FirstEnergy Idles Its Biggest Coal-Fired Plant; No Restart Date Set

first_imgFirstEnergy Idles Its Biggest Coal-Fired Plant; No Restart Date Set FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Anya Litvak for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:For almost three weeks, FirstEnergy Corp.’s largest coal plant, Bruce Mansfield in Shippingport, has been sitting idle with no restart date planned.The 340 workers employed there still come to work every morning — there’s plenty of maintenance work to be done, said Herman Marshman Jr., a 32-year veteran of the plant and president of the local union representing electrical workers at Bruce Mansfield. But the boilers sit quiet, waiting for power prices to catch up with the cost of running the plant.Akron-based FirstEnergy made the decision to take the nearly 2,500 megawatt plant offline late last month because of sustained low prices, said Stephanie Walton, a spokeswoman for the company.She said it’s not unusual for generators to respond to market conditions by idling plants for some period of time. But Mr. Marshman, with three decades of experience at the power station, said the last time all three Bruce Mansfield units were shut off was in 1999.“And we’ve never been off for this extended period of time,” he said.Ms. Walton said FirstEnergy doesn’t discuss such events for competitive reasons. She declined to say if the company has idled any other power plants for economic reasons.The Energy Information Administration recently released data showing that natural gas dominated coal in electric power generation for seven months last year. That’s a record, as coal has historically been the dominant fuel for the industry.Electricity prices “fell significantly in 2008 and continued to trail down for years, but then hit new lows in 2016,” Ms. Walton said.Bruce Mansfield is still offering its services to the grid every day, as it is required to do in exchange for receiving capacity payments from PJM Interconnection, a Valley Forge-based grid operator that coordinates the flow of electricity for 13 states. It tells PJM at what price it would be economic to run the plant and PJM determines if that prices is low enough to dispatch the power plant the next day.Bruce Mansfield coal power plant idled because of low power priceslast_img read more

Oversupply, low prices may turn LNG boom into a bust in 2020

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Liquefied natural gas prices are poised to test record lows this year thanks to an onslaught of new supply and warmer winter temperatures curbing consumption.The startup of new export projects from Australia to the U.S. has flooded the market, while brimming stockpiles in Europe and an expected slowdown in Chinese demand have dumped cold water on consumption prospects. LNG for spot delivery to North Asia is on track to hit an all-time low this summer, while gas prices in Europe and the U.S. are trading at the weakest seasonal levels since 1999.“The global oversupply of LNG has been building and building and building,” said Ron Ozer, founder of gas-focused hedge fund Statar Capital LLC in New York. “The gas market can’t stomach the oversupply and warm weather, and it’s getting both.”U.S. gas exports have surged amid the nation’s shale boom, but plummeting prices may now throttle back shipments or encourage sustained maintenance while firms weather the storm. Producers and companies with off-take agreements may decide not to load cargoes because prices are too low to earn a profit after accounting for shipping costs.With cargoes from the Gulf of Mexico currently priced around $2.65 per million Btu, cash margins are positive only because of weak U.S. benchmark prices, according to Robert Sims, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. There’s a chance that production could be reduced if the spread between benchmark Henry Hub and U.S. Gulf LNG narrows 25 cents, he said.After four years of belt-tightening, the amount of investments last year in new production capacity set a record. Companies including Qatar Petroleum, Novatek PJSC and Venture Global LNG Inc. sanctioned new plants from the U.S. to Russia. But the current wave of additional supply and persistent weak global prices is challenging new projects seeking final investment decisions, according to Morgan Stanley. The bank reduced its outlook for the number of projects reaching FID and revised lower its new supply outlook for the middle of the decade. The low price environment will also likely force Qatar to stagger or postpone its planned 64% capacity expansion, currently scheduled by 2027, according to FGE.[Stephen Stapczynski, Anna Shiryaevskaya and Naureen S Malik]More: Global LNG poised for terrible year as new supply floods market Oversupply, low prices may turn LNG boom into a bust in 2020last_img read more

Another insurance company walks away from Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project in Australia

first_imgAnother insurance company walks away from Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project in Australia FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:Another major insurer that was providing cover for the Adani Carmichael coalmine project in Queensland has said it will not be renewing policies with the coal project.Aspen Insurance is the fourth of Adani’s underwriters to walk away from the major mine and export rail project currently being constructed in the Galilee basin. Last week, three former insurers – AXA XL, Liberty Mutual and HDI – all confirmed they would not continue previous insurance policies on the project.In a statement, Aspen Insurance said: “Aspen can confirm that it will not be renewing any insurance policies associated with the Adani Carmichael mine. As a business, Aspen understands the importance of environmental, social, and governance issues and we review our underwriting approach on an ongoing basis as part of this.”Guardian Australia understands Aspen’s business with Adani had been under review sometime after the ownership of the business changed hands in February 2019.The Adani mine has faced relentless pressure from campaigners. Companies associated with the project have been targeted by groups who say associating with the coalmine risks causing “reputational damage” because of the contribution of burning coal to the climate crisis.The mine and railway are the first project to target the massive but as-yet untapped coal reserves in the Galilee Basin. Campaigners fear the Carmichael mine, approved by the state and federal governments, will be the first of several coal mines to develop the region.[Graham Readfearn]More: Adani mine: fourth major insurer declines to renew policies with coal projectlast_img read more

California regulators approve 1.2GW of new battery storage capacity

first_imgCalifornia regulators approve 1.2GW of new battery storage capacity FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:California approved one of the biggest installations of battery-based energy-storage systems in the U.S. as the state moves to add power resources to its grid after suffering from rolling blackouts.The California Public Utilities Commission signed off on previously announced utility contracts for nearly 1.2 gigawatts of battery storage capacity that is expected to be in service by August of next year. The commission’s vote comes less than two weeks after California’s grid operator imposed power shutoffs that left millions in the dark during a record heat wave.Last year, state regulators ordered utilities to secure an additional 3.3 gigawatts of reserve supplies as it anticipated electricity shortfalls with the retirement of aging natural gas plants. The batteries will be able to soak up excess energy produced by California’s solar farms during the day and discharge that electricity when the sun goes down and solar production falls.In May, Edison International’s Southern California Edison said it had inked deals for 770 megawatts of battery projects and PG&E Corp. said it had agreements for 423 megawatts to help close the gap. Those contracts were approved Thursday.Separately, the commission allowed Southern California Edison to sign short-term contracts to buy power from several natural gas units.“California recently experienced reliability challenges not seen in decades and we are working to identify the root causes,” CPUC Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma said in a statement. “Our decisions today continue to build the foundation of our resource adequacy program by securing additional contingency resources for use when needed.”[Mark Chediak]More: California approves energy storage systems to bolster gridlast_img read more

Trail Mix – Jeremy Garrett

first_imgJeremy Garrett, of The Infamous Stringdusters, returns with a solo release recorded in his RV.A few years back, my older son and I were camping outside of Asheville and we met a retired couple who, following the end of their working days, sold their house and all of their belongings, bought an RV, and hit the road. The couple told me of calling Florida home base but spending the spring, summer, and fall at campgrounds throughout the country. After their stint in Asheville, they said, they were going to the New York’s Adirondack Mountains for a month before heading to Pennsylvania.Admittedly, I was fascinated by the freedom of this lifestyle. I chatted about it with my wife when I returned home and told her how cool I thought it was.Her response?“Don’t get any ideas.”But Jeremy Garrett, fiddler for The Infamous Stringdusters, and his wife, Connie, had just that idea. They traded their traditional house in Nashville for a home on wheels in 2013 and have spent 2015 pointing their RV towards destinations all around the U.S.A.Last month, Jeremy released The RV Sessions, his first solo record since 2009’s I Am A Stranger, and – as the name implies – the record was recorded, and often written, within the confines of his traveling home.I recently chatted with Jeremy about the new record and his new vagabond lifestyle.BRO – Giving up a house for life in an RV couldn’t have been an easy decision. Whose idea was it and how did you make it happen?JG – About five years ago, Connie and I rented a Rialta, a small RV, for a two week trip around the West to visit some relatives. We thought it would be fun and we wanted to save a little money on the trip. We had the time of our lives and we both expressed to each other that we had to figure out  away to do this all the time. We started making plans and sold our house in Nashville and bought the rig. We practiced living in it for a year in Nashville and launched it full time in January. We have had a blast discovering more and more of this great country together. My schedule with the ‘Dusters keeps me away a lot and this has actually given us more time together because of the way I can leap frog with my touring. We are a little over half way around our circle of the U.S. and are already talking about another.BRO – In five words or less, finish this sentence. “The best part of life in an RV is . . . “JG –   . . . being location neutral.BRO – In five words or less, finish this sentence. “The worst part of life in an RV is . . . “JG –   Connie says, “Laundry!”BRO – You have had the opportunity to record in some pretty amazing spaces. How do the acoustics of the RV stack up against your favorite studios?JG –  I think it sounds amazing in the RV. There’s a live sound that comes with it. Sometimes you hear that occasional bird, or once in a while some other sounds gets picked up by the mic. You might even hear a cat meow in the background of one of the songs. I tried to pick the quietest camping spots to do my recording. It may not be the Sound Emporium, but these days, with gear the way it is, I think there are a lot of people that couldn’t tell the difference.BRO – We are featuring “Lean On Love” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?JG – This was co-written with my frequent songwriting partner Jon Weisenberger and was written about exactly what we were feeling that day. We had gotten together to write and, as we often do, got to discussing what was going on in our lives that we could write about. There was a theme that kept surfacing and it had a lot to do with the admiration that we had for people in our lives that love us, look out for us, and support us. If you lean on it, that love really does make life easier and richer. It you let people lean on you, it makes their lives easier and richer. Love is the ultimate.BRO – Be honest. How often do you look at your recreational vehicle and say, “That there, that’s an RV.”?JG – It feels like home to me. When I get off tour with the ‘Dusters and play my own shows, I always have my home – my king sized bed, hot shower, coffee pot – with me. I’ve owned a house and an RV now and, I have to say, my experience is that it is way less hassle and cheaper to do the RV thing. I never have to put on a new roof or mow the lawn. I never have to pay for garbage or water or sewer. Once in a while we have a mechanical problem, and that can be a pain, but the trade off for that is that last week Crater Lake was our backyard. We love it. We’ll probably end up getting some real estate again at some point, but I can’t imagine not always having some sort of RV at least for leisure travel. It’s not for everyone, but it fits us great.Jeremy just wrapped up some solo dates and will soon hit the road with The Infamous Stringdusters. You can catch Jeremy and his ‘Duster mates at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Fest, Northwest String Summit, and Rockygrass later this month.For more information on Jeremy Garrett, how you can grab the new record, or when he might come to a town near you for a solo show or with the ‘Dusters, please check out his website.last_img read more

Trail Mix | Ashley Riley Song Premiere

first_imgOne of my favorite things to do here at Trail Mix is premiere songs. There is something about being out in front of the curve, offering up a tune from artist for the world to hear for the first time.Today, it is my pleasure to bring you “Out To Sea,” the brand new track from Decatur, Illinois based singer/songwriter Ashley Riley.Riley released her first record in 2008, about the same time she began hosting open mic nights in her home town. Since then, she has released two more records, drawn well warranted critical praise while earning comparisons to Americana icons like Patty Griffin and Stevie Nicks, and is readying herself for the release of her latest record, a project nearly two years in the making, next month.“Out To Sea” is a song, says Riley, that had the songwriter a bit outside her comfort zone.“It was a fun song to write. It was a reactionary song, actually, which is not my usual style, but it worked out. This time, anyway. I heard something negative that someone had said about what I was doing musically at the time and it irritated me. I love music and writing songs – that’s what I do – and I also believe that when people are hating on someone, it says more about them than the person they are talking about, and that’s the point of “Out To Sea.”Perhaps we should thank whoever it was that got Ashley so riled up, because it’s apparent she writes some dandy tunes when her dander’s up.For the first time ever, please take a listen to “Out To Sea.” Stay tuned for the brand new long player, Through The Thin, which drops on April 8th.You can catch Ashley Riley live at The Black Sheep Cafe in Springfield, Illinois, on April 15th. You can bet she’ll be playing a host of tunes off of Through The Thin. For more information on Ashley Riley, the new record, and when she will be coming to your town, please check out her website.[divider]More from the Trail Mix Blog[/divider]last_img read more

Hidden Treasures

first_imgSouthern rivers are some of the world’s most biologically diverse. Snorkelers are taking the plunge to see for themselves.Casper Cox sits neck-deep in the middle of the river, a purple snorkel strapped around his head. “We’re all attracted to beauty,” he says to the camera, pausing for effect, “and there is an enormous amount of beauty in this water.”Cox is a featured player in a short video I’m showing to my college biology class, a group of 15 or so twenty-somethings from across the Southern Appalachians. Brook Trout hover just below the surface of a mountain stream. A hellbender salamander slinks by the camera in one shot, while a group of neon-orange shiners shimmers in another.As the video plays, I sneak a look back at the class. We’re miles from the river, but the group of young adults might as well be in the water with Cox themselves. For maybe the first time the whole semester, not a single person is dozing off. Smartphones are placed face-down on every table. The students’ jaws are dropped.For Jim Herrig, it’s a familiar reaction. “When you look at a river from above, you have absolutely no idea what’s in there,” says Herrig, a retired aquatic biologist with the Cherokee National Forest. The snorkeling trips featured in that video are in large part Herrig’s brainchild, an award-winning program blending outdoor recreation and science education that grew from Herrig’s career working underwater to inventory the southern mountains’ aquatic life. “You get in there that first time,” he says, “and you’re just amazed at what you’re seeing.”In many ways, that aquatic biodiversity is the unsung star of Blue Ridge streams. The Appalachians, in fact, are home to some of the highest aquatic biodiversity in the temperate world. According to the University of Georgia’s River Basin Center, the Southeast is home to nearly two-thirds of the nation’s fish species and more than ninety percent of the United States’ freshwater mussels. That diversity peaks across the Tennessee River Basin, whose headwaters arc across the high elevations of the Blue Ridge from Virginia southward through North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia.That wealth of wildlife often escapes public notice, but it’s part of a revival of sorts that’s working to raise the profile of Appalachian rivers. And that revival could not be coming at a more urgent time. Our regional rivers have taken a beating in recent decades, from high-profile coal ash spills on the Emory and Dan Rivers to a host of smaller incidents in streams all across the mountains. Unraveling what those events mean for our streams—and how the health of those waterways can best be rehabilitated—starts and ends with the often-unseen wildlife that lives within them.Rebuilding a RiverNowhere is that importance more relevant than a short stretch of river near the town of Cedar Bluff, Va. Located not far from the tri-state junction where Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia meet, Cedar Bluff holds a place of infamy in the nation’s environmental history, thanks to what happened just outside town on August 27, 1998. Early that morning, a tanker truck carrying a chemical used in manufacturing rubber overturned on U.S. Highway 460, the main travel artery through town. Around 1,300 gallons of rubber accelerant spilled from the truck, making their way downhill into the nearby Clinch River.Once there, the chemical turned the Clinch a milky white, wiping out aquatic life for miles downstream and killing an estimated 7,000 freshwater mussels. The effects of the spill were so intense that it is considered by many to be the single largest kill event in the history of the Endangered Species Act.Two decades later, Tim Lane’s job is dedicated to restoring the Clinch River to its former glory. Lane, a mussel recovery coordinator with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, says that the mussel and fish diversity found in the broader Tennessee River basin make the watershed “our Amazon rainforest.” And it’s not just the value that those creatures have by simply existing that make them important, Lane says—their existence can benefit humans that depend on the river, too. “Some individual mussels can filter ten or 20 gallons of water a day,” he says. “This is a resource that’s cleaning our water for us.”The work that Lane and colleagues are doing in the Clinch is a microcosm of what it takes to restore a degraded Appalachian stream, as well as how long that restoration process can take. A single spill event like the one in Cedar Bluff may last mere minutes, but its impacts can echo for generations. Recovery efforts for a 2008 spill of coal ash on Tennessee’s Emory River, for example, will require long-term monitoring for 30 years. Farther south, the Ocoee River watershed is still dealing with the impacts of copper mining that began in the 1800s at a spot upstream of the river’s 1996 Olympic whitewater course.Water quality in the Clinch has improved somewhat in the two decades since the 1998 spill, but restoring the wildlife populations that once thrived there has needed help from biologists. Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ s Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Center aids in that process by raising young mussels in the safe confines of captivity, releasing them back into the river once they are developed enough to survive on their own. The Center has raised 32 mussel species to date, including 14 federally endangered species that have been on the brink of extinction. But Lane says that the process of raising those mussels is half the battle.“In mussel biology, we’re still in our infancy. We’re still learning about these species,” he says. One challenge lies in the fact that many freshwater mussels are reliant on a fish host to reproduce, meaning that immature mussels must attach to a particular fish species’ gills to complete their development into an adult. Figuring out where those fish hosts live—and where the right habitats for adult mussels exist in the river—can be key to successfully reintroducing the creatures into the wild.River impoundments and impairments related to human land use can also put aquatic wildlife at risk. Understanding those hurdles and how they can best be addressed makes restoring a mountain stream all the more challenging.Two-hundred miles south of the Clinch River, the snorkeling trips started by Jim Herrig and colleagues in Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest are helping to raise awareness and support for river restoration. Herrig says that the program began in 2000 and tapped into a public curiosity about what lives in Appalachian streams. “I felt like we were really accomplishing something,” he says. “People came away just amazed at what they were seeing.”Snorkeling trips began in the Conasauga River, a headwater tributary of the Coosa River that rises deep within Georgia’s Cohutta Wilderness. Since its inception, the snorkeling program has reached more than 6,000 people and has expanded into several other streams, including Tennessee’s Citico Creek and Hiwassee River. “We have streams here that you can step across which have six or more species in them,” Herrig says. “It’s just incredible diversity.”In the past several years, that secret has gotten out regionwide. Conservation agencies, nonprofits, and outfitters all across the Blue Ridge have started similar snorkeling programs, placing biodiversity at center stage in regional streams. Outdoor enthusiasts can now dip their heads below water with experts from the French Broad River headwaters to Whitetop Laurel Creek along the Appalachian Trail in Damascus, Va. Virginia State Parks has even started its own “canorkeling” program—a mash-up between canoeing and snorkeling—along the Clinch River.Snorkeling alone won’t save a river, but the experience it provides is a key cog in the network of partnerships that can. Lane says reviving rivers requires increased public support for the wild creatures inhabiting them.Herrig hopes that snorkeling will become a larger part of the recreational landscape across the Blue Ridge, since the experience it provides is so different than what users see above the surface. To support that point, he brings up another montage of images that characterize Southeastern rivers: a child floats on an inner tube above an underwater salamander, while a fisherman wades along the river bottom—none of them fully aware of what lies beneath. It’s a metaphor, sure, but it also speaks an old truth about water quality issues: saving a river often means diving in headfirst.last_img read more

Biking in Virginia’s Heart of Appalachia

first_imgThe Heart of Appalachia region, located in the mountains of Virginia at the western corner of the state, offers a variety of mountain biking trails and backroads perfect for road trips. These biking opportunities provide low valley roads through valley farms, rolling hills and historic places.The new Spearhead Trails System are now open for Mountain Bike enthusiasts.   The trails opened for Mountain Biking include Mountain View in St. Paul, Original Pocahontas in Pocahontas, Stone Mountain in Pennington Gap, Coal Canyon in Vansant and Ridge View in Haysi. Visit for directions and details of the routes.A mountain bike trail follows the historic Wilderness Trail from the Wilderness Road State Park to the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park in Lee County. Mountain biking is an option in the Jefferson National Forest and Natural Tunnel State Park along their trail system in Scott County. Breaks Interstate Park has extreme Mountain Biking Trails aptly called Cardiac, Rattlesnake and a somewhat easier trail named Ladies Loop. Easier mountain biking along the ridge and overlooks of the Breaks is more suited for families. The Guest River Gorge Trail is a 5.8-mile trail built upon an old railroad grade. Many curiosities exist along the trail, including an old railroad tunnel, bridges using the remaining railroad trestles, waterfalls, rock outcroppings and a deep rock corridor that is a scenic wonder. The Sugar Hill Trail in St. Paul provides a mountain biking adventure to an historical French Settlement. The new mountain biking trails outside of the City of Norton called, Sugar Maple, provides an opportunity to see the Woodbooger, (our mountain Big Foot Creature) and offers exciting mountain biking experience. The trail begins near Flag Rock and High Knob Recreation Areas.Scenic biking along roads in the region includes the designated bike path from Gate City to Fort Blackmore along Veteran’s Memorial Highway. The scenic Heart of Appalachia Bike Trail leads cyclists through valleys and rolling farm land from the Guest River Gorge to Burke’s Garden. The Trans American Bike Trail enters the region on Route 80 at the Breaks Interstate Park and travels through Haysi and Honaker the crosses the Clinch Mountain Range. The locals are prepared to welcome bikers and points of rest are provided in local towns. Burke’s Garden near Tazewell, known as the “Garden Spot of the World,” is Virginia’s highest valley and Virginia’s largest rural historic district.  This bowl-shaped valley carved out of the top of a mountain offers the most breathtaking scenery this side of New Zealand, with verdant farmland, abundant wildlife, rare bird watching, peaceful biking, and adventurous hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Park your car at the mill dam and bike around the “loop,” twelve miles of flat land and rolling hills.Come see us and you will soon find that wherever you are in the Heart of Appalachia, you can be sure that you are never too far from an amazing bike route and an experience that you are not soon to forget!last_img read more

Waynesboro Winter Getaway

first_imgTreat yourself to another unique craft beverage experience with a reservable igloo at Stable Craft Brewing—perfect for keeping cozy on a midwinter’s night. This working-farm brewery also has a tap room with onsite restaurant and on-farm lodging options. It’s one of the 15 microbreweries on the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail, all within an hour’s drive. Nearby, Seven Arrows Brewing provides a pub-like setting well loved by locals, and Basic City Beer Co.—housed in a renovated brass foundry—lends a neo-industrial flair to its beers brewed with artesian spring water. While you’re there, be sure to sample Hops Kitchen’s beer-infused dishes, such as the popular satay or Brewery Crafted Nachos, voted by the Food Network as the best nachos in the state!For breakfast or lunch, Farmhaus Coffee Co. serves up  Blanchards Coffee alongside local goodies in a bright, airy space that doubles as an art gallery. Try the Avocado Toast, Yogurt Parfait (made with local granola) or any of the melt-in-your-mouth “Hausmade” pastries.Explore the ArtsWaynesboro’s burgeoning art scene showcases contemporary, traditional, folk, performing, and street arts all in geographically close proximity. Check out the Vaudeville-era Wayne Theatre for everything from local to international musicians, art openings, original theater productions and even film screenings. The Shenandoah Valley Art Center is your go-to for a variety of traditional and contemporary visual art, with gallery space, studio space and notable gift shop, while the P. Buckley Moss Gallery hosts the country’s most extensive collection of the artist’s familiar folk art. The Virginia Street Arts Festival completed its 4th year with the addition of murals on the Wayne Theatre campus.Rest Your HeadWhether your tastes run from a room with a spectacular view, access to stellar amenities or storybook surroundings, there’s a place for you to rest and soak up the ambience in Waynesboro. Complete your winter getaway with a relaxing stay at The Iris Inn where you’ll find options ranging from traditional B&B rooms to private cottages and luxury cabins overlooking the Shenandoah Valley. Their Winter Wine Weekends are a favorite among guests from the wine enthusiast to those wanting to learn more. Divinely placed among the adventure, Waynesboro enjoys close proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Appalachian Trail, making it ideal for a great winter getaway. Add to that a picturesque river in a growing downtown and you’ve got the perfect base camp for exploration.Get OutsideFly fishing happens year-round in Waynesboro’s spring-fed South River providing pockets of consistent temperature where anglers catch trophy-size rainbow and brown trout. At the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’re also close to nearby mountain streams where native brook trout thrive. Grab your gear or a guide at South River Fly Shop just two blocks from the river.Get rid of cabin fever with a winter hike! Waynesboro has hundreds out its back door. At Rockfish Gap, where the Blue Ridge Parkway begins, step onto the famous Appalachian Trail and follow it for as many miles as your heart (and legs) desire. If you prefer to stick to the Shenandoah Valley, try one of the trails near Sherando Lake Recreation Area. The Lower Lake has an easy footpath encircling its perimeter with a larger network of trails spilling outward into George Washington National Forest.Prefer to run? Perhaps over daunting obstacles and through pits of mud? The Mad Anthony Mud Run, celebrating its eighth year, has been repeatedly named “Best of the Blue Ridge” by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. New mystery obstacles are added annually, forcing runners to show the same fortitude that General “Mad” Anthony Wayne—Waynesboro’s famous namesake—exhibited in his Revolutionary War battles. The event kicks off the Run the Valley Race series, five races throughout the year that showcase the all-season beauty of the Shenandoah Valley.Nourish YourselfStart in on those healthy New Year’s resolutions with kombucha tasting at Blue Ridge Bucha’s tap room. This fermented tea is touted for its health benefits, and Blue Ridge Bucha’s organic, small batches are touted for their taste! You’ll want to grab one of their refillable bottles to take with you.last_img read more

El Salvador: Funes Praises “Changes” In U.S. And Warns Chavez

first_imgBy Dialogo March 31, 2009 The President-elect of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, debuted in the international arena with praise for “changes” in the United States and warned that it will not allow Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to put “a finger” into the politics of El Salvador. The first leftist President elected in El Salvador, and candidate of the former guerrilla Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), Funes joined outgoing President Antonio Saca at a meeting of the leaders of Central America with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who is the main contact between the government of Democrat Barack Obama and the isthmus. “Changes now come not only from the south, but also come from the north,” Funes said in a press conference with the host leader, President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, to praise Washington for its talks with its Latin American neighbors and for listening to their demands. Funes said that even though they are keeping good relations with Chavez, they will not allow “Venezuela to put so much as a finger into the domestic politics of El Salvador.” He said he wants to have good relations with Venezuela, as well as Bolivia and Nicaragua – governments allied with Chavez – and also with Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, which have moderate leftist Presidents. However, Funes noted that the differences between the left and right do not account for the complexity of today’s society. “People always ask me if I’m on the light left, the vegetarian left, or on the radical left, the carnivores,” said the President-elect, making journalists laugh. “The change we are offering is to improve the quality of life for Salvadorans, and this is not about ideology,” he added. Funes said that he wants to have good relations with Washington when, on June 1, he succeeds Saca, a close ally of former U.S. President George W. Bush’s “war on terrorism” who maintained troops to support the U.S. intervention in Iraq until early this year. Before entering politics Funes was a television journalist, and was elected as candidate of a party of former leftist guerrillas who criticized “Yankee imperialism.” However, Funes congratulated Obama for his “historic” victory, and three days after the election he sent to San Salvador their official responsible for diplomacy with Latin America, Thomas Shannon, who held a private meeting with the President-elect. El Salvador also wants Obama to undertake a comprehensive immigration reform, or at least to extend the temporary statute that permits about 230,000 Salvadorans to live in the United States. Funes, who is married to a Brazilian, also visited Brazil after the election and had a private meeting with President Luis Inacio Lula Da Silva, who is also a friend of his.last_img read more