Op Ed: It’s Time To Prohibit Self-Bonding By Coal Companies FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Caspar Star Tribune:This past month a completely unknown and unproven company called Blackjewel, LLC “bought” two of Wyoming’s oldest and biggest coal mines. More particularly, they were given the mines in exchange for assuming their cleanup risks and some hypothetical future royalties. They acquired the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines near Gillette from another new and unproven company called Contura Energy, spawned just last year when Alpha Natural Resources went through bankruptcy and spun off what it called its “crown jewel” Wyoming assets. Now the crown jewels aren’t looking so shiny and Contura is unloading them at a loss because these mines are liabilities. Instead, Contura will concentrate on its metallurgical coal business in the East.Hopefully, the one thing that should not be a problem going forward is bonding to assure clean up and reclamation of the mines. Thanks to a settlement agreement with the Department of Interior during Alpha’s bankruptcy, Contura wasn’t allowed to self-bond. Instead of continuing to hide, as Alpha had done, behind the chimera of a self-guarantee – really nothing more than an uncollectible IOU — Contura was forced to back Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr’s reclamation work with surety bonds and letters of credit from third-party financial institutions. Blackjewel should be required to do the same as a condition of the sale before the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) lets them take over the mine permits. This would insure there will be money available for reclamation jobs if Blackjewel were to walk away from its cleanup obligations while these bonds are still in effect.The recent history of the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines demonstrates one thing: their cleanup liabilities are nearly as high as (and possibly higher than) their value as operating mines. This loudly underscores that Wyoming regulators must not continue to allow self-bonding.If uncertainties and a down market continue to plague the coal industry as economists nearly unanimously predict, self-bonds will remain worthless promises and Wyoming will pay the price. Unless Wyoming prohibits them now, the next time mines change hands and weaker and weaker mine owners go bankrupt, we will not be so lucky.Self-bonding has no place in a regulatory scheme that was created to ensure the worst-case never happens. Taxpayers were never meant to be left holding the bag for hundreds of millions of dollars in reclamation work. America’s coal mining regulations were born in the late 1970s when abandoned and un-reclaimed mines were strewn across the country. Congress created an abandoned mine land fee to clean up past messes and required reclamation bonds to prevent future mines from being abandoned without reclamation. But the law also contained a loophole allowing states to accept self-bonds in the place of reliable third-party guarantees. Although Montana and other states showed the foresight to prohibit self-bonding, Wyoming became the No. 1 user in the country of self-bonding IOUs. Three years ago when Alpha, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal all declared bankruptcy, there was more than $2.4 billion of reclamation work in our state not covered by collectible insurance.With the lessons of these bankruptcies fresh in our memory, DEQ is considering an important step to update Wyoming’s reclamation bond rules. The update proposes to remove loopholes that allow companies to qualify for self-bonds when they really shouldn’t. DEQ’s proposed rules are an important change that would reduce risk to our citizens and our state treasury. Unfortunately, there will always be some risk from self-bonding until Wyoming totally eliminates the practice. As DEQ moves forward with their new rules, the agency needs to eliminate ALL self-bonding for ALL new coalmine permits and ALL permit renewals. Colorado has recently taken steps to limit self-bonding after the Peabody and Arch bankruptcies, and Wyoming should follow their example.–Bob LeResche is vice chair of the Powder River Basin Resource Council and a board member of the Western Organization of Resource Councils. He is a former commissioner of Natural Resources for the state of Alaska and executive director of the Alaska Energy Authority.More: Contura Sale Underscores Need to End Self Bonding
By Dialogo April 11, 2011 The U.S. Army is looking at ways to improve a special rucksack designed to carry a robotic vehicle on a Soldier’s back. The XM1216 Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle weighs less than 30 pounds and is finding many uses across the Army. Soldiers carry the SUGV into urban terrain, tunnels, sewers, and caves where the mission may be manpower-intensive or high-risk. The SUGV helps save lives by becoming mobile eyes and ears, or even detecting chemical or toxic agents. Officials from the Army’s Program Executive Office Integration recently contacted the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Prototype Integration Facility at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. to see what engineers could do to streamline the rucksack. The inventive team at the PIF evaluated the gear and came up with a solution to hastily remove the SUGV from the rucksack and get it operational in less than two minutes. The current design has the SUGV housed in the MOLLE-Rucksack. Soldiers commonly refer to the rucksack as a Molly, but it is an acronym for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. Soldier carry the MOLLE as a backpack attached to a frame. “We don’t cut corners when there are lives on the line,” says Government Project Lead TJ LaPointe. LaPointe said his team refinined the backpack design to make it easier and less time-consuming. “I have the best job in the world, being able to support and save those men and women out there fighting for all of us,” he said. “I am very proud to be involved in everything the PIF is doing for the Warfighter, and so are the rest of us that work here.” Officials also received input from the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center’s engineering and industrial operations staff. The PIF team installed a zipper on each side of the rucksack and removed the drawstring located at the top. “The zippers allow for a much more fluid removal of the SUGV,” LaPointe said. Before, Soldiers removed the SUGV from the top of the rucksack. The zippers, as well as additional strapping and quick-release buckles, are the same components currently used on the rucksack. As the PEOI Soldier representative, Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Faddis provides a unique perspective, giving civilian scientist a Soldier’s view of the technology they develop. He said the redesign is impressive. “My first thought was that it looked like they took the time to do the zippers correctly,” he said. “It was very professionally done.” The PIF team also designed a quick-release strapping system, that attaches the SUGV unit directly to the rucksack frame, which eliminates the need for the rucksack. Both products will be tested by Soldiers soon to get additional feedback on the effectiveness of the new PIF designs. Based on feedback, the Army will move forward with fielding the new gear.
Other areas with LSIs were Negros Occidental (4,654), Capiz (4,066), Iloilo province (2,945), Aklan (2,591), Iloilo City (924), Bacolod City (663), and Guimaras (339). “We will use it as a temporary receiving area in case of mass arrivals,” he said. Trips to the region were temporarily suspended for two weeks beginning June 28 upon the order of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, Iloilo province at 2,465 has the most number of repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). As of July 2, 6,864 overseas workers have been repatriated to Region 6. Of these, 94 or 1.4 percent were positive for COVID-19 in RT-PCT tests. * Iloilo province – 55 “Decrease your mobility because we have no idea of the pending result,” Reyes stressed. Other areas with repatriated OFWs were Bacolod City (831), Capiz (821), Iloilo City (813), Aklan (759), Antique (547), Negros Occidental (489), and Guimaras (199). * Guimaras – eight Most of the LSIs and repatriated OFWs were from Metro Manila and Cebu. Region 6 has 389 cases as of yesterday (Aklan, six; Antique, 15; Capiz, six; Guimaras, zero; Iloilo province, 40; Negros Occidental, five; Bacolod City, 11; Iloilo City, 35; repatriates, 271). Nuñez said he was looking for a warehouse within Iloilo that can be converted into a quarantine facility to accommodate around 100 people. * Antique – five LGUs should prepare quarantine facilities and the extraction of specimens from returning LSIs. * Aklan – five * Iloilo City – 42 Data from DOH-6 as of yesterday showed the following areas with COVID-19-positive LSIs and OFWs (combined to reach 271 cases): Office of Civil Defense regional director Jose Roberto Nuñez said they expected more than 40,000 LSIs. ILOILO City – At 5,381, the province of Antique has the most number of locally stranded individuals (LSI) in Western Visayas, data from the Department of Health (DOH) Region 6 showed. Local government units (LGUs) in Western Visayas were advised recently to prepare for the arrival of more LSIs once airline and boat trips resume. Dr. Renilyn Reyes, head of DOH-6’s Public Health Program Development, said LSIs and OFWs must strictly observe 14 days of quarantine upon their return. She also said individuals subjected to confirmatory RT-PCR test should have themselves quarantined while waiting for the result. As of July 2, 21,563 LSIs have returned to Region 6 since April. Of these, 150 or 0.65 percent were found positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in RT-PCT (real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests. * Negros Occidental – 113 * Capiz – two * Bacolod City – 41 Meanwhile, he said the region needs a lot of RT-PCR test kits./PN
DES MOINES — As state ag officials work to create the rules for industrial hemp production, Iowa farmers are weighing whether the crop would be a good fit in their operations.Christopher Disbro, founder of the Iowa Hemp Association, says he’s excited about the opportunity for the state’s farmers who he hopes can begin growing the crop during the 2020 planting season.“It’s an emerging market and it’s an expanding market but there is a market for it and it’s that potential for growth where we want our farmers getting involved,” Disbro says. “In the beginning stages, a lot of the markets focused on the pressed seed oil that goes into beauty products or food products. There’s a lot of people using existing infrastructure to do fiber and textiles.”Dispro says industrial hemp has a wide range of uses and it holds many opportunities for the state’s growers.“Long-term, it’s not just food and fiber, it’s fuel, it’s bioplastics,” Disbro says. “It’s got real potential to be a really strong third rotational crop for Iowa and for Midwest farmers.”Studies find the production of industrial hemp could grow nationally to be a $1.9 billion dollar market by 2022, well beyond just fabric, fuel and rope.“I love a lot of the hemp beauty products, specifically the shampoos and hand lotions, they really make great product,” Disbro says. “We should never have to cut down another tree for paper. I try to use as much hemp paper as I can. It’s got a nice feel to it. It’s a little thicker, a little more substantial.”Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill into law earlier this month to legalize industrial hemp production. Iowa farmers won’t be able to legally grow hemp until the USDA approves the proposed regulatory plan being created by the Iowa Department of Agriculture.
… says poor people will sufferOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has warned the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For ChangeOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo(APNU/AFC) Government that Guyana’s economy could soon hit rock bottom – a situation that would affect every citizen – and that a well planned out approach is urgently needed to keep this from happening.He made this pronouncement on Wednesday, even as he called on the Administration to “wake up” and acknowledge the problem so that a remedy could be derived.Jagdeo was at the time addressing journalists at the Party’s head office on Robb Street.According to the former President, with the current state of affairs, Government is failing to address the needs of the people.“Things are going to get worse, because we have a Government that is not acknowledging the problem. And if they don’t acknowledge it, they can’t fix it,” the Opposition Leader said.He said there is no doubt the economy will slide further “if these people do not wake up. They can wake up”, he said, continuing that it is not just supporters of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) that are hurting, “all Guyanese are hurting. People are losing their cars, they cannot pay their monthly installments for their cars and homes etc. It’s not a partisan thing, everybody will be affected,” he stressed.Jagdeo reminded of Government’s promise that the just concluded jubilee celebration would have seen a boom in the economy. However, there has been no indication of this.“My argument is that they can arrest this, they can change this, they can change the narrative around the economy. They can change the policies that would promote investments etc. It is within their hands to send the right signal that would say to everybody that it is time that we spend our money,” the former President posited.Jagdeo said he could not understand the logic behind the recent pronouncement by the Finance Minister that there is now a slowdown in the economy because there has been a slowdown in the flow of “drug money”.“I saw the central bank trying to talk up the economy a little bit, maybe following directions from the Minister. But this Minister is confused. Once he says there must be a slowdown, this must be a PPP propaganda. But what slowdown is he talking about?” Then a week later after he was fed some excuse that it is drug money, that its got to be about drug money. So he’s moving from there’s no slowdown to that there is a slowdown, but with drug money.”He said this assertion has caused the President to say recently that most of the huge buildings under construction have some link to illegal proceeds.“So people come to me and I say to them hold on to your money if you have money, because we don’t know where this is going… I would say to businessmen, do not put up another building in the city, because every time you do that and the President drives by, he will think that it is coming from drug money or illegal proceeds, then [Special Organised Crime Unit] SOCU might visit you,” Jagdeo said.According to Jagdeo, while opposition leaders would be happy that the economy is sliding, it is not the same for his Party, since “we want to make sure that the economy keeps sticking.”Meanwhile, Jagdeo took to task the recent statement made by the Finance Minister that any bailout of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) could affect Government’s ability to pay public servants.“Are they going to pay the public servants, and how much are they going to pay them. That’s the question. Nagamootoo said they had money set aside for over 100 per cent increase in salary for public servants. When those payments will be effected?” he asked.He continued, saying “nobody is fights for the public servants. Many of them thought they had a champion in APNU. The President said some of them are lazy and they cannot expect high salaries. Is this not prejudicial to the negotiation? Is that statement going to be used to give the public servant paltry increases in salary? So when are they going to effect the payout to public servants? he again questioned.“Here is Jordan talking about some bailout of sugar affecting public servants, but he has just exposed the treasury to over 600 million of liability”, the former Head of State said.