Peabody, at Taxpayer Expense, Pays Out Millions in Executive Bonuses

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Dave Roberts for Vox:Two recent items from the news are likely to add fuel to the Peabody-hating fire.Item 1: Peabody is heading into bankruptcy, workers are getting screwed, and executives are profitingThis week, Peabody signaled that it is likely to file for bankruptcy.It’s not a huge surprise; the company has not been doing well. After a peak share price of $1,079 in 2011 (during the heady market for metallurgical coal), its stock has fallen, and fallen, and fallen, all the way to $2.19 a share.Naturally, Peabody has been laying off lots of workers — more than 20 percent of its global workforce between 2012 and 2015.But that’s not all it’s been doing.You see, Peabody made promises to its US workers. In exchange for doing the dangerous, unhealthy work of mining coal, they would have pensions and health benefits for life.But those obligations are expensive, especially with employees’ propensity to develop black lung. Peabody needed a way to get them off the books.So in 2007, Peabody created a new entity, Patriot Coal. Reporter Alec MacGillis tells the story in the New Republic:[Peabody] transferred to [Patriot] 13 percent of its coal reserves. It also transferred to it about 40 percent of its health care liabilities—the obligations for 8,400 former Peabody employees. A year later, Patriot Coal was loaded up with even more liabilities when it acquired Magnum Coal, an offshoot of the country’s second-largest mining company, Arch Coal. This left Patriot with responsibility for another 2,300 retirees, and, by last year, total liabilities of $1.37 billion.Eventually Patriot Coal was larded up with more than $3 billion in liabilities from Peabody and Arch, representing 22,000 miners, retirees, and spouses.“Oddly, for a 5-year-old company,” labor journalist Mike Elk wrote, “Patriot wound up with nearly three times as many retirees as active employees, more than 90 percent of whom never worked for the company.”Can you guess what happened next?Yup, Patriot Coal filed for bankruptcy in 2012. And it wasted no time asking a bankruptcy judge to let it jettison all those health care liabilities. (The judge said yes, just as she said yes two weeks prior when Patriot asked for permission to pay their executives almost $7 million in “retention bonuses.”)Patriot had no loyalty to these retirees, of course. For the most part, they’d never even worked for Patriot. According to a 2013 story in the Wall Street Journal, “90 percent of retirees listed as Patriot’s obligation today never worked for Patriot, but were once employed by Peabody or Arch.”What about Peabody? Doesn’t it have any loyalty to the workers who gave it so much of their lives? The Wall Street Journal asked:A spokesman for Peabody, the nation’s largest coal company by production, said Peabody has lived up to its obligations. “This is a matter solely between the union and Patriot Coal,” the spokesman said.Damn, that’s cold.(The coal employee pension funds have since sued Peabody and Arch, accusing them of designing Patriot to fail as a way of escaping their obligations.)Ditching its obligations to workers — “restructuring,” in the antiseptic language of corporate law — didn’t save Patriot. It filed for bankruptcy again in 2015. Its efforts to escape its liabilities are ongoing.Dumping liabilities onto Patriot didn’t save Peabody either, which is now on the verge of going under itself. It currently has hundreds of millions in unfunded liabilities, which are likely to be jettisoned in some future deal between a corporate restructuring lawyer and a bankruptcy judge.But have no fear! The Peabody executives who oversaw all those mergers and big bets on metallurgical coal — and the subsequent destruction of virtually all the company’s value — are in no danger. In fact, they’re doing great.This 2015 report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis reveals that the top five Peabody executives pulled down about $27 million in compensation in 2011, when the stock was at its peak.In 2014, after the company’s stockholders had lost $16 billion in value, thousands of workers had been laid off and Peabody was headed for bankruptcy, they pulled down about … $25 million.To atone for his sins, the compensation of Boyce, the CEO, was reduced from $10 million in 2011 to $11 million in 2014.(The, er, disjunct between corporate performance and executive compensation is a familiar tale in US coal these days.)So that’s the first item regarding Peabody’s enduring status as the Worst. Now here’s the second.Item 2: Peabody has been heavily subsidized by federal taxpayersTurns out US taxpayers are helping to pay for all this.According to a new report from Greenpeace, based on Department of Interior data obtained via FOIA, Peabody relies heavily on coal mined from federal land. In fact, the three biggest US coal companies all rely heavily on it.coal corporate welfare(Greenpeace)Here’s the thing about coal on federal land: For decades, the US public has been letting coal companies mine it for dirt cheap, well beneath market rates. Over time that adds up to a lot of foregone revenue.In his 2014 piece on coal leasing, Brad Plumer wrote about a study by Tom Sanzillo of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis that “argued that the federal government had foregone as much as $28.9 billion in revenue over the past 30 years by getting below-market value for its coal in these non-competitive auctions.”And that’s to say nothing of the social costs imposed by the coal thus mined. Consider this statistic from a previous Greenpeace report:A ton of publicly owned coal leased during the Obama administration will, on average, cause damages estimated at between $22 and $237, using the federal government’s social cost of carbon estimates — yet the average price per ton for those coal leases was only $1.03.This amounts to the American people subsidizing their own suffering.How your taxes ended up enriching coal executives who are betraying their workers Peabody, at Taxpayer Expense, Pays Out Millions in Executive Bonuseslast_img read more

Solar facility begins operating at closed coal plant in Ontario

first_imgSolar facility begins operating at closed coal plant in Ontario FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享 former Nanticoke Generating Station site, located on the northern shore of Lake Erie, has been transformed into a 44-megawatt clean energy facility that hosts 192,431 solar panels across 260 acres.The project has just been completed by PCL Construction, a company that was commissioned to design, engineer and build it, as well as supply the photovoltaic solar panels and racking system. Behind the idea and funding are Ontario Power Generation, the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.The opening of the solar facility coincides with the one-year anniversary of the demolition of the Nanticoke 650-feet smokestacks. It has also been almost five years since the station burned its last piece of coal.In its heyday, the Nanticoke Generating Station was the largest coal-fired plant in North America, providing 15% of Ontario’s electricity. After serving the province for more than 40 years, it stopped using coal as fuel in 2013. Two years later, the site was safely closed while the switchyards, operated by Hydro One Networks, remain in operation as a significant hub for the electricity grid in the southwestern part of the region.Since 2014, Ontario Power Generation stopped using coal to generate electricity in Canada’s most populous province, a move that resulted in the equivalent of taking 7 million cars off the road.More: Former coal-fired power plant in Ontario becomes solar facilitylast_img read more

Australian insurer Suncorp to stop underwriting new coal mines, coal-fired generation

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:Australian insurance giant Suncorp will no longer insure new thermal coal mines and power plants, and will not underwrite any existing thermal coal projects after 2025.This is the latest in a series of pledges by banks and financial services companies that they will not support projects that mine or burn coal used for electricity generation, in line with the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Activists said Suncorp’s announcement meant there were now no Australian insurers willing to underwrite new thermal coal developments.Suncorp, which owns insurance brands AAMI and GIO, made headlines in February when it announced its half-year profit had slumped 45%, mainly because of extreme weather events in Sydney and Queensland. Its then chief executive, Michael Cameron, called on the government to make it compulsory for Australian businesses to adopt climate change action plans to prepare for natural disasters.In a statement on Friday, the $17bn company said climate change posed a financial and strategic risk but was also an opportunity. It said it had applied a shadow carbon price, assuming greenhouse gas emissions have a cost, to its investment decisions since 2017 and had recently expanded that across all its operations.“The practical outcome of this is that we have materially reduced our investment in fossil fuels, including thermal coal,” an official said. “We will seek to increase exposure to businesses that have a positive environmental impact, including renewable energy generation and technology.”Suncorp’s competitor QBE said in March it would no longer insure new thermal coal projects and would stop underwriting existing operations from 2030.More: Insurance giant Suncorp says it will no longer cover new thermal coal projects Australian insurer Suncorp to stop underwriting new coal mines, coal-fired generationlast_img read more

Coal expansion in Turkey hits headwinds, 70GW canceled or delayed since 2009

first_imgCoal expansion in Turkey hits headwinds, 70GW canceled or delayed since 2009 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Platts:Turkey’s plans to expand its thermal coal-fired power plant fleet have largely fallen by the wayside as the country grapples with a combination of economic and social headwinds, clouding what otherwise would have been one of the Atlantic market’s few bright spots for demand.An estimated 70 GW of planned capacity has either been cancelled or indefinitely postponed since 2009, leaving the country with 85 operating coal-fired power plants and a total operating capacity of 19 GW, according to a review of the Turkish government data and web sources. An additional 33 GW is under various stages of planning, with only 2 GW under construction.“There are quite a number of projects that will never see daylight,” a Turkish utility source said. “The ones that will burn imported hard coals are definitely dead due to diminishing availability of soft loans and Turkey’s strong policy for decreasing the current account deficit.”President Recep Erdogan’s strategy to shift utility purchases away from imported thermal coal toward domestic lignite, due to the impact energy imports are having on Turkey’s balance of trade, had been expected to fuel domestic plant construction near lignite mines, the utility source said. But the policy appears to have ground to a halt, as proposed lignite projects have been halted by strong environmentalist opposition.“With Turkey’s economy likely to contract in CY 19 and grow only slightly in CY 20, electricity demand and coal imports should continue to be limited,” Platts Analytics said.Joe Aldina at Platts Analytics said: “Some slowing in Turkey’s imports was more or less the consensus view for 2019. But there was a longer-term expectation that Turkey would be one of the few bright spots for coal demand growth in the Atlantic Basin and a number of coal sellers, particularly from the US, were looking to Turkey as an outlet for production as European imports slow (and domestic US coal demand falls). New tariffs on US coal implemented this year dash the short-term hopes of sending more US coal to Turkey, but there was still the hope that Turkey could be a longer-term partner for US suppliers.”More: Turkish coal-fired plant expansion stalls, with 70 GW shelved since 2009last_img read more

Another coal plant in Spain headed for retirement

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Argus Media:Spanish utility Viesgo has requested the closure of its 570MW Los Barrios coal-fired plant, the biggest of the three coal units that were still expected to continue operating in mainland Spain after 2022.The decision comes just four months after the company told Argus it planned to keep Los Barrios operational, suggesting the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Spanish coal-fired power demand may have contributed to the change in strategy. Viesgo said it could not determine an estimated closure date for the plant as the process was subject to several administrative procedures and authorisations.Data from Spanish power grid operator REE show that coal-fired generation in the southwest province of Cadiz — where Los Barrios is the sole coal generator — reached minus 4.78GWh in the first five months of this year, which means the unit consumed more electricity than it produced during the period. This compares with a generation of 493GWh — or a 136MW hourly average — in January-May 2019.Coal-fired generation in May reached only 245GWh, or 330MW, in mainland Spain, down by 28.6pc year on year and a new record low. The volume represented just 1.4pc of the energy mix, also a historical minimum share.Viesgo’s decision means that Portuguese utility EDP’s 562MW Abono 2 and 346MW Soto de Ribera 3 are the only coal-fired plants that would continue operating in mainland Spain. EDP told Argus last month that it has been considering plans to shut down Soto de Ribera 3 by 2022, which means Abono 2 might become the sole coal unit in the peninsular system in the near future.A total of 15 of the existing 25 coal-fired units in mainland Spain are expected to close by 30 June this year, ahead of stricter EU-wide industrial emissions standards coming into force on 1 July. These units have a combined capacity of 4.87GW, more than half of the total 9.21GW. Another 2.5GW — Spanish utility Endesa’s 1.1GW Litoral de Almeria and 1.4GW As Pontes — could close by the end of 2021.[Juan Weik]More: Spain’s Viesgo U-turns and now plans to shut coal plant Another coal plant in Spain headed for retirementlast_img read more

California municipal utility endorses plan to be carbon neutral by 2030

first_imgCalifornia municipal utility endorses plan to be carbon neutral by 2030 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:The Sacramento Municipal Utility District has set a more ambitious climate goal than California, aiming to be carbon neutral 15 years before the rest of the state.The utility’s board unanimously adopted a resolution late Thursday to “work towards carbon neutrality by 2030” — a decade sooner than its previous target of 2040. Under state law, all of California’s power must come from carbon neutral sources by 2045.The company, known as SMUD, “recognizes the risk of uncontrolled climate change and is committed to urgently do more” to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions, the resolution states. SMUD would be the first community-owned utility company to set such an aggressive goal, according to the Sacramento Climate Coalition.The non-binding resolution doesn’t detail how SMUD would meet its goal. As of 2018, more than half of the utility’s power came from burning natural gas and its deployment of renewable energy lagged the rest of the state.The policy is not a plan but a commitment, according to Rob Kerth, vice president of SMUD’s board. The company has until March 31 to come up with a plan to achieve the carbon goal.“Just like we didn’t know how were going to get to the moon, the president announced it and the best and the brightest stood up and did it,” Rosanna Herber, a SMUD director, said during the meeting. “I’m convinced that our staff can figure this out.”[Anthony Robledo]More: Sacramento utility sets more ambitious climate goal than statelast_img read more

New Pakistani energy plan aims for 30% renewable generation by 2030

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Pakistan this week set in motion a plan to boost the share of its electric power that comes from renewables to 30% by 2030, up from about 4% today, government officials said.“The targets in the newly announced policy are a 20% share of renewables in installed capacity of Pakistan’s power mix by 2025 and 30% by 2030,” said Syed Aqeel Hussain Jafry, policy director for the government’s Alternative Energy Development Board. That will include mainly wind and solar power, but also geothermal, tidal, wave and biomass energy, he said.With boosts in hydropower capacity expected as well, the shift could bring the share of clean energy in Pakistan’s electricity mix to 65% by 2030, said Nadeem Babar, head of a task force on energy reforms in Pakistan.But the legislation leaves in place plans to build seven more coal-fired power plants as part of the second phase of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project – something that could impede scale-up of renewable power, warned Zeeshan Ashfaq, a solar and wind energy developer in Pakistan.The new national renewables policy, approved by the prime minister’s cabinet last December, was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and as negotiators tried to resolve disputes with individual provinces. But Asad Umar, federal minister for planning and development, said on social media the resolution of those disputes now opened the way to “unleash Pakistan’s full potential” for renewables.International investors could put as much as $15 billion into the plan by 2030, Ashfaq predicted – though he cautioned that renewables investment would depend on clear government targets for its use, and growing demand for power as the country industrialises.[Rina Saeed Khan]More: Pakistan pushes renewables – but coal expansion continues too New Pakistani energy plan aims for 30% renewable generation by 2030last_img read more

Race Ahead: Trail Running

first_imgTRAIL RUNNINGRED TOP RUMBLEcartersville, georgiafebruary 3, 2013The race itself is on a figure eight trail system on a peninsula of Allatoona Lake. This 11.5-mile course is fast and flowy; hills are numerous but with only the occasional steep climb. Racers rave about the well-maintained trails and the views of the lake along the course. Vendors host raffles and giveaways and hand out hot cocoa and soup to finishers and spectators, crucial for this February event. getguts.comSMOKY MOUNTAIN RELAYbrevard, north carolinaapril 19-20, 2013Get off your asphalt and run the region’s toughest trail relay—a 212-mile traverse of the most dramatic landscapes in Southern Appalachia. Six- and 12-person teams trek through the night, traveling in vans to relay exchanges, en route to the finish at the Nantahala Outdoor Center near Bryson City, N.C. Along the way, runners splash through mountain streams and follow scenic singletrack and Forest Service fire roads with stunning vistas of Looking Glass Rock, Shining Rock Wilderness, Cold Mountain, and the Great Smokies. smokymountainrelay.comHIGHLANDS SKY 40 MILE TRAIL RUNdavis, west virginiajune 15, 2013The point-to-point course with 5,400 feet of elevation gain highlights the most beautiful scenery West Virginia has to offer, including Roaring Plains, the Dolly Sods Wilderness, and Canaan Valley State Park. “It’s very rocky the first half, a lot of climbing and really technical,” says Mark Lundblad, one of the region’s top ultra runners. “The second half opens up a little bit.” The signature section traces the Road Across the Sky, a long, exposed uphill section that is a psychological strain because it is open enough to see the seven miles of trail ahead of you. The Highlands Sky also has the distinction of being one of only a handful of races that are permitted to utilize designated wilderness, a distinction that race organizers take seriously. Every spring they head out into the Dolly Sods to perform trail maintenance using only hand tools like axes, saws, and shovels. wvmtr.orgSTUMPJUMP 50Kchattanooga, tennesseeoctober 5, 2013For the past 11 years, the Rock/Creek StumpJump 50K has been testing the mettle of trail runners on Chattanooga’s renowned Signal Mountain singletrack. One of the premier trail ultra runs in the Southeast, drawing the best runners from the region in its field of over 500. Over the 31-mile course, runners encounter everything from smooth, packed singletrack to swinging bridges and rock stairs—not to mention the mile-long, boulder-hopping rock garden. The varied terrain, fickle weather, and 4,500 feet of climbing prevent runners from getting into rhythm, making this race more taxing than it first appears. MASOCHIST 50-MILERmontebello, virginianovember 2, 2013It’s all right there in the name: masochist, mountain, miler, 50. Put them all together in the right order and you’re in for a world of hurt. For three decades, that world of hurt has been punishing runners in this race in the George Washington National Forest outside Lynchburg, Va. Runners begin their quest under the cover of darkness, but those strong enough to gain the ridge by daybreak are greeted with a sunrise that can stop you in your tracks – just don’t or you may be run over. Combining road, jeep trail, and single track, the race route is relatively tame for the first 25 miles; after that, the abuse really begins. The course has over 9,000 feet of climbing, and most of it comes in the second half of the race, including a sadistic loop to the top of Mount Pleasant and back. Luckily, the course traverses some of the most beautiful scenery in the Appalachians, and the final three-mile push for the finish line is a downhill cruise. eco-xsports.comSHUT-IN RIDGE TRAIL RUNasheville, north carolinanovember 2, 2013The Shut-In Trail climbs 5000 feet and descends 2000 feet, making for punishing climbs and hair-raising descents. Competitors are truly tested over the final two miles before the finish, when the Shut-In Ridge Trail seems to go straight up. The trail parallels and crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway several times during its ascent of Mount Pisgah, making this race very spectator friendly and a rare opportunity to cheer on runners at several points in the race. jusrunning.comBest of the RestUwharrie 40-Mile Mountain RunOphir, North CarolinaFebruary 2, 2013 • bullcityrunning.comBel Monte 50kBlue Ridge Mountains, VirginiaApril 20, 2013 • belmonteraces.comPromise Land 50kBedford, VirginiaApril 27, 2013 • extremeultrarunning.comScenic City Trail HalfChattanooga, TennesseeMay 18, 2013 • rockcreek.comMassanutten Mountain 100Massanutten, VirginiaMay 18-19, 2013 • vhtrc.comJames River Scramble 10k presented by Goal ZeroRichmond, VirginiaMay 18, 2013 • dominionriverrock.comEastern Divide Ultra 50KMountain Lake, VirginiaJune 22, 2013 • easterndivideultra.comSpringmaid Splash 10kSpruce Pine, North CarolinaAugust TBD, 2013 • mitchellraces.comNew River Trail ChallengeFoster Falls, VirginiaSeptember 21, 2013 • dcr.virginia.govFor more great Race Ahead information check out these sections:SnowsportsTrail RunningRoad RunningMountain BikingRoad CyclingClimbingPaddlingHikingMultisportSuperlativeslast_img read more

Free Fly Apparel: Softer Than a Baby’s…

first_imgThe Free Fly Apparel long sleeve and quater-zip. My experience with bamboo has been fairly limited during my lifetime. I’ve attended jungle themed frat parties, seen a panda munch on some at the zoo, and (carefully) handled a split cane bamboo fly rod. There is something supremely satisfying about holding a stalk of bamboo, especially if you are a kid, the section is a few feet long, and your friends are around. But besides whacking your buddies, bamboo has tremendous practical uses as a building material, wind block, and textile. Some skate and snowboard manufacturers are using bamboo in their decks because of its flexibility and spring, and in Malaysia it’s used as a cannon for fireworks. Recently, especially in its native Southeast Asia, there has been a renewed interest in using it as a structural material for large buildings. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on Earth, making it a fairly sustainable resource.And at least one fly fishing-centric apparel company is making it the basis for their clothing: Free Fly Apparel based out of Charleston, South Carolina. Following two years research on materials and fabrics, Free Fly founder Tanner Sutton landed on the solution to his beef with performance clothing – performance sacrificed comfort, comfort sacrificed performance. What they landed on is a blend of Viscose from bamboo and polyester, with a little spandex thrown in for good measure. The result is a line of casual performance apparel that remains baby soft while sacrificing nothing.The first thing you notice when handling or wearing a Free Fly shirt is how soft the material is. Imagine the pain and sting of getting whacked with a long piece of bamboo by a pre-teen who can’t control his strength – this is the exact opposite of that. We’re talking baby peach fuzz, kitten fur, bottomless pit of goose down soft. Free Fly hypes their product as the “softest performance shirts imaginable,” and although that is quite the statement, I’m not sure they’re wrong. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The bamboo blend is also breathable, anti-bacterial (limits smelliness), and biodegradable. This is all great stuff, but the real appeal is the feeling of the fabric against the skin, which makes one feel all warm and gooey inside. Put one of these on after it comes out of the dryer and you might melt it feels so good.Free Fly makes t-shirts, long sleeve t-shirts, Buff-like sun masks, socks, and quarter-zip pullovers out of their unique fabric. The long sleeve work for all seasons, but excels at keeping anglers cool and protected from the sun during the heat of summer. We tested the quarter-zip, which is an excellent all-around mid-layer for anything from chilly mornings on the river to cool mountain evenings around a campfire. Again, so soft on the inside you’ll never want to take it off. As a bonus, Free Fly has designed their apparel with offset seams at the shoulders; a great feature that limits any rubbing or chaffing if you’re wearing a backpack or messenger bag.Bottom line: these guys are all about comfort and it shows.Check out Free Fly’s full line of products here.last_img read more

Cardinal Gin: The Gin and Tonic’s Gin

first_imgBourbon gets all the love these days. Maybe it’s because the world has gone ga-ga for all things Southern, and Bourbon is so awesomely Southern, or maybe it’s because some of the best classic cocktails are made with Bourbon and everyone is ga-ga about craft cocktails. I don’t know. I’m not knocking the brown liquor. I love me some whiskey. I love a Manhattan that takes 2.5 hours to make and costs $17 to drink. I do. But sometimes, when it’s hot (or cold), I like a gin and tonic. A simple, straight to the point, put a lime in it, gin and tonic.Enter Southern Artisan Spirits, a craft distillery out of Kings Mountain, North Carolina that produces Cardinal Gin, a small batch gin that’s practically made for mixing gin and tonic thanks to the 11 different botanicals used in the distilling process—botanicals that aren’t hidden behind the liquor’s punch, but actually play a part in the complex flavor of the gin. Instead of heavy juniper notes, you get a variety of floral and citrus. This won’t be your go-to gin for martinis, but a gin and tonic? That’s Cardinal’s wheel house. And if you don’t believe me, believe this: Cardinal Gin won double gold in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition last year. Southernartisanspirits.comFollow Graham Averill’s adventures in drinking and Dad-hood at daddy-drinks.comlast_img read more