USA Today Editorial: Solar Tariffs Would Do More Harm Than Good FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享USA Today:Any day now, President Trump is expected to decide whether to punish China with tariffs on cheap solar cells and panels it exports to America.For a president who raged against China during the presidential campaign, calling its mounting trade deficit with the United States “the greatest theft in the history of the world,” it might be tempting to finally substitute action for rhetoric. But a decision to slap big import taxes on the Chinese-made solar parts would be a serious mistake, one likely to kill far more American jobs than it saves. Artificially raising prices on imported solar cells and panels would hurt a burgeoning domestic solar industry that employs the kind of “forgotten” Americans whom Trump champions: small contractors who employ blue-collar workers earning a median of $26 an hour; one in 10 are veterans. Tariffs would also stifle a rising sector generating the cleanest of energies.If China wants to subsidize the greening of America’s power grid, so be it.More: Solar Tariffs Would Do More Harm Than Good
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Economist:Solar power played almost no part in Vietnam’s energy mix in 2017. To speed the technology’s adoption, the government offered that year to pay suppliers a generous $0.09 for every kilowatt-hour produced by big solar farms, but only if they started operations within the following two years. It expected some 850mw of capacity to be installed. Instead, by the end of 2019 the country found itself with 5 gigawatts—more than Australia, with an economy almost six times the size.The surge is all the more surprising given the terms on offer from Vietnam Electricity (evn), the cash-strapped state-owned enterprise that runs the national grid. Although the government’s “feed-in tariff” was tempting given that costs typically amount to $0.05-0.07 a kilowatt-hour, evn only promised to pay for the power it needed on any given day. Developers worried that potential investors would balk at that. As it turned out, they leapt at the chance to cash in on Vietnam’s hunger for power.The Vietnamese economy has been growing by 5-7% a year for the past two decades. The government has plans to double power generation by 2030, but estimates that supply may run short as soon as next year. It needs to find new sources of power as soon as possible.Coal is the cornerstone of Vietnam’s energy supply. Under current plans, the fleet of coal-fired power plants will soon triple. But construction has been dogged by regulatory delays, local opposition and flagging investor interest. Building a new plant takes the better part of a decade. Solar farms, in contrast, incite far less opposition and take about two years to build.Environmentalists hope that solar’s success will persuade the government to scale back its ambitions for coal-fired plants. Later this year it is due to release new targets for generation capacity in 2030. Wind and solar have almost already met their current goal of providing 10% of power, ten years ahead of schedule. They could easily eat into the 43% share allotted to coal at present. Analysts assume, after all, that prices are likely to continue to move in renewables’ favour. Wood Mackenzie, a consultancy, thinks power from large solar farms in South-East Asia will be at least as cheap as that from almost all coal plants within five years. Given that coal plants have lifespans measured in decades, Vietnam and others risk locking in unduly expensive generation capacity.Vietnam’s experience suggests that not all the planned coal plants will be built. Even if that proves correct, South-East Asia will still have a lot more coal-fired generation than environmental activists would like. But solar’s sudden spark in Vietnam should at least change officials’ views of what is possible.More: Vietnam grapples with an unexpected surge in solar power Solar surge in Vietnam could undercut need for new coal plants
BNP Paribas tightens restrictions on coal-related lending, plans 2030 exit FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):BNP Paribas SA expanded its target to end relationships with customers that use coal to generate electricity by the end of 2030 to all Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, the French bank said in a May 11 statement.BNP Paribas said it will no longer accept any new customers with a coal-related revenue share of more than 25%. The policy is expected to halve the number of BNP Paribas corporate customers using coal for a share of their electricity generation.“BNP Paribas is the first bank in the world that has set a coal-exit date, decided to end the financing of shale-gas and tar-sands specialists, and acquired a leading position in financing renewable-electricity projects,” BNP Paribas director and CEO Jean-Laurent Bonnafé said. “Beyond coal and unconventional hydrocarbons, we are putting in place innovative tools that will enable us to systematically introduce environmental criteria into our lending decisions and align our portfolio with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.”The provisions include loans and financing through financial markets.The company has been gradually tightening its criteria around funding for companies with ties to coal since 2011. BNP Paribas said it has not financed a single new coal-fired power plant anywhere in the world since 2017. In 2019, the bank adopted cutoff dates for customers to stop using coal by 2030 in the European Union and by 2040 for the rest of the world. BNP Paribas said it will continue its commitment to end relations with any customer developing new coal-based production capacity in the near future.Banks, insurers and other financial institutions have increasingly distanced themselves from the coal sector with pledges to stop investing in or providing services to coal companies. Major financial institutions including BlackRock Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have recently rolled out policies that restrict or exclude business with the coal sector.[Taylor Kuykendall]More ($): BNP Paribas speeds move toward complete coal exit with new, tighter restrictions
Population: 8,191Public lands: Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area, Virginia Creeper TrailOutdoor Highlights: Appalachian Trail, Virginia Creeper Trail, Holston River, Hidden Valley Lake
Have a playboat that’s been itching for a good surf but no where to go? It won’t be long until the brand new Whitewater Play Park below Pennsylvania’s Holtwood Dam can fulfill all your paddler desires.After ages in the making with the help of PPL Electric, the Holtwood Play Park is just about ready to finally open its doors to the public. In years past, whitewater kayakers flocked to the dam for the unique playboating opportunities that high river flows offered. But due to recent hydroelectric expansions – which have done a great service for the environment but also hurt whitewater conditions– this stomping ground no longer held the same potential. The changes involved eliminating a set boulders that stood just past the dam, which helped to form the once-popular natural play area.Local kayakers and paddlers all along the East coast alike have felt the loss of such an outstanding playboating hub. Here is where the park comes in: three artificial features will attempt to make up for the blow to the whitewater community. So far, it seems to be living up to that goal. Experts in freestyle kayaking have been testing the area over the course of the past few weeks, making adjustments as needed, and have walked away more than satisfied with the replacement.The new park builds off of the western side of the dam, and includes two whitewater waves and a large hole before rejoining the natural flow of the river. The features have been specially constructed with experienced paddlers in mind, and allows for every playboater’s favorite tricks: surfs, spins, loops, squirts, cartwheels, and enders all take the stage here.The area is limited to these intermediate and advanced paddlers. Swimmers and tubers are not allowed, and complete beginners are discouraged. The park, because of its manmade nature, also lacks the natural hazards that can detract from playboating and make the sport more dangerous. Without these potential distractions and dangers, playboaters are free to enjoy the park to its fullest extent.Artificial parks like the one at Holtwood Dam have been building credibility in the paddling community over the past few years because of these substantial benefits, and by now have popped up in communities all across the country. Some of the most popular include the Charlotte Whitewater Center in North Carolina (where the U.S. National and Olympic teams practice) the Columbus Whitewater Park in Georgia (the longest urban whitewater park in the world), and the East Race Waterway in Indiana (the first whitewater park in the country). The Holtwood Dam Park will soon join the ranks of these manmade thrills, and East coast boaters are eager to see how it measures up.PPL Electric has promised to release waters into the park for a fixed 264 hours per year, to keep from losing too much money or harming the surrounding environment. The full release schedule is available on the PPL site. Join your fellow boaters in celebrating the Holtwood Dam this fall – you could be part of the inaugurating class!Photos courtesy of Holtwood Whitewater Park media, www.facebook.com/pages/holtwood-whitewater-park
Blount County, Tennessee, sits in a sweet spot in the Smoky Mountains. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) takes up the southeastern third of the county, forming a wild and formidable playground. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, to the northeast, offer a bit of flashing-lights-airbrushed-shirt-kettle-corn reverie (plus Dollywood, a legit excellent amusement park). Knoxville presents city distractions and is an outdoorsy locale in its own right. But Blount County and its pastoral charm, friendly faces and abundant natural distractions—fly fishing, cycling, hiking, tubing (hey, you gotta’ have a little lazy time, right?)—make it the place to be. Pack the cooler, put the bike on the rack and get your road trip playlist queued up, it’s time to head to Tennessee.Tubing Townsend, TN.Day 1Show up early because one way or another, it’s a big first day. Anglers and those with the desire to try fly fishing in a place guaranteed to wow you with the scenery at the very least, head to Maryville, the largest town in Blount County (and home of the airport serving Knoxville and the region), where Frontier Anglers awaits. This fly fishing guide service can point you to some great spots or they can take you out on guided wading or float trips for trout and bass. They fish in the National Park (some prime streams there) or tail waters like the Clinch, Holston and Caney Fork Rivers. (You can also make your 48 hours simple and stick with Frontier for a two-day fishing and camping extravaganza, but save it for another trip). Spend the whole day or part of it on the water, then head to Townsend, 30 minutes east. Or start off with a big hike. How big? Iconic big. The hike to Rocky Top (yes, that Rocky Top) is 12 miles round trip and gets you on the AT, and it makes for a big day (or a speed hike with a return in the dark if you try to make an afternoon of it). The payout is a spectacular view where, on a clear day, you can get an idea of what the Smoky Mountains are all about. Take lunch at Barbob’s Burgermaster Drive-in where a monster burger—and fries ad a shake—will satisfy and fuel you up for the afternoon ahead. The hike to Abram’s Falls, in GSMNP’s Cades Cove, is an easy one—5 miles out and back—so make that the afternoon delight. Drive into the park, make for the 11-mile loop that is Cades Cove and enjoy the crowds (it can become a bit of a traffic jam as people who act as if they’ve never seen a tree or field stop for photos every 100 yards) as you circle to the halfway point of the park and the trailhead. The falls aren’t big, only 20’, but there’s a lot of water flowing over them, which means no swimming as the current is strong at the base of the falls. Hike back to the car and head out of Cades Cove, stopping for another short hike near the picnic area or campground.Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.Camping in Cades Cove is an option, if you can get a campsite (it fills up fast), but go back to Townsend and stay at one of the cabins, a flashy mountain resort, or one of the bargain-priced chain hotels. Wherever you lay your head, clean up and grab dinner. Trailhead Steakhouse serves a decent steak (and an all you can eat salad bar if you’re feeling the need for roughage), Chicken House has some good fried chicken, and Riverstone Restaurant is one part down-home cooking, one part burgers. Day 2Get up early and go back to Cades Cove. On Wednesday and Saturday mornings from May to late September, the loop is closed to auto traffic until 10 a.m., which means you can rent a bike (get there early, like 6:30 a.m. early to rent a good bike) or bring your own and ride the loop at your own pace and without the threat of gawking drivers who aren’t used to cyclists being around. Riding this early means great photo opportunities, plenty of wildlife (deer, bear, fox…), and the chance to see some of the historic buildings—churches, homesteads, cabins, schoolhouses—before the crowds get there. Bear in mind it is an 11 mile loop, so if you’re not used to cycling, pace yourself.The Palmer Church in Cades CoveIf you are used to biking and you brought your own mountain bike, you can do something a little different: ride out of Cades Cove on Rich Mountain Road. You’ll want to shuttle one car to the parking area at the end, near Townsend, and drive you and the bikes to Cades Cove in the morning, but it would make for a fun ride. The road is a wide, gravel track up and over the mountains. Bear, deer and turkey are frequent sights on Rich Mountain Road, and there are a few good overlooks providing panoramic views of the Smokies and Cades Cove. (If you’re feeling like you need a little more of a leg workout, bring your boots and take one of the hikes to Indian Grave Gap or Rich Mountain Trail.) This isn’t singletrack riding, so don’t expect anything technical aside from the gravel surface and the chance encounter with a bear, but it is an unusual ride in the national park.Rich Mountain Trail.That afternoon, cool off, after all you biked and it’s warm. In Townsend there are five places where you can rent tubes and go for a float on the Little River. It lives up to its name as it’s a gentle float with plenty of places to splash and swim and wash the trail dust off.You can also head underground to Tuckaleechee Caverns where it’s always 58˚. The tour groups can get a little big, but if you’re there later in the season, things slow down a bit (so much so they close for winter and reopen in spring). The cave was discovered by two boys who would slither in and play by the stream running through the cavern, but you don’t have to play nightcrawlers to get in, there’s a nice entrance and a steep set of steps leading into the depths, where you’ll be wowed by the dual nature of the cavern (there’s a wet and dry side) and one humongous room—seriously, it’s almost a cubic football field—where they turn out all the lights and give you a taste of real darkness. The Best of the RestStayDancing Bear LodgeTremont Lodge and ResortBest Western Cades Cove InnDineDancing Bear Appalachian BistroCountry Steak N’ EggsLittle River BBQLibations and NightlifeMake your own, brother. Stop in at The Casual Pint in Maryville for a good selection of bottled beers.Related Content:
If you love sunglasses as much as this squirrel, then you’re in the right place to win a pair of your own.This week only, we’ve teamed up with Native Eyewear to give three lucky winners a pair of shades. With six styles to choose from, there is something for everyone. Whether you’re the ultra-athlete rocking the Catamounts on the trails or lounging by the pool with a margarita and cigar sporting the El Jefes, you will be looking good doing it! Did I mention that they are polarized?To see the shades and enter the contest, check out our post on Instagram below! Best of luck and happy summer.
Tennessee Valley Authority contractor sued over coal ash cleanup Armadillos are native to Central and South America but have expanded their range into the southeastern United States. The first armadillo was spotted in NC in 2007. Since the armadillo was first observed, there have been over 170 reported sightings in 40 NC counties. Because of the warming climate, armadillos have been able to survive in more northern territories. Man dives to the deepest place on earth and finds plastic A retired Army veteran made the deepest dive into the ocean ever by a human in a submarine and what he discovered was not a new ocean species of fish or plant but trash. Victor Vescovo traveled nearly 36,000 feet below sea level into the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on Earth, only to discover what appeared to be plastic litter on the ocean floor. Vescovo is now trying to confirm that the material that he saw was plastic. This is only the third time that humans have descended into the deepest part of the ocean and Vescovo’s discovery is troubling. Each year, an estimated 18 billion pounds of plastic waste finds its way into the ocean. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is asking the public to report any sightings of nine-banded armadillos to determine the range of the animal in the state. Anyone who spots an armadillo in North Carolina is asked to take a photo and upload it to the NC armadillo project on the app iNaturalist or to send an email to [email protected] Information the public is asked to collect includes the photo, the time and date the armadillo was observed, and the location it was spotted (GPS coordinates are best if available.) The contractor hired by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to clean up the nation’s largest coal ash spill is being sued again for allegations that they did not do enough to protect cleanup workers. Jacobs Engineering was hired to oversee cleanup efforts of the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash slurry spill, which released 1.1 billion gallons of coal fly ash slurry into the Emory River and surrounding landscape. Coal ash workers say Jacobs Engineering did not do enough to keep them safe and are suing the company for wrongful death. North Carolina agency asks the public to report armadillo sightings The newest lawsuit was filed on behalf of 119 cleanup workers and their families and five workers who died before the lawsuit was filed. In at least one case the lawsuit alleges that an autopsy has shown that a cleanup worker died from black lung, although the man had never worked in a coal mine. Jacobs Engineering denies the claim, saying testing at the site showed that cleanup workers were not exposed to dangerous levels of silica, found concentrated in coal dust.
Photo: Algonquin Peak as viewed from Indian Falls along Mt Marcy hiking trail. Algonquin Peak is the second-highest mountain in New York, and one of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks in Adirondack Park courtesy of Getty Images by Ultima_Gaina Silver Run Falls Trail on North Carolina’s Nantahala Ranger District will close temporarily beginning August 24 for trail maintenance, the Forest Service said in a news release. The trail is expected to reopen September 5, 2020. During the trail’s closure there will be no public access and the pull out off Highway 107 south of Cashiers will also be closed. Alyssa Godesky of Charlottesville, Virginia has set a new women’s record for summiting all of the Adirondack 46 High Peaks, North Country Public Radio reports. Godesky completed the feat in 3 days, 16 hours, and 16 minutes, covering 160 miles and tackling more than 67,000 feet of elevation gain. Godesky also holds the women’s supported fastest known time of Vermont’s Long Trail. “Hopefully putting myself out there and going for [the record] encourages other women to get out more in the mountains and get competitive in the mountains because it’s such a great place to get fit,” she told NCPR. “That’s what I love to do and if I can inspire anyone else by seeing my run, if they’re inspired to get out and go hike a peak, then it’s well worth it.” Preliminary data shows that the highest temperature ever recorded on earth may have been registered at the Furnace Creek visitor center at Death Valley National Park on August 16, 2020. An automated weather station recorded a temperature of 129.9 F, a temperature remarkable even in Death Valley, where highs regularly reach into the triple digits. The previous global record high for August was 127.9 F, recorded in Mitribah, Kuwait in 2011. The world’s highest recorded temperature ever may have happened this month in Death Valley Silver Run Falls trail in Nantahala Ranger District closed temporarily If the temperature recorded on August 16 is confirmed, it will be the planet’s third-highest temperature on record, the World Meteorological Organization says. However, the accuracy of the two higher readings are under debate, meaning that this month’s temperature may be the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth. Virginia woman sets record for summiting all the Adirondack 46 High Peaks
By Dialogo June 23, 2009 Bogotá, 20 June (EFE).- The eleven Colombian police and military personnel rescued almost a year ago in Operation Jaque spoke today about their “rebirth” and about how they struggle daily to rebuild their lives after having been kidnapped by the FARC, in some cases for more than a decade. The commander of the Colombian armed forces, Gen. Freddy Padilla, brought them all together today in Bogotá for a small recognition ceremony, and each one spoke about his life in freedom. Major Juan Carlos Bermeo got married recently, Sgt. Amaón Flórez is studying French, and Police Sgt. Julio César Buitrago says that he is catching up on new technology. They share many things, but one above all: the desire to make up for the time that the FARC took away from them prior to 2 July 2008, the day they were rescued by the army, together with former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. contractors. “Sometimes you want to do more than you can, trying to make up for lost time,” EFE was told by Major Bermeo, who has finished a semester of university studies and has taken various courses during the last year, besides getting married. For Sergeant Flórez, who admits being “filled with happiness,” has been most important to reunite with his loved ones in the last year, because, he comments, in the case of a kidnapping lasting over ten years like his, “the family falls apart; some go in one direction and others in another.” Flórez told EFE that the experiences of captivity cannot be forgotten in a year, but he believes that things are going “very well” for him, and he is concentrating on his studies and on moving forward “helping” the country. “What is most important is being reborn, starting over,” emphasized Sergeant Buitrago, who upon recovering his freedom was faced with the fact that his daughters were already almost teenagers and who therefore acknowledged that “it’s not easy to get close to them; they didn’t grow up with their dad.” Buitrago, amazed at the “technological advances” that have taken place since he was kidnapped, explains that he has an email account and an account on the social-networking site Facebook. In addition, he thinks that Bogotá, his home, “appears more organized. You don’t see as much poverty, as much garbage” as before. “On the social level it has changed a lot, the same as with security,” in his opinion. Sgt. José Miguel Arteaga’s plans are to study veterinary medicine and have “about three” children with Nancy Torres, his wife, whom he met a few days after Jaque Operation in the bank where she works. At the moment he is studying systems management and French, and he says that both Nancy and his family have been his great supports in overcoming the difficulties of returning to freedom. Sgt. William Pérez, a friend and nurse of Betancourt during her captivity, knows those difficulties very well, given that for him adjusting to life outside the jungle continues to be a “long” and “difficult” process. “You can’t find things to talk about with your family. We didn’t talk about the kidnapping,” he commented to EFE. He also indicated that he has been able to eat very little for a month, that he has been unable to watch television because it gave him a headache, and that he woke up in the middle of night when he heard the sound of an airplane. According to Pérez, who still has occasional nightmares, “more aftereffects” of the kidnapping will probably appear with the upcoming first anniversary of Jaque Operation. “I talk to Ingrid (Betancourt) every week,” Pérez revealed, adding that he maintains a friendship with her and is pained by the criticism that the former presidential candidate has received from other fellow captives. With regard to the hostages still held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Major Bermeo is optimistic and believes that they will recover their freedom soon. Along the same lines, Sergeant Flórez expressed the opinion that it is indeed possible to put an end to the FARC and to other groups “on the fringes of the law” that have done a great deal of damage to Colombia, for which reason he appealed to all his fellow citizens for unity and “greater efforts” to obtain peace. “The guerrillas have no arguments any more for not freeing those who are there.” With the rescue of Betancourt, who was “their trophy,” the FARC “have nothing with which to pressure or blackmail the state,” Buitrago reflected. “There’s only going to be one Jaque Operation, but there are lots of people working every day to bring back home those who are left,” Sergeant Pérez stated.