On the Blogs: A ‘Wink and a Nod’ in Regulatory Allowance That Saw Coal as Too Big to Fail FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Patrick McGinley for TheConversation.com:A self-bonding corporation’s promise to reclaim is little more than an IOU backed by company assets.Companies reorganizing under federal bankruptcy laws will continue to mine and market coal, hoping to shed mountains of debt and eventually emerge from bankruptcy. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to obtain conventional surety bonds after they reorganize, or whether bankruptcy courts will direct the companies to use their remaining assets to partially fulfill their self-bonding obligations.One thing is clear, however. Against the backdrop of a century of coal company bankruptcies and attendant environmental damage, regulators ignored a looming coal market collapse with a wink and a nod. Properly administered, SMCRA’s reclamation bonding requirements should have required secure financial guarantees collectible upon bankruptcy.Unfortunately, coal regulators viewed America’s leading coal companies like Wall Street’s mismanaged banks – too big to fail. As a result, American taxpayers may have to pick up an enormous reclamation tab for coal producers.Full item: Will taxpayers foot the cleanup bill for bankrupt coal companies?
Woidt said that Saturday’s mild weather helped make the event a success. Organizers said they hope to continue holding the event each winter to help fight cabin fever and show off Broome County’s parks. “We’ve been having people come up to us all day and learning about ice fishing, asking us to help them out with things, so definitely a lot of newcomers to the sport,” he said. COLESVILLE (WBNG) — After a more than ten year hiatus, a winter celebration made a comeback in the Southern Tier Saturday. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” she said. “Colesville used to have an event like this, they would just have a big winter day at Cole Park,” Director of Broome County Parks and Recreation Liz Woidt said. “We were like hey, let’s make it a Broome County event.” One of those ice fisherman was Karl Schnabl from Endicott. The Broome County Parks Department teamed up with Broome County Executive Jason Garnar to make that idea a reality, now called Winterfest. “We brought back this tradition and there’s a ton of people out — what a great turnout, people are ice fishing, kids are sledding, we’ve got the zoo,” he said.
Former USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian is joining Alabama’s coaching staff as an offensive analyst, Alabama coach Nick Saban confirmed on Monday.Sarkisian was infamously fired at USC weeks into the 2015 season following a series of alcohol-related issues that began with a rant at the annual Salute to Troy event, where he appeared to be intoxicated. Then-Athletic Director Pat Haden gave him the axe in October after he showed up to a practice in poor condition.The 42-year-old was slated to join Fox Sports as a television analyst this season, but instead will take a job with the Crimson Tide.“We’re glad to have him as part of the organization,” Saban said to the media. “Hopefully he’ll be able to get back on his feet professionally and this will be beneficial to him.”Sarkisian will work with Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who was also fired from USC in less-then-amicable fashion. Both Sarkisian and Kiffin also coached under Pete Carroll with the Trojans.Due to NCAA rules on staff size, Sarkisian will not be able to coach players on the field. He is the fifth former head coach to join Alabama’s coaching staff.Saban said that he and Sarkisian had discussed the role “quite a while ago.”“He’s going through some personal things himself to get himself in a very positive position and wants to continue to do those things in the future and professionally,” Saban said. “He loves coaching. I’ve known him for a long time and he’s a very, very good coach.”Saban added that Sarkisian is aware of ramifications should concerns flare up again.“I think he understands the consequences that he deals with professionally if he has any issues or problems,” Saban said.Sarkisian is still in the midst of a legal battle with USC. He filed a wrongful terminal lawsuit against the University last December, claiming the school should have allowed him to seek treatment for alcoholism rather than dismissing him. The case is headed for arbitration; Sarkisian is seeking the $12.6 million remaining on his contract in addition to unspecified damages.
Chronic dry spells in southern Zambia’s Sinazongwe district have had devastating effects on local communities. So it came as a surprise when a government-run dam and irrigation project was met with hostility by citizens.Recognizing the country’s vulnerability to climate change, the Zambian government declared climate adaptation a national priority, promising to implement projects to help local communities become more resilient. However, the government failed to include people in these affected areas in its design and decision-making processes for adaptation projects like the Sinazongwe dam. The project displaced many and prevented them from sowing their land. Fearing the threat to their livelihoods, local communities resisted the project, and have delayed its completion.While the Zambian case may seem very specific, it actually reflects a vital component of climate action that is often overshadowed—namely, that of governance. Negotiators made major and encouraging promises when they adopted the new Paris Agreement at COP21 last week. Yet the future success of this Agreement relies on tough questions about accountability, participation, transparency and effectiveness—all of which have governance challenges at their core.An Empowered Public Essential for Holding Politicians AccountablePolitical leaders in Paris made impressive commitments on national actions to tackle climate change—but now comes the hard part of following through. Politicians often change, and new leaders may not honor previous commitments. Or, as new circumstances arise— such as a tighter fiscal environment—politicians have been known to backtrack. We saw this in Denmark, a country often considered at the forefront of climate action, when it cut back on its emissions-reduction goals, citing they would “impose extra costs on the business community.”While the Paris Agreement has built-in mechanisms to ensure accountability, transparency and ambition, consistency of commitments is also a matter of political accountability; politicians should be held accountable for their public commitments and decisions by the electorate. An active civil society and media can serve as powerful forces able to exert accountability on political leaders.Yet in many countries around the world, civil society simply lacks the freedoms necessary to hold their governments accountable. Laws may not allow for the existence of organizations that understand and advocate on climate issues. Even when civil society is actively engaged on climate issues, it may be constrained by the fact that climate issues don’t always command a high profile in domestic affairs. And in still other cases, many countries around the world have introduced restrictive legislation that limits the freedom of civil society to campaign freely, and constrains or censors the media.Instead, governments should encourage open dialogue and create a safe operating environment for civil society. For example, strides made by the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which includes 70 countries worldwide, have strengthened government commitments to collaborate more with civil society and allow their voices to be heard on transparency and accountability issues. OGP National Action Plans offer the potential to build in commitments on climate and sustainable development through dialogue with civil society.A Need for Transparency and EfficiencyTwo other critical governance dimensions of climate actions concern transparency of budgets and the efficiency of governmental decision making. Before and during Paris, countries committed substantially more funding to help less developed nations mitigate and adapt to climate change. Open budgets are vital for tracking these funds. They enable civil society to provide oversight on fund flows from national to local levels, and ensure that budgets are spent on their intended purposes. The Philippines, for example, lacked a centralized climate finance monitoring agency, prompting civil society organizations to launch a comprehensive investigation on where funds were being spent. They discovered that a significant portion of climate funds were going unreported, and only a fraction was reaching the vulnerable communities who need climate finance the most. By uncovering these discrepancies, Philippine civil society was able to pressure their Congress to establish the Oversight Committee on Climate Change.Financial flows also highlight the importance of government effectiveness. Currently, most budget systems have adaptation funds flowing from central to local governments. Starting with the ministries of finance, funds flow invariably to allocated budgets of different ministries that work on climate change adaptation. Then, these ministries delegate much of the responsibility of managing these funds to the local governments, which often lack the capacity to implement proactive adaptation strategies. The lack of communication and coordination between these levels of government undermines climate commitments and adaptation projects. Research conducted by the Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative found that when funding goes directly to local governments instead of starting at the top and trickling down, the central government is better positioned to help build capacity locally and effectively implement projects. These dimensions of governance all have a bearing on the implementation of climate commitments post-Paris. While the Agreement itself outlines standards for monitoring and verification, this narrow scope ignores the political and technical dimensions that improve the quality of governance itself. Improving governance throughout the nations of the world—especially those with weak democracies and civil rights—will be key for ensuring they follow through on their climate ambitions.