to mimic the course terrain as best as possible. Learning how to run slower so you can go longer does take patience and practice. Look at past times for the 50k you have chosen and this should give you a gage of how far to take your long runs. Just like for the marathon you do not need to complete the full distance in your training but try to get close to 85% covered with at least two long runs around three to five weeks out from your race. 1 2last_img read more

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Skurka’s Next Step

first_imgAndrew Skurka has hiked more than 30,000 miles.Andrew Skurka is one of the few people who can claim backpacking as an occupation. The Duke University grad is a professionally sponsored hiker who bushwhacks in the backcountry instead of pencil pushing in an office. Skurka’s obsession with backpacking started with a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Since that initial jaunt, he has completed the 7,775-mile, 11-month Sea-to-Sea Route, which connects a string of long-distance trails between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the 6,875-mile Great Western Loop—a circuit around nine states that includes 12 national parks and 75 wilderness areas. Most recently, Skurka completed a six-month Alaska-Yukon Expedition, which covered 4,680 miles, largely off-trail, through some of the most rugged uncharted terrain in the world. More impressive, the outspoken ultra-light packing advocate completed the journey with just 10 pounds on his back. At age 30, he has covered more than 30,000 miles on his adventures. Since his last big trip, Skurka penned a book, The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide, which offers advice on maximizing experience while keeping pack weight down.“Like a lot of kids at Duke, I was Wall Street-bound. I spent two years working at a camp in Brevard and that opened my eyes to the outdoors. After completing the Appalachian Trail, I gradually became more ambitious about taking my life in this direction. I’m able to make a living as an adventurer because I don’t have a mortgage, wife, and kids. I’ve made choices that allow me to maintain a lifestyle that is simple and inexpensive. If I spent as much money as a normal 30 year old, I would not be able to live this way. My lifestyle has always been motivated by what’s keeping me happy. I’ve chosen not to give myself too many distractions, responsibilities, or excessive stresses. It’s important to me to be able to sleep on the ground for four or five months out of the year, and by keeping things simple, I’ve been able to make that happen.”“The alone factor has always come down to: how many friends do I have who are willing and able to take these kinds of trips with me? The answer is none, so by default I go alone. I’d rather do that than force a hiking partner. It won’t end well.”“Most of these trips are so engaging that I really don’t ever have to worry about entertaining myself. On the Alaska trip, 2,100 miles was off-trail, so I was constantly looking at my map, avoiding the thickest brush, and trying to figure out the landscape. I wasn’t on trails with long sections to put my brain on autopilot. If the adventure is interesting enough, you constantly have something to think about.”“Picking a favorite adventure is like asking which one of your children you love the most. When I look for a trip, I’m looking for something that’s going to challenge me and force me to use the skills I’ve acquired on past trips in a more extended way. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to top the impressiveness of the Alaska-Yukon Expedition. I skied the first 1,200 miles and started with 25-degree-below-zero weather. I had daily run-ins with grizzly bears and traveled through areas that no one has traveled through since the Klondike Goldrush. It was epic in so many ways.”“A lot of backpackers don’t have the knowledge that will allow them to best enjoy long-distance hiking. I used to be one of them. When I started the Appalachian Trail in 2002, I went out there with very conventional gear—a big seven-pound suspension pack, a double wall tent, and a thick self-inflating sleeping pad. By the first hill climb, I realized my full pack was killing me. I figured out how to make hiking fun by lightening my pack. It took a lot of skills to make that happen—learning about different types of fabrics and creating clothing and shelter systems that were both versatile and adequate for the conditions I’m facing.”“A heavy pack is a function of not knowing enough about an upcoming adventure. People shouldn’t be packing for ‘what if’ or ‘just in case’ situations. People should give themselves the knowledge to make appropriate choices to be safe and comfortable, yet traveling in a way that doesn’t make hiking such a chore.”“I don’t have a next big adventure to reveal yet. Between writing the book and starting a guide business, I’ve been busy in different ways. Taking eight people into the wilderness at a time has been a new type of challenge. I also just celebrated my one-year anniversary with my girlfriend. Turning 30 and being in a long-term relationship has me rethinking things, but I don’t think I’m totally ready to give up the transient life.”last_img read more

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48 Hours of Clarity

first_imgA full 48 hours of backpacking and reminiscing is the best way to finish off a school year at Appalachian State University. The past two years attending a college with the Blue Ridge Parkway in my backyard has spoiled me and has driven my passion for outdoor adventure. Every year during the week before finals my friends and I push all of the studying, mounds of books and papers aside to set our minds free in the mountains one last time before we part ways for the summer. It has now become a tradition for us to hike the Daniel Boone Scout Trail during the most hectic week of the school year.The hike is around 6.6 miles round trip and all up hill from the start. About half way into the hike there’s a nice camping spot next to Flat Rock, which makes for a great spot to view stars at night. Being above the trees and all other visual obstacles really allows for the stars to truly feel like a blanket wrapping itself around you. With the help of an astronomy book, we looked into the stars for hours on end and found more constellations than we even knew existed. As I was staring deep into the stars the pressure of the tests and term papers seemed to be lifted off my shoulders. I was reminded that my life, my problems, my struggles, and my triumphs don’t set me apart from the world but allow me to embrace the world and be apart of this moment in history — even if no one ever remembers my name, I am a part of a greater plan.The next morning we continued on our journey to make it to one of the highest points of the Blue Ridge, Calloway Peak. Another mile or so past the campground is a hidden wooden shelter built by a Boy Scout troop in the ’60s. Not only is it another great view, but also allows for another great time to reflect on ideas very different from that found in the stars. Inside the walls of the shelter are engravings dating back to when it was first built. Most of the engravings are initials with hearts and dates. I faintly remember one even said something along the lines “M & S Honeymoon 1983”. At this point in the hike I was reminded of all the love and loss that I had experienced in order to reach this point in my life. As well as, what brought me to App? What brought me to this great group of friends? Even, what brought me to this point in my life? The deepest reflections I’ve ever had come from being in nature and allowing my mind to wander alongside the ground in which my feet travel.The last leg of the trail is the most interesting because it is constantly changing. There’s ladders, ropes, grass, mud, rock, maybe even some snow, any type of terrain you can think of you’ll probably travel through at this point. Close to the top there is even a crashed and abandoned biplane. It’s a little eerie because it looks as though the crash was fatal. I immediately begin to be thankful for life and thankful for all of the reasons that have brought me to this point in time. A few moments later we finally reached the peak of the mountain. And yet again, I was forced into a moment of reflection peering out over the endless Blue Ridge which spread farther than my eyes could see. It made the journey to reach the top even that more rewarding.On the climb back down I couldn’t help but to think of the steps that took me to the peak and the steps I’ve taken in life that have made me who I am. Then upon, reaching the bottom we were thrown right back into school-mode which we were trying to avoid at all costs. Being a student in a college near the Blue Ridge has helped me to grow in more ways than I could have ever imagined before attending. Not only am I growing intellectually but I am also growing spiritually and I owe it all to the mountains that engulf the town I love, Boone, N.C.last_img read more

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Trail Mix | Michael Daves

first_imgOh my, that voice.The first time I saw Michael Daves perform – way back at MerleFest in 2006 – I was struck by his piercing tenor. Living in the mountains of Southwest Virginia and being a fan of bluegrass music, I am well familiar with high lonesome. Bill Monroe. Carter Stanley. Del McCoury. Bluegrass icons all whose voices define the bluegrass vocal sound and set the expectations for generations to come.Having been a fan for ten years now, it is with absolutely conviction that I say Michael Daves meets the standards set by his genre’s forefathers, and in my mind he has become one of the finest bluegrass vocalists of his generation.Daves, a Georgia native who now lives in New York City, recently released an ambitious double album, Orchids and Violence. On this project, Daves recorded an acoustic disc of mostly bluegrass standards and paired it with a second, electrified disc of the same songs. The approach to each disc was unique, with Daves joining some of his best bluegrass buds – Noam Pikelny, Sarah Jarosz, Mike Bub, and Chris Eldridge, among others – for the acoustic disc while tackling virtually every instrumental part himself on the electric disc.Same songs, different approach, drastically different sounds.The records are absolutely genius in concept. If you are looking for a double album that features both Bill Monroe and Mother Love Bone, this is the one for you.I recently caught up with Michael Daves to chat about the new record and the rock star within.BRO – You channeled a little Dave Grohl on the electrified disc, playing virtually all of the instruments. Any trepidation in that?MD – Well, the idea of working on my own in the studio was to help contrast with the bluegrass side, which was about the live interaction of awesome musicians in a large, reverberant space. There was the question about whether I would play drums, as my drumming is pretty primitive, so I was a little worried that I might take down the ship with that. But I went with the idea that my lack of skill in this regard would help keep the aesthetic raw. For our live performances, I’ve been working with Kid Millions, and amazing drummer who definitely can keep it raw.BRO – When you electrified those bluegrass tunes, did you have a preconceived notion of how you wanted each track to sound, or did you just let them unwind and see where they went?MD – The electric music started with a batch of electric arrangements I had come up with seven or eight years ago, and then I worked up the remainder once we finished recording the bluegrass side and knew what that was going to sound like. The goal was really to have those electric versions not sound like we just added drums and amps to bluegrass. We wanted them to stand on their own without needing reference to the traditional versions. I definitely responded to the the sounds of the pedals I got for the recording. Things got really interesting in the mixing, where Vance Powell created a bunch of sounds and textures that both fit the aesthetic direction I had laid out and were new and surprising to me.BRO – Bigger challenge – rocking out “Pretty Polly” or giving the bluegrass treatment to Mother Love Bone’s “Stargazer”?MD – The bluegrass “Stargazer” was more challenging, mostly because I had not performed it much before recording it. It’s pretty common for rock songs to be born in the studio, but with bluegrass music you’re rarely singing a new song. It’s more likely to be something that’s been with you for years.BRO – Tell me about recording in Brooklyn’s Old First Reformed Church. That had to sound amazing.MD – I find that space really inspiring, sonically. There’s a huge difference between recording while wearing headphones in a quiet studio and recording in a live space that you can really interact with. The space becomes part of the band. The natural sound for acoustic music is so good in there that we could approach recording really minimally. We went live to four track tape.BRO – Inside every bluegrass picker, is there a rock start waiting to get out? Or is it the other way around?MD – Ha! Well, the original bluegrass players were rock stars before there was rock music, but it’s hard to really talk about being a bluegrass rock star these days when you’re playing such a well-trod form of music, even if you rock while doing it. Rock stars connect with people while blowing their minds with something outrageous and new, burning down conventions in the process like Jimi Hendrix . . . or Bill Monroe in 1946, for that matter. Bluegrass stars these days connect with people through carrying the tradition forward with vivaciousness and skill, like Del McCoury. They’re not working the same dynamic, and I’m not sure you can have it the same way.Orchids and Violence, the new electrified/acoustified release from Michael Daves, is out now on Nonesuch Records.You can find Michael Daves each Tuesday night at NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall at 10 P.M. For more information on other tour dates and how you can grab the new record, please check out his website.And be sure to check out Michael’s rendition of “Pretty Polly” on this month’s Trail Mix.last_img read more

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