Month: December 2020

Time Appears to Be Running Out for Colstrip Units in Montana

first_imgTime Appears to Be Running Out for Colstrip Units in Montana FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Jay Kohn for KTVQ (Billings):Two separate actions, by two separate state legislatures, could lead to the future closure of all four coal-fired power plants at Colstrip, Montana.In Oregon, the state legislature passed a bill this week that sets a deadline for Oregon utilities to eliminate coal-fired electricity within 20 years.In Washington state, a bill that paves the way to close the two oldest coal-fired plants in Colstrip, passed the House of Representatives Friday afternoon.The bill allows Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to use a special fund to cover the costs of closing Colstrip plants 1 & 2.PSE, which owns half of Colstrip Units 1 & 2,, is the largest electric utility in Washington state.Supporters of the Colstrip plants say both measures are bad news for the plants future, although the Washington bill could have impacts much sooner.A spokesman for Puget Sound says the bill does not force the closure of Colstrip., but Montana state senator Duane Ankney says he doesn’t trust what Washington officials are saying.“You never get the same story out of anybody over there when you talk to them,” said Ankney.“What I do know, just from being an old coal miner, I know that you can’t count on anything they say,” Ankney said.Meanwhile, an energy economist told the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission Friday that market forces alone, are putting the squeeze on all four Colstrip plants.“Puget Sound Energy has said that Talen Energy, that owns half of Units 1 & 2, is hemorrhaging dollars, and we believe that’s true,” said economist David Schlissel, Director of Resource Planning Analysis for The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).“We also believe the same market and economic forces that are hurting Units 1 & 2 at Colstrip, are affecting Units 3 & 4 as well,” said Schlissel.“We’re not saying they’re going to be retired in the very near future, but their relative economics and financial viability have been weakened,” said Schlissel.Colstrip Power Plants 1 & 2, the oldest of the Montana plants, are co-owned by Puget Sound Energy & Talen Energy, the company that manages & operates the plants.Colstrip Units 3 & 4 are owned by five separate utilities, including Puget Sound, Pacific Corps, Avista, Portland General Electric, Northwestern Energy and Talen.Energy economist David Schlissel also told the Washington commission Friday that due to rising operating costs at Colstrip, Talen Energy’s share in Colstrip Unit 3 now has zero to negative value over the next 20 years.Sen. Ankney told MTN News that he believes the Washington State bill primarily protects Puget Sound Energy shareholders, from paying for the cost of closing Colstrip 1 & 2.Full article: Oregon and Washington legislatures advance bills targeting coal fired powerlast_img read more

New York moves forward with plans to install 3GW of battery storage

first_imgNew York moves forward with plans to install 3GW of battery storage FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Utility Dive:The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) on Monday filed its energy storage implementation plan, which aims to incentivize deployments and help the state meet its 3 GW by 2030 target.The plan targets retail and bulk market storage incentives, allocating $130 million and $150 million toward growth in those sectors, respectively, and proposing the remaining $70 million of a $350 million fund be allocated toward “opportunities that have the greatest potential to build a self-sustaining storage market.”NYSERDA’s filing is “an enormously positive step” in the state’s deployment goals, Bill Acker, executive director of New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST), told Utility Dive. It will advance New York’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and shift to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040, he said.The plans follow Gov. Cuomo’s announcement earlier this month of new emissions regulations aimed at phasing out less efficient power plants and encouraging plant owners to replace the lost capacity with battery storage or other clean energy options. Along with the storage target, the state also wants to add 9,000 MW of offshore wind by 2035 and 6,000 MW of distributed solar by 2025.Under NYSERDA’s plan, “incentives are offered at a fixed amount per AC kWh of usable storage capacity.” Retail incentives can be applied to standalone or paired storage projects of 5 MW or less, considered on a first-come, first-serve basis, starting at $350/kWh and winding down as each funding block is filled.More: NYSERDA targets retail and bulk storage incentives as state aims for 3 GW by 2030last_img read more

Wood Mackenzie projects massive growth in energy storage installations through 2024

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:For the energy storage industry, the past five years have been something of a stage rehearsal for a market explosion to come, led by the U.S. and China, but expanding to cover markets across the globe.That’s the picture painted by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewable’s latest report, Global Energy Storage Outlook 2019: 2018 Year in Review and Outlook to 2024. Tuesday’s report projects that energy storage deployments will grow thirteenfold over the next six years, from a 12 gigawatt-hour market in 2018 to a 158 gigawatt-hour market in 2024.That equates to $71 billion in investment into storage systems excluding pumped hydro, with $14 billion of that coming in 2024 alone. This growth will be concentrated in the United States and China, which will account for 54 percent of global deployments by 2024, followed by Japan, Australia and South Korea in a second tier of growth markets, and Germany, Canada, India and the U.K. rounding out the list.And much like the renewables that are driving their growth, the batteries that make up the lion’s share of new storage systems being deployed are falling in price. That’s positioning them for a much broader integration into grid operations beyond renewables integration, Ravi Manghani, WoodMac’s head of storage research, noted in a Tuesday interview: “Over the last five years, the world began to experiment with storage; in the next five, storage will become a key grid asset.”Last year saw global energy storage deployments grow 147 percent year-over-year to reach 3.3 gigawatts, or 6 gigawatt-hours, the report states. That’s nearly double the average 74 percent compound annual growth rate for the industry from 2013 to 2018. In fact, last year’s deployments made up more than half of the total amount of storage deployed in the past five years, “indicating an inflection in storage demand,” Manghani said.More: Global energy storage to hit 158 gigawatt-hours by 2024, led by U.S. and China Wood Mackenzie projects massive growth in energy storage installations through 2024last_img read more

Transforming Your Life – One Step, One Class, or One Pose at a Time

first_imgLast winter I fell into a rut. Rather then enjoying life’s many blessings, I was simply trying to get through my daily routine: work, home, work, more work at home. My relationships felt off; I was unsatisfied by work and on many days, uncomfortable in my own skin. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed for strength. It is exhausting to be frustrated and uninspired.The yoga studio I had been attending advertised a class to start in the New Year: “Transform Your Life” was an introduction to a new way of living. I friend of mine and I decided to join. Every Tuesday night in January and February we joined 4 women and our teacher in the studio, to share, grow, and nourish body and soul. We became friends, journaled, were reminded to love ourselves and cherish our unique gifts. The class was more than I had hoped, and provided the jump-start I had so longed for. By March, I had engaged in intense self-study and knew for the first time in my adult life, how to build myself up. I felt whole and so happy.Many of my work colleagues and others would twist their lips in doubt as I discussed my class and the blessings that had been revealed on my yoga mat with new friends. My husband listened skeptically as I explained how I wanted to live each day with purpose, intention, placing an emphasis on what I needed to feel connected – quite time, time to pray, write, study.The yoga studio that hosted the class, Uttara, has been in downtown Roanoke for two years.  Our teacher is the studio owner, and my friend, Jill Loftis.A few weeks ago when I decided to write about being a fish out of water, about people who inspire us to go beyond and become our best selves, Jill was the first person who came to mind.Jill has been practicing yoga for over 10 years, and started her teacher training program in 2005.  She shares her love for the practice, and her love of others with the same veracity and spirit.When I asked Jill what lesson yoga has taught her that has most shaped who she is, she explained that now, because of yoga, she knows what makes her feel healthy and strong, as well as what makes her life feel dull and uninspired.  Her practice has even changed the way she thinks about the world and its daily struggles. Yoga helps Jill to step away from the craziness and find ways to detach from it. She explains her practice gives her power over her mind, and the desire “to step away from it and find this endless peace and stillness.”While her explanation may not be familiar to everyone, the goal certainly is. How can we as people, focus on what really matters, and not be pulled into endless worry and drama of daily life?Jill explains (and I whole heartedly agree) that once you’ve gotten a glimpse of a life of peace, that stillness and realize that it is not outside of you, you will have a greater understanding of who you are and why you are here.All that from a yoga class?In my experience, yoga can remind you of that desire to lead a more purposeful life, and once the seed has been planted, change can happen.For those who have never practiced before, or even entered a studio, Jill encourages you to “try a few different classes and instructors.” She compares yoga classes to ice cream wherein “all the flavors are delicious, you just have to find what kind makes you happy.  Maybe you like slow, quiet, meditative yoga; maybe you like to rock out with an intense, sweaty class that blasts Bruce Springsteen.  Either class will take you where you want to go.”Sounds delicious.And what will you need to start? Jill insists you don’t have “to be a natural rubber band to practice,” or have the right gear. “You don’t even need to have a ton of time, or start the practice when you are young,” she explains.She advises that people who are interested and curious not to be afraid; “Start your practice NOW and whatever shape you’re in, whatever age you are, your strength and flexibility will improve.”And really, so much more could improve as well.   If a weekly yoga practice can help a stubborn lawyer like me focus on what really matters, my faith, my family, my purpose, I think the practice can be a blessing to anyone with an open heart or willing spirit. And if you really want to learn from Jill’s years of practice and wisdom, you can Transform Your Life with her new class this fall. Call the studio today or visit online  at, just stop by your local studio and attend a few classes. I know I am so grateful I did.last_img read more

Animal Spirits

first_imgTatonka. The other day an acquaintance shared that she had recently noticed an unusual abundance of spiders in her life. All of a sudden, they seemed to be everywhere, climbing onto her body during yoga, getting stuck in her clothes and hair – in short, being a general nuisance. After overcoming her initial fear and repulsion, she began to view the creatures in another light, wondering about the reason for their sudden presence. Realizing that it’s not spider season in WNC, she came to the conclusion that the spider is her “power animal”. She began to look into myths and stories about these beings and subsequently drew some conclusions about the lessons she could learn from their sudden presence in her life.Which got me thinking – I need a power animal. I mean, how cool is that? The idea of an animal showing up in your life, that you might even view as somewhat pesty, actually being there for a reason. And that you might just learn something about yourself, about life, in the process.This obviously isn’t a new idea. Native cultures have long believed in the healing and guiding relationships between humans and animals, and shamans today continue to seek counsel from animal spirits. According to shamanic practice, each animal has something unique to offer, and unbeknownst to most humans, we each have a power animal that accompanies us throughout our lives, acting almost as a guardian angel. When we discover what this creature is, we can learn from its lessons and gifts.Obviously, some – okay, many – people consider this to be a bunch of New Age nonsense. Maybe it is – who am I to say? But I figure it can’t hurt to look into it a bit. Maybe I do have a power animal. If so, I’d hate to leave it hanging without checking out what it’s been trying to say to me.I think about the wild animals that have visited me lately. Is it the yearling bear that keeps hanging out in the backyard – or is he simply after the birdfeeder and compost bin? Maybe the buffaloes that seemed to follow us around last summer in Yellowstone. We nicknamed them the Three Amigos and got frustrated when they blocked traffic for hours on end. I hope it’s not the ants that invaded my pantry when I left a loaf of banana bread uncovered. Yes, that’s right – power animals can be insects. When I imagine my power animal, I picture something wild and free, a hawk soaring overhead, a bobcat darting through the forest. Not a common creepy-crawly that would typically warrant a call to the exterminator. I’m sorry, ants, but if you’re my power animals I’m going to have to call in a replacement. Call me shallow, but I need a power animal that can inspire.Failing to identify a power animal that’s made its presence known in my life, I decided to seek outside help in locating my spirit guide. I could enlist a shaman to help with this process, but since I don’t know any qualified spiritualists, I turned to the trusty internet. Turns out there are all sorts of nifty online ways of finding your animal, from quizzes to intuitive sites where you move your cursor over a peaceful scene and your animal appears.According to one on-line survey, my animal is the wolverine. Apparently I’m fearless, assertive, and tenacious. Nobody messes with wolverines. Not bad, but I’m not sure it fits, especially when I read on to learn that I would make a good Marine or middle linebacker. Onto the next quiz…The buffalo spirit. Once again, I’m described as strong-willed, even stubborn. I’m noticing a trend here. Apparently I’m also social and compassionate – I guess that could explain my career as a social worker. But the buffalo is described as laid back, which I could never claim to be. Again, this power animal doesn’t feel quite right for me.On the final try, I learned that I am fortunate to have the horse spirit within me. The horse promises to teach me how to balance my caring nature with my equally deep need for freedom and independence. She will help me to learn to relax fully into a peaceful and centered life, but will also help me to run like the wind and allow my soul to fly free when that’s what I need. Now we’re talking!Okay, so what do I do now that I have my power animal identified? I guess I look for the horse’s appearance in my life, searching for hidden messages. Or maybe doing this exercise was enough, helping me to become aware of both my strengths and the qualities that I wish to develop. How about you – which animal spirit speaks to you? Is it the stealthy jaguar, or the wise owl? Maybe the hummingbird, who symbolizes happiness. Next time you’re out in the woods, move quietly and pay attention to the creatures out there with you – who knows what message they may have to share?last_img read more

Beer Blog: A Better Can

first_imgThe beer can is about to get a whole lot better. Well, 22% better.Red Hare Brewing Company, which happens to be located in my home town of Marietta, Georgia, will be the first craft beer company in the world to put their beer in an Evercan, an aluminum can that’s made of a guaranteed 90% recycled content, which results in 22% less CO2 emissions compared to your standard beer can.Red Hare was the first craft brewery in Georgia to put their beer in cans two years ago, and looks to be leading the charge again with this new eco-can. “It is cans for the convenience, quality, and sustainability,” said Roger Davis, owner of Red Hare.I had a chance to try one of Red Hare’s seasonals recently — their Cotton Tail Pale Ale — which is a great warm weather, borderline sessionable ale with just enough citrus and malt to keep it interesting. Sadly, Cotton Tail won’t be getting the Evercan treatment. But you will be able to find Red Hare’s year-round beers (the Gangway IPA, Long Day Lager and Watership Brown) in the Evercan in stores starting in May.Personally, I’m hoping  Red Hare decides to can their Root Beer, which is made from pure cane sugar and has a mellow vanilla edge. It’s delicious, and I think the South could use a carefully crafted can of Root Beer.–Graham Averill writes about the intersection of parenthood and drinking at read more

Blue Ridge Outdoors Top Towns: Cherokee, N.C.

first_imgOne of the several gateway communities of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and headquarters for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee is the ideal launch pad for adventure in the Smokies.Public lands in the area include the Nantahala National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the largest protected area in Appalachia, with more bears per square mile than any other spot in the country. Mingus Mill and the Mountain Farm Museum are located at the Smokies visitor center near Cherokee.Cherokee also provides easy access to both the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail, often serving as a waypoint for trail weary thru-hikers. Flowing right through town is the Ocunaluftee River, popular for tubing and fishing, and just down the road is the Nantahala River, with class III-IV whitewater, and Tsali Recreation Area, a world-class mountain biking destination.Cudas_IB_0814_2DID YOU KNOW? Tsali was the renegade Cherokee leader who fought back against the military roundups of Native Americans who were forcible marched on the Trail of Tears.Vote now at!last_img read more

Renowned ‘Running Man’ Killed in Albemarle County Crash

first_imgPeople in Charlottesville, Virginia and surrounding Albemarle County areas are mourning the loss of a legendary local ‘Running Man’ named Phillip Weber.Weber, recognized for long hours spent pounding the pavement and logging miles on local trails, was pronounced dead yesterday morning after being struck by a passing motorist during a routine run on Ivy Road.Police say the investigation into the crash that killed Charlottesville’s beloved ‘Running Man’ is ongoing, but the driver who was operating the 2001 Isuzu Trooper that struck and ultimately killed Weber has not been charged. Heavy fog has been cited as a reason for the accident.According to WVIR NBC29, Weber routinely logged as much as 5,000 miles a year and more than 125,000 miles during the course of his lifetime—a distance equivalent to five trips around the globe.Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.37.31 PMHe lived alone in a residence along Jefferson Park Avenue, but his near constant running habit brought Weber local celebrity status.“It’s ironic because Phillip was probably the most public runner in our local running world, but he had an intensely private personality,” said Mark Lorenzoni, owner of the Ragged Mountain Running shop, himself a well-known figure in the Charlottesville running community.“Myself and others have been watching him run around the area for close to thirty years now. I’ve always been amazed not only by how much he was running, but by the weather conditions that he braved while logging his miles. There were days when it would be twenty degrees, and the ‘Running Man’ was out there in nothing but a pair of shorts.”Billy Catron is Phillip Weber’s brother-in-law. He has been acting as the intermediary between Weber’s family and the media since the story of his death began to rock Charlotteville early Tuesday morning.Screen shot 2015-12-30 at 2.04.41 PM“Philip was largely a solitary man,” Catron said in an email to Blue Ridge Outdoors. “We as his family rarely saw him, but from all the emails and social media messages I have received, it seems that few people knew him well or knew him beyond his ‘Running Man’ persona.”According to Lorenzoni it was  Weber’s private nature that led to the running community’s fascination with him.“He was probably Charlottesville’s most beloved and recognizable running figure, but no one really knew him personally,” he said. “We are all terribly saddened by the loss of the ‘Running Man’ and inspired by the amazing life he lived.”last_img read more

This Land is Your Land: Our National Parks And Forests Need You Now More Than Ever

first_imgPublic lands and public health are under assault. Here are the eight biggest threats to parks, forests, and wildlands in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic—and eight ways you can protect the places where you play.National Forest PlanThe Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina national forest is the second most-visited national forest in the country, with large tracts of road-free forest, important headwaters, old-growth forest, and native trout habitat. Unfortunately, the latest draft of the Forest Service’s twenty-year management plan will open much of the forest to logging and not adequately protect its most treasured recreational gems.One of those forests—Big Ivy—has received widespread support for an expanded wilderness from mountain bikers, hikers, anglers, hunters, and the local community. County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution advocating for expanded wilderness in Big Ivy, and biologists and wildlife officials have advocated for the wilderness, too—the old-growth forest shelters over 40 rare and endangered. Unfortunately, the Forest Service has not heeded the recommendations of scientists, local leaders, or the general public. Most of Big Ivy remains unprotected in the latest draft of the management plan.Big Ivy is not alone. Other recreational and ecological hotspots like the Black Mountains, Mackey Mountain, and Tusquitee Bald have been largely ignored by the Forest Service in its latest draft. Without protections, these areas will be open to timber harvesting for the next two decades.“Shining Rock Wilderness Area is really heavily used, which shows that people are hungry for that kind of wilderness experience,” says Jill Gottesman, Conservation Specialist with The Wilderness Society. “But it’s not just about wilderness. It’s also about restoration, water quality, cultural heritage, and helping tourism in local gateway communities.”What you can doAttend Forest Service plan meetings and submit comments arguing for stronger forest protections that protect old-growth forests, clean water, and recreational resources. Send comments via email to [email protected] and Gas DrillingIn January, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar proposed H.R. 46, a bill that would open more than 40 national parks to oil and gas drilling, including Tennessee’s Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, West Virginia’s Gauley River National Recreation Area, and the Tennessee’s Obed Wild and Scenic River.There are currently five national park sites in our region that have operating wells, but nine others, including Alabama’s Little River Canyon National Preserve and Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park, are at risk of future development due to the split-estate condition in which the federal government owns the surface lands and private companies own the mineral rights.Oil and gas drilling fragments wildlife migration routes and habitats, leaks into our drinking water, increases erosion and flooding potential, diminishes the outdoor recreation experience, and pollutes the air with methane. Reducing the Park Service’s authority in overseeing these operations results in direct harm to our parks.What you can doTell your members of Congress that you are opposed to the weakening of oil and gas regulations in national parks. In particular, contact Republican Representative Diane Black from the 6th District of Tennessee to express your concerns—Black was one of the six representatives to cosponsor Gosar’s bill: (202) 225-4231.Outdoor Alliance Communications Director Tania Lown-Hecht recommends adding a personal anecdote to any petitions or comments of opposition. Lown-Hecht says it’s easy to default to the suggested message copy already entered on petition forms especially, but including a short, meaningful entry about the impact these repeals would have on you and the lands you treasure can be powerful.“Say something personal about why public lands matter to you,” she says. “State clearly what you want your congressman to do, be polite, and be kind. Their offices receive a lot of messages that are hateful,” and that, says Lown-Hecht, is not a level our parks advocates should stoop.Fracking and PipelinesTo date, there are more than 20 pipelines proposed for the Appalachian region. Pipelines carrying fracked gas are, in and of themselves, dangerous. Leaks and explosions are common occurrences, and onshore gas pipelines built in the 2010s have accident rates more than five times greater than pipelines built just a few decades prior.Pipelines also threaten the drinking water supply of hundreds of thousands of residents. The Mountain Valley Pipeline alone, which would stretch 301 miles from West Virginia to Virginia, crosses three major aquifers and 377 perennial waterways, including important headwater streams. Leaks from the pipeline at any point along its path can have drastic effects on everything downstream.Three of these proposed pipelines—PennEast, Atlantic Coast, and Mountain Valley—cross the Appalachian Trail at some of its most iconic spots like Virginia’s Peters Mountain Wilderness (Mountain Valley) and Angels Rest (Atlantic Coast).Additionally, the Atlantic Coast pipeline will cut through sensitive habitat in West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest and Virginia’s George Washington National Forest. Visitors to the Virginia portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway will encounter great swaths of pipeline construction in Augusta and Nelson counties. Not only would these crossings disrupt wildlife habitats, but the lengthy construction period and lasting eyesores would also negatively impact recreation tourism in mountain communities that need those dollars most.What you can doSign up to receive email notifications about public hearings and comment periods for pipeline developments from groups like Wild Virginia (, Sierra Club (, the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (, Protect Our Water Heritage Rights (, and Appalachian Voices (, who are leading the fight against pipelines in our region.Though the official public comment period for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline ended April 6th, opponents are encouraged to continue voicing their concerns to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and their respective elected officials.“Submit written comments, show up to public input meetings, really get involved at the local level,” says Sierra Club Virginia Chapter Director Kate Addleson. “Local folks really have the best ability to make a difference. They have strength in the community with respect to what public officials they are putting in office and then holding those officials accountable for their actions.”Mountaintop RemovalThere’s no denying the coal industry is on the decline, but it’s not dead yet. Mountaintop removal mining practices continue to destroy biologically diverse mountains and streams every day. Since the 1970s, mountaintop removal has been responsible for obliterating 500 mountains and more than 2,000 miles of headwater streams. Consequently, the water and communities downstream of these sites have abnormally high levels of heavy metals, which not only kill aquatic species but also cause increased rates in cancer and birth defects in humans.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found iron and manganese concentrations surpassed drinking water guidelines in about 70 percent of the wells near reclaimed surface coal mines and sludge impoundments in Appalachia. Additionally, communities near mountaintop removal sites are at constant risk of injury to person and property from blasting as well as flooding, which is more likely to occur on mountaintop removal sites due to the lack of trees and vegetation that aid in rooting the soil and preventing erosion.What you can doThe recent repeal of the Stream Protection Rule, which would have made it more difficult for the coal industry to dump hazardous waste into our rivers and streams, was certainly a setback, but that doesn’t mean all clean water protections are on the curb, yet.Appalachian Voices Central Appalachian Program Manager Erin Savage says local citizens, especially those living near mining activity, should be on the lookout for stream pollution and be adamant about requesting investigations on those polluters as well as fighting any pending mining permits.“Write things down, take photos, submit complaints, and keep copies of what you send to state agencies,” Savage says. “If you don’t hear back from them or their response is insufficient, take it up the chain, so to speak, to the federal agencies who oversee that agency. Talk to newspapers, too. Public pressure can be really helpful in convincing a state agency to take enforcement more seriously.”As of March, there were 24 new mining permit requests in West Virginia alone, the vast majority of which were located just a stone’s throw from the New River Gorge National River. In eastern Kentucky, more than 50 new or renewal permits were pending in the 21 counties that comprise the Daniel Boone National Forest, home to such recreational gems as the Clifty Wilderness, Beaver Creek Wilderness, Red River Gorge, and the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail. Mining permit applications are typically announced in local papers and can also be found online (for West Virginia,, and for Kentucky, or by registering for the state mining regulatory agency’s email lists.Finding an organization, like the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition ( in West Virginia, to assist in requesting public hearings and investigations can be extremely helpful if you’re unfamiliar with the process, adds Savage.BRO-TV: Peoples Climate March from Blue Ridge Outdoors on Vimeo.Coal AshIn December of 2008, 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash, the hazardous byproduct of burning coal, spilled into the Clinch and Emory rivers near Harriman, Tenn. Over 300 acres were covered in the toxic sludge, killing wildlife, destroying homes, and causing irreparable damage to the waterways for decades to come.Less than a decade later in Eden, N.C., 39,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of contaminated water oozed into the Dan River. In some places, mounds of ash were five feet thick and the toxic waste could be traced as far as 70 miles downstream. Turtles and mussels died at an alarming rate, but even today, the spill has hardly been cleaned up.Similar incidents have taken place across the Southeast, yet there remain no regulations on discharging toxins like arsenic, lead, and mercury into our watersheds. The Southeast is particularly at risk from further coal ash pond leaks and spills due to sparse or non-existent limitations on dumping. According to the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), nearly every major body of water in the Southeast has a leaking coal ash impoundment on its banks, resulting in dangerous levels of arsenic, mercury, thallium, and selenium contaminating groundwater and wells.Despite criminal guilty pleas by Duke Energy following the 2014 Dan River spill, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality announced it will allow Duke Energy to continue discharging coal ash into the Dan River Basin and Roanoke River Basin at three different sites. They will also allow Duke Energy to dump toxic coal ash into some of North Carolina’s Mayo and Hyco Lakes.In Nashville, Tenn., the SELC is in the midst of an ongoing battle to hold the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) accountable for the more than 27 billion gallons of coal ash wastewater that have leaked from the Gallatin Fossil Plant into the Cumberland River—Nashville’s drinking water supply for 1.2 million people). The TVA refused to supply data that proved sinkholes on the plant site, combined with unlined holding ponds, were contributing to the decreased quality of groundwater wells. Nearby wells now exceed the state water quality standards for maximum contamination levels, forcing locals to rely on bottled water.What you can doWant to learn if there is a coal ash impoundment near you? Visit to see if your community is at risk.The Trump administration froze EPA grants, which provided funding to Southern communities to reduce air and water pollution, remove lead from drinking water, and clean up hazardous waste such as coal ash. Ask your Congressional leaders to restore EPA grants and funding.“It’s really unfortunate that some politicians have made environmental protection seem like it’s a right or left issue,” says Addleson with the Sierra Club. “It’s an issue that affects all people. Most people can agree that protecting our lands and our water and having good air quality is something that’s important.”Protestor at the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. / Photo by Jess Daddio.Abandoned MinesOur region is still scarred by the devastating 1994-1995 mine blowouts on Muddy Creek, a tributary to West Virginia’s Cheat River. Those massive orange discharges of acid mine drainage dropped the pH in Cheat Lake to 4.5, killed fish populations over 16 miles downstream, and all but decimated the area’s booming whitewater raft industry with business down 50 percent in the following years.The recovery process is still underway, but for the first time since the blowouts, the Cheat mainstem is home to a healthy and thriving smallmouth bass fish population. That turnaround is a direct result of the more than $5.1 million, half of which came from the EPA.The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area alone contains over 100 abandoned mines, many of which are contaminating this otherwise pristine park’s waterways.What you can doVolunteering with citizen science programs, like Appalachian Voices’ Appalachian Water Watch citizen monitoring program (, helps environmental non-profits gain the documentation and information necessary to prosecute violators of the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act.“What you do to the land, you do to the people,” Savage from Appalachian Voices adds, quoting anti-mountaintop removal activist Judy Bonds. “This isn’t as simple as jobs versus fish when you talk about clean water protection. If you protect streams, that has a lot of downstream benefits both figuratively and literally.”Air PollutionIn July 2015, the National Parks Conservation Association released a study that found the vast majority of our 48 national parks had harmful levels of air pollution, some of which were comparable to the air pollution in major cities. On the list of top 12 parks most harmed by air pollution were Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee.The Clean Power Plan placed carbon emission goals for each state, with an overall mission to cut national carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent in 2030. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has announced that it plans to dismantle the Clean Power Plan.What you can doTell your elected officials to protect clean air, to keep the United States involved in the Paris Agreement, and to hold Pruitt and Tillerson accountable for their actions, which should serve the best interests of our environment’s and citizens’ health, not the industry’s.Sign petitions to support the Clean Power Plan by visiting the Environmental Defense Fund’s website at Species ActEstablished in 1973, the Endangered Species Act has been at the very core of conservation work. To date, the act protects more than 1,600 different species, including plants and animals. Species like the gray wolf, bald eagle, and American crocodile have not only been removed from the endangered species list but have thrived in subsequent years.But now, thanks to a Senate hearing to “modernize the Endangered Species Act,” some Republican lawmakers are attempting to repeal the act altogether. Their argument is that the act, which has only successfully removed about 40 species from its list in its 43-year history, hinders business and controls the land in areas where the industry versus conservation war has been a longstanding battle.Nearly driven to extinction in the 1950s, the red wolf is one of those species that is on the verge of disappearing. Fewer than 50 red wolves exist in the world, all of which reside in eastern North Carolina. Other Southern species dependent on the Endangered Species Act include the leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles, the Shenandoah salamander, the Indiana bat, and several freshwater mussels.What you can doCall or write to your elected officials and ask that they support the Endangered Species Act as it exists. The Southern Environmental Law Center is often spearheading efforts to protect many iconic species in the South.And while you’re at it, make sure to spend a little quality time in the outdoors. Taking a stand for the environment is important, tireless work, but it’s important not to burn out in the early stages.“Make sure you’re still providing yourself with the opportunities to experience the places that we must defend,” says Ani Kame’enui of the National Parks Conservation Association. “It sounds a bit silly and trite to suggest that, but that’s a huge part of this is to not get lost in the 120 characters and the volatile headlines. Continue to get into these spaces and places that have written the American story so you know what you’re fighting for.”last_img read more

North Carolina’s Sugar Mountain Ski Resort Opens Today

first_imgSugar Mountain Ski Resort as of TODAY welcomes guests to safely enjoy the great outdoors! Just in time for the sunny skies and cool temps in this weekend’s forecast. In addition to following all local and state regulations, Sugar Mountain Resort is requiring face coverings, social distancing, and managing access to the mountain to give guests the safe space they need. They will also be enhancing cleaning measures, employee health screenings and safety training, and adjustments made to certain programs and services. The upcoming weather is ideal for being outside and for snowmaking. With the guidance from the CDC, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and local public health officials, and the National Ski Areas Association, Sugar Mountain Ski Resort is following Ski Well, Be Well principles to make sure we are enjoying time on the mountain safely. Click here for a real-time look at slope and weather conditions. Historical opening and closing dates and recorded annual natural snowfall measurements can be found here. Visit for real-time views of the slopes, weather conditions, and more so you can start planning your next safe trip to Sugar Mountain! The Summit Express chairlift is open along with the following slopes: Northridge, Switchback, Upper and Lower Flying Mile, and the Magic Carpet area for beginners and first-timers. They will be offering full-day session runs from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm and half-day shifts from 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm. The ski and snowboard school, the newly expanded equipment and clothing rental shop, sports shop, and group sales department are fully operational with ice skating, twilight, and night sessions will be available soon. last_img read more