Report: NY State Pension Fund Lost $5.3 Billion by Hanging Onto Coal, Oil and Gas Stocks FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享New York State’s pension fund would have an additional $5.3bn to give to its retired employees if it had divested from fossil fuel companies and put that money into clean energy, according to a new report.The analysis, compiled by research firm Corporate Knights, assessed the fund’s top 100 domestic and international equity holdings, and calculated how much it would have earned over the past three years if it had got rid of its investments in coal, oil and gas companies.The New York State Common Retirement Fund is the third largest pension fund in the country, behind California’s CalPERS and CalSTRS, with $184.5bn held in trust for retirement benefits. According to the report, released this week, a move away from fossil fuels would have made each of the fund’s 1.1 million members more than $4,500 richer, and helped the state cover nearly 12% of the costs following Hurricane Sandy in 2012.Toby Heaps, CEO and co-founder of Corporate Knights, said the numbers show that divestment makes prudent financial sense.“Divestment is good for reducing portfolio risk,” he said. “It’s also a powerful way of sending a message about the expectations investors have of companies and governments to be rational about accelerating the energy transition in a timely manner so that we avoid scenarios of climate chaos, which would make it difficult for anybody to earn returns.”“Government policy, which we think will only strengthen, is beginning to capture the societal costs of burning fossil fuels, enhancing the competitive position of investments in energy efficiency and renewables,” said Stu Dalheim, vice president of shareholder advocacy for Calvert Investments, which invests in socially and environmentally responsible businesses. “The Paris Agreement sent a clear and important signal to the market that we are moving toward a low carbon energy system.”The report comes as New York State Senator Liz Krueger is pushing to pass a bill that would require the state’s pension fund to divest from fossil fuels. The Fossil Fuel Divestment Act would require the fund to sell off its stocks in the top 200 largest fossil fuel companies by 2020.“By divesting from fossil fuels, the [Common Retirement Fund] will send a message that it is unacceptable for any institution to profit from activities that threaten the future of society, and will begin the process of delegitimizing a business model that, while financially profitable in the short run, is socially and morally bankrupt,” wrote Krueger in her announcement of the bill.Full article: New York pension fund could have made billions by divesting from fossil fuels – report
Federal Judge Bars Appointment of Chief Transformation Officer for Beleaguered Puerto Rico Utility FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters: NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. federal judge on Monday rejected a request to install a former military officer to oversee Puerto Rico’s beleaguered electric utility, PREPA, a victory for Governor Ricardo Rossello, whose government opposed the appointment.U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain, ruling from the bench in New York, denied a motion filed Oct. 26 by the federally appointed Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, according to a court official. The board wanted to install retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Noel Zamot as PREPA’s chief transformation officer.The oversight board was created under the 2016 Puerto Rico rescue law known as PROMESA, which is charged with helping the island recover from a financial disaster that left it with $120 billion in unpayable debt and pension liabilities.Zamot’s name was put forward as an emergency manager after PREPA was criticized for signing a $300 million, no-bid contract with tiny Whitefish Energy Holdings to lead power restoration efforts. The deal sparked an uproar over its provisions and the Montana company’s lack of experience with projects that big.PREPA on Oct. 29 agreed to cancel the contract after Rossello urged that it be scrapped.In its motion, the board sought the court’s approval “confirming Noel Zamot as PREPA’s Chief Transformation Officer (the ”CTO“) with all the powers of a chief executive officer reporting to the Oversight Board.”However, Puerto Rico’s government believed the move was an overreach of the oversight board’s authority and forcefully opposed the move in a public meeting on Oct. 31.The government’s liaison to the board, Christian Sobrino, said the appointment would essentially mean the board could replace any Puerto Rican government official, “maybe even the governor.”Late on Monday and well after the judge’s ruling, Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Rob Bishop, a Republican from Utah lashed out at PREPA ahead of a hearing on Tuesday where Rossello will offer testimony.“A legacy of dysfunction (at PREPA) has created a competence deficit that threatens the island’s ability to improve conditions for its citizens. Confidence in the utility’s ability to manage contracts and time sensitive disaster related infrastructure work is long gone,” Bishop said. His committee drafted the rescue law known as PROMESA.More: “U.S. judge denies request for outsider to oversee Puerto Rico’s PREPA”
GOP Senators Back Solar, Seek Exemption From Trump Tariff FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:On May 9th, eight Republican U.S. senators from strong solar states, and a couple of aspirants, signed a letter requesting that ‘utility-scale’ 72 cell, 1500-V solar modules be exempted from the 30% Section 201 solar panel tariff.The eight Republican U.S. senators are Thom Tillis (NC), Dean Heller (NV), Jerry Moran (KS), Cory Gardner (CO), Lindsey Graham (SC), Richard Burr (NC), Pat Roberts (KS), and Tim Scott (SC). North Carolina and Nevada are solar heavyweights, and Colorado also has a healthy solar market. South Carolina has recently seen the public turn toward solar with its ongoing $9 billion nuclear boondoggle, and Kansas is really just getting started with solar.If this tariff were to be effectively rescinded for utility-scale customers the results could be significant in terms of total volume relative to the whole of the United States, as the utility scale sector is bearing the greatest consequences of this solar panel tariff. GTM Research estimates just short of 600 MW in cancelled installations as a result of the tariff in 2018, but a jump to about 1.6 GW in 2019. For comparison’s sake, the residential and commercial solar markets were about 2 GW each in 2017.The reason the utility-scale solar power sector suffers so much versus other sectors is that the solar panel itself represents a much greater part of final installation costs. In a $1/W, utility-scale installation, a 30¢/W solar panel is 30% of system costs. That same panel in a $3/W residential install is 10% of system costs. Thus the 30% Section 201 tariff, with its 9¢/W tax, increases the cost of a utility scale project by 9%, but a residential system only 3%. Same amount of money – different effect.That utility-scale solar panels weren’t being manufactured in the United States was brought up during the original hearings when the Section 201 tariff was being debated. This argument did not seem to sway trade officials.More: Republicans Request Utility-Scale Solar Panel Tariff Exemption
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享New York Times:The story of Adani and its Australian project illustrates why the world keeps burning coal despite its profound danger — and despite falling prices for options like natural gas, wind and solar.Coal is in steep decline in wealthier countries, including the United States and across Western Europe, mostly because of competition from those alternative energy sources. But in Asia, demand for coal, the main source of energy, is growing. That’s because it is plentiful, the appetite is huge and the alternatives are fewer.Government support is also key to coal’s survival. Subsidies for coal-fired power plants have nearly tripled in recent years in the Group of 20 countries, according to a study by the Overseas Development Institute and two other groups. In rich countries, that’s helped to keep coal on life support. In developing countries, it means coal continues to thrive.Moreover, Mr. Adani said, “nation building” was part of his business philosophy. At the heart of that, he said, was the question of “how to make India energy secure.”Regardless of whether India has a choice about coal, Mr. Adani’s empire of mines, cargo ships, ports and power plants depends heavily on it. And he has invested enormous effort to make sure coal will not go away anytime soon.“Throw enough subsidies and anything can be viable,” said Tim Buckley, an analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “If they did not have special treatment back in India they wouldn’t be able to use expensive Australian sourced coal viably.”More: How One Billionaire Could Keep Three Countries Hooked on Coal for Decades Adani aims to hook Australia, India, and Bangladesh on coal for decades
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:A sharp plunge in India’s electricity demand in October has been matched by falling coal imports, but weakness in vehicle sales and fuel demand hasn’t yet showed up in crude oil imports. Power demand in Asia’s third-largest economy slumped 13.2% in October from a year earlier, the steepest monthly decline in more than 12 years, according to government data.Coal imports fell to 14.7 million tonnes in October, the lowest since January and the third straight month of declines, according to vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Refinitiv Imports were also down 16.9% from the 17.7 million tonnes recorded in October last year, a further sign that India’s coal demand is softening in the face of slower economic growth.It’s also not the case that imports are being replaced by higher domestic output. In fact, the opposite is happening, with state-owned Coal India well behind its production target so far this fiscal year. The world’s largest coal mining company did manage to increase output in October from September’s six-year low, but the 39.35 million tonnes produced was still down 20.9% from the same month last year, according to data on the company’s website. In the first seven months of the fiscal year that started in April, Coal India has produced 280.36 million tonnes, down 8.5% from the same period last year.The weakness in both coal imports and domestic coal output is not only a reflection of slowing industrial power demand, but also of how renewable energy is making increasing inroads into India’s generation mix.India’s thermal coal use over the seven months to end-October was steady on a year earlier, compared with average annual growth of 6.3% over the past 12 years, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said in a report released earlier this month. And coal generation actually fell by 12,500 gigawatt hours (GWh) in the first seven months of the fiscal year, compared with the same period last year, IEEFA said. In the meantime, generation from all non-coal sources, which include solar, hydro, wind and natural gas, rose by 24,000 GWh, or 8.4%, over the same period, the report said.Given that renewables are increasingly cost competitive against existing coal-fired generation, it’s likely that India’s electricity growth will continue to be dominated by solar and wind.More: India’s economic woes hit coal imports, but crude oil soldiers on for now: Russell Slowing electricity demand, renewable competition undercutting coal in India
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:More electricity was produced from renewable energy sources Australia-wide than gas generation for the first time in 2019, as a surge in wind and solar generation also pushes the share of electricity generated from coal to an all-time low.The milestones have been detailed in an early update to the official Australian Energy Statistics published by the federal government on Wednesday, with renewable sources providing a combined 21 per cent of electricity generation in 2019.This saw the combined market share of renewable energy sources, including wind, hydro, solar and bioenergy surpass gas generation for the first time, with gas supplying 20.5 per cent of Australia’s electricity use last year.Both wind and solar generation overtook hydroelectricity in 2019 to become Australia’s largest and second-largest sources of renewable electricity generation, respectively. Wind and solar generation have been the fastest-growing sources of electricity supplies in Australia over the last decade, with coal experiencing a multi-decade decline as older coal generators begin to exit the market.Wind generation supplied 7.4 per cent of Australia’s electricity, compared to 5.4 per cent from hydro. The amount of electricity supplied from solar, from both large and small systems, reached 6.8 per cent in 2019.The share of Australia’s electricity produced by coal fell below 60 per cent in 2019, with black coal generating 43.9 per cent of Australia’s power, and brown coal providing falling to 12.5 per cent. This is down from a historic high of almost 84 per cent achieved in the late 1990s.[Michael Mazengarb]More: Renewables share overtakes gas generation for first time, as coal falls to record low in 2019 Australian renewable energy generation tops gas for first time in 2019, coal falls to record low
One of my favorite parts of marathon training has been the people I’ve met along the way. Jenny Greer Fares has added so much fun to the miles we’ve shared that I’m excited for you to meet her as she launches a new project, Run Sing Thing .Some people sing in the shower or the car – Jenny sings while running. A musician, Jenny used music to motivate her when she first started running four years ago. Her sister challenged her to start running by listening to a few songs before stopping to rest, and Jenny became hooked.Last November, three miles felt easy, so Jenny looked for a new challenge and found it on the trails of Bent Creek, located in the northern tip of the Pisgah National Forest and minutes outside of Asheville. Jenny stopped smoking cigarettes and for the first time she could smell the possibility after it rained and the musky smell of decomposing leaves.Jenny wore neoprene and fleeces, her hot pink striped running skirt on top adding a splash of color. Her signature dark brown side ponytail peeked through her wool cap. She ran before work, early in the morning. By winter time, she pulled into the empty parking lot and left her heated car to brave the dark woods alone.On one dark January before the grey of dawn graced the sky, her giant white dog, Juice, nudged her until she took him running. That day she forgot to bring her iPod along. She heard owls hooting, coyotes howling, and the crunch of leaves underfoot. As she climbed two thousand feet up the mountain, she felt delirious and tired. Without music to motivate her, she started singing, like she often does in difficult situations, any words that came to her, without over-thinking, after all, nobody was around to hear her.She belted out whatever came to mind, lyrics like “I’m beautiful, I’m wonderful, and I look good.”Her feet felt lighter and she leaned forward into that mountain, charging up the hillside faster than she’d ever run. Singing filled her with a high all its own, similar to the endorphins that flooded her after her run. By then a year had passed since she’d written her last song, and for the first time her mind and body opened up to the creative impulses surrounding her and she became inspired to pursue music again.“Taking a break from music let me learn to love music more. It was like being away from a family member you love. As soon as I called music back, it was right there,” Jenny said.A few months later, she went running up a steep trail to the top of a mountain looking for a song. The pressure was on since she’d scheduled a recording session later the same day. She’d challenged herself to be spontaneous and write whatever came to her in that moment, not over-thinking, and that’s how she wrote Go Deep Down.She ran down the mountain the mountain, its jagged peaks rounded over thousands of years. Jenny imagined the core of the mountain and going that deep to find the source of her suffering. As she ran down the mountain, she went to that deep place and lyrics came to her.Go deep down, take it.And as she sang them aloud, she looked up to the heavens and pulled all the joy and abundance she could think of, letting it move in her body. She realized everything she needed was already there, all she had to do was feel it and sing.Take it down and move it round and roundIf I let it go we can all let it flow If I let it flow than we can all let it go.Jenny recorded that song and shared it with others, realizing how many people related with letting go of things in their lives that no longer serve them. Jenny wanted to find way to teach others this kind of love and help positivity flow.Join Jenny Greer Fares and friends in her latest musical experiment as they launch the Run Sing Thing. It might just be the most fun you can have while running. All ages and skill levels welcome for this casual three-mile run. If you’re not much of a runner, the singing will help. If you’re not much of a singer, then running may help. You’ll be too busy worrying about where to take your next step to worry about either.The Run Sing Thing will be held on Sunday, November 9 at 1 p.m. at Carrier Park in Asheville, N.C. Register at runsingthing.com.
America’s national parks are a global treasure, visited and enjoyed not only by tourists and adventure lovers in the United States, but from all over the world.There are the big ones that everyone knows and loves, parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite, but what about the rest of the park system? All in all, America boasts more than 400 National Park units. Put together these parks and monuments comprise some 84 million acres of the American landscape.In celebration of the National Park centennial, a new IMAX film is attempting to capture the importance of America’s National Park system and the awe inspiring beauty that these parks so often contain.The film, MacGillivray Freeman’s National Parks Adventure, features a trio of adventurers—mountaineer Conrad Anker, adventure photographer Max Lowe, and climber Rachel Pohlas— as they journey off-trail through some of the nation’s most iconic national parks, and its hitting select theaters this month. “In the making of this film, we visited more than 30 national parks, looking for things we’d never seen before and images that blew us away,” says film creator MacGillivray Freeman. “There’s beauty and magnificence in every national park, but we looked for places that would be the most amazing on the IMAX screen.”“The story of the national parks is a big one, but for me the most important idea is that these parks belong to everyone, to all the people,” Freeman continued. “The parks give us a sense of awe, a sense of wonder, and in return I think we understand what a tremendous gift they will be for future generations of Americans.”Narrating the film is academy award winner and star of the recent film ‘A Walk in the Woods’, based on Bill Bryson’s classic Appalachian Trail-based novel of the same name.“National Parks Adventure captures the stunning beauty of our wild places and reminds us these landscapes are an essential part of the human spirit,” Redford says. To find showings at theaters near you click here.[divider]more from blueridgeoutdoors.com[/divider]
Maybe it’s the singletrack of Kitsuma or the whitewater of Wilson Creek. Perhaps it’s the Art Loeb Trail through Shining Rock or the ancient forests of Joyce Kilmer. Or it could be the swimming hole below Looking Glass Falls or the panoramic views from Max Patch. There are about as many reasons for loving the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest as there are people who visit it. Nearly 7 million people visited the Pisgah-Nantahala last year, and most of them came to explore its scenic wonders.In the next year, the Forest Service will release a 30-year plan that will decide how much of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest will be cut down and how much will be protected. So far, preliminary drafts have not protected many treasured areas, including iconic corridors for the Appalachian Trail, Mountains to Sea Trail, Bartram Trail, Benton MacKaye Trail, and Art Loeb Trail. Many old-growth forests and classic recreational hubs are also left unprotected.So a broad, diverse coalition of outdoor organizations, conservation groups, breweries, restaurants, outfitters, camps, guides, local businesses, politicians, and everyday citizens have joined together to create I HEART PISGAH.The I HEART PISGAH coalition supports strong, lasting protections for Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest, especially its trails, water, vistas, and recreational hotspots.North Carolina’s Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest is the second-most-visited national forest in the country. According to the Forest Service’s 2014 Assessment, over 90 percent of visitors to Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest are hikers, bikers, runners, paddlers, climbers, anglers, naturalists, photographers, and nature-seeking outdoor enthusiasts.However, recreation and conservation have not been prioritized in preliminary drafts of the Forest Service’s 30-year forest plan.“The I HEART PISGAH coalition wants to show the Forest Service how many people of all ages and backgrounds love and cherish the natural wonders of the forest,” says organizer Hannah Furgiuele, who is also producing a video for the campaign. “We hope the Forest Service will prioritize the protection of the forests’ vital natural and recreational resources.”Tourism and recreation in the 1.1-million-acre Pisgah National Forest is the main economic engine of Western North Carolina. The Pisgah-Nantahala also provides clean drinking water for Asheville and dozens of towns across the region, and its scenic vistas boost property values and attract businesses.Joining the I HEART PISGAH coalition is free and open to anyone—individuals as well as organizations and businesses. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine is a proud member. Visit iheartpisgah.org to feel the love.
The American Hiking Society and the #RecreateResponsibly Coalition have released guidelines to help keep everyone safe and healthy in the outdoors. The six guidelines are: Know before you go. Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don’t go. If it’s crowded, have a Plan B.Plan ahead. Prepare for facilities to be closed, pack lunch and bring essentials like hand sanitizer and a face covering.Practice physical distancing. Adventure only with your immediate household. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. If you are sick, stay home.Play it safe. Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations and health care resources are both strained. Stay close to home. This is not the time to travel long distances to recreate. Most places are only open for day use. Leave no trace. Respect public lands and communities and take all your garbage with you. We’re entering the height of summer and with it comes some of the best weather to hike, float, swim and bike outdoors. Meanwhile, the pandemic rages and states—including many in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic– are seeing major outbreaks of Covid-19. The outdoors offers solace from the many stresses of life in 2020 but before you head outdoors make sure you’re recreating responsibly. Follow the guidelines and enjoy your summer safely. You may also wonder if masks are necessary while recreating outside. Guidance form the American Hiking Association states that, ‘You are highly unlikely to catch the virus from simply walking, running, or biking past someone at a 6 foot distance (even if the person gets closer to you for a second)—you’re not in contact with the person for long enough. So, there’s not necessarily any need to wear a mask when going for a walk/run/bike ride if you stay 6 feet from people and aren’t stopping to chat with folks.’