Supreme Court Issues Stay on Enforcement of U.S. Rule Limiting Coal Burn FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Adam Liptak and Coral Davenport for the New York Times:The Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily blocked the administration’s effort to combat global warming by regulating emissions from coal-fired power plants.The brief order was not the last word on the case, which is most likely to return to the Supreme Court after an appeals court considers an expedited challenge from 29 states and dozens of corporations and industry groups.But the Supreme Court’s willingness to issue a stay while the case proceeds was an early hint that the program could face a skeptical reception from the justices.The 5-to-4 vote, with the court’s four liberal members dissenting, was unprecedented — the Supreme Court had never before granted a request to halt a regulation before review by a federal appeals court.“It’s a stunning development,” Jody Freeman, a Harvard law professor and former environmental legal counsel to the Obama administration, said in an email. She added that “the order certainly indicates a high degree of initial judicial skepticism from five justices on the court,” and that the ruling would raise serious questions from nations that signed on to the landmark Paris climate change pact in December.The two sides differed about whether current declines in coal mining and coal-fired power generation are attributable to the administration’s plan. “Some of the nation’s largest coal companies have declared bankruptcy, due in no small part to the rule,” a group of utilities told the justices.A coalition of environmental groups and companies that produce and rely on wind and solar power said other factors were to blame for coal’s decline.“These changes include the abundant supply of relatively inexpensive natural gas, the increasing cost-competitiveness of electricity from renewable generation sources such as solar and wind power, the deployment of low-cost energy efficiency and other demand-side measures, and increasing consumer demand for advanced energy,” they wrote.Full article: Supreme Court Deals Blow to Obama’s Efforts to Regulate Coal Emissions
Opponents planning court battle for new power plan FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Opponents of President Donald Trump’s replacement of the Clean Power Plan are publicly blasting the proposal in hopes of gaining public support for a campaign against implementing the rule before challenging it in court should it become finalized.The administration’s Affordable Clean Energy, or ACE, rule will likely a face a barrage of public comments in opposition to the rule before ultimately running into a legal challenge, opponents said Aug. 21. The rule favors improving the efficiency of the existing coal-fired power generation fleet and is expected to result in more carbon dioxide emissions than what would have been seen under the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.“This administration is blatantly picking winners and losers. If this proposal becomes reality, the winner will be old coal plants that are losing in today’s marketplace. The losers will be cleaner energy sources, clean energy jobs, and American’s health and our children’s future,” David Doniger, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate and clean air program, said on a call with reporters. “At the end of rulemaking, which will likely take a year, we will see them in court.”The EPA opened a 60-day comment period on the proposal. Doniger said that the while environmental organizations are confident the court will rebuke the ACE rule on grounds that it does not go far enough to address carbon dioxide emissions, in the meantime, organizations will focus efforts on demanding more time to voice opposition on the proposal in public hearings and written comments. Numerous groups, including the Sierra Club, have pledged to fight the new rule as well, and Doniger said he anticipates several states, environmental groups and other entities to join in an eventual legal challenge.New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood has already said the state will lead a legal challenge to the replacement rule if it is adopted. The state is at the forefront of a defense of the Obama-era climate rule. “As we face another record-breaking year of punishing heat and violent storms, the Trump administration is seeking to gut crucial limits on emissions of climate change pollution from power plants — one of its largest sources,” Underwood said in a news release. “If the Trump administration’s proposal to dismantle the Clean Power Plan is adopted, we will work with our state and local partners to file suit to block it — in order to protect New Yorkers, and all Americans, from the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change.”The rule also faces opposition from some members of the U.S. Congress. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., has already said he intends to use the Congressional Review Act — a power Republicans used to eliminate the Stream Protection Rule to the applause of the coal industry — if the rule is finalized.More ($): ‘We will see them in court’: Opposition lines up against Trump’s power plan
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Casper Star-Tribune:Coal companies used to grumble about how long it takes to get coal leased from the federal government. That’s no longer the case.Applications to lease nearly 1 billion tons of coal are pending in Wyoming, not because the federal agency tasked with performing environmental analysis is moving slow, but because coal companies are.Three lingering lease applications for Powder River Basin Coal are on the books: West Antelope 3, North Highlight and Maysdorf II South. In May, Cloud Peak Energy asked the Bureau of Land Management for a pause on one of those — an expansion at the Antelope Coal mine.The company said it needs more time to do baseline testing and consult with tribes, according to a letter obtained through a public records request by the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a Sheridan-based landowners’ group. Cloud Peak noted in its May letter that it supports the intent of the 2017 order from Interior, but that the company would need more time to work on the West Antelope 3. The lease is for 441 million tons of in-place coal near the Campbell and Converse County border.Cloud Peak also proposed Maysdorf II, a 233,550,000-ton application to lease adjacent to the Cordero Rojo mine south of Gillette. The company is currently “reconfiguring” that lease tract, according to the BLM.A third lease application proposed by Arch Coal in 2005 is pending. The 468 million ton North Highlight lease was one of a handful of coal lease applications analyzed by the BLM in the Wright area. A court case forced the agency to reevaluate the impact that leasing the coal would have on increasing greenhouse gases. A reassessment of that impact is currently out for public comment. It is unclear if Arch Coal will pursue those tons of coal going forward. A call to Arch Coal for comment was not returned.More: Wyoming coal leases linger, coal firm asks for more time Coal companies stalling on new lease applications
Norway’s investment decision puts oil and gas industry on notice FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Financial Times ($):Norway’s sovereign wealth fund may have spared the majors when announcing it was pulling investments from a host of oil and gas producers, but the move will still reverberate in the boardrooms of energy heavyweights like BP and ExxonMobil.With $1tn under management, the Norwegian oil fund is the world’s biggest sovereign investor, owning equity stakes between 1 and 2.5 per cent in all the supermajors. On Friday it said it would divest from smaller exploration and production companies as a means of diversifying Norway’s oil-rich economy’s exposure to the commodity.But while the largest integrated companies were granted a reprieve, justified by their vast refining and trading capabilities that could insulate them should the long-term future of oil demand growth threaten crude prices, Norway has also made clear it expects them to do more. One official in Oslo was even more blunt: “If I were an oil major reading this decision, I would make sure my plan for investment in renewables was in order.”It is a message that has been ringing around the boardrooms of Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Norway’s own state oil company Equinor for some time. But when it is delivered by the world’s largest investor in equities, it carries even greater weight.More ($): Norway’s investment cull leaves oil majors spared but shaken
Rooftop and utility-scale solar pushing coal generation out of daytime market in Australia FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:One of the most common questions among people concerned about climate change and cleaning up the energy grid, is what small contribution they can make. Will adding rooftop solar make any difference at all?The answer is most certainly yes. The latest quarterly report from the Australian Energy Market Operator contains little doubt – the increase in rooftop solar, and in large-scale solar plants, is pushing coal out of the daytime market.According to the Quarterly Energy Dynamics report for the December quarter, the changes in generation sources for the main grid were quite marked.The biggest increase – and remember this is not average output, but the average increase in output – came from rooftop solar, which in 2019 posted a record installation rate of 2.13GW (for sub 100kW systems). Rooftop solar at its midday peak posted an average increase of more than 1.5GW over the quarter, showing the real impact on the generation mix.The coal generators most affected by the increase in solar output – both rooftop and large-scale – were Eraring in NSW, where output declined by an average 231MW, and Gladstone and Stanwell in Queensland, where the average middle of the day output declined by 246MW. Other coal generators might also have been affected, but their output was interrupted by so many outages – both planned and unplanned – it was hard to tell.In Queensland, the increased output of rooftop and large-scale solar has resulted in a changing pattern of charging by the state’s biggest pumped hydro facility at Wivenhoe, which is now under new ownership by the government owned CleanCo. Under its previous owner, CleanCo pumped mainly at night, supporting coal generation, but with CleanCo it is now doing most of its pumping during the day, soaking up the excess of cheap solar – the so-called solar duck curve – and helping prevent prices going negative.[Giles Parkinson]More: How rooftop and big solar are pushing coal out of daytime energy market
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享BusinessGreen:The world’s largest retailer has today committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions across its operations by 2040, without relying on carbon offsets.Walmart, the only company in the world that surpasses Amazon in retail revenue, said that vehicle and heat electrification, renewable energy, and low-impact refrigerants would allow it to reach its new goal as it worked to become a “regenerative company”.Alongside decarbonising its operations, the firm said it would work with its charitable arm to protect, manage, and restore “at least” 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030.Doug McMillon, president and chief executive officer of Walmart, emphasised that urgent action was needed to address a “growing crisis of climate change and nature loss”.The firm is aiming to fully transition it facilities to run on 100 per cent renewable power by 2035 – up from a 29 per cent share today – and electrify all its vehicles, including long-haul trucks, five years later. At the same time, it plans to transition its cooling systems to low-impact refrigerants and heating systems to electrified equipment across all its stores, clubs, and data and distribution centres by 2040.Walmart’s carbon reduction programme will be complemented by a new string of goals geared at boosting its stewardship of nature. It has pledged preserve at least one acre of natural habitat for every acre of land it has developed, while supporting the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices, including sustainable fisheries management and forest protection and restoration.[Cecilia Keating]More: Walmart pledges to achieve net zero emissions by 2040 without offsets Walmart sets 2040 net zero carbon emissions goal
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Land of Waterfalls: A hiker gazes at 40-foot Dry Falls, near Highlands, N.C. Photo: Ashley WoodringThe Cashiers-Highlands plateau of Western North Carolina is an off-the-beaten-path oasis of incredible beauty. A long-time destination for the Greenville, Asheville, and Atlanta retirement communities, the area also draws outdoor athletes of all ages. Often referred to as the “Land of Waterfalls,” the area boasts abundant rainfall and unique geology, which creates some of the most spectacular cascades in the South. No matter what your outdoors passion, this area has something to fit the bill. Here are a few of our favorite getaways.Whiteside MountainHiking and ClimbingWhiteside is a marquee feature among the stacked list of natural scenic attractions in the area. Its massive North Face is impossible to miss by anyone making the drive on 64 between Cashiers and Highlands. While this mountain hosts some of the most challenging and committing trad and sport climbing routes in the South, it also has beautiful hiking options available to hikers of all skill levels.HikingThere are several options available to hikers wanting to access the top of the granite escarpment that reaches 4,930 feet of elevation. The most popular is a two-mile loop that utilizes an old roadbed to wind up, and a steeper trail on the way back down to treat visitors to one spectacular view after another. From these vantage points, hikers can gaze into the piedmont of South Carolina and Georgia and view peregrine falcons nesting in the cliffs. These are actually the fastest animals on earth, capable of diving for their prey at speeds of 200 miles per hour. Another option is to visit the Devil’s Courthouse, where you will be treated to 360-degree views, and the loop will be extended to four miles. Access to Whiteside can be obtained in Wildcat Cliffs Country Club for a $2 fee.ClimbingWhile the hiking on Whiteside Mountain caters to people of all fitness and ability levels, the climbing is not for the faint of heart. Whiteside is known as some of the most challenging and dangerous climbing in the South. The routes have a runout character, and some have 10 or more pitches, so bring your game face, and go with climbers who have prior experience out there.The North Face is the most visible, but the majority of climbing occurs on the South Face. This is a plus for year-round climbing, since the sun keeps you warmer in the winter. The most popular route, Original Route, is a 5.11a, or a 5.9a if you use the bolt ladder at the crux. Be wary of the first pitch, which is comprised of 140 feet of 5.7 with no protection.Additional options include the three-pitch ice climbing routes available on the North Face, and a number of 5.11 routes up to Devil’s Courthouse.One other consideration is the falcon nesting grounds. Parts of the mountain will sporadically close to climbers as the birds move around; check CarolinaClimbers.org to stay updated.Cullasaja RiverWaterfall TourThe Cullasaja originates near the town of Highlands, and is one of the epicenters for recreation in the area. The river offers excellent options for waterfall viewing, trout fishing, swimming, and picnicking. One popular pastime is the waterfall tour starting from Highlands and consisting of Bridal Veil Falls, Quarry Falls, Dry Falls, and Cullasaja Falls.Bridal Veil is located on the way from Highlands to the Cullasaja on Highway 64. This waterfall is a classic because it is possible to drive your car underneath the drop for a photo op. Visit in the wintertime for impressive icicle displays. Quarry Falls is the classic Cullasaja destination for picnics and swimming. The multi-tiered 20-foot drop is usually bathed in sunlight, and if you are lucky, you may catch a view of kayakers descending the drop as they paddle this class IV section of river.Continuing on, Dry Falls is a special one because of its ease of access, and the very intimate way in which you can experience it. While it is possible to view the waterfall from the top and side, you can also walk behind the curtain and soak in the feeling of an entire river cascading 75 feet over your head. More great views are available on the other side after passing underneath the falls.Cullasaja Falls is the largest waterfall on the river, but is logistically more challenging. It is best to approach this one from the Franklin side, and there are a couple of primitive parking spaces on the side of the road. Once there, you will be treated to views of a multi-tiered, 250-foot cascade. The road here is almost a destination unto itself as it carves through the steep gorge.Panthertown ValleyHiking and CampingPanthertown is a picturesque valley flanked by granite domes and sheer slopes, and is dubbed by locals as the “Yosemite of the East.” This area, which is the headwaters of the Tuckaseegee River, is a true adventurer’s destination. The trails are not marked, and it’s easy to get lost in the 30-mile network. Hiking and biking abound amid the myriad falls and overlooks of the area, and primitive camping is also allowed within the 6,700 acres of protected land. Rare ferns, mosses, and liverworts are part of the mountain bog ecosystems, and you may be lucky enough to see one of the protected members of this bear sanctuary.Enter for your chance to win a fishing and riding Mountain Weekend Getaway to the Cashiers/Sapphire Valley!
Not Your Average Race RigWashington, D.C.When Jefferson Smith hit the bike transition at the Nation’s Triathlon, riders around him were hopping on expensive, lightweight road rigs. Smith, though, took off on a red 40-pound street cruiser that he rented from Capital Bikeshare, Washington’s citywide public bike rental program. It took Smith over two hours to finish the 25-mile leg, but for his efforts the D.C. Department of Transportation refunded his rental fees.Bling and BangAtlanta, GA.Buy a diamond; get a free gun. That’s the promotion at Atlanta jeweler D. Geller and Son, which is passing out vouchers for free rifles with a diamond purchase greater than $2,499. Business owner Mike Geller told a local news station that many of his customers are hunters. Diamond purchasers must redeem the voucher through a gun dealer after completing mandatory legal requirements for gun purchases.95-Year-Old Rafts The NewNew River Gorge, W.VA.In late summer Meyer Melman celebrated his 95th birthday with a whitewater rafting trip on the New River. Industry vet and managing partner of Adventures on the Gorge Dave Arnold told the Charleston Gazette he thinks Melman is the oldest person his guides have ever taken down the river. Melman, who bounced down the class II-IV lower stretch of the New, is a retired grocer who didn’t start rafting until he was 80. This was his second trip on the New and he’s vowed to return for his 100th birthday.Flying Tomato JailedNashville, TENN. Olympic snowboarding gold medalist and X Games dominator Shaun White landed himself in a Music City pokey after being arrested for public intoxication and vandalism back in September. The 26-year-old boarding phenom apparently pulled the fire alarm at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel where he was staying, and after fleeing an employee, he knocked into a fence and gave himself a black eye. Police said White was acting drunk and reeked of booze.Race in SpaceEarlier this fall Astronaut Sunita Williams completed the first triathlon in space. Hovering 240 miles above the Earth on the International Space Station, Williams raced along with the California-based Nautica Malibu Triathlon, using a treadmill to run four miles, a stationary bike for the race’s 18-mile ride, and a strength-training machine to simulate the half-mile swim. Williams finished the race in 1:48:33Good Dog, Bad NeighborsLeechburg, PA. A Pennsylvania couple has been charged with conspiracy and not making a reasonable effort to return lost property after selling a neighbor’s dog that wandered into their yard. Scott and Roxanne Duff told police their neighbor’s Rottweiler puppy ran away, but it was later revealed they sold the dog on Craigslist for $50.Beyond the Blue RidgeSingletrack SettlementDeerfield Beach, FLA. Mountain biking in Florida might not sound too extreme, but a woman—unnamed as settlement negotiations were still ongoing at press time—will potentially collect $17,500 from Broward County taxpayers after an endo on the trails of Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield left her with injuries. The woman claims she has incurred $81,000 in medical bills after fracturing her cervical vertebrae. County officials, though, claimed she was technically a trespasser who shouldn’t have been riding the trails, because she didn’t sign a waiver and watch an instructional video, both requirements for riding the IMBA-designed singletrack at Quiet Waters.Hey, Don’t Eat That TurtleTampa, FLA.A 15-pound endangered turtle nearly became a Florida fisherman’s dinner, but a neighbor blew the whistle before the big feast. The man found the rare Kemp’s ridley sea turtle back in May and had been keeping it in a tank in his backyard. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rescued the turtle before it could become soup meat and rehabilitated it at an aquarium before releasing it into the wild.Drunk Cyclist Rides into DUI CheckpointRed Bluff, CALIF.The Red Bluff Police Department didn’t arrest any drunk drivers while holding a five-hour checkpoint back in September. But when 30-year-old Christopher Pence pedaled right into the checkpoint area officers stopped him for riding without a headlight. The cyclist was visibly intoxicated and charged with suspicion of riding a bicycle while under the influence.Living Not So LargeSan Francisco, CALIF. The city of San Francisco is considering approval of the smallest apartments in the country. While many people dream of owning vast acreage, people in the City by the Bay could soon be able to rent a pad that’s just 220 square feet—reported to be just double the size of some prison cells.