On the Blogs: Bankrupt Coal Companies Don’t Always Stop Mining Coal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Daniel Cohan for TheHill.com:The largest pillar of the coal industry has now fallen. In filing for bankruptcy last week, Peabody Energy joined Arch Coal, Patriot Coal, Walter Energy and Alpha Natural Resources among the largest coal mining companies recently facing this fate.Coal emits more air pollutants and climate warming gases than any other fossil fuel, and its mining can devastate local ecosystems and watersheds. Curtailing the amounts of coal mined and burned would thus yield a myriad of benefits for the environment and health.However, the road to bankruptcy court doesn’t necessarily mark the path to a sustainable energy future. It is time to think afresh about how the environment and health can be considered in coal bankruptcies.Like most of its peers, Peabody chose Chapter 11 for its bankruptcy filing. Unlike a Chapter 7 liquidation, Chapter 11 allows a company to continue operating while it manages its debts and seeks to emerge as a viable corporation. Peabody’s statement said it intends to continue operating its mines uninterrupted as the bankruptcy process proceeds.Thus, while bankruptcy can crimp the finances of creditors and investors, it won’t necessarily cut coal mine output. In fact, coal companies seeking to pay off creditors may face pressure to maintain revenues from coal.The challenge of maintaining revenue has grown as coal prices have fallen. Coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, widely used for its low sulfur content, has fallen to $9.35 per ton. I’d call it dirt cheap if I knew anywhere selling dirt for less than half a penny per pound.With coal so cheap, its sales likely generate far less revenue than its damage to health and the environment. Since coal is composed primarily of carbon atoms, each of which combines with two oxygen atoms to form carbon dioxide, burning coal generates about 1.87 times its own weight in carbon dioxide.In other words, Powder River Basin coal mines are receiving only about $5 per ton of carbon dioxide that their coal generates when burned. The revenue per ton of pollution would be even lower if we consider life cycle impacts such as the diesel emissions needed to mine and transport the coal and the methane released from the mine.Virtually all estimates of the social cost of carbon to climate change are many times higher than $5 per ton. That’s even before considering environmental impacts beyond climate such as damage to air quality, water and wildlife.In other words, society as a whole pays a very high price as coal mining companies seek to pay off their creditors in bankruptcy. It could even be argued that a domino effect of coal mining bankruptcies has taken hold, as the urgency of already-bankrupt companies to pay off creditors has kept coal mine output from falling sufficiently. Though coal mining is down sharply, unusually large stockpiles of coal show that mining has not fallen fast enough to offset the effects of cheap natural gas and growing deployments of renewables.Bankrupt coal companies create an additional burden if they do not cover the environmental damages they have caused. Communities near coal mines have reason to be concerned about whether adequate steps will be taken to remediate coal mines owned by bankrupt companies.All of these factors receive insufficient attention in bankruptcy proceedings, as repayment of creditors and restructuring of debts dominates deliberations. How best to give the environment and public health seats at the table in bankruptcy court requires legal expertise far beyond my training as an environmental engineer. Nevertheless, the prices and emissions calculations provided here demonstrate that the coal assets owned by these bankrupt companies may be far more valuable to society if left in the ground rather than mined to pay off creditors.Cohan is associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University.When coal companies go bankrupt, the mining doesn’t always stop
Credit unions are sitting on a mountain of member data. That information can be a goldmine for understanding members, their needs, and what motivates them. Utilizing that data to drive a smarter approach to marketing is the key to building a personalized strategy to engage your members with relevant products and solutions.Personalized marketing can drive five to eight times the response of “product of the month” marketing. If any of that old marketing still exists at your credit unions, kill it! Product marketing doesn’t work anymore. Members need to feel connected and engaged like their institution cares about understanding them and their needs.Useful data can come from a variety of sources:Internally – CRM, website, mobile app, core processing systemExternally – Callahan’s, credit bureaus, third-party providers, public informationIt can be very challenging for credit unions to harness data from so many locations, but they can be brought together either through a data warehouse solution or more traditional data reports from your IT or Business Intelligence teams. Select two primary data categories that help you select the right members – don’t choose products as part of the data, consider looking at transaction patterns and stage of life. Who is at the top of these lists? Understanding and knowing who is the most valuable to your organization and who has the potential to be valuable is critical. Often the most active members aren’t your most profitable, and it’s easy to get distracted in marketing by trying to serve your largest segments or most active members. continue reading » 2SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) was cradling her child at a podium Friday during an event advocating for paid family leave in New York State when she began to decry “bare bones” relief provided under federal law.As if right on cue, her son Nicholas let out what many in the room interpreted as a disgruntled groan—prompting the contingent at Planned Parenthood of Nassau County to burst into laughter.Like his mother, Nicholas apparently had his mind made up on the issue.“I can’t imagine anyone who would have to go back to work after one week because they had to choose between their family and a paycheck,” Solages, the proud new mother, said.Solages and about a dozen other elected officials gathered Friday for the official launch of their campaign, which calls on the New York State Legislature to act on the issue, this session. Those supporting the measure aren’t alone—Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also made paid family leave a priority of his 2016 agenda, along with a $15 minimum wage.The launch attracted Democrats representing local municipalities, the Nassau County Legislature, and the New York State Assembly. Collectively, they are seeking 12 weeks of paid leave for workers, which would amount to two-thirds of an individual’s salary. The contingent did not offer specifics on how the program would be funded, but Cuomo has said his plan would be paid for through deductions from workers’ paychecks of 70 cents, followed by a $1.47 deduction by 2021.“The idea of going back to work after a week is stunning,” said Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, the Long Beach Democrat who is running for disgraced ex-Senator Dean Skelos’ vacant seat. His colleague in the Assembly, Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), compared New York’s lack of funding for absent workers to that of California, which he praised for being hospitable to workers with familial obligations. Lavine and his wife spent most of January in Oakland, Calif., he said, as they awaited the birth of their grandchild, and he couldn’t help but notice the disparity.“California’s system is much more advanced in terms of protecting its citizens than is our system in the state of New York,” said Lavine, adding that paid family leave is a “human right.”“Luck shouldn’t determine who gets to look out for their family members who are in need,” he added.Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby said those most in need of assistance are low-income workers who can’t afford to abstain from their job for a long period of time.“We need that desperately,” she said of paid family leave.According to federal statistics, the percentage of U.S. private sector workers who have access to paid family leave is nominal: only 12 percent.The United States has the oft-lampooned distinction of being only one of three nations in the world that doesn’t offer paid family leave, along with Papua New Guinea and Suriname.Joann Smith, CEO and President of Nassau County Planned Parenthood, said five of her workers are currently pregnant. As of now, they’d have to use a combination of sick leave and vacation time to ensure steady paychecks while caring for their newborns. “New York has always been a leader in healthcare,” Smith said. “We need to continue this.”Advocates also mentioned how unforeseen circumstances, such as health issues, could increase the pressure on parents to stay at home to care for children, or other family members. It was a decade ago that Lorena Bowie, outreach coordinator for the family advocacy nonprofit Every Child Matters, had to quit her job at another nonprofit to care for her daughter, who was stricken with Vesicoureteral reflux, which affects the kidney. Doctor visits led to surgery, followed by multiple 15-day stints at the hospital. Bowie remained by her daughter’s side each time she was admitted, because, as she said, “I was nursing, so there was nobody else to be able to feed my child.”“As a new mom, I had no other choice but to take off from work,” Bowie said.As her attention diverted to her sick daughter, bills began piling up. Had their been resources offered to her back then, financial trouble would’ve been the least of her worries, she noted. With her daughter now healthy, Bowie has been able to concentrate her efforts on ensuring other women get the help they need. “It’s very important for us as mothers to be there for our children,” she said.