S&P: Export demand helping to slow decline in U.S. coal industry

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):After hitting a near-term low in early 2016, average U.S. coal mining employment has risen steadily as total production hovers below a rate of 200 million tons per quarter, though the overall trends belie regional differences.Total U.S. coal production fell 2.5% to 755.6 million tons in 2018, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. Production totaled about 774.2 million in 2017 and 728.8 million tons in 2016. Average coal mining employment held steady year over year, gaining less than one-tenth of a percent, or about 625 jobs, from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the same period in 2018. Average total coal mining employment in the most recent quarter was 54,233 jobs, up by 3,662, or 7.2%, since hitting a low of 50,571 in the third quarter of 2016.A trend of retiring older coal-fired power plants has continued despite a more sector-accommodating regulatory environment brought about by the Trump administration. Initial challenges caused by those retirements and a transition to a greater dependence on natural gas in the U.S. are being worked out by electricity generators and grid operators, Morningstar Commodities Research analyst Matthew Hong wrote Feb. 6.Utilities still relied on coal during a recent polar vortex, Hong pointed out, but the trend toward greater natural gas reliance continues. “The recent polar vortex highlighted just how much the northeast and the PJM Interconnection system have changed over the last five years. Increased natural gas supply, greater flexibility on the pipeline system, and changes to the generation fleet created a totally different environment than the one seen five years ago,” Hong wrote. “Power and natural gas prices stayed relatively subdued in the face of higher demand and operational challenges on the pipeline system, highlighting the improvements to the grid and PJM’s ability to reliably meet demand in spite of generational weather systems.”However, production and employment losses in the coal industry have slowed thanks to an increase in global demand for U.S. coal. The market trends that have stabilized coal company balance sheets could translate to stability in employment and production volumes in the near-term, although investment in new supply remains limited.Companies with exposure to metallurgical coal markets and room to grow supply are particularly well positioned in the market today. Sustained improvement in demand and solid expectations for its future led Arch Coal Inc. to announce a new metallurgical coal mining project in West Virginia. When fully operational, the mine is expected to employ 600 people.More ($): Total U.S. coal production, jobs steady since late 2016, but regional trends vary S&P: Export demand helping to slow decline in U.S. coal industrylast_img read more

Wabasha Dredged Material Management Plan on the Table

first_imgU.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, and city of Wabasha, Minnesota, leadership met to discuss the dredged material management plan for Lower Pool 4, April 19.The Corps is working in partnership with the city in an effort to find a suitable, permanent home for nearly 270,000 cubic yards of material dredged annually from an area within the Mississippi River south of Lake Pepin to Wabasha.The material needs to be removed from the river to ensure the 9-foot navigation channel remains open for the navigation industry.The Corps’ current plan eliminates the need to use the Southside Fitzgerald location near River Drive, an area identified within the city for its close proximity to the river, as well as previously identified agricultural lands.The new planning effort explores options such as partnering with the city under a program known as Section 217(d). This program was developed with the passage of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996. Under this program, the city would become an active partner in the removal and permanent placement of dredged material.Elsewhere, Corps officials are actively pursuing options to acquire all necessary real estate requirements through the use of willing sellers.With the amount of material generated by this section of the Mississippi River, a permanent upland placement site will still need to be identified. The Corps is actively seeking willing sellers in the areas between Wabasha and Winona, Minnesota.last_img read more

Black mold. Gas leaks. Termites. Students report problems in Mosaic off-campus housing

first_imgWhen asked about the legal action, Mosaic said it was against the company’s policy to comment on previous or ongoing lawsuits. According to California landlord-tenant laws, landlords must provide a written disclosure about mold hazards when they know, or have reason to know, that the mold poses a threat to the tenants’ health. According to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, landlords must maintain their property and keep up with basic repairs to ensure the habitability of their residences. A month after the petition began, Mosaic responded, saying it wanted to process the charges “accurately and fairly.” Lee later announced on the petition that she received her full security deposit and has since marked the petition as resolved. “Nothing ever happened after that phone call even though I texted, emailed, called. Nothing,” Jenna said. Mosaic Student Communities has been named as a defendant in four California Superior Court lawsuits since 2013. (Ling Luo/Daily Trojan) Mosaic settled the case in December for around $400 each for both her and her roommate. Jason Hwang, who graduated last year and commented on the petition, said he was able to ignore some of Mosaic’s issues — such as how it never addressed repairs like broken bathtubs and sinks — until the company took around 53% of his and his roommates’ over $3,000 deposit. Alva said Mosaic took allegations of mold very seriously, but said in a post-publication interview that Jenna never provided proof of mold to the company. According to Ali, none of his roommates were asked or notified by Mosaic about the removal of the belongings prior to the event. Montana Kanen, a senior majoring in economics, said her broken dishwasher flooded her house, leading to a cockroach infestation. But she also lived with a broken heater for a month even though, according to California law, landlords must provide “functioning plumbing, heating and electrical facilities.” In conducting its investigation, the Daily Trojan reviewed court documents, looked over property, inspection and building records and interviewed two dozen students who have lived in Mosaic properties. Agarwal’s experience is not uncommon. Mosaic Student Communities, a property management company that markets primarily toward USC students, manages over 50 properties in the USC area. A competitive market This article was updated on May 17 after an additional interview with Mosaic to provide clarification and context. Statements added in after publication have been noted in the updated version. But issues surrounding student housing companies aren’t exclusive to the USC community. In 2013, USA Today published a story about Pennsylvania State University and West Virginia University students who did not get their security deposits back. The story quoted Gregory Nichols, a civil law attorney at Tulane University, who said some landlords target students because they don’t know how to fight back. At the end of the year, Agarwal said Mosaic removed about $3,200 from the security deposits to the repaint the entire house. Agarwal notified Mosaic he was willing to take the company to court, but he backed down after feeling like he didn’t have a strong enough case. “I started seeing these little grounds on the floor,” said Jenna, who asked that her last name be withheld out for fear of reprisal from Mosaic. “I called a termite inspector, and they said the house should be tented. Mosaic hasn’t done anything about that.” Slow responses “At the end of the day, tenants pay the rent, they pay the mortgage, they pay all the bills,” said Mosaic co-owner Carlos Delherra. “That’s something we try to remind our employees about all the time. We see our tenants and our residents truly as business partners.” Among numerous maintenance problems Agarwal described in an interview with the Daily Trojan, the property’s gate allegedly remained broken for two months. In that time, Agarwal’s bike was stolen, and he and his roommates could not access their car. One student had to pay out-of-pocket for her scratched car, after Mosaic said it could not be held liable for the loose roof tile that caused the damages. Courtney Jurasko, Mosaic’s senior property manager, said in an email that it was an “act of God.” “We care a lot about our reputation,” said George Alva, the co-owner and co-founder of Mosaic. “We care a lot about our product. We’re continuing to grow and the property management business is a challenging business.” Jenna reported the termites on Nov. 20 and found mold in her apartment on Dec. 11. After calling a mold inspection agency, she was told that the mold was likely due to the property’s age and poor maintenance. Justice Schiappa, a member of cinema fraternity Delta Kappa Alpha whose house is owned by Mosaic, said Mosaic has failed to address a faulty window for two years and to provide a proper lock for the front door. Agarwal and seven other students rented the property from Mosaic Student Communities, knowing that competition for housing near campus was fierce. After coming back to USC in Fall 2017 from studying abroad, senior Jack Agarwal was happy to move into an apartment on Menlo Avenue. A previous version of this article contained inaccuracies. Mosaic used $3,200 from Jack Agarwal’s security deposit to repaint his house, not $5,000 as originally reported. Additionally, Mosaic treated Jenna’s house for termites on Dec. 29, 2018; the original article reported that the termite problem was unresolved. The Daily Trojan regrets the errors. Sammi Ali, the plaintiff in one of the lawsuits against Mosaic, lived in a Mosaic property twice before suing the company Oct. 3. Ali, a graduate student studying molecular biology, lived on a property that Mosaic recently acquired. Within a month following the change in management, Ali found that Mosaic had thrown out many of his belongings, including furniture and antiques that were placed outside under a tarp. Hwang said he felt the company’s charges were unclear and that Mosaic failed to address problems he noticed before he moved in as well as repairs he asked for during his stay. In Los Angeles, where the housing market is often complex and stressful, the University has not yet provided new tenants with guidance and resources to navigate the multitude of housing companies available. USC did not respond to multiple requests for comment regarding its responsibility to provide students with help finding off-campus housing. Some universities have taken steps to help students find equitable off-campus housing. New York University has a list of vetted and safe student housing corporations on its website. UC Berkeley has a list of tips on how to approach security deposits and ensure students are not overcharged. “[Toxic mold] can lead to serious lung infections, and often results from landlords’ neglect of pipes leaking the walls, leaky roofs and unsealed walls [that lack a protective coating],” according to California Tenant Law, a website operated by the Carlson Law Office. But within months of moving into a Mosaic property in August, Jenna, a junior majoring in business administration and real estate finance, said she found a termite infestation that went unsolved for over a month. But by the end of the year, Agarwal, who graduated in Spring 2018 from the Marshall School of Business, was certain he would never rent from the company again. Mosaic said in a post-publication interview that the company sent someone to fix Kanen’s heater twice, both times within 24 hours of an online report being filed — though Kanen maintains that she told the company of her broken heater by phone and did not hear back for a month. Additionally, Mosaic said a third-party inspection report from a pest control vendor cited “no pest activity” in Kanen’s unit. When Mosaic’s maintenance team eventually came to fix the issue, it set off the smoke detectors, which the company then removed. “[Mosaic] didn’t seem to patch up the whole place perfectly when we moved in and now that we’re moving out, suddenly [they’re] making us pay for damages that really even aren’t our fault? No one came to do a full inspection during our two years staying there,” Hwang said. Mosaic said the company resolved the gas leak within two hours of receiving the call. When Jenna reported the issue to Jurasko, the senior property manager, she said Mosaic would address the issue immediately. In an email to the Daily Trojan, Mosaic stated that “neither Mosaic nor its clients keep or make money from security deposits.” But these problems, while specific to Mosaic, represent a larger issue in an area where tight competition for housing has led to skyrocketing rents. USC guarantees student housing for incoming freshmen for a maximum of two years, and students who can’t find on-campus housing are left to settle for whatever is available in the surrounding neighborhood, often signing leases half a year in advance. But many feel that housing companies take advantage of this desperation. Sanogo alleged that Mosaic overcharged her and her roommate for regular wear and tear on the apartment during her stay even though she left the property in pristine condition. Lee, who said she hired a professional cleaner before she moved out and made sure that nothing in the room was broken, started an online petition after she graduated in Spring 2018. The petition said Mosaic repeatedly charged students for supposed damages and normal “wear and tear,” amassing over 70 signatures. Alva said that for properties that are managed but not owned by Mosaic, the owners of the properties have the final say in issues regarding security deposits. “At the end of the day, the owner needs to approve [the tenant concessions],” Alva said. “If he doesn’t improve it or she doesn’t improve it or they have issues or there’s pushback, that puts us in a difficult position because we need to deliver that message to the students.” “I’m trying like hell to move out because I don’t feel safe living in a Mosaic-owned property,” Schiappa said. “In a lot of cases, students have moved away, so they are not even in town — or in state — to take a landlord to court, leaving them scot-free,” Nichols told USA Today. After negotiating for three months, the company eventually gave Hwang 80% of his deposit back. At the same time, students said they experienced long delays in maintenance orders and repair requests. After finding black mold on their property, four students waited weeks before Mosaic addressed the issue. One student waited nearly a month before Mosaic fumigated her termite-infested house. Two students have yet to hear back from Mosaic about cockroach problems. Another student is waiting for Mosaic to address a growing moth problem. Petitioning for change But a Daily Trojan investigation found that Mosaic has received numerous complaints from student residents, some of which have escalated into lawsuits. Lack of communication, failure to meet state building codes and standards and a perceived shortage of staff members have caused problem after problem for Mosaic tenants, many of whom don’t know where else to turn. Legal action “My boyfriend walks in and he’s like, ‘Holy shit, it reeks of gas,’” Kanen said. “I call Mosaic — again, really hard to get through. They told me [to] call the gas company [because] it’s not their problem.” Over a dozen students said Mosaic kept their security deposits to repair damages — when instead they were used for routine maintenance projects that should have been taken on by the company itself. One student was charged $400 for a paint job. A petition signed by over 70 former student residents and supporters claimed Mosaic Student Communities, an off-campus property management company, falsely charged students for damages and “wear and tear.” (Ling Luo/Daily Trojan) Some students who’ve lived in Mosaic-owned properties have turned to the legal system to address their grievances. Since 2013, Mosaic Student Communities has been named as a defendant in four lawsuits in California Superior Court, two of which were filed in October. “I explained to them, in any scenario they tried to argue, I [said] either way, you needed to give notice,” Ali said. “The fact that you just started managing the property, you’re only one month in, you should already know better than to start doing whatever you want.” Fatimata Sanogo, a graduate student studying epidemiology, also filed a lawsuit against Mosaic in October after her security deposit was withheld. Mosaic told the Daily Trojan that it has close to 15 employees and that the company has a high turnover rate. Mosaic said they had over 500 residents in 2014 and have been steadily growing since. Many students found that Jurasko was the only Mosaic staffer they interacted with, leading them to feel like the company did not have enough full-time employees to meet the needs of its tenants. The company says it doesn’t own all of the properties it manages, making handling student complaints difficult at times. It added that it only keeps security deposits for repair purposes. Mosaic said in a post-publication interview that the front door lock can be difficult to use, but added that the historical nature of the house makes it difficult to install a new doorknob with a modern locking mechanism. The company also said that it encourages residents to avoid the front door and use two other entrances that have stronger locks. Mosaic provided documentation showing that the house was treated for termites on Dec. 29, and that its own agency said no tenting was needed for the level of termites present. “I’ve come up to that door and it’s just been unlocked from the outside … homeless people [have] walked in,” said Schiappa, a sophomore majoring in screenwriting. According to UC San Diego’s guide to landlord-tenant law, tenants can have a claim against property owners if a landlord “withholds all or some of a security deposit for damages that do not exceed normal wear and tear.” “I think the employees are overburdened. I think they’re understaffed,” Maracich said. “Courtney is managing far too many properties than she’s able to.” According to the California Civil Code, landlords must meet certain conditions of safety and habitability. This includes installing proper security measures and lock systems to prevent criminal activity. According to Kanen, Mosaic did not install new smoke detectors for a month, despite a California code that requires buildings have smoke detectors at all times. The company re-installed them after the day after Kanen experienced a gas leak. After living in a Mosaic-owned property during her senior year, USC alumna and former Daily Trojan editor Erika Lee was charged $605 from her security deposit for extra cleaning services and damage done to her room. After Ali sued Mosaic Student Communities in a small claims court, Mosaic was ordered to pay $6,000 for damages. “I think it’s just a repeating trend that us students are generally seen as powerless or we don’t have a lot of ability to push back against the policies or the actions of these big housing corporations,” said Sam Maracich, a senior majoring in electrical engineering who has rented from Mosaic for two years. last_img read more

Lawyer accuses prosecutor of intimidation

first_imgSOCU’s Special Prosecutor, Patrice HenryAttorney Glenn HanomanFormer Attorney General Anil NandlallLaw books fiascoAttorney-at-law Glenn Hanoman, representing former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, has defended his client’s absence during a recent trial hearing at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.When the matter was called up on Thursday last, neither Nandlall nor his attorney were present, and, as such, Special Prosecutor assigned to the case, Patrice Henry, successfully requested the court to send a notice to the defendant.He also informed that if the defendant fails to attend court at the next hearing, a warrant would be issued for his arrest.However, in a statement on Friday, Attorney Hanoman posited that his and his client’s absence during the recent hearing was not deliberate. In fact, the lawyer noted that they were just simply unaware that the matter was fixed for that day.“I was shocked by two headlines in the (media)… Both articles accurately reported that neither I nor my client, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, were present when the relevant matter was called before Her Worship Magistrate Fabayo Azore at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court on June 6, 2019. I wish to make it clear that the absence of my client and (me was) neither deliberate nor due to any form of inadvertence,” Hanoman stated in the missive.He explained that, from the inception, the case was and is being heard in Court V, but the presiding Magistrate is currently assigned responsibilities in the East Demerara Magisterial District, and would return to the City court to deal with incomplete pending cases, including this case.According to the lawyer, this matter was called up on April 5 before Magistrate Azore at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court V, where both he and his client were present. On that date, the matter was then adjourned to May 24 at 13:30h at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court V.When he turned up at court on that day however, Hanoman said, neither the Magistrate nor the Prosecutor was present. Upon enquiry, he was informed by her clerk that the Magistrate would not be attending court on that day, and that he is unaware of the next date when the Magistrate would be in attendance, but that he would so inform the defendant’s counsel (Hanoman) when he is in receipt of that information.“I left the court and so informed my client. I never received any further information from the clerk, as promised. Therefore, neither I, nor my client, were informed that the matter was fixed to be heard by the learned Magistrate on June 6, 2019, hence our absence.”Further, Attorney Hanoman posited that “It is extraordinarily worrying, not only how the matter became fixed for hearing on June 6, 2019, but also how the Prosecutor knew of this date, when he was not present on the last date the matter was scheduled to be called, that is, on May 24, 2019.”Moreover, the lawyer went on to point out that he was present in Court V all day on Friday to attend other cases. However, he noted that in both the morning and afternoon sessions, Magistrate Faith Mc Gusty, and not Magistrate Azore, presided in that court.“After reading the newspaper articles…and upon enquiries, I was informed that sometime between 13:00h – 13:30h on June 6, 2019, the matter was called in Georgetown Magistrates’ Court III, another courtroom, with only the Magistrate and the Prosecutor present. I have secured a copy of the case jacket and there is no endorsement thereon that the matter was adjourned from May 24, 2019 to June 6, 2019,” the lawyer noted.On this note, Hanoman then questioned how and when the June 6 date was fixed; and further, how did the Prosecutor, and even the press, become aware of this date, the precise time and the new Courtroom in which the matter would be called?“These apparent oddities will be interrogated and examined closer at a later stage. It is unfortunate that the learned Prosecutor signalled an intent to resort to the draconian recourse of seeking an arrest warrant for my client on the next occasion when he is so familiar with the whereabouts of both my client and I, who are both officially located less than a stone’s throw away from the Court, and with whom he interacts on a regular basis. I will refrain from attributing to him an improper motive,” the attorney posited in this missive.The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) is accusing Nandlall of stealing some 14 Commonwealth law books, worth $2.3 million, from the State.However, Nandlall had explained that when he was appointed Attorney General, he requested, as part of his contract of service, for the Government of Guyana to stand the expense for his subscriptions for the Commonwealth law books. He had subscribed to Lexis Nexis, the publishers of the law reports.His contentions were corroborated publicly by then President Donald Ramotar.Despite this, however, in April 2017, Nandlall was arraigned at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts before Magistrate Azore on the charge instituted by members of SOCU.Nandlall continues to maintain that the accusation laid against him by SOCU was instigated by his successor, Attorney General Basil Williams, because he [Nandlall] continues to criticise his [Williams’s] performance.last_img read more