‘Stunning Collapse’ of Coal Industry Reveals the Risk to Taxpayers in Companies’ Self-Bonding Allowances

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享William Yardley for the Los Angeles Times:For four decades, mining companies have been required to repair land they mine to a form and function similar to its previous condition. The process is called reclamation, and, done well, it can be convincing. Some of the smoothest slopes and meadows here were shaped not by time and the elements but by federal law and heavy equipment.“What you’re looking at right now just won a national award,” Mark Dunn, the environmental manager for Cloud Peak Energy’s Cordero Rojo mine, said this month, pointing to a panorama that included active mining to the west and a restored stream and wetlands to the east. “We try to make it close to the way it was before — or better.”Now, however, amid a stunning collapse of the coal industry that has prompted some of the nation’s largest mining companies to file for bankruptcy, there are new questions about how the giant holes dug in Wyoming and elsewhere across the West will be filled and who will pay to fill them. Wyoming produces nearly 40% of the nation’s coal used for electricity.Under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, for mining to go on, reclamation has to go on. But in some cases, big companies have persuaded government regulators to let them operate under terms that seem to turn the law upside down: For reclamation to continue, mining has to continue.Last month, prompted by a complaint from environmental groups, the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement challenged Wyoming regulators to show that two major companies that have both filed for bankruptcy in the last year, Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources, have enough money to do the reclamation work they are obligated to do.In the weeks since then, following more complaints from environmental groups, the agency has made similar demands related to mines operated in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Indiana and Illinois by another imperiled company, Peabody Energy.All three of the companies have been allowed to meet many of their financial commitments for reclamation through a process called self-bonding. Under self-bonding, the companies do not have to pay a third party to guarantee that reclamation money would be there if the mining company suddenly failed. Instead, the companies essentially are allowed to say their financial strength is proof enough that they could meet their obligations.“The problem with self-bonding, basically, is that it’s based upon this notion of these companies being so wealthy and substantial,” said Mark Squillace, who teaches environmental law at the University of Colorado Law School. “It’s sort of like the banks being too big to fail, right?”Full article: Mining companies’ declining fortunes imperil the restoration of land they’ve mined ‘Stunning Collapse’ of Coal Industry Reveals the Risk to Taxpayers in Companies’ Self-Bonding Allowanceslast_img read more

Thiago Santos a live underdog, Luke Rockhold wants next, new contenders emerging in UFC light heavyweight division

first_imgBehind them, fighters like Magomed Ankalaev, Michal Olieksiejczuk and Khalil Rountree Jr. have all delivered eye-opening performances to increase their profiles and get people excited about their potential, while former Top 10 fighter Tyson Pedro remains one of the youngest competitors in the division and someone capable of rebounding from his recent struggles to emerge as a factor in the not too distant future.There is also the trio of Contender Series alums — Jimmy Crute, Alonzo Menifield and Ryan Spann — who have gone a combined 6-0 with five stoppage victories since getting called up to the UFC last summer.That’s nearly a dozen fighters with undetermined ceilings and the potential to grow into divisional fixtures, if not more, over the next two or three years, which is an infinitely brighter future than the light heavyweight ranks have had in quite some time. Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearThis weekend, the 31-year-old titleholder seeks to push his unbeaten streak to 17 and register his third victory in seven months when he squares off with surging challenger Thiago Santos in the main event of UFC 239 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. He is an overwhelming favorite and has dispatched far more accomplished fighters than “Marreta” in the past, all of which makes Saturday’s finale feel a fait accompli and that things will carry on the same way so long as Jones remains stationed atop the division.That could very well be the case — he’s that good — but reducing Santos’ potential to pull off the upset to a proverbial “Puncher’s Chance” and suggesting there are no other threats to Jones on the horizon would be a mistake.The Case for Thiago SantosDespite being a considerable underdog heading into Saturday’s championship showdown with Jones, there are elements that Santos brings to the Octagon that make him more of a live ‘dog and less of a challenger desperate to land a “lucky punch” and change his fortunes.First and foremost, the 35-year-old former paratrooper is relentlessly aggressive, moving forward regardless of what lies ahead. There is no feeling out period with Santos — he gets in the cage and starts attacking, first with kicks before switching to punches once he gets into range and everything is thrown with murderous intent.But none of it is careless.He’s not crashing forward without consideration. Santos marches offensive fighters down and forces them out of their comfort zone, making them respond to what he’s doing rather than dictate the terms of engagement themselves as they’re used to and it creates openings and opportunities for him to land a single shot that alters the course of the exchanges or suffocates them with a never-ending barrage of hard, heavy shots.The next piece is that aggression is being doled out by a man with an uncanny combination of power and speed for someone of his stature.Standing six-foot-two and looking like he was carved out of granite, Santos is a physical specimen. His movements are fluid and the way he kicks is like if you leveled up Edson Barboza until he was a light heavyweight. Everything hits faster than you expect and harder than you expect and every blow that lands has a more significant impact than you rightfully expect it to.While he can get a little hurried when he gets into punching range and has an opponent on the ropes, Santos has the kind of power that alters exchanges and he trusts his chin to the point that he’s willing to get hit in order to land one of his own. More often than naught, it’s been a winning calculation.Lastly — and perhaps most importantly — Santos has zero history with Jones and isn’t the type of fighter to get pre-emptively shaken by the mystique of the man he’s about to share the Octagon with this weekend.Jones’ standing as the consensus greatest fighter of all time may burrow its way into the minds of some of the men who ready to face him and the genuine dislike Daniel Cormier feels for “Bones” certainly impacted his performance in each of their two meetings, but Santos has more of a terminator vibe than anyone else Jones has faced and nothing the champion says this week or has done in the past is going to cause him to question his skills and ability to shock the world heading into Saturday night’s main event.He may fall like all the rest, but Santos has ways to win this fight and it is a far more compelling matchup than some might lead you to believe.Luke Rockhold’s Championship AuditionBefore Jones and Santos step into the Octagon to battle over the light heavyweight title, former middleweight champ Luke Rockhold will return to the cage for the first time since last February and he’ll do so as the newest addition to the 205-pound ranks.After years of grueling weight cuts and a body that became increasingly susceptible to injuries, the 34-year-old announced last December that he was moving up to the light heavyweight division and immediately started lobbying for a chance to face Jones.From a marketability standpoint, it might be the best option the UFC has in the division at the moment, but before Rockhold can challenge for championship gold in a second weight class, he has to get through Jan Blachowicz this weekend.This is the perfect matchup to see where Rockhold fits in the light heavyweight division, as the Polish veteran has been a fixture in the Top 10 for the last several years and was on a four-fight winning streak before running into Santos earlier this year in Prague. Blachowicz is the type of well-rounded, battle-tested veteran who could spoil the Ralph Lauren model’s divisional debut and scuttle his plans for taking out Jones before they ever really take root.Though this weekend’s card is littered with meaningful pairings that will garner a great deal of attention, there might not be any more interesting than Rockhold’s first foray into the cage as a light heavyweight.His talent has never been in question and neither has his confidence, but having been knocked out in two of his last three and limited to just those three outings since winning the middleweight title all the way back at UFC 194 in December 2015, Rockhold has a great deal to prove this weekend.His championship pedigree, abundant talent and sandpapery personality makes him an obvious candidate to jump to the front of the list of contenders in the light heavyweight division, but he needs to secure a victory — ideally in dominant fashion — in order to make that happen. While he’s understandably favored to topple Blachowicz on Saturday night, this fight, like the championship main event, isn’t as cut and dry as the odds might indicate.The Future is BrightFor the first time in a number of years, the future of the light heavyweight division looks promising.Once the glamour division of the UFC, the 205-pound ranks got real stale, real quick once Jones ascended to the throne and started running through former champions and familiar names.In addition to Jones’ dominance, the gap between the contenders he handled with relative ease and the next tier down was so great that it meant very few new names ever managed to rise through the ranks and establish themselves as viable threats. Winning streaks died in the middle of the rankings, where veterans like Blachowicz and Glover Teixiera knocked off numerous upstarts, only to have contenders like Alexander Gustafsson return the favor.But over the last year, former middleweights like Santos and Anthony Smith have injected new life into the contender ranks and a crop of impressive, intriguing new names have started to gain traction and make headway within the division.Dominick Reyes, Johnny Walker and Aleksander Rakic have emerged as potential contenders, while former “The Ultimate Fighter” winner Corey Anderson continues to make slow and steady progress as the guy no one ever really talks about in the 205-pound ranks. Officially, Jon Jones hasn’t lost a fight in nearly a decade.Unofficially, the reigning, defending, undisputed UFC light heavyweight champion is undefeated, as most view his disqualification against Matt Hamill at The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Finale on December 5, 2009 to be a controversial decision made by a referee who should have stopped the fight earlier and even then made the wrong judgment call.last_img read more

Steve Kerr calls out Lakers for Anthony Davis recruitment: ‘It’s bad for the league’

first_imgWarriors coach Steve Kerr is concerned with how the Lakers handled their recruitment of Anthony Davis.The saga was well noted, with Davis publicly wanting a trade from the Pelicans and Los Angeles blatantly going after Davis near the trade deadline in February before negotiations with the Pelicans fell through. NBA trade rumors: Celtics ‘quickly’ rejected offer for Gordon Hayward “When you sign on that dotted line, you owe your effort and your play to that team, to that city, to the fans. And then (once the contract runs out) it’s completely your right to leave as a free agent. But if you sign the contract, then you should be bound to that contract.“If you come to an agreement with the team that, hey, it’s probably best for us to part ways, that’s one thing. But the Davis stuff was really kind of groundbreaking — and hopefully not a trend, because it’s bad for the league.”The way the Lakers came to acquire Davis was messy and made everyone look bad — Davis, his agent (who reportedly leaked the news that Davis wanted to be traded) and how the Lakers and Pelicans dealt with the situation.Eventually Davis got his wish and joined Los Angeles this offseason, but only after he played on a part-time basis with New Orleans after the initial trade rumors.“As a former player, I would always sort of lean toward player empowerment, guys who have earned their right to free agency,” Kerr said. “If they want to make a move for their own careers, I’m all for it. They’ve earned that right.“My only issue is when a player who is under contract decides not to honor the contract. That’s a problem. That’s something that can really affect the league.” Kevin Love is latest NBA star to withdraw from Team USAcenter_img For Kerr, that left a bad taste in his mouth, even though other players have negotiated their way to different teams. Kerr said Davis’ situation is different because he had a couple years left on his contract with New Orleans.“I’m talking more about the Anthony Davis situation,” Kerr said on The Warriors Insider Podcast. “Where a guy is perfectly healthy and has a couple years left on his deal and says, ‘I want to leave.’ That’s a real problem that the league has to address and that the players have to be careful with. Related News Kerr cited LeBron James and Kevin Durant, both of whom moved on to different teams in 2018 and 2019, respectively, as the proper way to transition to another team in the league.“There’s a way to move and a way to not move,” Kerr said. ”What LeBron did, played out his contract. What Kevin did both when he arrived at Golden State and when he left. You sign contracts, you play them out and you move on. That’s how it should be done.“But it’s a little disturbing that there has been some action that happens before contracts are up, where teams are sort of held hostage and the league is sort of held hostage. I’m not a big fan of that. That’s damaging for everybody.”last_img read more