Report: FERC Encourages Pipeline Overbuilding FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Sean Sullivan for SNL:“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission facilitates overbuilding,” the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis said in a study released April 27. “The high rates of return on equity that FERC grants to pipeline companies (allowable rates of up to 14%), along with the lack of a comprehensive planning process for natural gas infrastructure, attracts more capital into pipeline development than is necessary.”The report’s authors also found “FERC’s approach to assessing the need for such projects is insufficient.”The report said the $9 billion in costs for both the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast projects would likely be added to the price consumers pay for gas or be absorbed as a loss by project investors. In addition, IEEFA said landowners were at risk of sacrificing property to projects that are not needed.IEEFA recommended that FERC suspend the applications for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines “until a regional planning process can be developed for pipeline infrastructure; that FERC lower the returns on equity granted to pipeline developers; and that an investigation be conducted into the relatively high failure rate of new pipelines.”IEEFA energy analyst Cathy Kunkel, the lead author of the study, said the institute found in many cases, including Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast, the pipelines and its customers are affiliates, which she said calls into question the FERC analysis of need.Full article ($): Pipe opponents call on FERC to halt project reviews to stop ‘overbuilding’
U.S. Mine Workers Rally for Pension Payments FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the Associated Press:Thousands of retired coal miners rallied Tuesday in Kentucky to call on Congress to protect their benefits as the industry struggles and operators seek bankruptcy protection from debts.United Mine Workers president Cecil Roberts told the gathering in Lexington of about 4,000 members from seven states that miners spent their lives working in dangerous places to provide the nation’s electricity and steel. The miners, some of whom arrived in wheelchairs, don’t deserve having their benefits put in jeopardy, Roberts said.“What do they want these people to do, get out of their wheelchairs and go back to the mines?” Roberts remarked after the rally.Roberts, who is popular among the union membership for his fiery oratorical style, told the crowd, “America owes us, and we will collect on that debt.”He added, “You want to know what the problem is? Millionaires and billionaires cannot stand the thought that a coal miner has health care as good as they have.”The union said about 22,000 retired union miners would lose health care benefits if federal legislation they are touting isn’t enacted this year. Those miners’ benefits are at risk because they worked for companies, including Patriot Coal and Arch Coal, that declared bankruptcy in recent years.The bankruptcies and a depressed U.S. coal market have decreased contributions to the pension fund by two-thirds from last year’s levels, according to the union. The union is also reeling, especially in Kentucky, which no longer has any mines that employ members of the United Mine Workers.Currently about 89,000 union members or widows are receiving a pension, according to the union.With benefits at risk, coal miner union rallies in Kentucky
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享WFPL:European power companies could save billions of dollars by stepping up closure of coal-fired power plants as nearly all of them will be loss-making in Europe by 2030, think-tank Carbon Tracker Initiative says.Coal power should be phased out in the European Union by 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement’s target to limit the rise in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.However, the bloc is still reliant on coal-fired power and only 27 per cent of coal-fired power plants in the EU plan to close before 2030, Carbon Tracker said in a report released on Friday, basing its estimate on company reports and countries’ phase-out policies.Fifty four per cent of European coal-fired power plants are currently cashflow negative and this could increase to 97 per cent by 2030 due to rising carbon prices and stricter air quality rules, Carbon Tracker said, based on modelling from commodity price forecasts, asset operating costs, gross profitability and government policies.Germany-based units could save 9 billion euros by phasing out coal, while Poland could save 3 billion euros.The utilities who have the most to gain from phasing-out coal are Germany’s RWE and Uniper, who could save 3 billion euros and 1.7 billion euros, respectively, according to Carbon Tracker.Coal-fired power currently makes up 26 per cent of total EU power generation.Analysis by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis earlier this year said more than 100 separate power plants – representing a third of Europe’s large-scale coal-fired power plant capacity – face costly air quality upgrades or closure as a result of the pollutant limits.More: Nearly all European coal-fired power plants will be loss-making by 2030: research Study: European Coal-Fired Closures Would Save Billions
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Billings Gazette:The lone source of coal for the Colstrip power plant has been scheduled for bankruptcy auction in late January.Rosebud Mine will be auctioned Jan. 22, if necessary, to help pay the debts of Westmoreland Coal Co., which owns the mine. The United States Bankruptcy Court Southern District of Texas on Thursday set terms for the auction, which the Colorado-based coal company had requested in October.Westmoreland did not respond to interview requests Friday by Lee Montana Newspapers. The company filed for bankruptcy Oct. 8, indicating that it had more than $1.4 billion in debt and assets of $770 million.Montana’s state government is in the process of approving a 10-square mile expansion of Rosebud Mine, not knowing who the actual developer might be after a sale. This week, Billings-based Northern Plains Resource Council asked the state Department of Environmental Quality to stop the permitting process at least until the developer is identified. Northern Plains earlier in the week also identified more than 50 springs it said would be destroyed by the mine expansion.The auction comes as the four-unit Colstrip power plant’s contract for Rosebud Mine coal winds down. The current agreement guarantees coal at least through 2019. Four utilities with 70 percent ownership in Colstrip Units 3 and 4 have expressed concern about not having coal if a buyer of Westmoreland’s assets opts to mine coal at Rosebud, or not mine enough to feed Units 3 and 4.More: Bankruptcy auction set for Rosebud Mine, sole supplier of coal to Colstrip Westmoreland’s Rosebud Mine heads to the auction block
China to shutter 8.7GW of coal capacity by year’s end FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:China will aim to shut a total of 8.66 gigawatts (GW) of obsolete coal-fired power capacity by the end of this year, its energy regulator said, part of its efforts to curb smog and greenhouse gas emissions. The National Energy Administration didn’t say how much of the target, equal to just under 1 percent of total capacity, had already been met.All provinces and regions have been ordered to shut coal-fired power units with a capacity of less than 50,000 kilowatts (kW), the regulator said on its website on Sunday.Larger units of up to 100,000 kW in regions covered by large-scale power grids will also be eliminated, along with those that have reached the end of their designed service period, it said.Central China’s Henan province, one of the country’s most polluted regions, is under pressure to shut 1.6 GW this year, while southeastern Guangdong province near Hong Kong will shut 2.3 GW.China has promised to ease its dependence on coal, and it has also forced most of its coal-fired power plants to install ultra-low emissions technology in a bid to curb smog.But while China has cut the share of coal in its total energy mix from 68% in 2012 to 59% last year, overall consumption has continued to increase, and environmental groups estimate that it still has more than 200 GW of new coal-fired capacity in the pipeline.More: China aims to shut 8.7 GW of coal power by year-end – regulator
Drew Yurko is showcased in Persinger’s latest film, Where?Bruce Persinger has been involved with the Southern snowboard scene for the last 20 years, first as a rider, then as a team manager. Now, he’s producing ski flicks from the Mid-Atlantic that people actually want to watch. Persinger, who lives at the base of Timberline Resort in West Virginia, documented the record-breaking snow season two years ago with Right Coast, Right Time, and just released a full-length video from last season that showcases who he thinks is the best boarder in our region, Drew Yurko. The film, just released, is called Where? BRO asked Persinger to dish about filming snow flicks in the South, trespassing, and getting older.On filming ski porn in the SouthThe biggest challenge, obviously, with shooting snowboarding films in the Mid-Atlantic is the conditions. You can’t just pick your days. You have to be available to shoot powder when it snows. Then you have to shoot the park scenes when it’s 35 and sunny. I missed a few storms, but if there’s six inches on the ground, chances are I’m out there riding and filming.On local talentThere’s always been an assumption that there’s no way anyone from our region will turn pro. But I had Tom Wallisch on a team I managed here and he’s one of the biggest skiers in the country now. We’re starting to get athletes of national caliber talent, which is why we named this latest film Where? We film with Drew Yurko, who won the Eastern Snowboard Championships at Seven Springs last season. It was the biggest, best park contest of the year in the Mid-Atlantic. He’s an amazing athlete. In 2008, he was the Maryland State Running Back of the year and he comes from a gymnastics background. Filming with Drew is like playing a video game. We’re out there in the park and I tell him to hit a jump a certain way, and he just does it.On equipmentWhere? just went up today. It’s a 10-minute road trip video from last year. I think it’s some of our best work. It’s not just park riding. There’s some decent powder in there too. The Go Pro really opened up what we could film. I’m willing to put that little camera into a lot of places that I’m just not willing to put the $4,000 camera. This winter, I’m excited about doing some 3D film of some of the area’s best runs. I can get out there with the ski patrol before they open the lifts and get these runs in their pure state.On powder daysThe best powder shot I got in Where? was actually two weeks after the resort was closed. We hiked up the entire mountain. It’s a good hike to the top, at least 45 minutes. But then you’ve got two feet of snow in every direction, and it’s all pristine, no tracks. I went halfway down and shot one of the boarders coming all the way down a nice, clean run. Timberline is a small, family-run mountain. It’s no frills, but we can hike up it in the spring without getting slapped with trespassing. There were days well into May that we were setting up shots and hits on our own in the park.On riding backcountryThis year, my plan is to get more into the backcountry. I’ve ordered split boards, which a lot of people are getting into around here. I’m hoping to do some filming at Whitegrass and some of the pipelines. There are three new pipelines on my list right now. They’re similar to the pipeline coming off of Weiss Knob [above Canaan Valley], but they aren’t as grown up. They’ve been freshly cleared, as wide as a two-lane road with rolling grass. There’s even a gas line that runs straight down the mountain where I live, on the side of Timberline that most locals have never ridden.On the importance of videoOne of my projects this year is to shoot the film that will help Drew Yurko get to the Dew Tour next year. The film means so much to boarders and sponsors and fans. That’s how Tom Wallisch became known. He won the Level1 Super Unknown video contest with a film he shot and edited himself. That’s how he got his name.On getting olderI’m 36 now. I was a first generation park rat. I can’t take the beating anymore. I no longer bounce. I just splat. These kids I’m filming surpassed my level of riding when they were 16 years old. A Frontside Rodeo 540 (see below) is as far as I’ll ever go. Now, I’m more interested in the backcountry and powder.A Front What?Don’t speak snowboard? A Front Rodeo 540 is when a snowboarder launches from a jump, performing a backward flip while spinning with a 540-degree rotation. It’s impressive, no matter how humble Persinger sounds. But what’s the hardest snowboard trick? It could be the Double McTwist 1260, a half-pipe trick that Shaun White debuted for the world during the 2010 Olympics that includes three twists and two flips before landing.
I like to think that I’m not very high-maintenance, at least when it comes to material things. My clothes don’t cost too much, it only takes a few minutes for me to get ready in the morning, and I can be pretty satisfied with a plain ol’ PB and J at any time of day.All of that changes at bedtime. A lot goes into crafting my perfect night’s sleep. No one wants to be around the grouch that I so easily become when my energy levels crash. My home set-up is ideal: big comfy bed, big comfy pillows, two big comfy blankets. Notice a pattern?Those conditions don’t really translate to my outdoors interests, though. Camping and backpacking are all about minimalism and simplicity, which is easy for me until the sun sets. But I’m discovering that a few key items can make my tent experience much more pleasant, both for me and for my trail companions. Piece number one? A quality sleeping pad.The Double Z inflatable pad by Big Agnes hits the spot for me. After too many long hours rolling around on thin foam or cheaper inflatables that only hold air until 2 a.m., this pad finally gets me excited to hit the hay. It’s got everything I need, during both the day and the night. In my pack, I want something light and compact. The Double Z in the smallest size, 20″ x 72″, weighs in at just 1 pound and rolls into a small 4.5″ x 8.5″ stuff sack. Blow it up to full size, and you’ve got 4 thick, luxurious inches of camping comfort to rest on.While this pad isn’t self-inflating, it does include a helpful two-piece air valve that makes it easy to blow up manually and swiftly deflate. The smaller piece allows for one-way inflation, so the pad will hold air as you blow it in without needing to cover the valve between breaths. The bigger valve then allows that air to make a quick exit for fast packing. The Double Z’s construction also assures that the air distributes evenly throughout the pad, no matter how you like to sleep. Side-sleepers like myself don’t have to worry about hip bruises or pressure points.One caveat to keep in mind for the Double Z, however, is that its high volume and low weight means sacrificing warmth. Big Agnes gives it an R-value of 1.5 on a scale from 1 to 9, so it’s only minimally insulated and won’t offer too much protection on chilly nights. This makes it perfect when temperatures are high enough to heat up the ground, or for car and cabin camping. In a pinch, sticking a blanket or towel under the pad should help, but cold-weather campers will likely prefer a more highly insulated option.All in all, the Double Z pad from Big Agnes is a great choice for campers simply looking for a little extra ease and comfort in warmer climates or months. The pad’s light weight, small packing size, double valve, thick padding, and even air distribution add up to create a worthy tool on the trail and in the tent throughout the spring and summer.MSRP $80 – $110, www.bigagnes.com
Record flooding in West Virginia has killed at least 24 people, destroyed hundreds of homes, and stranded thousands. Parts of West Virginia received 10 inches of rain, swelling mountain creeks and rivers across the region. West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has declared a state of emergency for 44 of West Virginia’s 55 counties as boats, helicopters, and National Guard troops rescue people from rooftops and cars.In the aftermath, several local and regional organizations have stepped up to help. The Ohio Valley Environmental Council (OVEC) have established drop-off locations for supplies that will be distributed across West Virginia. A complete list of drop-off locations can be found at their website. Items most in need include bottled water, nonperishable food items, clothing, toiletries, diapers, and flashlights. OVEC is also seeking volunteers to help load and distribute emergency supplies: ohvec.org.Relief supplies can also be donated at the State Capitol in Charleston, W.Va. from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.West Virginia American Water is supplying tankers of water while they work to restore water service to the region. Residents should bring their own containers to fill. Tanker locations can be found at facebook.com/wvamwater.The Kanawha-Charleston Humane Society is coordinating the search for lost and missing pets: 304-342-1576.For those outside the area wishing to help, donations to the Red Cross is the best and most reliable way. Donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999.Interested in lending a hand? The Red Cross also needs on-the-ground volunteers: volunteerconnection.redcross.org.West Virginia University is also leading donation and volunteer efforts. Its Dollars for Disaster West Virginia Flood Relief is partnered with the American Red Cross and United Way; donate here.
The cool breeze gently swayed my hammock, rustling the boughs of the pine trees above me. A faint sliver of sunlight peaked through my tarp. I could hear Adam’s gentle breathing in the hammock next to me. He shifted positions, still deep in sleep, the fabric groaning under his weight.The hour digit pinged 7 a.m. on my watch. I turned off the beeping alarm before it could disturb him. Sliding out of my sleeping bag, I quietly inched away to the lake we were camped beside. Its placid waters hardly stirred in the early morning dawn, the stillness mirroring my own inner stillness. I stretched, feeling suddenly very awake. I had slept through the night without waking once, an accomplishment in and of itself for any overnighter in the woods, let alone one spent in a hammock.Adam and I have spent a fair amount of time swingin’ from the trees. In 2014, during his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, Adam camped every night in the ENO hammock he bought when he was 16. During my 2011 NOLS semester in the Amazon, I slept in a hammock for nearly two months, after which I immediately bought my own hammock setup. Clearly, something about sleeping between two trunks spoke to us.We’ve had our bouts of failure, for sure: misjudged tree distances, unexpected storms, insufficient rigging, relentless bugs (there’s also that one time I fell out of my hammock that I don’t like to talk about…I may or may not still have some residual bruising). It’s not unlike a work of art, setting up the perfect hammock camp. There’s a finesse to it, a proficiency that comes only with time.So if you’ve just recently made the swap from tent to hammock (or are thinking about it), check out our top 10 tips and tricks for getting the perfect hammock camp!Make it work for you.Adam likes his hammock a little loose, with his head higher than his feet. I like mine a little tighter, a little straighter, so I can spread out diagonally and feel as if I’m laying on a bed. Don’t listen to any one person’s advice on hammock rigging. Experiment, and get it comfortable for your body!Set up your rain tarp, even if it’s sunny.Chances are, you’re going to be camping in the mountains, where fickle weather patterns can change without a moment’s notice. Even if you only set up your tarp halfway, at least you’ll know it fits the distance between the trees before the storm lets loose.Always have a drip line.There’s nothing worse than waking in the middle of the night to discover that, while your tarp might be holding up just fine, your hammock is still soaking up water from the tree straps. Fashion a little cordelette on either end of your hammock, attaching it to the carabiners, and watch the water trickle down the line and away from your cozy cocoon.Try rigging a ridgeline.I always carry enough additional cordelette, longer than the length of my hammock, to fashion a ridgeline. This line runs directly over my hammock, and while some use it to support their tarp (try tying two prusiks to keep it taut), I like to use mine to hang headlamps and wet socks as well. If you want to get real fancy, ENO makes some cool Twilight backcountry Christmas lights which can easily wind around the ridgeline for additional lighting. While a little less fancy, their Moonshine Lantern serves a similar function and comes equipped with a hook for hanging on your ridgeline.Invest in a non-inflatable sleeping pad.Adam and I both use Therm-a-Rest Z Lites, which are lightweight and flexible. You might not think you’ll need it, but trust us—that gentle breeze rocking you to sleep will also, eventually, make you numb with cold. You don’t need much, just another layer between you and the fabric, but it’s essential.Come prepared with stakes.Not every campsite is going to have perfectly placed roots, rocks, or other natural elements to secure your tarp to. Stakes take the guessing out of rigging, though if you do happen to forget (or worse, lose) your stakes, try burying a solid stick horizontally under six inches of soil. Place a hefty rock or other weighty object on top, just for some extra security.Higher is not better.So, though it feels really cool to be swinging up high in the trees with your feet dangling below you, it’s not a very practical place to be hanging out all night. For starters, getting in a hammock is hard enough close to the ground, let alone when you have to jump up into it. Secondly, if and when a storm hits, you want to be as low to the ground as possible (try for two to three feet) so the wind isn’t gusting rain up underneath the tarp.Secure everything.Curious critters, wind, rain, you name it, if it’s not put away before you hit the hay, it could very well be gone or damaged tomorrow. Hang your pack from the hammock’s carabiner. Tie your shoelaces together and slap ’em over your ridgeline. Make everything neat and stormproof, so that even if it’s your first time in the backcountry, at least you look like you know what you’re doing.Consider a groundsheet.When you opt for a hammock instead of a tent, all of a sudden, simple things like changing clothes and putting on shoes can become chores. Make it easy with a groundsheet. Adam carried a piece of Tyvek with him on the trail (which he also staked out) so he could have a nice clean, dry surface to stand on before getting in his hammock. This also helps reduce the amount of gravel and dirt that inevitably winds up in your hammock, too.Be conscientious about your hammock’s position.If it’s windy, don’t set your hammock up so that it acts like a sail and less like a bed. If you have even the faintest hint of breeze in the air, notice it, and try to avoid hanging your hammock so that it’s broadside to the draft. There’s truly nothing more annoying than hearing your tarp flap against your hammock all night long.
For a complete list of trails, roads, and recreation areas that are reopening please visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/pisgahreopenings. The few roads that remain closed are only closed to motorized vehicles, non-motorized use is allowed. Restrictions on dispersed camping will be lifted for the entire Appalachian Ranger District. Dispersed camping restrictions will also be lifted for the Grandfather Ranger District with the exception of overnight camping within the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area on the weekends, which requires a permit. For the month of May, the Forest Service will not be issuing these permits. Dispersed camping restrictions remain in place for the Pisgah Ranger District. These decisions were made in coordination with county and local partners to ensure the safety of the public and employees. Visitors can expect restrooms to remain closed and trash services to continue to be suspended. Please pack out what you pack in and remember to use Leave No Trace Principles. Forest Service staff will continue to perform risk assessments to determine which recreation areas can resume operations in accordance with county and local partners and current public health guidance. The Forest Service’s highest priority is ensuring the safety of the public and their employees while supporting mission-critical functions. Please review current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with local and state guidelines for social distancing and cloth face coverings. For additional information please contact the Appalachian Ranger District at (828) 689-9694; Grandfather Ranger District at (828) 652-2144; Pisgah Ranger District at (828) 877-3265; Supervisor’s Office at (828) 257-4200. The Pisgah National Forest began to reopen many trails and roads and partially lift restrictions for dispersed camping May 14, using a site-by-site approach, including assessment of facility cleanliness, maintenance status, and health and safety of recreation areas. Facilities and services may remain limited at some sites. Popular recreation areas that reopened include, but are not limited to: Follow the National Forests in North Carolina on Facebook (www.facebook.com/nfsnc) or Twitter (twitter.com/NFsNCarolina) for more news and features. Catawba Falls, TR 225Brown Mountain Off Highway Vehicle AreaBlack Balsam Road, FSR 816, and associated trailsBent Creek Road, FSR 479 and most trails and trailheads