A ‘Dramatically Smaller’ Market for Coal

first_imgA ‘Dramatically Smaller’ Market for Coal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Christina Nunez for National Geographic:Market trends for coal “have turned markedly negative over recent months, contrary to many still optimistic forecasts,” says Tim Buckley of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a research group that supports sustainable energy.Peabody, based in St. Louis, joins other American coal companies that have recently declared bankruptcy, including Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources. Peabody produces roughly 170 million metric tons of coal a year—close to a fifth of the U.S. supply. (The world’s largest producer, Coal India, puts out about twice as much.)Demand for its product is going down: The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts natural gas will overtake coal as the leading fuel for the nation’s electricity in 2016. Last year, 80 percent of the power supply that was shut down came from coal.The wobbly outlook extends beyond the United States. China, the world’s top polluter, says its coal consumption dropped over the past two years, and it recently halted construction on new coal-fired plants in 15 regions.The changed market seems to have caught U.S. companies off guard. “Everybody thought they would be exporting lots of coal into China,” energy consultant Katherine Hamilton commented on a recent Energy Gang podcast, “and that’s just not going to happen.”India’s coal imports are also down, and though the country is boosting domestic coal output, it’s also making a huge push to expand solar energy, with plans to install a hundred gigawatts of capacity over the next six years.Indeed, Buckley says India has invested so massively in solar that it’s now cheaper there compared to power from a new plant running on imported coal: “No one in the coal industry, no one in the [International Energy Agency], no one at Peabody saw that coming.”Efforts to make coal power “clean,” or at least clean enough to pass regulatory muster, by capturing carbon at the smokestack remain expensive and not quite proven—Canada’s $1.1 billion Boundary Dam project is facing political heat for its so far underwhelming results.Meanwhile, cleaner energy options, bolstered by the Paris agreement and a growing awareness of coal’s social and health costs, have galloped ahead as prices continue to fall. (See the surprising countries where solar and wind are booming.)Still, coal is far from disappearing. China and India both have approved hundreds of new coal-fired power plants, and the fuel’s use remains robust in countries from Australia to Turkey. And where coal is swapped out for natural gas, the transition away from all fossil fuels remains further off than many climate advocates would hope.Peabody’s bankruptcy, however, symbolizes an incontrovertible trend, according to Buckley, who says the industry has refused to confront the fact that it is in decline not just because of new climate rules but pure economics.“There’s no suggestion that demand is going to go back up for coal,” he says, adding that if Peabody emerges from Chapter 11, it will face a coal market that “is going to be dramatically smaller.”Full Article: The Western World’s Largest Coal Company Declares Bankruptcylast_img read more

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Balancing safety and soundness with compliance in the midst of COVID-19

first_img continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Historic. Unprecedented. Unimaginable. These are not exaggerations of the coronavirus pandemic, an event that has left millions unemployed and countless businesses shuttered or operating at limited capacity. Until this health crisis subsides, the financial sector has an important role to play in helping affected consumer and commercial customers navigate this uncertain situation.Ironically, a financial institution’s ability to meet that challenge largely depends on the basic tenets of good governance and sound risk management—measures that are quite precedented in helping to ensure the financial health and compliance stance of institutions that adopt, implement and consistently use them.This summer, federal and state banking regulators offered a timely reminder of this truth when they published their Interagency Examiner Guidance for Assessing Safety and Soundness Considering the Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Institutions.Examining Safety and Soundness for Financial Institutions in 2020The guidance was jointly published on June 23 by the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and state bank and credit union regulators. It outlines the supervisory principles they will use to assess institutional safety and soundness in light of COVID-19.last_img read more

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Study says wild birds unlikely to bring H5N1 to Americas

first_imgNov 16, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – An analysis of influenza viruses collected from North American migratory birds over a 6-year period suggests that wild birds rarely carry avian flu viruses between Eurasia and North America, implying that the risk of the deadly H5N1 virus reaching the Americas by that route is probably low.A team of American and Canadian researchers based that conclusion on a study of 248 complete avian flu viruses and several thousand gene segments of flu viruses collected from birds in Alberta and on the New Jersey coast from 2001 through 2006. Their report, with Scott Krauss of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis as lead author, was published this week by PLoS Pathogens. The senior author is leading flu researcher Dr. Robert Webster, also of St. Jude.”Genomic analysis of influenza viruses from our repository failed to provide evidence of influenza viruses with their whole genome originating from Eurasia,” the report states. “However, we found occasional influenza viruses from North America with single or multiple genes that originated in Eurasia. Our interpretation is that while influenza viruses do exchange between the two hemispheres, this is a rare occurrence.”The researchers say the highly pathogenic (HP) H5N1 virus has a better chance of reaching the western hemisphere via birds moved by humans than via wild birds. Nevertheless, careful surveillance of wild birds in the Americas should continue, they add.The possible role of migratory birds in spreading the HP H5N1 has long been debated. Thousands of migratory birds died of H5N1 disease in 2005 at the Qinghai Lake wildlife sanctuary in China, a major gathering place for migratory birds, and that outbreak is suspected to have played a role in the subsequent spread of the virus to central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.Scientists at a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) conference last year in Rome agreed that wild birds played some part in spreading the H5N1 virus for long distances. But the FAO said the experts couldn’t agree on exactly how the virus had reached more than 50 countries on three continents or whether wild birds provide a permanent reservoir for the virus.A US testing program for HP H5N1 in wild birds over the past 2 years has revealed no signs of the virus so far. About 109,000 birds were tested from April 2006 through March of this year, according to previous reports from the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior. A low-pathogenic North American strain of H5N1 virus has been found in a few birds in the United States. Canadian surveys in 2006 and 2007 have found no highly pathogenic viruses either.Two avian flu ‘superfamilies’The St. Jude research team sought to investigate why the HP H5N1 virus has not reached the Americas even though the migratory paths of wild birds from both hemispheres overlap in places like Alaska.The report says genetic studies of flu viruses from wild birds have shown they generally fall into two “superfamilies”—American and Eurasian—which implies that the transfer of whole viruses between the eastern and western hemispheres is infrequent.The study included collection of cloacal and blood samples from wild ducks in Alberta and of fecal samples from shorebirds (including gulls) on Delaware Bay in New Jersey. Surveillance of wild birds in the two areas had been ongoing since 1976 and 1985, respectively.The researchers found influenza A viruses in 98 (16.6%) of 590 cloacal samples from the ducks and in 114 (5.8%) of 1,970 samples from shorebirds. Fourteen of the 16 known hemagglutinin (H) subtypes were represented (H1-H13, H16), as were all nine of the neuraminidase (N) subtypes. The most common subtypes in ducks were H4N6, H1N4, and H10N7, while the most common in shorebirds were H10N7, H1N9, and H7N3. No H5N1 subtypes were found. In addition, serologic studies of blood samples gathered from about 700 Alberta ducks in 2004, 2005, and 2006 revealed no evidence of HP H5N1 infection.The findings also included 27 H7 viruses, 24 of which were H7N3, collected from the shorebirds in 2006. Testing in chickens showed the H7N3 viruses were nonpathogenic—unlike the H7N3 strain that caused a poultry outbreak in British Columbia in 2004—but the viruses replicated in the chickens and were lethal to chicken embryos.In their genetic analysis, the authors examined 6,767 gene segments (which had been described in an earlier study by a St. Jude team) and 248 complete genomes. They found a low rate of “outsider events”—gene segments belonging to one superfamily (Eurasian or American) occurring in viruses from the other superfamily. Overall, 56 (0.83%) of the 6,767 gene segments analyzed were classified as “outsiders,” and none of the 248 complete genomes represented a transfer from one superfamily to the other.”Based on these studies, it is more likely that the Asian H5N1 viruses will be imported into the Americas with birds moved legally or illegally by humans,” the article states.Surveillance of migratory waterfowl has shown that many species can be infected with the deadly H5N1 virus, but there is no evidence that they become long-term carriers that “perpetuate” it, the researchers say. Instead, they write, evidence indicates that domestic ducks and geese often carry the virus despite apparent health, and in the cooler months the virus “spills over” into other poultry and migratory birds.The authors conclude that the results of their genetic studies and the lack of evidence for H5N1 perpetuation in wild birds “make the probability of introduction of HP H5N1 into the Americas by migratory birds an unlikely event.”Other experts’ viewsOther wildlife-disease experts who were not involved in the study voiced general agreement with the findings and conclusions.David E. Stallknecht, PhD, of the University of Georgia in Athens, said the findings agree with previous research on the risk of HP H5N1 reaching the Americas via wild birds. Stallknecht is an associate professor with the Department of Population Health and the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine.”The results are not unexpected based on similar work that is already in the literature,” he told CIDRAP News. “These [previous] results probably provided the best evidence that the probability of HPAI (HP avian influenza) H5N1 moving to North American via wild birds was slim at best.”In view of the other research results, including the failure to find HP H5N1 in more than 400,000 healthy wild birds tested to date and field evidence from outbreaks in Europe, Stallknecht said, “I certainly agree with the conclusion presented in this manuscript.”Dr. Patrick Redig, associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, called the report by Krauss and colleagues “a very important paper.” Because it is based on surveillance that goes back a number of years, it “provides historical evidence about various influenza viruses that predates all the buzz about H5N1,” and it corroborates the recent large-scale testing of wild birds by the Canadian and US governments, he said.”It clearly establishes that the likelihood of the entire HP H5N1 virus being introduced into the Americas by wild waterfowl or shorebirds would be an extremely unlikely event, given the historical patterns of transfer,” Redig added. He said the study leaves open the possibility that pieces of H5N1 genetic material could turn up in viruses in the North American superfamily, “but again it would be a rare event.”On the other hand, Redig said, “I think the paper does underplay the survival of the HP H5N1 in wild birds, given the continuing movement and introduction of the virus into various areas in Europe, particularly the latest outbreak in Suffolk, UK, and another in Saudi Arabia. While it remains to be seen if either of these can be tracked back to wild birds, there is a suggestion that the probability is not zero.”David A. Halvorson, DVM, a veterinary pathologist and avian flu expert at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, agreed that the new study findings match up with previous findings. “This research reinforces what has been published before, that New World and Old World avian influenza viruses are distinct lineages with only occasional introduction of old world AI virus genes into new world AI viruses,” he said.Krauss S, Obert CA, Franks J, et al. Influenza in migratory birds and evidence of limited intercontinental virus exchange. PLoS Pathogens 2007 Nov;3(11) [Full text]See also: Aug 30, 2006, CIDRAP News story “Tests find no H5N1 avian flu in Alaskan birds”May 7 CIDRAP News story on US testing of wild birds in 2007Jun 2, 2006, CIDRAP News story “FAO: Wild birds play role in avian flu, but poultry key”Feb 10, 2006, CIDRAP News story on study suggesting that wild birds can carry H5N1 long distanceslast_img read more

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Inner City

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German pension funding stable after challenging 2018

first_imgCovestro and Wirecard replaced Commerzbank and ProSiebenSat 1 Media in the DAX last year, although Wirecard and one other company had not reported up to date figures in time for WTW’s study.DAX companies made a loss of €4.4bn, or 1.7%, on invested pension plan assets last year, according to the consultancy.However, the funding ratio was almost unchanged year-on-year: in 2018 it fell by one percentage point to 67%. This was well above the long-term average, WTW said.The funding ratio varied considerably across the companies, however. Vonovia’s pension plan was just 4% funded, while Deutsche Bank’s was 98% funded. WTW has estimated that the average funding ratio for Fortune 1000 companies was 84% in 2018.On average, pension liabilities amounted to around 15% of the DAX companies’ balance sheets last year, with pension plan assets making up roughly 10%, WTW reported.The DAX index itself fell by 18.3% in euro terms in 2018, compared to a 3.6% fall recorded by the MSCI World index.Contributions and mortalityThe size of pension assets and liabilities, combined with the total of €11.8bn that employers contributed to their pension arrangements, demonstrated the high level of importance that companies attached to workplace pensions, according to the consultancy.From the top five companies by volume of pension promises, Deutsche Telekom topped up pension plan assets the most last year, according to WTW’s study. It paid €2.9bn, followed by Siemens with €2.8bn. Eon made contributions of €900m and Volkswagen and Daimler paid €700m each.Five DAX companies used company-specific mortality tables in 2018, according to WTW.“The general mortality tables form a robust basis for calculations,” said Hanne Borst, head of actuarial consulting at the consultancy in Germany. “However, larger companies in particular are taking a close look at their workforce and developing company-specific calculation principles to be able to better plan for payment flows.”Borst recently argued for a different approach to longevity data in Germany. Germany’s largest listed companies contributed €11.8bn to their pension plan assets in 2018 amid challenging conditions on the capital markets, according to Willis Towers Watson (WTW).In its latest annual DAX pensions study, the consultancy said the plans were under “stable management”, having maintained a steady aggregate funding ratio compared to 2017.In 2018 the companies’ pension obligations shrank by 4.7% to €364bn, the consultancy said, while pension plan assets fell by 5.4% to €244bn.The changes were due to large corporate finance transactions and a new composition of the DAX, as well as difficult capital market conditions.last_img read more

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Sif to Manufacture SeaMade Offshore Wind Farm Monopiles

first_imgSif Holding has received a production contract from Dredging International for the 58 monopiles and the primary steel of the transition pieces for SeaMade offshore wind farm, located off the coast of Ostend, Belgium.The transition pieces will be manufactured in joint venture with Smulders in Hoboken, the company informed.The 487 MW offshore wind farm will comprise of 58 Siemens-Gamesa turbines each with an individual installed capacity of 8.4 MW and will be placed on monopile foundations.The monopiles and primary steel for transition pieces will be produced by Sif. Smulders will manufacture secondary steel and be responsible for the outfitting of the transition pieces.The total volume of the project will amount to approximately 60 ktons for the MP’s and 13.7 ktons for the primary steel for TP’s.The production is scheduled for 2019.SeaMade is developed by SeaMade NV, a combination of Seastar and Mermaid, is a cooperation between Otary group (70%), Electrabel (Engie, 17.5%) and Eneco Wind Belgium (12.5%).last_img read more

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Dismissed from Greens for Marriage View (UK)

first_imgChristian Concern 10 Sep 2012Christina Summers, a member of Brighton and Hove City Council, has been dismissed from the Green Group over expressing her views on same-sex marriage in a free vote.The Green Group of councillors announced its decision today (10 September) which was held off until the end of the Green Party conference to avoid negative publicity.Several Green Councillors called for her dismissal when she voted against a motion in support of the Government’s plans to introduce same-sex marriage at a council meeting in July. At the launch of the Party’s disciplinary Inquiry Panel, shortly after the vote, Councillor Summers explained that her decision was based on her Christian convictions, stating “I’m accountable to God above any political party”.In response to the news of her expulsion, Councillor Summers said:“I have been waiting for weeks for my colleagues to make a clear and public decision. “They have no idea how much I have been wanting to say to them and how many emails, blogs and tweets from the wider party membership I wanted to refute and respond to. But there is a time to speak and a time to be silent.“In view of the Green Party’s own special interpretation of equality, my expulsion from the Green Group of councillors should not, in the end, come as a surprise.“Nonetheless, I can’t help but feel crestfallen. After at least two intimate years of campaigning and then serving together in administration, my own colleagues, who should know me well by now, have chosen to believe a lie. “Party policy, however vague, is sovereign”.http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/religious-freedom/christian-ousted-from-green-party-group-of-councillorslast_img read more

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Genetically modified salmon approved for human consumption in US

first_img Sharing is caring! 171 Views   one comment Share Share HealthInternationalLifestylePrint Genetically modified salmon approved for human consumption in US by: Associated Press – November 19, 2015center_img Raw salmon (Photo: laurenfollett.com)WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved genetically modified salmon, the first such altered animal allowed for human consumption in the United States.The Obama administration had stalled in approving the fast-growing salmon for more than five years amid consumer concerns about eating genetically modified foods. But the agency said Thursday the fish is safe to eat.In announcing the approval, the FDA said that there are “no biologically relevant differences in the nutritional profile of AquAdvantage Salmon compared to that of other farm-raised Atlantic salmon.” A 2012 FDA assessment showed that development of the salmon is unlikely to harm the environment.AquAdvantage Salmon was created Massachusetts-based AquaBounty. Ron Stotish, the company’s CEO, said in a statement that the fish is a “game changer that brings healthy and nutritious food to consumers in an environmentally responsible manner without damaging the ocean and other marine habitats.”There is no evidence that the foods would be unsafe, but for some people, it’s an ethical issue. Some retailers have pledged not to sell the salmon, which has an added gene from the Pacific Chinook salmon that enables the fish to produce more growth hormone and grow faster.By altering genetic materials, scientists have proposed — and in some cases, actually created — animals that would be bred to be disease-free, cleaner in their environments or grow more efficiently. Share Tweetlast_img read more

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Lady Trojans Best Lady Indians In Middle School Volleyball

first_imgSt. Nicholas 7th and 8th grade teams defeated Milan at Milan Middle School on August 27.7th grade won in 3 close sets with scores of 25-23, 24-25, and 15-10. Jessica Rees served up perfection with 14/14 serves and 5 Aces. Ella Fledderman had 13/14 services with 6 Aces; Katie Johnson went 13/15 with 6 Aces; Taylor Whitehead went 9/12 with 2 Aces. The girls started slow and were letting balls hit the court, but they stepped up their play and finished strong. The 7th grade team improves their record to 3-1.8th grade won in 2 sets with scores of 25-19 and 25-2. Set 1 was close and both teams set the ball up well, but set 2 was won with aggressive serving and consistency for St. Nick. Molly Gregg served 24/26 with 8 Aces and Rachel Kraus served 6/6 with 1 Ace. The 8th grade team improves their record to 6-0.St. Nicholas will host Batesville Middle School on Thursday, Sept. 3 at Milan Elementary School.Courtesy of Trojans Coach Debbie Gregg.last_img read more

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Lawmakers look to attract tech companies

first_imgIndianapolis, In. — Indiana Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy committee members have passed a bill designed to attract data centers and large technology companies to Indiana. House Bill 1405, authored by Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso,) is the most aggressive data center economic development initiative ever proposed in Indiana. It would provide financial incentives and tax exemptions for data center equipment and energy purchases to companies locating in qualified centers within the state.Digital Crossroads, a data center complex currently under construction in Hammond, Indiana, is one organization which will benefit from the tax exemptions.“We are thrilled by the unanimous decision to move HB 1405 to the Senate floor and ensure that Indiana remains a top choice for data center construction,” said Tom Dakich of Digital Crossroads. “I applaud Rep. Soliday for his foresight in authoring the bill, Senator Messmer (R-Jasper) for serving as lead co-sponsor in the Senate and Rep. Pressel, Rep Lehman, Rep Jackson, Rep Harris, Rep. Huston, Senator Holdman, Senator Melton and Senator Randolph for co-authoring, co-sponsoring and supporting this important legislation.”During committee, an amendment was added to the bill which creates an additional exemption for construction costs if 75 percent of materials, professional services and labor used for rehabilitation or construction for the qualifying data center is sourced from Indiana vendors.“We support Hoosier businesses and are very excited about the inclusion of the Buy Indiana amendment to HB 1405,” said Peter Feldman, CEO of Digital Crossroads. “With Digital Crossroad located in Hammond, Indiana, it only makes sense to source a majority of our construction materials and labor from our neighboring businesses in Lake and Porter Counties.”HB 1405, which passed the Indiana House of Representatives by a vote of 95-1 on February 19, now proceeds to the Senate floor.For additional information about Digital Crossroads of America Data Center click here.last_img read more

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