first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg Businessweek:As President Donald Trump prepares to pay failing coal plants to stay open, several states are hatching plans to gently put them to sleep. One solution gaining steam among lawmakers, environmentalists, and policy experts can be found in an unlikely place: the bond market.For utilities, getting out of the coal business can be costly. They have to pay to dismantle generators, and they don’t want to miss out on future revenue by scrapping still-productive assets early. Plus, coal-plant workers will need to be retrained for other jobs. To pay for all that, states could allow utilities to issue special bonds at low rates. While the plan has yet to be implemented, Colorado, New Mexico, and Missouri are among the states where legislation has been debated.“If there’s a no-cost option available to the state, I think it would be absurd to not do it,” says Jacob Candelaria, a Democratic state senator in New Mexico. Candelaria sponsored a bill that failed to pass and plans to reintroduce it next year. No tax dollars would be spent for such bonds, he says, but the debt would be backed by ratepayers. That means the utility can add a special charge to customers’ bills to cover the payments. The predictable cash flow means the bonds can carry lower rates. For years, coal’s been losing out to cheaper natural gas and cleaner renewables such as wind and solar. Coal-fired facilities accounted for more than half of U.S. electricity from 1949 through 2005, according to the Energy Information Administration. Since then, its share has declined to less than one-third of the U.S. total.Strategies for managing the transition vary. The operators of New England’s power grid have instituted a plan, sometimes called “cash for clunkers,” that includes—as a side effect to making room for new clean energy sources—paying old plants to retire. Trump, who has struggled to fulfill a campaign promise to help the coal industry, announced on June 1 that he was ordering Energy Secretary Rick Perry to stem the tide of closures. The government would establish a “strategic electric generation reserve” and compel grid operators to buy electricity from coal and nuclear plants. The administration says this is to protect national security. Still, many state and local authorities—and even a lot of utilities—see coal-plant shuttering as inevitable. Almost two dozen coal plants, with a combined capacity of more than 16 gigawatts, are scheduled to close in 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance from the EIA and the Sierra Club. Another 30 gigawatts’ worth of plants are slated to follow suit by the end of 2025.It’s just a question of how the process unwinds. Candelaria estimates his legislation would have allowed utility PNM Resources Inc. to issue bonds that would pay 1 percent to 3 percent, as long as the proceeds were spent on shutting a coal plant. If PNM had to issue bonds on its own to do the same thing, it might have to pay interest of 6 percent to 8 percent, the lawmaker says. The exact rates would depend on a variety of factors, but “we’re talking about real money,” Candelaria says. Ron Darnell, senior vice president of public policy for PNM, calls the strategy “an equitable way to facilitate the transition to newer, cleaner energy resources.”More: Buy Bonds, Kill Coal States turn to bond market to fund decommissioning of coal plantslast_img read more


first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享West Virginia Public Radio:For generations, coal power has fueled American prosperity. But for each shovelful thrown into the furnaces, a pile of ash was left in its place. Today, as coal’s dominance in the power sector wanes, those piles of ash have grown into mountains as coal ash became one of the largest waste streams in the country, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.Hundreds of waste ponds and landfills, many constructed without liners to prevent leaks, dot the American landscape, especially in the coal-rich Ohio Valley. And the ash they contain includes the concentrated remains of the many toxic compounds associated with coal and its combustion, such as arsenic, lead, and radium.The Ohio Valley ReSource and partner station WFPL analyzed newly available data from groundwater monitoring wells near ash disposal sites in the region and found that most show signs of leaking contaminants. At several sites, hazardous compounds are found in groundwater at levels that far exceed federal drinking water standards.What the first round of monitoring data revealed is a toxic blend of coal ash chemicals that appear to be leaching into groundwater across the country. Environmental advocates say the data demonstrate that contamination is ubiquitous, not just in the Ohio Valley but at coal ash sites around the United States.Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law center, found 92 percent of sites showed evidence of contamination in a review of 100 sites across the country. “And this is industry produced data,” Lisa Evans, an attorney with Earthjustice, emphasized. “Data is showing us that across the board there was groundwater contamination at almost every site in the country,” she said.In Kentucky and West Virginia, every power plant covered under the EPA rules had coal ash waste sites with evidence of contaminated groundwater, according to the analysis by WFPL and the Ohio Valley ReSource. Already, three sites in Ohio, four sites in West Virginia and 11 sites in Kentucky have said they will do more testing after finding evidence of possible groundwater contamination.More: Coal ash uncovered: New data reveal widespread contamination at Ohio Valley sites Industry data show widespread contamination from coal ashlast_img read more


first_imgU.K. sets new wind generation record FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Strong gusts on Wednesday evening helped Britain’s wind farms to produce a record amount of electricity, trade group Renewable UK said on Friday.Britain aims to increase its renewable output and close its coal-fired power plants by 2025 as part of efforts to meet climate targets. “Britain’s onshore and offshore wind farms hit a new high of 14.9 gigawatts (GW) between 6 and 6.30pm on Wednesday evening,” the industry group said in a statement.Overall on Wednesday wind generated 32.2 percent of the country’s electricity more than any other electricity source. The figure beat the previous record of 14.5 GW set on Nov. 9.The country’s renewable electricity capacity overtook that of fossil fuel generators such as gas and coal for the first time this year. The world’s largest offshore wind farm, Orsted’s Walney Extension, opened off the northwest coast of England in September.More: Britain blows past wind power generation recordlast_img read more


first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Natural gas-fired and renewable generation increased across the U.S. in July while generation from coal continued to fall.According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest “Electric Power Monthly” released Sept. 24, utility-scale generation net of hydroelectric pumped storage fell 0.4% year over year in July to 411.6 million MWh.Natural gas’s share of July generation was 42.3%, up from 40.5% in July 2018, while coal’s share fell to 24.5% from 27.9%.Renewable output climbed 12.0% year over year to 60.4 million MWh as growth among renewable resources was mixed. Conventional hydro generation saw a 4.6% decline, while generation from solar and other renewables climbed 19% and 27%, respectively.Year-to-date through July, utility-scale generation declined 2.0% to 2.38 billion MWh, with coal supplying 24.0% of the nation’s power and natural gas at a 36.6% share. So far, renewable generation has supplied 18.6% of the nation’s power, compared with 18.2% a year earlier.Over the same period, coal-fired generation declined 13.1% year over year to 571.1 million MWh, while gas-fired generation climbed 5.7% to 871.3 million MWh. Renewable generation declined 0.3% to 442.4 million MWh.More ($): Natural gas, renewables combine for 57% of US generation in July EIA: Coal generated 24% of U.S. electricity through July, renewables at 18.6%last_img read more


first_imgBRO: Where did your first backpacking trip take place?CG: I car camped a lot with my family growing up, but the first real backpacking trip I can remember happened in my freshmen year of college when I joined an outdoor program trip to Joyce Kilmer forest in Western North Carolina. We hiked among the old growth trees and up onto a ridge that was shrouded in storm clouds. It rained on us all night, and we hid in our tents playing cards. There was a lot of misadventure on that trip, but it proved to me how quickly close friendships can form during those shared adventures. I came away from that trip with a couple of good friends who became my camping buddies during college.BRO: What was the main lesson you took away from the AT?CG: Whenever I go to the trail I feel like it’s teaching me to slow down and pay attention. I usually set out from the trail head over-loaded and at break-neck speed, but after a couple of days I begin to settle into the pace of the forest and walking the trail. Time on the trail always helps me to get in touch with what really matters in life, and it refreshes my imagination and creative capacity.BRO: What is the main lesson that you want viewers of this film to come away with?CG: I hope that people are inspired to get out and spend time on their local trails (and also to be invested in protecting and stewarding wild places in our communities). It’s easy to forget about and overlook the heritage of wild places that we’re blessed with as Americans–I need fairly constant reminding myself about how good the wild places are for us and how important it is for me to spend time in them. The legacy of wilderness in America is ongoing, and there are still so many important ways for people to get involved in stewarding and protecting our trails, forests, and streams. So that’s my hope: 1) that people watch the film and immediately want to go out and spend time on a trail or a river, and 2) that through that they are led to a deeper engagement with environmental conservation and stewardship in their community.Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 11.59.09 AMWhere & When: Saturday, May 30 – Asheville Community Theatre, 7:30PMTickets are $7 and available at the theater box office (35 East Walnut Street, Asheville, NC 28801), by phone (828-254-1320), and online http://qrs.ly/k74otdb.There will be a raffle of outdoor gear and prizes to benefit the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in celebration of the ATC’s 90th anniversary. Facebook event page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/878363225571811/Online ticket sales link: www.tinyurl.com/ATmovie Photos Courtesy of Chris Gallaway Former BRO dispatcher Chris Gallaway has completed his long awaited documentary about the trials and tribulations of his Appalachian Trail thru-hike. The film is photographically stunning and emotionally compelling, but it also weaves in interesting tidbits about the long-standing history of the Appalachian Trail. Check out an exclusive, six minute sneak peak of the film below, and don’t miss Chris’ next screening at the Asheville Community Theater this Saturday at 7:30 p.m in Asheville, North Carolina.Chapin from Horizonline Pictures on Vimeo. We recently caught up with Chris to get an inside look at what drove him to complete this long-awaited project.BRO: When did you begin contemplating an AT Thru-hike?CG: I had casually toyed with the idea of doing a thru-hike for much of my 20’s, but I didn’t get serious about it until I met Sunshine, my then-girlfriend and now-wife. Sunshine had done two thru-hikes on the AT in 2004 and 2005, and hearing her stories really lit up my imagination and started me thinking about what it would be like to do it myself. A month after my 30th birthday in 2013 I started on the trail in Georgia with hopes of reaching Mount Katahdin in Maine.Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 11.58.54 AMBRO: What was the hardest thing about the journey?CG: There were plenty of physical challenges, from deep snow and sub-zero temperatures in the Smoky Mountains to horrible mosquito swarms in New England. One of the things I struggled with most on the trail was learning how to slow down and pace myself. I’m a fairly competitive person; so the challenge aspects of the trail easily get a hold of me. In Virginia, when the terrain leveled out some, I charged hard for two weeks walking long miles each day under a heavily-loaded pack, and I ended up with deep blisters and nerve damage in my feet. That pain was so depressing and defeating. I was determined to go on, but I was emotionally depleted and miserable as I limped down the trail each day. Thankfully, Sunshine met me on the trail for a few days near Daleville, Virginia and helped me to slow down and recover. My feet healed up, and I resumed my hike with a more patient, steady outlook.BRO: Tell us about your outdoor background. What kind of activities were you into growing up?CG: My parents had us out hiking, fishing, and camping as kids. Those early adventures in the woods developed an explorer’s imagination in me—I am happiest and most engaged when traveling a trail or a river and anticipating what will be revealed around the next bend. After college I delved into whitewater kayaking and spent several years exploring the class V rivers of the Southeast. Then in my later 20’s a backpacking trip with my older brother Ben reawakened me to the excitement of life on the trail (and also the intriguing culture of the AT). That trip put me back on a track towards many more hiking trips and eventually the AT thru-hike.Screen shot 2015-05-27 at 12.27.05 PMlast_img read more


first_imgSituated in the Monongahela National Forest in the north central West Virginia Highlands, Blackwater Canyon stands apart as one of the Mountain State’s best view points. Once used to haul lumber and coal through this sunning natural landscape, the Blackwater Canyon Trail is tailor-made for those seeking a sense if mountain solitude. In addition to expansive views of the West Virginia High Country and the Blackwater River below, be on the lookout for the endangered West Virginia flying squirrel, the Indiana bat, and the Cheat Mountain salamander. For directions to Blackwater Canyon here.[divider]More from Blueridgeoutdoors.com[/divider]last_img read more


first_imgTen years ago, King Coal reigned supreme. The Southeast’s electric companies operated 246 coal-fired power plants and planned to build another nine units.Today, utilities plan to retire or have already retired 126 of those coal-fired units, and they have shelved plans for seven of the proposed units.How did this happen—especially in the heart of coal country?“There are basically three driving forces behind this trend: changes in technology, changes in economics, and changes in regulation over the past few years,” says Jonas Monast, director of the climate and energy program at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.On the regulatory front, one important driver was EPA’s 2011 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule, which requires power plants to substantially limit their emissions of toxic air pollutants like mercury, arsenic and heavy metals. The rule forced utilities to install the most effective pollution controls available, essentially making them pay for the pollution created by burning coal by internalizing the costs of using it as a fuel. Faced with these installation costs, utilities in the six Southeastern states decided instead to shutter 58 old, inefficient coal-fired units.Sierra Club - Jeff Rich NC Asheville_FIXState laws have played a role as well. The 2002 North Carolina Clean Smokestacks Act required the state’s 14 coal-fired power plants to reduce by three-quarters the emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide—the main pollutants responsible for ozone, smog, acid rain and other air quality problems. Power companies achieved those cuts by installing $2.9 billion worth of scrubbers and other pollution controls, as well as closing many older coal-fired power plants. Utilities have shuttered seven coal-fired power plants in North Carolina since 2011 and slated another three for retirement or conversion to other fuel sources by 2020. These pollution controls and closures have reduced North Carolina’s carbon emissions from electricity by 27.4 percent and mercury emissions by 70 percent.Replacing CoalAt the same time that federal and state regulations are making coal-fired plants more costly to operate, other sources of energy, particularly natural gas and renewables, have become less expensive.Duke Energy has already retired about half of its Carolinas coal fleet, shutting down units at 11 coal-burning power plants. In their place, the company has built two combined-cycle natural gas plants, which generate up to 50 percent more electricity than traditional plants by routing waste heat from the gas turbines into a nearby steam turbine. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), South Carolina Power & Gas, and Dominion Virginia Power also plan to replace coal-fired plants with natural gas units.“Natural gas is a more attractive fuel source because federal policy is not friendly to carbon, and coal emissions generate carbon,” says Dominion spokesman David Botkins.Renewables are also playing an important role in the Southeast’s clean energy economy. For example, North Carolina has 1 gigawatt of installed solar power in the state, making it fourth nationally in installed solar, and is also home to one of the South’s first large-scale commercial wind farms, the Amazon East Wind Farm, which is expected to start producing power by the end of the year.And some utilities are relying on renewable energy sources from other parts of the country to boost their renewable portfolio as well. Since wind power has proven difficult to develop in much of Tennessee, TVA has contracts to purchase more than 1,500 MW of wind capacity from the Midwest, in addition to purchasing wind power from the 27 MW Buffalo Mountain Wind Energy Center in Oliver Springs, Tenn.One factor driving the switch to cleaner-burning energy is EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which sets state-specific targets for achieving a 32 percent reduction in the nation’s carbon emissions. The Supreme Court temporarily stopped the plan in February, ruling in an ideologically split decision that EPA can’t implement the plan until the courts settle the legal challenges against it. A coalition of 24 states—including Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina—are challenging the plan, questioning EPA’s authority to impose the regulations and some of the plan’s specifics, such as its use of 2012 as a baseline year, after many states had made significant progress in cutting CO2 emissions from coal-fired plants.CoalPlant_retirement_update_FIXMap courtesy of Southern Environmental Law CenterBenefits for Health and the EnvironmentOutdoor organizations and public health groups are hopeful that cutting back on coal will have benefits for human health and the environment. “Someone who’s in the hiker community and spends a lot of time active in the outdoors may not think of themselves as at risk from air pollution in the outdoors, but it affects everyone,” says Janice Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy for the American Lung Association. She notes that several studies have shown a decline in hikers’ lung function as ozone levels rose, even at levels below EPA’s safety standard.Less demand for coal also reduces mining and its associated environmental impacts, including habitat disturbance, water pollution, acid mine drainage, and greenhouse gas emissions. There are also direct impacts from the coal-fired generation itself, most notably the storage of waste products in coal ash landfills and ponds, which can contaminate groundwater, wetlands, creeks, and other waterways with toxic metals that can cause cancer and neurological damage. In the Southeast alone, there are about 400 coal ash storage facilities, including more than 50 sites where there is known pollution or contamination, according to the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. Most notably, a 2008 spill at TVA’s Kingston Plant sent more than 1 billion gallons of ash sludge pouring into the Emory River and a 2014 spill at a Duke Energy plant sent almost 39,000 tons of coal ash and 24 million gallons of wastewater into the Dan River. David McKinney, chief of environmental services for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, noted that coal-fired facilities affect fish populations by releasing water that’s too warm for fish or killing fish when they draw water from lakes and rivers. “As the global demand for coal diminishes, eventually the environmental consequences of the extraction and preparation process should likewise diminish,” McKinney says.The South’s dramatic reductions in carbon emissions in a single decade show that a clean energy future is within reach, says the Sierra Club’s Kelly Martin. “Transitioning to renewable energy sources will ensure we have cleaner air and cleaner water in the places we live and love to be in.”last_img read more


first_imgAcross the country—and especially in the South—opiate addiction is a catastrophe.People have asked me if I have ever met anyone who has come off opiates successfully without substituting another opiate or drug. In over twenty years of medicine, I’ve known only one: Travis Muehleisen is a former opiate addict now running addict.Muehleisen did not choose to take pain meds. He was given them by physicians after four back surgeries to treat spinal stenosis. Muehleisen was obese, weighing 330 pounds at the time. He also suffered from depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and coronary artery disease.“I didn’t like this way of life, but knew no other way,” says Muehleisen. “I knew I had to change or I was not going to be alive much longer.”He decided to make a change. In the winter of 2010, he started walking a mile on the treadmill in his sister’s basement. Within a month, he was up to three miles.The next summer, he ran his first lap around the track at Martinsburg High School. Slowly he kept increasing his distance, and a year later, he ran his first half marathon.As an opiate user, Travis knew only one way to enter running: all in—and often to excess.  “If I do not run and run hard, I literally feel pain,” says Muehleisen. “It takes me around six miles to get the substitute.”Since he has started running, Muehleisen has lost over one hundred pounds from exercise and eating right. “I no longer take any medications. I am really proud of that, And I am in the best shape of my life and back to working full time.”img_0788Travis is one of the few people I know who has come off disability. There is little incentive to work when you are getting a paycheck and insurance not to work. But Travis wants to work to keep his brain and body highly engaged. Desk job? Not for Travis. He is a steel worker and builds bridges.Muehleisen is now six years opiate-free. He has run 14 marathons in 4 years and plans to run the JFK 50 Miler this fall. He recently shared these insights from the past six years:What have you learned about running’s role in treatment of opiate addiction?Running has shown me that there is a productive life after addiction. If you want a good life bad enough, it’s up to you to take control of it.Do you think the symptoms of addiction ever go away?Just speaking for myself, I don’t think the addiction ever goes away. I think addicts just learn to cope with it.How do you feel if you miss running?If I miss running, I find myself experiencing pain and depression.Any other activity substitute in the same way?I haven’t found anything to substitute this addiction with besides running and the challenge of it.What advice would you give someone of pain medication now who wishes to get off them?Stay strong. It’s a long journey but it’s very rewarding once you have it under control. Find something that challenges you physically and mentally and just dive in.What do you think are the biggest barriers to people coming off the meds?Believing in yourself, getting your self esteem back, trusting that there is a life after addiction, and mending the damage you have caused to family and friends.Muehleisen’s Mental MarathonWhen Travis Muehleisen ran his first full marathon, what got him through it was this:Mile 1: I ran for God for giving me the strength and another chance at life.Mile 2: For my two children, Jordan and Jessica, whom I love so very much.Mile 3: For my parents, my father in heaven who always believed in me and my abilities to do anything I wanted to do. For my mother, for always being there for me through the good and the bad.Mile 4: For my soul mate and best friend, T, for instilling confidence in me and for supporting me.Mile 5: For all of those disabled who can’t run.Mile 6: For those children being bullied.Mile 7: For my family, for believing in me.Mile 8: For people fighting cancer.Mile 9: For the US troops for fighting for my freedom.Mile 10: For all the victims affected by an act of mother nature.Mile 11: For those who are homeless.Mile 12: For all my medical doctors, especially for my neurosurgeon.Mile 13: For all abused animals. Mile 14: For those struggling with addiction.Mile 15: For all who are battling depression.Mile 16: For all my true friends.Mile 17: For all my coworkers.Mile 18: For all my teachers and coaches.Mile 19: For those suffering from hunger.Mile 20: For children battling obesity.Mile 21: For those who are missing loved ones.Mile 22: For abused women and children.Mile 23: For babies “born too soon.”Mile 24: For Chandler (my boxer) and Mallory (my Maltese) for accompanying me on several runs.Mile 25: For my health and happiness.Mile 26: I ran for me, for having the guts and courage. And the last .2 I ran for chili and cheese nachos!last_img read more


first_imgWhen pack weights get heavy—which is inevitable, let’s be honest— the Aerolon suspension system on the Maven 55 may save you a trip to the chiropractor with its four inch span of torso adjustment. It also uses a customized lightweight aluminum chassis design to deliver much improved ventilation and load stabilizing trail performance.Other features include an internal divider that doubles as a top flap for lidless use, removable bottom straps that can be used as a hip belt on the SideKick daypack, and a quick-stow feature on the shoulder strap for attaching glasses.Whether you’re logging big miles on the Appalachian Trail during an extended thru-hike or just out for a spur of the moment, one-night backpakcing adventure, the extremely lightweight Maven 55 will make save your back while making your backcountry experience more enjoyable overall.Learn more here. These days, outdoor shops are full of great packs for multi-day adventure. So much so, in fact, that it can be nearly impossible to find a pack that’s just right for you. Here at Blue Ridge Outdoors, we’ve had the opportunity to test copious packs over the years,  but few have exceeded the features or all-around versatility of the Maven series packs from Gregory Mountain Products.New for 2017, the Maven series includes 65, 55, 45, and 35 liter versions. For trips exceeding two days, we would recommend the 55 liter version, not only for the extra space but for the added features that the pack offers.Those features include a rain cover,—an item that usually requires a separate purchase—a bladder sleeve that doubles as a day pack, and the much-heralded Aerolon suspension system.The Maven 55’s SideKick Day Packlast_img read more