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
The regulator said its analysis had shown that most pension companies should improve this to match best practice in the industry.On average, pension firms had 7% of total assets in alternatives, and many companies expect that figure to rise, it said.Overall, pension fund investment in alternatives is concentrated in a small number of funds, according to the end-2012 data.Almost 60% of the total in alternative investments was held by the five largest investors, Finanstilsynet said.In some cases, funds should take a more critical stance about ongoing valuations of their alternative investments, it said.Although several companies mentioned liquidity risk, some said they were not exposed to this because they followed a buy-and-hold strategy, and so did not need to assess this risk type separately, the regulator said.However, companies nevertheless need to assess liquidity risk continuously because a change in the credit rating of the assets could lead the firms to reduce their credit risk by selling before maturity, it said.Other risks associated with alternatives mentioned by the pension funds include political risk, administrator risk, legal risk, model risk, financing risk (gearing), natural disaster risk, technical risk and correllation risk, Finanstilsynet said.The analysis follows a fact-finding exercise conducted in 2012 when pension funds reported details of their alternative investment holdings.In all, Danish pension funds had DKK152bn (€20.4bn) invested in alternatives, including private equity, alternative credit, infrastructure, agriculture and hedge funds, the regulator saidIt added that the prospect of many years of low yields in Denmark and Europe has prompted many pension providers to shift part of their investment towards alternatives to gain higher returns. Danish pension funds need to be clearer about the risks they are taking with their alternative investments, the country’s regulator has said.Financial watchdog Finanstilsynet said it would step up its focus on alternative investments through inspections, as well as in other ways.Carsten Mygind Feldt, deputy department chief at Finanstilsynet, said: “Some firms should analyse to a greater extent whether there is a sufficient liquidity premium and make sure they are paying enough attention to the valuation of the investments – for example, through sensitivity analysis.”But he said the general impression was that companies did tend to evaluate the relationship between return and risk in their alternative investments.
Harvard-Westlake alum Lucas Giolito throws no-hitter for White Sox Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Dodgers lose a wild game to the Giants in 11 innings Dodgers’ Will Smith: ‘I feel like it’s been five years’ since his 2019 debut Dodgers’ Dave Roberts says baseball’s unwritten rules ‘have changed, should change’ We are lucky, actually, that the teams play six times this season, concluding with Sunday’s Dodger Stadium duel between Clayton Kershaw and Deck McGuire. Usually, it’s just one four-game series, split between the two ballparks, but since the AL and NL West Divisions are interleague partners this year, we get two extra games.Imagine if they played 18. The players would survive, but some fans might not.“You know it’s always a packed crowd,” Angel pitcher Andrew Heaney said. “The Dodger fans bring it, and our fans bring it so it’s always exciting.Related Articles Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros Dodgers’ hot-hitting Corey Seager leaves game with back injury Dodgers bench slumping Cody Bellinger for a day PreviousLos Angeles Dodgers’ Chase Utley beats the throw to Los Angeles Angels catcher Martin Maldonado and scores from first base on a double by Yasmani Grandal in the ninth inning to tie the game, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Angels’ Andrelton Simmons scores past Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes on a single by Justin Upton in the first inning, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsLos Angeles Angels relief pitcher Jose Alvarez reacts after striking out Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasmani Grandal in the tenth inning to secure their 5-4 win, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt talks with pitcher Alex Wood, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Angels left fielder Justin Upton can’t catch a double by Los Angeles Dodgers Andrew Toles in the tenth inning, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Blake Parker, right, looks down after giving a run by Los Angeles Dodgers Chase Utley, left, in the ninth inning to tie the game, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun makes a leaping catch on a flyball at the outfield wall by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chris Taylor in the first inning, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Angels’ Kole Calhoun, left, celebrates with Mike Trout after hitting a home run in tenth-inning to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Angels’ Kole Calhoun watches his tenth-inning home run as Los Angeles Dodgers catcher catcher Yasmani Grandal looks on, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood after striking out two Angels batters in the sixth inning, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood throws to home plate against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Angels’ Kole Calhoun, right, is greeted by Mike Trout after hitting a home run in tenth-inning to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney throws to home plate against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood throws to home plate against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy (13) is greeted by manager Dave Roberts after scoring from third on a single by Cody Bellinger in the second inning against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Angels’ shortstop Andrelton Simmons can’t field a single by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Logan Forsythe in the second inning, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood, center, confers with shortstop Chris Taylor, left, and catcher Austin Barnes after loading the bases in the second inning against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Angels’ outfielder Kole Calhoun slides into second base after hitting a double in the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chase Utley passes third base coach Chris Woodward and scores from first base on a double by Yasmani Grandal in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher pitcher Blake Parker follows through against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the eighth inning, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Andrew Toles, right, makes a catch in front of left fielder Enrique Hernandez on a flyball by Los Angeles Angels’ David Fletcher in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani draws a base on balls after pinch hitting in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney (28) smiles after his day is done as manager Mike Scioscia, left, makes a pitching change in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Dylan Floro waits for the ball after giving up a solo home run to Los Angeles Angels’ Justin Upton in the seventh inning, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts applauds a running catch by left fielder Enrique Hernandez on a line drive by the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout in the seventh inning, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chase Utley beats the throw to Los Angeles Angels catcher Martin Maldonado and scores from first base on a double by Yasmani Grandal in the ninth inning to tie the game, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)NextShow Caption1 of 25Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chase Utley beats the throw to Los Angeles Angels catcher Martin Maldonado and scores from first base on a double by Yasmani Grandal in the ninth inning to tie the game, Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)ExpandLOS ANGELES — If Major League Baseball realigns in the near future, as some suggest, tradition probably will take a hit. The DH will likely become universal, divisions could be realigned regionally and we might even lose the traditional National and American League designations.(That would not please This Space, although I’m starting to come around on the DH. Those who have known me for any length of time, take a moment to compose yourselves after the initial shock.)Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.But if that upending of the traditional baseball universe would mean more neighborhood squabbles between the Dodgers and Angels? Count me in.The 2018 version of the Freeway Series has been a lot of fun the last two weekends. The Angels won twice last weekend at Anaheim with late-inning lightning. The Dodgers rallied in the seventh Friday night and held off the Angels in the ninth, and Saturday evening the sides went back and forth before Kole Calhoun deposited a Kenley Jansen cutter into the right field pavilion, for his third home run in two games and ultimately a 5-4 Angels victory. Or Friday night’s 3-2 Dodgers victory, courtesy of a two-out seventh-inning rally aided by a wild throw from right fielder Calhoun.“And even today, it’s not weird, but it’s back and forth … It’s just the kind of stuff you don’t feel like you see very often.”Related Articles It is almost exclusively a fan-driven rivalry, which is what lends itself to the energized atmosphere in both ballparks. In Anaheim, plenty of Dodger fans show up and make it their mission to outshout the Angel fans. In The Ravine, Angel fans are more outnumbered, but there’s still an intensity that tells you that this is something special.“It’s always good energy around … I guess you’d call it a hometown rivalry,” Angels reliever Blake Parker said.“You always have guys on the other team that you’ve played with, or know, or grew up with, or seen in the minors. But once you get up here and you put the ‘A’ on your chest, or you see the Dodgers over there, it always adds a little bit more excitement to the game. The fans are in it, going back and forth all game, and it’s especially fun because both teams are very well represented at either place.”Heaney noted that he’d played with Austin Barnes and Kiké Hernandez in Miami, and played with injured Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager in the Arizona Fall League.And, in fact, Heaney was a Dodger himself for, oh, maybe six minutes or so in the winter of 2014, coming from the Marlins to the Dodgers in the Dee Gordon trade before being flipped to the Angels in the Howie Kendrick trade. He even tweeted a farewell message to Dodger fans after that second trade, kiddingly but charmingly so.The one guy who truly has deep roots on both sides, Mike Scioscia, has for years downplayed any sort of rivalry, and the Angels’ manager hasn’t changed his stance.“Over the years I think the fans probably feel the geographical rivalry more than we do,” he said. “I mean, the Dodgers are a terrific club and when we play them you have to play well to beat them. That’s what we’re focused on.”Still, it’s not a blood rivalry because the teams don’t play in the same division, aren’t going head-to-head for a playoff spot, and haven’t had any bad blood for a couple of decades, or since Chan Ho Park tried to deliver a flying dropkick to Tim Belcher in 1999.Now, if there were realignment, and these teams played each other 18 times with something on the line, not only would the players feel it more but each team’s fans would really have reason to despise the other. Think Kings-Ducks, multiplied by 10.As it is now, it’s fun. And if baseball’s powers that be want to give us more, I could certainly live with that. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Whicker: Dustin May yet another example of the Dodgers’ eye for pitching “I don’t know why, but it seems like we play some really close, crazy games. I don’t know if it’s because of that. I don’t know what it is … We had one last year where they had a strikeout on (Cameron) Maybin and (Yasmani) Grandal threw a ball into right field and we won on that. We’ve had some really strange ones.”Like, say, the one last Friday night in Anaheim, where Jansen had Shohei Ohtani down 0-2 and was one strike away from a save, but walked Ohtani and started what turned out to be a game-winning rally for the Angels, helped along by a wild throw from Yasiel Puig and Jansen’s failure to back up home plate. Dodgers’ Justin Turner looking rejuvenated on defense