FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Kari Lydersen for Midwest Energy News:Peabody Energy is one of the country’s largest coal companies, supplying power plants and steel mills around the world.But in the past few years the company’s fortunes have plummeted, and environmental leaders don’t believe Peabody’s promises that, when the time comes, it will be able to pay more than $250 million to clean up its Illinois Basin mines.Under federal law, mining companies must set aside money to pay for reclamation once mining stops. This is generally done through insurance policies known as surety bonds. But the government also allows companies in good financial shape to “self-bond,” promising that their own assets will be able to cover the cost of reclamation.A decade ago, Peabody Energy would have been considered a robust company, and there were few concerns about its self-bonding arrangements.Today it’s a different story. And industry experts doubt that the plan Peabody executives described on an earnings call earlier this month will do much to turn the tide, given the rapid retreat of coal-fired power and the slowing of China’s economy that’s a major factor in worldwide coal demand.“The risk is that Peabody’s responsibility to clean up from its mining operations will be washed away in a bankruptcy proceeding, and Illinois taxpayers will be left holding the financial bag,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC). “That’s unacceptable.”The ELPC on February 12 filed citizen complaints on behalf of Illinois and Indiana residents calling on the states to require Peabody to revise its self-bonding agreements. If this doesn’t happen, the complaint asks for the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation Enforcement (OSMRE) to charge the company with violations of the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA).Meanwhile, Peabody is proposing a debt swap to shore up its finances, and offering three mines in the Illinois Basin and one in Arizona as collateral for credit holders. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) released a study this month arguing that Peabody’s financial predictions for the Illinois Basin mines are too rosy and “unsustainable,” potentially meaning more bad news for the company and for its mine reclamation prospects if those debts go bad.“They pretty much think they can reduce their commitments through the bankruptcy process,” said IEEFA finance director Tom Sanzillo, former first deputy comptroller of New York and an expert on bankruptcy. “We’re very concerned about this, and the states are being reckless in how they’re managing a federal program.”Peabody’s problemsOn the earnings call, Peabody CFO and executive vice president Amy Schwetz described 2015 revenues of $5.6 billion, down 17 percent from the previous year. In 2012, Peabody’s revenue was $8.1 billion.Executives blamed the decline on falling coal prices and low sales volume, driven in part by a mild winter which has decreased demand for power, and on the slowing economy in China. They noted that coal revenues have been impacted by low natural gas prices, which make coal-fired power less competitive.Peabody’s mines are concentrated in Australia and in the U.S. West and Midwest. Peabody has massive holdings in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, which ships coal to power plants in the Midwest; and the company mines in the Illinois Basin, in Indiana and Illinois. The IEEFA says that coal prices in the Powder River Basin have dropped 19 percent since 2012, and prices in the Illinois Basin have dropped 38 percent since that time.“There is no doubt our debt and equity are trading at distressed levels, which is indicative of the headwinds the industry is facing,” said Peabody CEO and President Glenn Kellow on the earnings call. “And, whilst we fully expect 2016 to be another trying year for the U.S. coal industry, we continue to believe that our leading positions in the lowest-cost basins will best position us to benefit from any rise in natural gas prices and coal demand over time.Peabody Energy did not take questions after the earnings call and did not respond to a request for comment for this story.“This is moving fast,” said Learner. “You’re watching the coal industry deteriorate not because of the so-called war on coal – it’s simply not competing well in the market.”Self-bonding concernsCiting Peabody’s 2015 year-end financial results, the ELPC complaint charges that Peabody does not meet the federal requirements for self-bonding, that “the applicant has a ratio of liabilities to net worth of 2.5 or less and a ratio of current assets to liabilities of 1.2 or greater.”“Peabody Energy has a ratio of liabilities to net worth of 11.6 and a ratio of current assets to liabilities of 0.84,” the complaints note.Peabody’s Illinois Basin self-bonding is done through a wholly-owned subsidiary of Peabody Energy, Peabody Investments Corporation.Experts say that if Peabody Energy declares bankruptcy, its subsidiary would not be able to make good on the self-bonding and cover the costs of reclamation. The federal regulations on self-bonding, developed in 1983, make clear that companies with a chance of bankruptcy should not be eligible.Companies are required to report to regulators if they have a significant deterioration in their financial condition. And even if they don’t report, it is regulators’ responsibility to keep an eye on the situation and ask the tough questions, in Sanzillo’s view. If a company’s position declines to the point that it can’t be trusted to cover its self-bonds, regulators have the power to demand a different reclamation guarantee.Peabody’s plansWith the debt swap, Peabody is hoping to reduce the principal of $1.5 billion in debt by $730 million, also reducing annual interest payments by $47 million.“Relative to the overall size of the Peabody debt burden and ongoing net losses, the savings are too small to have a meaningful impact on company finances,” says the IEEFA report.As part of its financial efforts, Peabody is selling its share of the troubled Prairie State Energy Campus in central Illinois. Peabody was one of the originators of the plant billed as an innovative “clean coal” “mine-to-mouth” operation fired by coal from an adjacent mine.The cost of the plant and its electricity has ballooned beyond original projections, and Peabody reduced its stake to a 5 percent ownership while municipalities and power authorities across the Midwest have been saddled with deals forcing them to pay well above market rate for power. Peabody is now selling its share to the Wabash Valley Power Association for $57 million. According to the IEEFA’s analysis of SEC filings, Peabody has invested $246 million in Prairie State.“They’re taking a haircut on this investment even though they’re saying they took a gain, which explains to me why they’re [potentially headed for] bankruptcy,” said Sanzillo. “They can’t tell a loss from a gain.”A dark future for coal?The precarious reclamation situation and the offering of three Illinois mines as collateral for Peabody’s debt swap could put pressure on the company to keep mines running that would otherwise be shuttered. This could contribute to a vicious cycle of increasing supply and diminishing coal prices.“The continuation of the self-bonding while these companies are in financial distress creates the conditions for them to maintain mines that should be closed,” said Sanzillo. “It’s a zombie mine, a dead mine that’s still alive – chasing a ghost market.”The Illinois Basin mines offered as collateral are the Wild Boar mine and Francisco Mine in Indiana, and the Gateway Mine in southern Illinois.“If they can’t come up with the premium payments or no one will insure them, then they need to close the mines,” Sanzillo continued. “No, they don’t have the money for reclamation. So the state would have a claim. I would just sue immediately, get in line on their bankruptcies.”An investigation released by Reuters in June 2015 noted that Peabody and the nation’s three other largest coal companies – Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources and Cloud Peak Energy – have $2.7 billion worth of future reclamation costs covered by self-bonding. Arch and Alpha, which have both declared bankruptcy, are also under federal scrutiny for their self-bonding practices.“If the industry was disciplined and realized the price of coal isn’t sufficient to cover what they’re doing, they should be closing mines – to tighten the supply, to increase the price and do better,” Sanzillo said. “We look at the fundamentals – the price of coal won’t carry it any time for the foreseeable future. You cut through the smoke…and the mule can’t pull the cart anymore.”Critics: Peabody can no longer be counted on to clean up coal mines Skeptics Say Peabody Is So Broke It Can’t Even Clean Up After Itself
Nigerian football icon Stephen Okechukwu Keshi died suddenly in the early hours of Wednesday in Benin City, Edo state, TheCable understands.The former international football player and coach had lost his wife of 33 years, Kate, last year after a prolonged battle with cancer.TheCable confirmed his death from a member of his family as well as one of his close associates.“He was not ill at all, never showed any signs of illness, but we suspect he never got over the death of his wife,” a friend said.He is survived by four children and his mother.Keshi, the only Nigerian coach to have won the Africa Cup of Nations, achieved a rare feat in 2013 by becoming only the second person to win the trophy both as a player and a coach.The only other person to have achieved the feat is Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary. Keshi, a product of St. Finbarr’s College, Akoka, Lagos, started his playing career at a very young age at ACB Football Club, and later played for New Nigeria Bank, Stade d’Abidjan, Africa Sports, Lokeren, Anderlecht, RC Strasbourg, and a host of other clubs.He represented Nigeria from 1982, at age 20, till 1994, most of the time captaining the Super Eagles and scoring vital goals from his position as a central defender.He also coached Togo and Nigeria at the World Cup, as well as Mali.Keshi, nicknamed the “Big Boss” for his leadership skills, is the fifth member of the all-conquering 1994 team to die, following Uche Okafor, Thompson Oliha, Rashidi Yekini and Wilfred Agbonavbare.
Facebook4Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Westport Winery Garden ResortWestport Winery Garden Resort gathered more gold at the Cascadia Wine Competition held in Hood River, Oregon, on March 21 through 23. Director of Winemaking, Dana Roberts said, “This is one of our favorite competitions. They’ve got a big panel of tough judges and lots of entries from the top producers in the region. When we do well at Cascadia we know we’re proving ourselves among the best.”Photo courtesy: Westport WinerySurfer, the winery’s 2014 Syrah, earned a double gold at this event. Roberts said, “We harvested these grapes at Mays’ Discovery Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills. As a winemaker, working with Milo and Kay May is just as supreme pleasure. It’s definitely a team approach to winemaking in the best sense of the phrase.” This wine is described in their tasting notes as “The Edgar Allen Poe of wine, dark, brooding and intense.” The winery recommends you enjoy this while listening to Pipeline by The Ventures since the label features a photo of winery co-owner Blain Roberts when he was a nationally-rated surfer on Maui in the 1970s. A portion of the proceeds from this wine benefits South Beach EMS in Westport. Both Going Coastal, a sparkling Gewurztraminer, and Jetty Cat a red blend, earned gold medals. Jetty Cat, a primarily Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Syrah, is described as “Wall Street rich and ultra-luxurious with a bit of attitude.” A portion of the proceeds from this label benefits the Harbor Association of Volunteers for Animals (HAVA).Photo courtesy: Westport WineryGoing Coastal’s fruit was harvested at Washington’s iconic Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley AVA. A portion of the proceeds from this wine benefits the Coastal Interpretive Center in Ocean Shores. Described as “Brisk and bright, like a spring sea breeze,” the winery recommends you enjoy this sparkler with Eggs Benedict in their restaurant while listening to Champagne by Andrea Bocelli. Maritime, the winery’s sparkling Riesling earned a silver medal, while True Blue and Bordello Blonde earned bronze medals. Additionally, each wine is commemorated in the winery’s gardens with a sculpture by different local artists making this a must visit destination winery.In 2016 Westport Winery was honored as one of the top twenty most admired wineries in North America by Winery & Vineyard Management Magazine. It was named 2011 Washington Winery to Watch by Wine Press Northwest. They have been voted Best Winery by King 5 Evening Magazine six times. They were named the Best Washington Family Business Silver Medal winners in 2012, received the Grays Harbor Environmental Stewardship Award in 2015, and were name Best Winery, Best Wine Shop, and Best Boutique Winery for 2016 by South Sound Magazine.Family-friendly Westport Winery Garden Resort, is located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. The resort (including the restaurant, bakery, plant nursery and 15-acre display garden) is open daily or breakfast, lunch and dinner from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Westport Winery’s second location, TASTING @ Cannon Beach, is located at 255 N. Hemlock. The Oregon tasting room is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information or reservations call 360-648-2224.
Image Courtesy: EPA/GettyAdvertisement 44gNBA Finals | Brooklyn Vs2hqjqnWingsuit rodeo📽Sindre Eej7g9( IG: @_aubreyfisher @imraino ) p3yWould you ever consider trying this?😱qrx5uCan your students do this? 🌚a4Roller skating! Powered by Firework Yesterday’s Manchester derby at the Etihad stadium had no lack of drama. The visitors Manchester United, despite struggling against mid table teams, snatched a stunning 2-1 victory over their rivals. While Manchester City couldn’t even secure a single point from the game, their path to the title race has become rougher. Some home fans did not receive this well, and United players, especially Fred was subjected to lighter throw and racial abuses. The club launched a crackdown on the perpetrators, and the main person behind the monkey chants has been identified, who has some interesting things to clear himself up.Advertisement Image Courtesy: EPA/GettyOne Anthony Burke, who was seen performing the monkey chants at Fred, and allegedly screamed “black b*****d” at the Brazilian international, has been put on hold by the Greater Manchester Police.Anthony Burke is a British Army veteran who served in Northern Ireland. Married and a father, Burke was presently employed at the Kier Group as a civil engineering manager, has been fired from his job following the incident.Advertisement On identification, the 41 year old tried to clear himself up on Facebook with outlandish reasons.The accused tried to clear up his behaviour with bizarre statements on Facebook. (Image Courtesy: Facebook)Anthony wrote: “Listen, I’m only racist c*** because I had a screen shot that made me look it.”Advertisement “However I ain’t racist, watch the match half of it was me with me putting my hands in my pants.” he added.Now, check out what Anthony was doing in the stands during the match in the video below, courtesy of Twitter user @smithdaniel1603.Throwing hands and a running mouth- do you think it was just an innocent effort of Anthony “putting my hands in my pants”?Following the news of arrest, Premier League posted a tweet on their official handle saying: “Everyone is welcome at Premier League matches. Racism is not.”An official statement has also been released on their website, which reads: “The Premier League and our clubs will not tolerate discrimination in any form.”“If people are found to have racially abused Premier League players they deserve to be punished and we will support any action taken by the authorities and the clubs.”Watch: Manchester City fans target Fred with monkey signs, throw projectiles at him and remind United of the Munich air disaster Advertisement
Keagan Jade scored eight points to lead the L.V. Rogers Junior Bombers to a 38-36 West Kootenay Boy’s Basketball win over Boundary Central of Midway Saturday afternoon in Grand Forks.The contest was part of a three-team playday that also featured a team from the host Grand Forks Wolves.LVR was up for most of the game, holding quarter leads of 11-2, 21-12 and 27-19 until Boundary Central staged a late-game rally. Josh Jolicoeur and Curtis Young each had six points for LVR.The Bombers opened the day dropping a 35-33 decision to Grand Forks.LVR started slow trailing 8-2 after one period.Grand Forks led 26-19 in the fourth before LVR started pecking away at the margin, outscoring the Wolves 14-11 in the quarter.Dyllen Dixon all scorers with 15 points while Young added nine.Teiran Dolan had eight and Liam McKinlay 13 for the Wolves.The Junior Bombers, 2-1 on the season, are in Trail to meet the J. Lloyd Crowe Hawks Thursday.