FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Cleveland Plain Dealer:Boaters and birders have been upfront about their opposition to the six-turbine Icebreaker Wind project planned for Lake Erie, but a new, powerful voice of resistance has recently emerged: Big Coal.In documents and sworn statements filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board on Thursday, the wind farm developers presented evidence that Murray Energy Corp. has been bankrolling anti-Icebreaker consultants, as well as lawyers representing two Bratenahl residents who have testified against the project.Cody E. Nett, a spokesman for Murray Energy, confirmed the company’s involvement by e-mail and said, “Murray Energy is pleased that its outside counsel… can assist the Bratenahl residents to prevent Icebreaker from steam-rolling this project through the Ohio Power Siting Board certification process without the public scrutiny and opposition that it deserves.”Robert Murray, who has homes in Moreland Hills and Belmont County, is the founder and CEO of the nation’s largest privately-owned coal company, with 16 active mines in five states and Colombia, South America. As coal sales plunge and hundreds of coal-fired power plants are shut down across the country, green energy facilities such as Icebreaker pose a formidable new source of competition for Murray’s coal companies.Even if Murray had wanted to intervene in the state certification process for Icebreaker, he likely would have been denied, said David Karpinski, vice president of operations for the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation. Interveners must first file a request to participate in the decision-making process with the siting board, which is responsible for reviewing applications for the construction of major utility facilities such as power plants and wind farms.As a potential direct competitor of the $126 million Icebreaker project, Murray Energy probably wouldn’t have been allowed to intervene before the siting board, Karpinski said.Nor could Murray Energy have worked to oppose Icebreaker by putting its substantial resources behind the Campaign for American Affordable and Reliable Energy, a trade group whose stated mission is “to protect, preserve and promote America’s affordable and reliable coal-fired electricity generation.” The state siting board denied three previous attempts by the group to intervene in wind projects after finding that the group objected to wind farms in general and would not be impacted directly by any of the projects.Trish Demeter, vice president of energy policy at the Ohio Environmental Council, said Murray’s behind-the-scenes activity in the Icebreaker case is an example of “his no-holds-barred approach at stymieing Ohio’s energy future.” “At the OEC, we’ve long suspected Murray Energy was involved in whipping up opposition to wind energy in Ohio, but seeing the hard evidence of that opposition is still shocking,” Demeter said.By opposing the application to place North America’s first freshwater offshore wind farm in Ohio, “Murray Energy is grasping at straws to keep its business relevant in an era of unstoppable trends towards clean, renewable energy,” Demeter said.More: Big Coal joins fight against Lake Erie green energy wind turbines U.S. coal company works behind the scenes to thwart Lake Erie wind-energy project
Activists renew protests against development of Argentina’s Vaca Muerta oil, gas shale region FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Greenpeace activists in Argentina blocked access on Tuesday to a waste site used by companies that extract oil and gas from the Vaca Muerta shale formation, the organization said. Greenpeace said there were illegal practices at the oil waste site which harmed the environment and local population.The site is run by Treater SA, a company that handles waste from exploration and extraction of shale oil and gas. The site is used by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA and Argentina’s state-controlled oil company YPF SA.YPF, the company with the largest investment at Vaca Muerta, told Reuters that the activists’ blockade did not impact its activity or facilities.The Vaca Muerta shale formation in Patagonia is one of the largest reserves of unconventional hydrocarbons on the planet, though much of its oil and gas remains untapped.“We hope the oil companies will stop contaminating the Patagonian ecosystem with toxic waste and will close this dump that violates provincial and national laws,” said Leonel Mingo, a member of Greenpeace’s Climate and Energy program.More: Activists block access to waste site in Argentina used by oil companies
U.S. LNG export projects facing uncertain future FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):After a year of federal approvals for U.S. LNG export projects, the beginning of 2020 holds serious hurdles for the remaining proposals, such as environmental opposition, global LNG oversupply and weak gas prices.Three LNG export projects proposed for the area around Brownsville, Texas, face challenges to their federal authorizations from a coalition of environmental groups, fishermen and other community interests. The Brownsville Ship Channel projects are part of a wave of U.S. Gulf Coast LNG proposals that cleared the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission review process in 2019 and that now vie for the off-take contracts that help finance construction. On Nov. 21, 2019, FERC approved the Exelon Corp.-backed, 6-million-tonne-per-annum (mtpa) Annova LNG Brownsville project; Texas LNG Brownsville LLC’s project, authorized for 4 mtpa and expected to include 2 mtpa in the first phase; and NextDecade Corp.’s Rio Grande LNG project, a terminal with a total design capacity of 27 mtpa.Compared with other large LNG projects, the Brownsville projects have encountered more robust and organized opposition over environmental and economic issues in the commission’s review. Meanwhile, market observers agreed that the window for independent projects to advance to construction is rapidly closing, which could make 2020 a possible shakeout year for the dozen or so projects around the country.“It’s getting late. It’s getting dark. It’s much tougher,” said Michael Webber, an independent LNG analyst and managing partner at Webber Research & Advisory.The picture is especially dark for projects that have not yet announced any firm long-term supply contracts. These proposed facilities include the Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Energy Transfer LP-backed Lake Charles LNG project in Louisiana, LNG Ltd.’s Magnolia LNG project in Louisiana, Pembina Pipeline Corp.’s Jordan Cove LNG project in Oregon, Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Gulf LNG project in Mississippi, and the Texas LNG LLC project in Brownsville.[Dyna Mariel Bade]More ($): U.S. LNG projects face significant challenges as they enter 2020
Florida utilities agree to close 848MW unit at Plant Scherer, U.S.’ largest coal-fired generator FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Utility Dive:Plant Scherer in Georgia — for years, the highest capacity coal-fired plant in the U.S. — will lose one of its four units to retirement, a sign that even the largest coal power plants are not immune to the economic pressures driving down coal’s standing in the U.S. generation mix.On Friday the board of directors of Jacksonville municipal utility JEA, a minority owner of the 848-MW unit 4 at Scherer, agreed to a 20-year purchase agreement with Florida Power & Light, the majority owner of the unit, that will replace the capacity the municipal utility receives from unit 4 and lead to its closure on Jan. 1, 2022.While the other three units at the plant are not affected by the decision, the closure of unit 4 will reduce the capacity of Scherer to 2,673 MW, making Southern Co.’s over 3,000-MW Plant Bowen, also in Georgia, now the largest coal-fired plant in the country, according to a statement from the Sierra Club.Falling costs of competitive energy sources like renewables and natural gas, combined with new emissions regulations, have caused coal-fired generation to fall from producing 44% of U.S. electricity in 2009 to about 23% in 2019, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data. Smaller coal-fired plants, many of which were built in the 1950s and 1960s and have less operating capacity over which to spread the costs of new emissions controls, have been more likely to retire than newer, larger coal plants, as observed by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and others.But Scherer unit 4’s impending retirement “is a clarion call that even the nation’s biggest coal plants don’t make economic sense,” Stephen Stetson, a senior representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, said in a statement. Scherer, in addition to being one of the largest coal-fired plants ever built in the U.S., came online in 1982.The other three units are owned by Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and the city of Dalton, Georgia. Southern Co. recently announced a commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, a goal that could entail the retirement of Bowen and other coal plants in the near future.[Matthew Bandyk]More: FPL, JEA to retire 848 MW unit of largest U.S. coal plant
Estonia, Latvia agree to jointly develop 1GW offshore wind farm in the Baltic Sea FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享OffshoreWind.biz:The governments of Estonia and Latvia have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop an offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Riga, the Baltic Sea.The capacity of the proposed offshore wind farm is up to 1,000 MW and the project is expected to be commissioned by 2030.The wind farm would produce approximately 3.5 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, which is approximately 40 percent of Estonia’s annual electricity consumption. The signing of the MoU follows several months of discussions on the project.According to Taavi Aas, Estonia’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure developing the wind farm in partnership with Latvia makes this a cross-border project which as such qualifies for support from the European Union. “This, in turn, makes it cheaper to build other wind farms in the area, as other projects in the same area would also benefit from the grid infrastructure to be built for the farm,” said Aas.The two countries will jointly carry out studies to determine the best location for the construction of the offshore wind farm, taking into account wind conditions, plans, existing projects, environmental protection, and all other factors. Once the necessary studies have been carried out and the permits have been obtained, an auction will be held for the offshore area with a building permit and the winner will be able to build an offshore wind farm there, the Estonian government said.[Adnan Durakovic]More: Estonia and Latvia to jointly develop 1 GW offshore wind farm
Over the past few days, I have had the distinct pleasure of attending my younger sister’s graduation from Yale University’s prestigious School of Drama Graduate Program. I am incredibly proud of my sister, and I have enjoyed every second of the commencement ceremonies for this Ivy League institution.One takeaway that I found particularly valuable for everyday life occurred during the keynote address by ABC Correspondent Barbara Walters. She was a powerful speaker, and had incredible presence as she told anecdotes about her history of interviewing the many famous personalities of her career. During her discussion about former Prime Minister of England Margaret Thatcher, she said to the seniors: “If you have a failure, you will rise; you will be fine; you will work your way back. Do not sink into ‘Why? Woe is me! It’s not my fault!”Although deep down I know that this is true, it helps to hear these words once in a while from a successful third party. It also reminded me of a quote from the keynote address at my own graduation: “If you’re not dead, get up!” I know it’s a cliché concept, but it is good to be reminded of this once in a while… we are all fallible human beings, and learning lessons from failure is part of what makes us stronger and better people.I found this concept to be particularly applicable as I research and write about a number of Olympians from the Southeast who will be making the trip to London to represent their country this July. These people are not superhumans. In most cases, their VO2 Maxes are not unattainable for us mortal athletes. They have, however, separated themselves by working through their failures, and have risen from the depths of many disappointments to try again. They are stubborn in their passion for their sports, and they have poured their hearts and souls into that passion.Another concept that Walters touched on in her address was what she believes should be the ultimate goal in life – to be happy, or “find your bliss.” When you reduce our existence down to that simple goal, it makes life seem less complicated, and more straightforward.Love what you do, and don’t give up.While some of these Olympic athletes that I am covering have the million dollar sponsorship deals and celebrity status across the country, others are scraping by with the support of parents, significant others, and their communities. They are sacrificing everything in the pursuit of the simple goal of an Olympic medal, but they love what they do and they are not giving up!I think that we can all learn something from these ideas, and I will certainly be working to integrate these concepts into my own existence moving forward.
I studied the divided sky. To the right were the uninterrupted cobalt blue I had imagined when reserving the primitive-boat-in-only campsite across Lake Jocassee. To the left, grey clouds boiled.My brother, sister-in-law, and I wedged sleeping bags into waterproof bags. By then it was mid-afternoon and what seemed like a series of small miracles had gotten us that far, to the ramp at Devil’s Fork State Park, but two miles of lake remained between us and our campsite.The clouds overhead thickened, casting us in its ominous shadow. Drumrolls of thunder belted, sending our four kids running for shelter. Outfitted in lifejackets and slathered in sunscreen, they huddled under the overhang that covered the bathroom.The rain came in sets – hard and harder. The cars parked in a distant lot and the kids claiming the little available shelter, I stood with my brother and sister-in-law letting the rain soak us.We conferred about what to do. As much as we all looked forward to this trip, camping on an island in the rain with four children wasn’t our idea of fun. Still, we had made it this far, two whitewater kayaks loaded with all our camping gear and food plus our fleet for the weekend consisting of two double and one single sit-on-top kayak along with a paddleboard.My brother suggested we wait out the storm. Patience has never been my strong suit, but the other prospects – packing up four disappointed kids into cars or paddling with scared children – seemed even less appealing.I watched as the wind whipped the lake into peaks of white. I waited with chicken-skinned arms, as the rain washed away the sweat that dripped down as I had unloaded the boats.Ten minutes later the storm passed. Eager to start our adventure, we loaded into boats and rigged the cargo kayaks behind us on tow. About a mile out we were treated to views of the mountains. Steam rose from their peaks, as if the rocks themselves were releasing any vestige of the storm.By the time we reached our campsite, the sun had once again claimed center stage. The kids climbed out on the rocky ledge and decided it made the perfect cannonball platform. My three-year-old imitated his older cousins and pulled his knees into his chest as he jumped off the rock.I nestled into a crevice of the rock meant for sunning and watching, letting my mind wander as the kids launched their bodies into the clear green lake. My mind wandered, settling on my upcoming move. Out of a desire to focus more of my life energy on raising my son and writing, I had decided to move out of our cherished bungalow and into a glorified one-bedroom apartment. I’d been so busy between packing and logistics that I hadn’t really mourned the home I was leaving behind. There on that rock, no tasks distracted me from my feelings and tears flowed down my cheeks. In that house we had celebrated every one of my son’s three birthdays. Friends and family had visited us from Europe, California, and Maryland. My son had learned to talk and ride his bike. The walls of that bungalow held the memories of our little family.There on that rock I grieved leaving the physical space behind, of moving into a smaller area. I reminded myself that Tobin and I didn’t need a lot of room, which only made me cry harder. Living in the bungalow, a space large enough for a partner, left open the possibility of one day meeting a man who would come along and round out our family.I cried until I started hiccupping. The kids squeals of glee made me smile. The sun’s rays warmed me, softening my feelings about moving into the apartment until they changed. The apartment didn’t have to be a sad reminder of the family life I didn’t have, but an acceptance of the family I did have. It had always been just Tobin and I living together, but that didn’t limit who we considered to be family. Like the storm, when I let myself experience my emotions, those negative feelings passed, making room for something more like joy.My son and his cousin called out, asking me to take them for a ride on the paddleboard. We sat one behind the other, and I paddled through the light emerald sequins of light, enjoying time with my family.
Calling All Adventure Critters!Does your canine clamber up crags? Does your kitty love kayaking? Do you have a hamster who hikes? We want to see! Blue Ridge Outdoors has teamed up with Elevation Outdoors and the folks at Blue Mountain Brewery to bring you the best Adventure Critters from across the nation.Upload your critter’s photo to enter today!What do you win?We’re giving away a prize pack from Blue Mountain Brewery, Elevation Outdoors, and of course, Blue Ridge Outdoors! Your pet will be featured in upcoming issues of both magazines and on the cover of our 2019 Adventure Critter Calendar!Why Adventure Critters?For the past several years, we’ve hosted our annual dog photo contest. It was a huge hit and we had a lot of incredible dogs from all walks of life enter, but something was missing…Other animals. Fido isn’t the only one who loves to go on adventures, so this year, we’re opening up the contest to everyone. Fur, feathers, scales, or shells, it doesn’t matter. If your pet loves to explore, they’ve got a chance to win!How Do You Enter?Simply head over to AdventureCritters.com, upload a photo, and vote! Want to get your friends and family involved? Sharing your photo on social media is easy! You will also be provided with a direct link to your pet’s photo, making it easy to share.The contest ends August 31. Good luck to you and your critters!
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announce Delay in Red Wolf PlanThe U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a delay of the proposed rule for red wolves after a federal court ruling found that the Service had violated the Endangered Species Act in its management of the wolf. The last wild red wolves in the world live in North Carolina, but the species is declining. The rule would replace the existing regulations governing the nonessential experimental population of the red wolf under the Endangered Species Act, removing management efforts from existing public lands and focusing instead on certain public lands in North Carolina’s Hyde and Dare Counties. Opponents of the rule say it severs any possibility for red wolves to recover in the wild. In a statement released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Service says that the additional time will allow them to “fully evaluate the implications of the court decision.” New Organization Forms to Promote NC’s Outdoor RecreationA new trade association has formed to promote North Carolina’s outdoor recreation industry. The North Carolina Outdoor Recreation Coalition is made up of the state’s outdoor recreation businesses such as gear manufacturers, retailers and guides. “The goals of our coalition are to promote existing outdoor recreation companies, to recruit new companies to locate in North Carolina, and to increase public access to outdoor recreation,” says Tom Dempsey, CEO of Brevard-based SylvanSport and Chairman of the coalition’s board. North Carolina’s outdoor recreation industry generates $28 billion in consumer spending annually and is responsible for 260,000 direct jobs. Utah Trail Race Pays Female Winners More Than Men to Combat Wage GapIn hopes of bringing attention to the gender wage gap, Jim Skaggs, race director of Utah’s Antelope Island 50K, awarded the top female finishers of his race 20 percent more than the top male finishers. Nationally, women make about 80 cents to every dollar earned by a man and in Utah the wage gap is even higher—women make 68 cents to every dollar a man brings in. In competitive racing, male purses are often larger than their female counterparts. In an email to runners, Skaggs said that the larger award for women was his effort to make up for the shortfall. Caroline Wallace, who took home the first-place female price, pocketed $180 to the $150 awarded to the male winner. Wallace told KSL.com that she thought Skaggs’ efforts were “rad” and said that, “if smaller races can do it, so can the bigger races that have significantly more resources.”