3 years ago

Alabama’s coal industry claims ‘victory’ after Trump admin proposes replacement to industry-killing Obama plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday proposed a replacement to the Obama Administration’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” and Alabama’s coal industry rejoiced, calling the news “a victory for Alabama.”

The replacement, entitled the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by establishing emission guidelines while still allowing the states individually to decide how they will meet the guidelines. The ACE Rule replaced the Obama Administration’s “overly prescriptive and burdensome Clean Power Plan (CPP) and instead empowers states, promotes energy independence, and facilitates economic growth and job creation,” according to an EPA press release.

When President Trump directed federal agencies to audit burdensome regulations, the EPA began a thorough review of the CPP, which was also blocked from taking effect by the United States Supreme Court.

“The ACE Rule would restore the rule of law and empower states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide modern, reliable and affordable energy for all Americans,” EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement. “Today’s proposal provides the states and regulated community the certainty they need to continue environmental progress while fulfilling President Trump’s goal of energy dominance.”

The proposal comes as a major victory for Alabama jobs, as the Obama Administration’s now-repealed rule was viewed as intentionally crippling the coal industry.

An analysis of the Obama CPP by Energy Ventures Analysis forecast that the rule would have forced the closure of 41,000 megawatts of coal-based generating capacity – an amount capable of serving 24 million homes – and cost consumers an estimated additional $214 billion for electricity between 2022 and 2030 and an additional $64 billion for the construction of replacement generating capacity.

Additional projections in the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2017 estimated that the CPP would have reduced coal demand by 242 million tons, which in turn would kill 127,000 high-wage jobs across the nation in coal-related direct and indirect employment by 2040.

President Trump has been credited with saving the coal industry. One Alabama miner recently named a new $2.7 million excavator “Trump” as a tribute to the president’s hard work. Alabama’s coal industry supports tens of thousands of people in the state, and its leaders are elated that the Obama Administration’s “War on Coal” is officially over.

“Alabama coal mining has a tremendous economic impact,” Alabama Coal Association President Patrick Cagle told Yellowhammer News.

He explained the many indirect jobs that the state’s coal industry provides besides the 4,000 more-obvious direct jobs.

“Because of all the equipment, the mechanics that repair the equipment and the different modes of transportation that get mined coal to its buyer, the coal industry is a lot more comprehensive than jobs at a mine,” Cagle outlined.

He continued, “All of this is done by local companies. Take, for example, the tires that are continuously needing to be replaced. Six tires for a mining truck run $23,000 a piece. You’re not getting that on Amazon. We’re buying those from local companies, and they’re being installed by local mechanics. So you really have to consider the direct and the indirect economic impact of mining.”

Cagle emphasized the importance of the industry not just on the state, but specifically on local communities.

“Most of Alabama’s coal is mined in areas that don’t have a lot of other economic opportunity going on,” he said.

A key difference between Obama’s CPP and Trump’s ACE is that CPP was a unilateral executive action while ACE works within the parameters established by Congress through the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon emissions.

“EPA has an important role when it comes to addressing the CO2 from our nation’s power plants,” Assistant EPA Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum said in a press release. “The ACE rule would fulfill this role in a manner consistent with the structure of the Clean Air Act while being equally respectful of its bounds.”

No matter what gnashing of the teeth occurs by liberal members of the media, it is important to note that the Trump Administration’s proposed rule – ACE – will still significantly reduce emissions and possibly result in higher reductions than CPP would have. Most importantly for the Yellowhammer State, it does so in a way that provides flexibility and allows for common sense.

“The Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy plan gives the flexibility to determine how to implement the rule as required by the Clean Air Act, as opposed to President Obama’s one-size-fits-all approach that treated each state the same,” Cagle explained.

He added, “Each state’s energy mix is a little different. States like Alabama should be able to factor in that the coal produced here that is used to generate electricity provides our state with energy security. And that should be taken into account when determining the future of power plants burning Alabama coal.”

The EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register and will also hold a public hearing. More information, including a fact sheet, is available here.

What’s the bottom line for Alabama?

“This is a victory for Alabama and all the businesses and families that depend on affordable and reliable energy,” Cagle concluded.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

36 mins ago

Milestone: AIDT celebrates 50 years of shaping Alabama’s workforce

MONTGOMERY, Alabama – AIDT, Alabama’s primary workforce development agency, marked 50 years as a central player in the state’s economic growth through its mission of connecting and training Alabama workers with companies across the state.

The milestone was marked with a ceremony at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, attended by Governor Kay Ivey and representatives of companies assisted by AIDT.

“Fifty years is an incredible milestone,” said Ed Castile, director of AIDT and deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “A group of people had a vison to modernize the workforce development model.

“Fifty years later and we must be doing something right,” he added.

436

The event featured a fly-over by an Airbus A321 aircraft, made at the company’s factory in Mobile, and an Alabama debut for the Toyota Corolla Cross, an all-new sport utility that is being produced at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing facility in Huntsville. AIDT has assisted both companies with workforce development support.

“Simply said, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing would not be able to recruit, assess, hire and train up to 4,000 team members without the partnership with AIDT,” Mark Brazeal, vice president of administration for Mazda Toyota, told Business Alabama.

“It is a partnership built on mutual respect and mutual trust,” he added. “It is a great partnership and we are so lucky to have AIDT in the state of Alabama.”

FAR-RANGING IMPACT

Since 1971, AIDT has trained approximately 1 million job-seekers for 5,200 companies across the state. In addition to the main office in Montgomery, AIDT operates seven training centers plus several additional satellite locations throughout Alabama. The organization maintains a fleet of mobile training units that can bring training classes to remote locations in the state.

AIDT, whose economic impact on Alabama is calculated at $7 billion annually, provides training in a wide variety of fields, from aviation to robotics.

“One of Alabama’s key advantages in economic development is our workforce training programs, which provides a foundation for the support system we have in place to help companies in many different industries find and develop the skilled workers they need to achieve success,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“AIDT is at the core of our workforce development efforts, and its contribution to the state’s economic growth over the decades has been immense,” he added. “Fortunately for us, AIDT’s culture of innovation will carry that impact forward far into the future.”

MEETING TOMORROW’S NEEDS

Consistently ranked as one of the top workforce development programs in the nation by industry and workforce publications, AIDT continues to stay at the forefront of workforce development through a willingness to evolve.

“Part of the key to our success is that we are constantly looking for ways to improve upon our processes,” Castile said. “AIDT not only delivers what companies need to meet their demands today but continues to innovate and develop ways to deliver what companies will need in the future.”

AIDT merged with the Alabama Department of Commerce in 2012.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

2 hours ago

Lakepoint Community Archery Park opens June 24

Alabama’s newest community archery park will hold its grand opening at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 24, 2021, at Lakepoint State Park, 104 Old Highway 165, in Eufaula, Alabama. The Lakepoint Community Archery Park is located near the park’s campground and day use area. The public and media are invited to attend the grand opening ceremony.

The archery park will be open year-round during normal park hours for recreational shooting, competitive tournaments and outdoor educational programming. The facility features an eight-target adult range from 15 to 50 yards and a four-target youth range of 5 to 20 yards.

Use of the archery park is free for those under 16 years of age or over 65. Lakepoint entry fees still apply. Alabamians ages 16 to 64 must have a hunting license, Wildlife Management Area (WMA) license, or Wildlife Heritage license to use the range. For non-residents, an annual WMA license or non-resident hunting license is required. Licenses are available from various local retailers or online at outdooralabama.com.

164

Lakepoint joins several other community archery parks currently in operation throughout the state. These facilities are one component of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (ADCNR) effort to increase awareness and participation in the life skill of archery. To find a community archery park nearest you, visit www.outdooralabama.com/activities/archery-parks.

The new archery park was made possible by the following agencies and organizations: Alabama State Parks, the Archery Trade Association, and ADCNR’s Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries with funding through license sales and federally matched Pittman-Robertson Act funding.

Additional recreational opportunities available at Lakepoint State Park include fishing, boating, swimming, wildlife and bird watching, camping, dining, picnic areas and playgrounds. The Park also features a Resort Lodge and Convention Center. In addition to the lodge, Lakepoint offers 29 cabins and 10 lakeside cottages. Handicap-accessible and dog-friendly units are available.

For more information about the Lakepoint Community Archery Park, call the park office at (334) 687-8011. For more information about Lakepoint State Park, visit www.alapark.com/parks/lakepoint-state-park.

17 hours ago

Live HealthSmart Alabama celebrates phase one improvements in Kingston

Live HealthSmart Alabama, a University of Alabama at Birmingham initiative, celebrated phase one improvements in the Kingston community at Stockham Park. These improvements are the culmination of a yearlong implementation project to improve the community’s infrastructure, including new and improved sidewalks, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant street ramps, trees and flowers in Stockham Park, painted murals, new bus shelters, improved lighting in hard-to-see areas, and more.

“Live HealthSmart Alabama aims to advance healthy eating, physical activity and prevention and wellness in underserved neighborhoods throughout Birmingham and the state,” said Dr. Mona Fouad, principal investigator of Live HealthSmart Alabama and director of the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center. “To help achieve these aims, we started by making community improvements. This was especially evident in the built environment. We’re excited to show everyone what has been accomplished.”

448

To reenergize the community and encourage walkability, Live HealthSmart Alabama – in partnership with Brasfield & Gorrie and subcontracted through AG Gaston – knew sidewalks in Kingston needed to be either repaved or built from scratch. To contribute toward this initiative, Kirkpatrick Concrete donated all the concrete used to make these improvements.

Other partners that contributed to the accomplishments in Kingston include O’Neal SteelCoca-Cola United, the city of BirminghamAlabama PowerSteward MachineBirmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority MAXGoodwyn Mills CawoodBlank Space BhamNAFCOBirmingham Parks and Recreation, and Watkins Trucking Company.

“It has been a great and rewarding experience working with the city of Birmingham and Alabama corporations to accomplish the built environment improvements in Kingston,” said Fouad Fouad, Ph.D., director of the UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center. “I believe these strong partnerships between academia and industry are built to last forever.”

Food deserts: A mobile solution

While each community’s needs are unique, a consistent issue Live HealthSmart Alabama has found in underserved areas is that these neighborhoods fall within areas that either have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables or are food deserts.

According to the USDA, a food desert is a place where one-third of residents live more than one mile from the nearest grocery store. Using this definition and census tracts, the USDA estimates that roughly 19 million people (or 6.2 percent of the U.S. population) live in a food desert.

To bring healthy and affordable food to Birmingham residents, Live HealthSmart Alabama introduced its new Mobile Market at the Kingston ribbon-cutting – which will run in partnership with Promoting Empowerment and Enrichment Resources (P.E.E.R.) and East Lake Market. Each week, the Mobile Market will visit communities in Birmingham, starting with their demonstration areas (Kingston, East Lake, Bush Hills and Titusville). Shoppers can purchase proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains and a variety of other healthy food options using cash, card, EBT or Double-Up Bucks.

“Currently, Alabama has some of the worst health outcomes in the nation,” said Mona Fouad. “The goal of Live HealthSmart Alabama is to move our state out of the bottom 10 in national health rankings. To do this, community members have to have access to healthy food options and the tools to be successful. The Live HealthSmart Alabama Mobile Market helps to provide that.”

In addition to its weekly route, the Live HealthSmart Alabama Mobile Market will also host monthly evening events in June and July where community members can shop and watch chef Chris Hastings of Hot & Hot Fish Club conduct a demonstration using food pulled directly from the market.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, UAB President Ray L. Watts, Myla Calhoun of Alabama Power and other UAB and community leaders also attended the event.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

21 hours ago

Birmingham Black Barons among Negro League teams getting more play in online stats

Barbershop banter about the greatest baseball players ever has more ammunition after Baseball-Reference.com, a Sports Reference website, dramatically expanded its coverage of the Negro Leagues and historical Black major league players.

Following the website’s launch on June 15, Major Negro Leagues from 1920-1948 – including the Birmingham Black Barons – are listed with the National League and American League as major leagues.

“Our view is that these players always were major league players, and it was an oversight on our part that we did not list them as major league players,” said Sean Forman, president of Sports Reference. “Such was the quality of play in the Negro Leagues. Just saying the term major league, we’re implying that they’re at the top league, in the top echelon of baseball being played. Certainly counting Willie Mays and Satchel Paige among your alumni for (the Birmingham Black Barons) lends it a certain level of quality.”

241

Paige is No. 2 on the website’s list of all-time Birmingham Black Barons, behind Sam Streeter. Following Paige are Harry Salmon, Ray Parnell, Poindexter Williams, Artie Wilson, Piper Davis, Robert Poindexter, Ed Steele, Tommy Sampson, Sandy Thompson and Bill Powell.

A release on the website said Baseball Reference is “not bestowing a new status on these players or their accomplishments. The Negro Leagues have always been major leagues. We are changing our site’s presentation to properly recognize this fact.”

The website acknowledges the work of Gary Ashwill, Scott Simkus, Mike Lynch, Kevin Johnson and Larry Lester on the Seamheads Negro League Database, where the data was acquired. The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and its members were credited with being instrumental in researching and publishing the history of the Negro Leagues.

Lester, chairman of SABR’s Negro League Committee, said adding Negro Leaguers to the lists of statistics isn’t going to change the leaderboard of baseball greats because Negro Leaguers played fewer career games.

“But we can still quantify their greatness by showing that Satchel Paige struck out almost one batter every inning, which is very close to what Nolan Ryan and other ballplayers have done,” Lester said. “We can show that Josh Gibson hit a home run every 13 or 14 times at bat, which is right in line with Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth. Across the board, we can take statistics and show how great these Black players were.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

23 hours ago

Why Peach Park in Clanton is a must-stop on summer road trips

It’s that time of the year, again, when beach vacationers traveling on Interstate 65 stop for peaches in Clanton.

For nearly 40 years, the farm stand, restaurants, and gift shop at Peach Park have been prime destinations for travelers wanting to take a break with some peach ice cream, possibly buy a jar of peach butter to enjoy back home, and certainly pick up a basket of Chilton County’s much-loved fuzzy fruit.

Some of those freshly-picked, perfectly-ripe peaches will stay in the state. But a fair amount wind up in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana—states further north on I-65, which bisects Alabama.

398

Alabama’s peach season, which basically runs from May through Labor Day, is just starting to hit its peak. Over the summer, Peach Park will sell more than 70 varieties that ripen at different times, guaranteeing a steady supply.

More than two-thirds of the peaches grown in Alabama come from Chilton County. The 74-year-old annual Peach Festival—which includes a pageant, music, fun run, art, and parades—is set for June 19-26 in Clanton.

Like Durbin Farms, its older competitor across I-65 at Exit 205, Peach Park started as a farm stand. Gene and Frances Gray opened it in 1984 to sell fruit from their own orchards and become an outlet for other area fruit and vegetable farmers.

Frances created the recipe for the much-loved peach ice cream, which premiered in 1988. She still helps make the frozen treat, some of the 10,000 gallons per year produced at Peach Park.

The family-owned business now is run by a second generation, the founders’ son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Robin Gray.

Peach Park’s seven-acre footprint boasts a barbecue restaurant (“Peach Pit Bar-B-Que”), meat-and-three, bakery, clothing boutique, playground, gardens, RV park, rental space for events, and other amenities.

Peach Park is generally open from mid-February until Christmas, operating seven days a week.

But during the summer it’s famous in tourist guides as a one-stop shop for all things peach. Ice cream flavors include peach caramel and peach cheesecake, along with straight-up peach (it graces a frozen yogurt there, too). You can order a scoop to top a piece of the peach cobbler made in the bakery.

The bakery also uses peaches in bread and cakes, and to fill its legendary fried pies—one of the state Tourism Department’s “100 Dishes to Eat and Alabama.” You can buy jars of peach preserves to take home, or order some congealed peach salad to eat there.

Don’t forget to get snaps by the giant peach replica out back, a smaller cousin to the peach-shaped water towers that mark prime producing areas in the Southeast, including Chilton County (that water tower is off Exit 112 on I-65).

Of course, we Alabamians don’t need a beach trip as an excuse to drop in to Peach Park. But with Sunday the busiest day; a weekday is the best time to relax in a rocking chair on the porch at Peach Park, working on an ice-cream cone or fried pie, and then pick up a basket of fruit for home.

(Courtesy of SoulGrown)