first_imgHome / Daily Dose / Are Negative Interest Rates Possible in the U.S.? Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Sign up for DS News Daily Share Save The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Tagged with: Interest rates Subscribe Are Negative Interest Rates Possible in the U.S.? Mike Albanese is a reporter for DS News and MReport. He is a University of Alabama graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in communications. He has worked for publications—both print and online—covering numerous beats. A Connecticut native, Albanese currently resides in Lewisville. Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago  Print This Post Commentary from The Wall Street Journal questions whether interest rates in the U.S. could fall into the negative. While investors feel interest rates could fall into the negative are in the minority, there is more than $15 trillion in government debt around the world. “Not all investors are convinced U.S. yields are destined to fall further, and those that think they could go negative remain in the minority,” the report states. “While the U.S. economy has slowed recently, it has continued to grow faster than either the eurozone or Japan.” The latest jobs report from the Labor Department found that U.S. economy continued to grow in July, although showing signs of deceleration. U.S. employers added 164,000 jobs during the month and the unemployment rate held at 3.7%. Bloomberg reported that despite continued growth, the three-month average increase of 140,000 was the slowest in almost two years, which is line with forecasts for a gradual slowing of job gains. Investors, according to the report, have expressed concern over the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, which has caused market volatility and financial uncertainty of late.  The Wall Street Journal said a main item to pay attention to is the The U.S. Treasury Department’s monthly budget report. “A key market barometer of the risk of future recessions is sounding its loudest warning since April 2007, months before the start of the last financial crisis, Daniel Kruger and Peter Santilli report,” the report said. “Shorter-term bond yields have climbed above longer-term ones, a phenomenon known as an inverted yield curve. That tends to happen ahead of recessions. Yet economic growth remains steady and the labor market strong, stoking debate among investors about what the signal means now.” Speculation of negative interest rates has arisen following the Fed’s decision in July to cut interest rates for the first time in a decade. Interest rates were cut by a quarter of a point. The Washington Post reported that the Fed is ready to “cut more to stimulate the economy, if necessary.” “Uncertainties about this [economic] outlook remain,” the Fed wrote, adding, “As the [Fed] contemplates the future path of the target range for the federal funds rate, it will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion.”center_img Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago August 12, 2019 979 Views Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago About Author: Mike Albanese The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Previous: The Fastest Growing Household Debt for Borrowers Next: HUD Invests in Small Distressed Communities The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Related Articles in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, Investment, News Interest rates 2019-08-12 Mike Albaneselast_img read more

first_imgIt’s no secret that John Lennon, The Beatles, and most other influential characters from the 1960s counterculture were exposed to drugs in their prime. In fact, many might make the argument that their experiences with these mind-altering substances are to thank for the glorious music left behind. It was a period of revolution, experimentation, and self indulgence. If you haven’t heard the story, John Lennon’s first experience with LSD is quite the “trip.”Watch this animated video of Lennon recounting this story in the video below:last_img read more

first_img[Photo: Dave Vann] Today, Dopapod’s highly anticipated new album, MEGAGEM, finally dropped, marking the band’s fifth studio release. The eight-track LP comes ahead of Dopapod’s upcoming yearlong hiatus in 2018 and extensive fall tour with The Motet and a three-night New Year’s Eve run across the Northeast.EXCLUSIVE: Dopapod’s Rob Compa Talks Allman Brothers, Phish, And Future Dopapod PlansAs Rob Compa told Live For Live Music in a recent interview, “We recorded [MEGAGEM] over the winter and have gradually finished all the little bits and pieces of it. … We actually recorded enough music to warrant another album coming out sometime next year. We just ended up with too much music for one album, so we are just gonna make two!”In promotion of this latest studio effort, Dopapod will be touring across the country, with their extensive fall tour kicking off yesterday at Theater of Living Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dopapod will continue on tour through to New Year’s Eve, ringing in 2018 with a two-night run in the Northeast starting on December 30th at the Fete Ballroom in Providence, Rhode Island, and finishing up on December 31st at Paradise in the band’s hometown of Boston, Massachusetts.Listen To Dopapod’s Neal “Fro” Evans Tear Up Brooklyn Bowl With Elephant Wrecking Ball [Full Audio]Following these dates, the band will take a year off. After the announcement of their hiatus back in September, the members of the group clarified their motivations behind their yearlong break, noting that the sabbatical was inspired by the TED Talk, “The Power of Time Off.” After seven years as road dogs, the idea of a break resonated with the members of the band, feeling that the year off would help sustain the longevity of the project and allow its members to focus on self-care.You can take a listen to Dopapod’s new album, MEGAGEM, below.last_img read more

first_imgOn March 16, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced the closure of bars, nightclubs and restaurants “to in-person patrons” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he stipulated that restaurants could still provide takeout and delivery services at least through the end of March. Upon this news, South Bend designer Jacob Titus realized the closures would greatly affect the small businesses he knew and loved in town.Titus and a group of friends were beginning to look for ways to help the community when Kevin Lawler, who owns local restaurant Baker & Rose, pointed them in the direction of locally owned restaurants. “Kevin was telling us just how challenging this was going to be for a lot of restaurants in South Bend, and that it was likely that some wouldn’t make it out on the other side,” Titus said. Titus and his group of friends, including Dustin Mix, Maria Gibbs and John Gibbons — decided to “forgo anything other than essential responsibilities for [their] own companies” and spend their time doing projects related to supporting small businesses.“All of our work outside of this — design work, photography work and stuff —  is centered around South Bend, trying to make something a dynamic place to work and live,” he said. “So the prospect of these small businesses suffering and then some not existing after this … I’m not very interested in that.” That’s when “Take out COVID-19,” a website which has now been shared across multiple platforms, from Instagram stories to Facebook posts, was created. The website lists a wide variety of restaurants and cafes in the South Bend area and surrounding regions in a database that are still offering social distancing dining options — such as takeout and curbside pickup — while their dine-in service as been closed.Graphic courtesy of Jacob Titus The tagline of the site reads, “COVID-19 is an international crisis –– but it’s also a local one,” and asks residents to show “how [the restaurants] how important they are to us.” Initially, Titus looked into building a website that would allow people to purchase gift cards but decided against it when thinking about the future following the pandemic. “With all the uncertainty for restaurants coming out on the other side, like us likely being  in a recession, and some may not open right away,” Titus said. “… The prospect of them having sold a bunch of gift cards for some is really challenging them. They would have to think about how to honor those.” So, Titus and his friends contacted as many local restaurants as possible through Facebook and phone calls to add their information to the website. “We’ve definitely heard that business is way down for them, and so we hear a lot of uncertainty,” he said. “But in terms of response to the site, we’ve heard a lot of like general, ‘we’re really grateful for this.’”Lawler, whose restaurant Baker & Rose is set to reopen in the old Dainty Maid location downtown sometime this year, said he hoped to do something to both support restaurants and also encourage people to social distance and stay home. “We wanted to make sure that people were doing things that we all need to do as a society to help,” Lawler said. “You know, make sure that it’s you people as possible are exposed to this virus and keep the general public as healthy as possible. But we also want to be supportive of all the small businesses in town. And without the walk in traffic, it’s going to be a really hard time for these restaurants.”Since the closure of dine-in restaurants in Indiana, Lawler said restaurants have been working hard to find alternatives to still serve the community. “A lot of them aren’t normally designed to be takeout or to be delivered, but they’re adjusting to that during this period, and we wanted to help highlight places that are doing that and encourage people in town to support some of these places that they don’t really go for takeout and delivery,” he said.The restaurants featured in the database offer options ranging from curbside pickup to ready-to-freeze family meals and includes information on how to order. Residents can also submit their own restaurants they would like to be featured in the database through a form on the website.Lawler said the experience of being a local restaurant owner helped him understand the gravity of the situation for other businesses.“For me, I think just understanding how challenging it is to own a restaurant to operate a restaurant,” he said. “It’s a tough business and … a lot of people that work in restaurants kind of get to know each other, and support each other.“We eat at each other’s restaurants and, and we know how important restaurants are to just the culture of the city. It‘s where you spend your time, it’s where you go to celebrate things.”The stay-at-home order for Indiana is currently in effect until April 7, but could be extended. In the meantime, Lawler said while it is good for people to cook food at home, residents could make ordering from a local restaurant part of their new routine.“I think it’s hard to know how long this is all going to go on and it’s a scary time for a lot of reasons, but as long as places are able to go in and make food, I thought the best thing we can do in the short term is to make it be a part of your routine to still order from places. “And obviously, people are stocking up and cooking at home, and that’s great too. But whether it’s a couple of meals during the week or you pick various times throughout the week that you’re gonna support some of your favorite local restaurants … I think that’s really important too.”Tags: COVID-19, delivery, Restaurants, Social distancing, South Bend, takeoutlast_img read more

first_imgHowever, despite DNB’s objection, Wonen said that it had adjusted its pension plan to the current arrangements of Detailhandel, through reducing its contribution from 21.6% to 20.8% of the pensionable salary.It also increased its franchise – the part of the salary that is excluded from pensions accrual – from €10,317 to €12,564, but kept the annual accrual rate at 1.75% of the salary.Wonen, which had to apply a 3.6% rights cut earlier, reported a funding of 111.1% at June-end, when the coverage ratio of Detailhandel was 115%.At the Pensioenfonds voor de Detailhandel nobody was available for a comment. The scheme has yet to publish its annual report for 2013.The Stichting Pensioenfonds Wonen said that it lost 3% on investments last year, in part due to the effect of rising interest rates on its 57.4% fixed income portfolio, which generated 0.9%, but largely to a 5.9% loss on its full hedge of the interest risk on its liabilities.It made clear that the introduction of the ultimate forward rate as the discount rate for its liabilities, triggered its decision to replace long-term interest swaps with swaps with a shorter duration, “in order to match the susceptibility to interest rates with the UFR methodology”.In addition, Wonen said it converted its remaining swaption into a swap and subsequently froze its swaps portfolio. As this decreased the effect of the interest hedge, it indicated it would also look at the interest cover during its planned asset liability management study.Wonen reported a 11.9% profit on its 22.3% equity holdings, and said it lost 2.9% on its 12.6% property portfolio last year.The scheme returned 10.2% and 3.3% respectively on its private equity and infrastructure investments, but noted that private equity had underperformed 11 percentage points.Its board further indicated that it had not adjusted its strategic investment mix, pending decisions on the new pensions contract, based on the new financial assessment framework (FTK).The Pensioenfonds Wonen has 24,675 active participants, 91,805 deferred members and 13,150 pensioners. The €2.2bn pension fund for the furnishing sector, Wonen, plans to merge with Detailhandel, the €13bn scheme for the retail industry.However, in its annual report, it indicated that the intended merger has been delayed by supervisor De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), which “had rejected the proposed solution for bridging the different funding level of both schemes”.When asked by IPE, the board of Wonen declined to elaborate on the suggested solution, or to clarify at what stage the preparations for a possible merger were.In its annual report, the board of Wonen said that last year, it had tasked a special merger working group with assessing the options of joining Detailhandel by 1 January 2014.last_img read more

first_imgOur Sports ReporterGUWAHATI: Now it is official. Rajasthan Royals will play at least two of their IPL games in Guwahati when the competition returns in 2020.There is more good news for cricket lovers of the State. Local boy Riyan Parag is all set to stay at the Royals camp in the next season and Rajasthan- the based franchise will be setting up a branch of their cricket academy in the city which will be operational by January.Guwahati was on the radar of IPL franchises for the last couple of years. Earlier, Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders showed a lot of interest to use the ACA Stadium, Barsapara as their second home venue. However, it did not materialize. But the waiting of the local crowd to witness IPL matches in their home ground finally came to an end, courtesy Rajasthan Royals.Addressing the media here today, Manoj Badale, the co-owner of Rajasthan Royals, officially announced that they have selected Guwahati as their second home venue for the next season. “Yes, we have selected Guwahati as our second home venue and the city will host at least two of our matches during IPL 2020. We feel it will give a boost to cricket in the region,” said Badale.He also added: “Rajasthan Royals will start a cricket academy in Guwahati very soon to groom young talents of the State as well as in the region and it would start functioning in the next two months.”Last year, local boy Riyan Parag, who represented Rajasthan Royals, displayed good performance in the IPL. Badale confirmed that Riyan is all set to stay in the team next season. Replying to a query he said, “Riyan is a promising player and he would be retained in the team.”The media briefing was also attended by the executive chairman of Rajasthan Royals Ranjit Barthakur, COO Jake Lush McCrum, along with president and secretary of Assam Cricket Association Ramen Dutta and Devajit Saikia respectively and Avinash Joshi, Principal Secretary (Sports).Barthakur, who was the man behind bringing Rajasthan Royals to Guwahati, in a brief statement stated: “Assam is now the nucleus of cricket activities in the Northeast. I am optimistic that the entire Northeast will be benefited from the IPL matches and the academy which we are going to start very shortly in Guwahati.”Giving his reaction to the new development, secretary of the Assam Cricket Association Devajit Saikia said, “We are really happy that Rajasthan Royals will play a few of their IPL matches in Guwahati and also start a cricket academy in the city. We have talent in cricket and this kind of support will help us to groom those talents in the best possible way.”Also Read: IPL: Rishabh Pant, Amit Mishra shine as Delhi Capitals beat Rajasthan Royals by 5 wicketsAlso Watch: Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Yojana’ brings no luck to these villagers in Kampurlast_img read more

first_imgPittsburgh’s James Conner (24) rushes for a 16-yard touchdown ahead of North Carolina’s Des Lawrence (2) in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, in Chapel Hill, N.C. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Robert Willett)CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – Amid all its ups and downs this season, North Carolina has at least proven it can come up with big last-minute plays to win games.On Saturday, that even included the Tar Heels’ woeful defense.T.J. Logan scored from 1 yard out with 50 seconds left, then Shakeel Rashad recovered a fumble near midfield to seal the Tar Heels’ 40-35 win against Pittsburgh.Logan’s short scoring run capped a 75-yard drive and marked his second go-ahead touchdown in the final minute of a game this season for the Tar Heels (5-5, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who rallied from 14 down early and withstood the latest huge performance from league-leading rusher James Conner.“They keep practicing hard,” coach Larry Fedora said. “Their attitudes are good. They believe and they believe in each other. As long as they do that, we’ll be fine.”Marquise Williams had a big day for UNC, running for 122 yards and three touchdowns while throwing for 276 yards and a score. He calmly led that final drive with a couple of clutch plays, including a fourth-down keeper when the Tar Heels opted against trying a 46-yard field goal while trailing 35-34.Then, after Logan’s score, Pitt quarterback Chad Voytik fumbled on a keeper after Malik Simmons’ hard hit that flipped Voytik over. Rashad pounced on the loose ball with 15 seconds left, the clinching stop for a defense that ranks among the nation’s worst statistically.“We had a lot of adversity throughout the game and sometimes it gets the better of us with big plays or whatever,” Rashad said. “But we fight back and when it really comes time to bow our necks and make a play, I think we’re pretty good at doing that.”That included hanging in against the tailback Rashad described as “250 pounds of adversity.” Conner ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns, including the 22-yard score with 3:33 left that gave Pitt (4-6, 2-4) the 35-34 lead.But that plenty of time for the Tar Heels, who were in that exact position less than a month earlier.In the last home game, Georgia Tech went ahead on a 75-yard reverse with 3:07 left, before Williams led the go-ahead drive for the winning score with 11 seconds to go.Logan had the winner there, too, scoring from 2 yards out for the 48-43 win.“I felt like when they went down and scored, just like Georgia Tech, we just pulled together,” Logan said. “Nobody was blaming anyone. We knew we had to score and we did it.”The teams each entered needing two wins in the final three games to become bowl eligible. Now the Tar Heels are a win closer, while the Panthers must beat both Syracuse and Miami.“I thought there was a lot of fight in our group,” Pitt coach Paul Chryst said. “Guys put it out there but didn’t find a way to get a victory.”Conner scored from 56 yards out on the game’s first possession, then added scoring runs of 16 and 2 yards before breaking four tackles and dragging two defenders the final few yards on his last TD. Along the way, he set ACC and program records for most season rushing yards by a sophomore.Conner now has 21 rushing touchdowns this season, tying the ACC single-season record.Tyler Boyd also had a big day for Pitt, catching five passes for 160 yards and a 50-yard score, as Pitt finished with 523 total yards.Ryan Switzer had a 63-yard catch-and-run touchdown early in the third quarter for the Tar Heels. Logan ran for 92 yards in a short-handed backfield, with tailback Romar Morris suspended one game after a recent DWI arrest, freshman Elijah Hood missing a fourth straight game with an injury and sophomore Khris Francis injuring his right leg on a kickoff return.The Tar Heels were also without linebacker Travis Hughes because of an unspecified violation of team policy.___Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at read more

first_imgThere’s a reason that every high-performance car is sleek and compact in shape; sleekness improves performance. The same principle applies to centuries-old sculptures that keep their features and endure centuries of weathering and the test of time: keep the shape simple.Unfortunately, the current trend is to build large homes that have poorly designed floor spaces. The physical shape of these origami-like buildings impacts our lives, our comfort, and our energy bills. Finding beauty in simplicityHomes are functional art. A home has to be durable, comfortable, and (ideally) close to maintenance-free.Humans are attracted to beautiful things. When we distill the features of a home down to their essence, the result is a simple design that meets our ergonomic needs.Take furniture, for example. Some artisanal furniture shops sell great examples of functional objects that are honest and essential, creating lines of furniture like Danish teak dining room sets. Not all furniture is loved, but pieces that do evoke caring are always welcomed by the next generation. Good design transcends time and fashion. Detailing for a good air seal along this stepped foundation wall isn’t impossible, but it takes some focus. This concept is at the core of the “Not So Big House” series of books written by Sarah Susanka, who urges us to spend not on large size and complexity, but on good design with thoughtful detailing.Since many Europeans pay phenomenally high utility prices, they have been building super-efficient homes with simple shapes for 20 years now. The movement has even inspired Twitter hash tags, including #BoxyButBeautiful. A house with a huge footprint has point loads and beams that disrupt HVAC runs. Here we see HVAC art, but what it spells is discomfort. This problem should have been addressed at the design stage. This expensive bump-out in the wall is for a fireplace gas insert. It’s unnecessary; it could have been bumped in. But we like our interiors to have clean lines: no bulkheads or bumped-in fireplaces! Check below to see all that’s gone into making this happen. With all the extra framing and the mini roofed attic, it’s a lot of detailing. Bonus rooms above garages are responsible for a constant stream of complaints. This type of room is more exposed than other rooms in the house and is distant from the furnace. Here’s the second floor, where the ducts turn in and come up through the floor. The conditioned air will have a lower pressure and temperature by the time it completes its journey upstairs. This lovely tin-roofed side attic is on the main floor. It will get short shrift on insulation detailing. The brick of the second floor wall is supported by a steel I-beam that bears on two columns. With no attic hatch to provide the access for quality control, what’s the incentive to detail everything right? The origami wouldn’t be complete without fetishizing the dormer. You can see the extent a framer needs to go through for that “cathedral look” inside a nameless second floor window. It’s official: everyone needs a bump-out! Greg Labbé is co-owner of BlueGreen Consulting Group, a high-performance home consulting firm that works with architects, builders, and homeowners to optimize the energy performance of new and existing homes through detailed energy modeling and site testing. As Passivhaus builder Ed Marion likes to say about this one, “It has bump-outs on its bump-outs!” See the video below for a look inside.Let’s be frank and call it what it is: a side attic with a huge steel beam running through it. These areas are rarely insulated and air sealed properly, because the work is difficult to do well. Complexity ≠ EfficiencyLet’s get one thing straight: complexity works against efficiency in many ways. In many cases, things get missed in the design that have to be solved in the construction phase. Or worse: errors just drywalled and painted over.Right from the start, complexity requires more planning and more explaining. And once construction starts, framers have to do more cobbling. Inspectors miss things, because there’s so much to look at.Yes, the detailing for this type of building can be done properly, but it’s often overlooked. Have a look for yourself at how varied and complex the features of an origami home can be! This is what the bump-out looks like in the basement. We see four ducts, with one pair supplying each floor above grade level. Notice that the ducts all have to bend around the header and that each 45° elbow introduces 10 feet of equivalent duct resistance to the air flow. The following three pictures provide a sequence showing what can go wrong with a bump-out. Of course, it’s expensive to add four more corners to the building, both from a construction perspective and an energy-efficiency perspective. The kitchen sink bump-out and the fireplace bump-out: two for one! On the main floor, we see a box in each corner for ducts that run to the second floor. Putting a duct against an outside wall is not good design practice; it’s even worse in an outside corner. Large houses have more point loads and therefore more columns and built-up beams along outside walls. Again, these require careful planning and detailing to avoid thermal bridges. The thermal bridging that will take place at each powder-coated steel column is significant. Unless the builder uses a good insulated sheathing and details the connections properly, this house will be comfort-challenged. Like the house above, the large catchment area of this roof empties out onto one small length of gutter. Here’s what a stepped wall looks from the inside. The pony wall to foundation wall transition is never elegant, especially when it’s covered by roll insulation. What’s this? We’re looking up toward the second-floor ceiling, and this is a dead space. It’s 2 square feet of floor space that could have been added to a closet. This is what happens when you have room to squander: you get lazy in the design and layout. With the large catchment area of this roof emptying out onto one small length of gutter, it’s just a matter of time before the house suffers an ice dam. RELATED ARTICLES Air Leaks in Homes Insulated With Spray FoamBanish These Details From Your Plans Here’s what the bump-out in the photo above looks like in the basement: lots of framing and a shallow cubby that serves little purpose.last_img read more

first_imgA push for wood-burning power plants has eased in the U.S., but the use of wood pellets to produce electricity is flourishing elsewhere and remains a serious environmental threat, an energy policy advocacy group warns. Writing in the New York Review of Books, Mary S. Booth said the use of forest biomass as a replacement for coal is increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and amounts to a “parade of stupidity” that benefits the growing biomass industry financially. Booth founded the Partnership for Policy Integrity in 2010. Its purpose, she says, is to provide reliable information on the environmental impact of burning forest products to produce electricity.RELATED ARTICLESBiomass Boilers: A Greener Alternative to Heat the Home?Biomass Electricity Production: How Green Is It?Lawmakers Try to Prop Up the Sagging Biomass IndustryReport Cites Carbon Impact of Biomass PlantsThe UK’s Biomass Problem An industry that started out small with sawmills and paper manufacturers burning waste for heat and power has since mushroomed into a colossus, Booth says. The biomass and pellet industries are pulling in billions of dollars in renewable energy subsidies at the expense of the environment. Burning wood to make electricity has proven to be expensive in the U.S., even with government subsidies. That has slowed momentum here. Incentives available in Europe however, have helped double wood consumption between 2000 and 2017. About 35% of total renewable energy in Europe is sourced from wood, with total wood consumption for energy now more than 400 million tons a year, Booth said. Policymakers in Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere seem happy to consider biomass as a green substitute for coal, she says, while “scientists and activists are reacting with bewilderment and fury as entire forests are vaporized into the atmosphere in the name of renewable energy.” The rising demand for wood pellets has led to increased wood harvests in less regulated forests, particularly in the southern U.S. and Canada. Forests in “less scrutinized” areas of Europe, including Slovakia, Ukraine, and Romania, also have seen heavier harvesting. Although wood pellets make up a fraction of the wood used for energy in Europe, the impacts have been “horrendous.” “Clear cutting is never pretty, but there is something especially sickening about seeing a forest annihilated for supposedly green energy,” Booth says. A single power plant in the United Kingdom has converted four of its six boilers to burn wood pellets and in a single year consumes wood equivalent to clearcutting 324 square miles of forest, Booth claims. Renewable energy subsidies to the Drax plant amount to about $1 billion a year. Advocates of biomass power generation argue the resource is rightfully classified as renewable because new trees can take the place of trees harvested for fuel. The carbon that had been sequestered in harvested trees will again be taken up by new growth. Critics, however, point out that forests take decades to regrow while burning wood for fuel releases C02 immediately. Further, burning biomass emits more carbon dioxide than burning coal. “Thus, far from being zero-carbon, the cumulative net emissions from burning forestry residues for fuel still speeds the transfer of forest carbon into the atmosphere, and the accumulated net impact of such emissions likewise speeds warming,” Booth says. Booth and others make these arguments in a 28-minute film called “Burned: Are Trees the New Coal?” which you can see online here. It’s a sobering indictment of the industry’s assault on wetland forests of the southeast U.S. and accuses the industry of lying to the public for financial gain. The pellet industry cries foul The U.S. Industrial Pellet Association, a trade group, claims the film amounts to a hatchet job. “The truth is that this film is not just unbalanced—it’s completely biased and dangerously wrong,” a statement at the group’s website claims in a lengthy rebuttal. “It paints a deeply inaccurate picture, basing its narrative on flawed assumptions about how forestry operates and how US forests over recent years and decades have performed.” The association says the the film “falls into the normal pattern of anti-biomass campaigners” by failing to provide context and making factual errors. Instead, the group recommends a film that extolls the environmental virtues of biomass called “The Biomass Sustainability Story.” You can watch that film here. The group makes these arguments: Data from the U.S. Forest Service shows a net growth of forest inventories in the South, up a total of 108% since 1951. Wood harvested for pellets represent just 0.34% of total forest inventories. Because forests in the U.S. southeast are experiencing net growth, there is no time lag in carbon sequestration. The association calls this the “carbon debt fallacy.” Harvesting wood for pellets is not as much of a threat to forests as urbanization and conversation to agriculture. “Profits from bioenergy (and other sectors) actually help protect forests,” it says. Claims by Booth’s group about clearcuts in the South are misleading. Trees used for pellets are of “very low value.” The carbon released by burning wood (“biosphere” carbon) is different than the carbon released by burning fossil fuels (the group calls this “geologic” carbon). Claims filed with SEC Booth’s group ridiculed the host of the pellet industry film, a British environmentalist named Tony Juniper, and has filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission against Enviva, a major producer of wood pellets in the Southeast. Booth said the 2016 complaint alleged the publicly traded company made misleading claims about carbon emissions. The group also requested new rule-making from the SEC that would require biomass producers and users to disclose greenhouse gas emissions “that are informative to investors and not materially misleading.” That request was filed by the Partnership for Policy Integrity and 27 other organizations, including a number of investment advisors. “Companies manufacturing and selling biomass-based fuels and products often make dubious or unsubstantiated claims that the products reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” the letter to the SEC reads. “The growth of these products and a surge of interest in investments that promise to reduce GHG emissions mean that such claims are likely to be material to an increasing number of investors.” In an email this week, Booth said the SEC actions are still pending. -Scott Gibson is a contributing writer at Green Building Advisor and Fine Homebuilding magazine.last_img read more

first_imgBERLIN — Smoke from grilled bratwurst sausages filled the air and the beer taps were kept flowing as Union Berlin fans celebrated taking a step closer to Bundesliga promotion.They lingered long after their team’s 3-0 win over Magdeburg on Sunday, sitting at picnic tables among the trees, raising their plastic glasses and singing songs in anticipation of joining German soccer’s top clubs for the first time.With one game remaining, Union is virtually assured of at least reaching a playoff for the Bundesliga, while the team can secure automatic promotion with a win at Bochum next Sunday if Paderborn loses at Dynamo Dresden at the same time.Paderborn is currently one point ahead of Union in second place and in the better position to join champion Cologne in the top division. Union, three points ahead of Hamburger SV and with a far superior goal difference, will finish third at least, meaning a two-leg playoff against Stuttgart, which finished in 16th place this year.Union can become the first club from East Germany’s Oberliga to play in the Bundesliga since Energie Cottbus was relegated in 2009.“The whole club, the fans, everyone around here deserves it,” said Union forward Sebastian Polter, who scored two goals against Magdeburg.Union’s best campaign in the second division has been helped by the toughest defense in the league and the best record at home – now 11 wins, five draws and only one loss.Fans were already in party mood before kickoff at Union’s Stadion An der Alten Försterei (Stadium at the Old Forester’s House) in the eastern borough of Köpenick. Full with 22,000 fans, it had been sold out for weeks.Magdeburg needed a win to avoid relegation to the third division and the game, an old East German derby, was given added spice because of animosity between both sets of fans. There was increased security because of the presence of ultras from Dynamo Berlin, Union’s hated city rival, in the visiting fans’ block.Union, which traces its beginnings back to 1906 as Olympia Oberschöneweide, received its current name in 1966 and it prides itself on its resistance to the East German regime – in contrast to Dynamo, which was Stasi chief Erich Mielke’s club. Amid allegations of match-fixing and politically influenced favors, Dynamo went on to win 10 straight East German titles between 1979-88, but reunification wasn’t kind to the club and now it languishes in the fourth division.Union also had a spell in the fourth tier, but it has weathered financial difficulties to become Berlin’s second-best supported side after Hertha Berlin.Sunday’s game was interrupted for several minutes toward the end because of trouble in the Magdeburg block, where some fans attempted to force their way through a security fence. The home supporters reacted with whistles and insults.Earlier, the visiting fans marked kickoff by setting off pyrotechnics – banned to little avail by the authorities – before waving blue and white balloons.But the visitors were drowned out by the home fans, who sang about “our love, our team, our pride, our club, our Union Berlin,” and raised their hands to clap the team on.Union has fostered a close relationship with its fans. They came to the financially strapped club’s rescue in 2008 when it needed to modernize its stadium. About 1,600 volunteers contributed an estimated 90,000 hours of work to save on construction costs. Four years before, fans gave blood to raise money under the slogan “Bleed for Union.”Promotion would help repay the effort. Union midfielder Grischa Prömel scored in the eighth minute against Magdeburg, Polter made it 2-0 and then got his second in the lengthy injury time caused by the crowd disturbances.Union fans taunted the visitors and were slow to leave the stadium, pausing for beers, buying souvenirs at the club shop and enjoying the good vibes helped by the sunshine.Union coach Urs Fischer is attempting to deflate rising expectations.“There’s still a lot at stake, but we’re relying on help from Dresden,” Fischer said. “It will be a tough job. We haven’t won anything yet.”By: Ciarán Fahey, Associated PressTweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more