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Trump's Biggest Move to End the ‘War on Coal’ Won't Rescue the Industry

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - 17 hours 56 min ago

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump is scaling back sweeping Obama-era curbs on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants burning coal, his biggest step yet to fulfill his campaign promise to stop a “war” on the fossil fuel.Yet the Environmental Protection Agency’s rewrite of the Clean Power Plan -- which is being unveiled Wednesday -- will do little to halt a nationwide shift away from coal and toward cheaper electricity generated by the wind, the sun and natural gas.The U.S. is experiencing “a wave of coal retirements -- and we don’t think we’re near the end of it,” said Nicholas Steckler, head of U.S. power for BloombergNEF. “Coal is inferior to natural gas in many ways today -- it’s less flexible, it’s higher cost, even its fuel is generally more expensive, and, of course, it’s dirty. It has so many reasons stacked against it.”Where the new plan focuses on what can be achieved at individual coal plants, the Clean Power Plan it is replacing aimed to drive broader changes in the U.S. electric mix and threatened to spur a wave of coal plant closures. That measure -- one of former President Barack Obama’s signature initiatives to combat climate change -- compelled states to make systemwide changes in the name of cutting emissions, from bolstering energy efficiency and adding renewables to shutting coal-fired plants altogether.The EPA’s final “Affordable Clean Energy” rule is designed to pare carbon dioxide emissions by encouraging efficiency upgrades at individual power plants. Like an earlier proposal released last October, the final rule will empower states to develop performance standards for plants based on assumptions about the kind of efficiency gains -- known as heat-rate improvements -- that can be eked out by plugging duct leaks, installing advanced soot blowers and making other upgrades at the sites.Environmentalists have already vowed to battle the replacement rule in federal court, setting up potential legal wrangling that could last years.Industry advocates say the Trump administration is curbing federal government overreach and leveling the playing field.“It won’t necessarily be the saving grace for coal,” but “this regulation gives coal a fighting chance,” said Nick Loris, an economist with the Heritage Foundation. The EPA is following the rule of law and removing “government-imposed barriers that will lead to increased innovation, competition and efficiency that will ultimately drive down pollution.”The EPA’s new approach is rooted in Clean Power Plan foes’ arguments that the agency does not have legal authority to regulate emissions beyond the boundaries of existing plants. In some cases, efficiency gains spurred by the new rule could encourage utilities to run their coal power plants more often, undercutting potential environmental benefits.The flexibility for states in the final rule should help stave off premature coal plant closures, said Michelle Bloodworth, president of the American Council for Clean Coal Electricity. “These improvements to coal plant competitiveness will help to increase the longevity of the existing fleet,” she said.The Obama initiative also was seen by some as discouraging electricity made from natural gas. “Besides exceeding EPA’s legal authority, the Clean Power Plan was also written to reduce gas and nuclear generation,” said Christopher Guith, acting president of the Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute. “That’s counterproductive climate policy and bad energy policy.”Environmentalists attacked the Trump administration proposal, saying the EPA was shirking its responsibility to protect public health and the environment. The power plant measure comes as the agency separately moves to ease rules curbing greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and oil wells.“Any rule that resembles the proposal would amount to a do-nothing program that fails to protect Americans from climate change and fails to fulfill EPA’s responsibilities under the Clean Air Act,” said Sean Donahue, a lawyer representing the Environmental Defense Fund.On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump promised to revive the coal industry and restore mining jobs -- a message that resonated with the working-class voters who helped elect him. In coal-rich West Virginia, a once reliably Democratic state, Trump won 68% of the vote.The Clean Power Plan rewrite is the Trump administration’s most tangible move to deliver on that promise, though the EPA has also proposed lifting a de facto requirement that any new coal power plants be built with expensive carbon-capture technology. The agency also has proposed that limits on mercury pollution from power plants are no longer “appropriate and necessary.”Yet state regulations are also encouraging utilities to adopt more renewable wind and solar power. At the same time, the lower cost and cleaner-burning profile of natural gas has encouraged a shift toward that fossil fuel.Power plant owners are unlikely to make dramatic shifts in their plans and portfolios based on the Trump administration policy change, especially given the prospects a new president could reverse course as soon as 2021 and amid competing pressure from state policies, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kit Konolige.“The economics and the desire in many jurisdictions for clean power continue to be the strong drivers of what gets done on the ground,” Konolige said.While states and utilities with a significant amount of coal will have “more flexibility,” under the Trump administration approach, “everyone’s moving in the direction of eventually eliminating coal plants,” he said.Some 65 gigawatts of coal-fired electric generating capacity have gone offline since 2011 -- with another 41 gigawatts pending retirement and 105 gigawatts at risk of closure, according to BloombergNEF.The Clean Power Plan never actually went into effect, having been halted by the Supreme Court in February 2016. Even without it, the U.S. is on track to meet its original goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 32% from 2005 levels by 2030, BNEF’s Steckler said.To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington at jdlouhy1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at, John Harney, Max BerleyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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Indonesia pet orangutans released back into the wild

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - 19 hours 10 min ago

Five-year-old primate Elaine, covered in fuzzy cinnamon-coloured hair, was one of two critically endangered Sumatran Orangutans released back into the wild Tuesday. Both female apes were rescued after being kept as pets by villagers in Aceh province on Sumatra island. Elaine and four-year-old Reipok Rere spent nearly two years learning to fend for themselves at a rehabilitation centre and "forest school" before being returned to the wild at Pinus Jantho Forest Reserve.

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Facebook’s Crypto Libra & Corporate Blockchains: Existential Threats to Bitcoin?

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - 19 hours 10 min ago

By CCN Markets: When we think of Facebook entering the crypto space with Libra, we need to consider it holistically. There’s a lot more going on here than some social networking giant splashing around in the crypto space. There’s something much more significant we should think about: the litigation that comes along with major companies. Libra liabilities: Intellectual Property and Courtrooms To date, we’ve largely ignored this reality, but the truth is that Facebook and others entering the space brings its own set of challenges. For starters, there will be lawsuits. Somehow, someway, these companies will find themselves in court

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SoftBank’s Founder Has Some Very Eye-Popping Predictions

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - 19 hours 17 min ago

(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son is trying harder than ever to convince investors of the potential for his many technology investments.At a general shareholders’ meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday, Son shared some predictions that were eye-popping even by the standards of the outspoken Japanese billionaire. The value of SoftBank’s investment portfolio could grow 33-fold to 200 trillion yen ($1.8 trillion) in 20 years, he said. That’s an annual growth rate of 19%. The numbers were so outlandish that Son had to add a caveat.“Let me be clear that this is not a business plan,” he said. “It’s a tall tale.”The gathering was SoftBank’s 39th shareholders meeting, with about 2,000 investors present. Son’s remarks drew laughs and even feigned outrage from directors. Fast Retailing Co. CEO Tadashi Yanai, who sits on SoftBank’s board and is Japan’s richest man, urged shareholders to look out for Son “or he will go out of control.”The billionaire’s projections include investments by the Vision Fund. But even bullish analysts have much more modest projections for that portfolio. Chris Lane of Sanford C. Bernstein recently estimated the net present value of the current and future funds at $50 billion to $85 billion.Son then reminded shareholders how 15 years ago at the very same auditorium he presented another seemingly improbable target -- SoftBank with 1 to 2 trillion yen in profit. At the time, the company booked over 100 billion yen in losses. Annual net income has exceeded 1 trillion yen for the past three years.Over that period of time, Son has expanded into wireless operations with the acquisition of Vodafone Group Plc’s Japan unit, acquired Sprint Corp. in the U.S. and launched the $100 billion Vision Fund to transform SoftBank into a technology investment juggernaut. Still, the company trades at a deep discount to the worth of its holdings. The total value of the conglomerate’s publicly traded shareholdings is around 21 trillion yen, while SoftBank’s market cap is roughly 10.7 trillion yen. By the company’s own estimation, there is a discount of about 50%.Son’s message to investors is that when it comes to technology, he is ahead of the curve. He was early to recognize the value of e-commerce and invest in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. SoftBank was also first to introduce Apple Inc.’s iPhone in Japan. Now Son believes the world is on the verge of another technological shift, driven by artificial intelligence that will transform every industry. He argues that the company’s portfolio of unicorns from Uber Technologies Inc. to WeWork Cos. positions SoftBank to reap the most benefits from that disruption.“I wish I had the money to make tons of investments at the start of the internet revolution. I could see it coming,” Son said. “We started the Vision Fund at the very beginning of the AI revolution.”At least a few of the investors present took him at his word.“Son may talk big, but just look at what he has actually accomplished,” said Yasuhiro Suzuki, a SoftBank shareholder of about 20 years. “I have been to many of these meetings, but today Son seemed especially in high spirits.”Key Insights:The Vision Fund is nearing the end of its investment cycle and SoftBank is in the process of raising a second one of equal size, Son said. The two funds will be successive. SoftBank is in talks with limited partners in the first fund to renew their investments.The company is increasing staff at the fund to 1,000 people, from 415 now.To contact the reporters on this story: Pavel Alpeyev in Tokyo at;Takahiko Hyuga in Tokyo at thyuga@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at, Edwin ChanFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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Arctic could face another scorching annus horribilis

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - 19 hours 34 min ago

Scientists say 2019 could be another annus horribilis for the Arctic with record temperatures already registered in Greenland -- a giant melting icicle that threatens to submerge the world's coastal areas one day. "It's possible that we could break the records set in 2012 for both lowest Arctic sea ice extent ... and for record high Greenland ice sheet melt," warned Ruth Mottram, a climatologist at the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI). A striking photograph of the early ice melt taken last week by a DMI scientist in northwestern Greenland has gone viral.

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Does Associated British Engineering plc (LON:ASBE) Have A Volatile Share Price?

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 22:59

If you own shares in Associated British Engineering plc (LON:ASBE) then it's worth thinking about how it contributes...

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Trump EPA close to gutting Obama rule on coal power plants

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 22:23

The Trump administration is close to completing one of its biggest rollbacks of environmental rules, replacing a landmark Obama-era effort that sought to wean the nation's electrical grid off coal-fired power plants and their climate-damaging pollution. The final Trump administration replacement rule, expected as soon as this week, instead would give individual states wide discretion to decide whether to require limited efficiency upgrades at individual coal-fired power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency said Administrator Andrew Wheeler would have a major policy announcement Wednesday but did not disclose the topic.

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Coal comeback? Trump plan would breathe new life into aging power plants

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 22:01

The Trump administration Wednesday is expected to propose replacing Obama's Clean Power plan rule to combat climate change with one boosting coal use.

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Searching for the source of microplastics in European rivers

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 21:27

Armed with a pair of tweezers, Jean-Francois Ghiglione examines the samples fished from London's Thames river by scientists in search of the source of microplastic pollution. "We find completely different things to what we see in the oceans, for example very tiny microbeads from cosmetic products," says Ghiglione, head bent over a magnifying glass on the ship of the Tara Foundation, which is conducting the study. From the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean, the scientific vessel has observed the omnipresence of microplastic particles, often no bigger than rice grains, in the seas of the world.

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The Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier Has Some Serious Issues to Fix

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 21:00

Oh the problems. Brand-new Navy aircraft carrier and floating catastrophe USS Gerald R. Ford was forced to return to Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia after encountering issues with its propulsion train, Navy Times reports — the second critical failure in the propulsion system to roil the next-generation supercarrier, after a previously undisclosed failure was initially discovered months ago.-The engines don’t work. Well, sort of: According to Navy Times,  problems “reside in the mechanical components associated in turning steam created by the nuclear plant into spinning screws that power the ship through the water,” although Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Bill Couch asserted that the new problem was different from an earlier problem identified by the crew in January and publicly disclosed this month. NAVSEA told Bloomberg that shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls identified the issue as a “manufacturing defect” rather than an overall design flaw.

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If You Ever Feel So Restless at Night That You Can't Sleep, This Condition Could Be to Blame

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 20:28

Climbing into bed should be the most soothing part of your day, but if you find it near impossible to lay still while you're trying to drift off to sleep, you may want to talk to your doctor. "Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition in which individuals feel a deep, irresistible urge to move their legs," W.

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3 Tips for Traveling With Hearing Loss

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 18:30

Julia Métraux offers tips for traveling if you are deaf or hard of hearing.

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FAA Says Boeing to Revise Its Analysis of Max Software Fix

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 18:28

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says Boeing Co. will likely have to revise its analysis of the fixes proposed for the grounded 737 Max before the jet can be returned to service.Boeing has prepared a draft “integrated system safety analysis” for the 737 Max’s fixes, but the FAA expects the planemaker will have to make changes before it will be approved, according to an emailed memo to Congressional staff obtained by Bloomberg News.The memo helps shed light on why the fix, which Boeing initially said would be completed months ago, still hasn’t been formally submitted to FAA for approval.“Based on our initial review, we expect that Boeing will need to revise this document prior to formal FAA submittal,” said the memo written Tuesday by Philip Newman, the agency’s assistant administrator for government and industry affairs.Testing of new software designed to prevent the two fatal crashes on Boeing’s best-selling jet is also still underway with FAA oversight, according to the memo. In a statement, Chicago-based Boeing said it was “committed to providing the FAA and global regulators the information needed to support their approval to return the 737 Max to service safely.”The 737 Max family of jetliners was grounded March 13 after the second fatal crash within five months. In both accidents, which killed a combined 346 people, a malfunctioning safety system was repeatedly driving down the plane’s nose and pilots couldn’t respond.Boeing is redesigning the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, to prevent it from activating repeatedly and is adding inputs from a second sensor to make it less prone to failure. The manufacturer and FAA will also suggest new pilot training and emergency procedures.In addition to FAA’s review of the Boeing work on the 737 Max, a separate panel of experts known as the Technical Advisory Board is conducting its own assessment of the fix.(Updates with Boeing comment in sixth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Shaun Courtney in Washington at;Alan Levin in Washington at alevin24@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at, Susan WarrenFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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Greenpeace sounds alarm over plastic pollution in rivers

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 18:25

Greenpeace on Wednesday raised the alarm over microplastics in rivers after finding the pollutant in all the rivers it tested in Britain, calling it a "problem of enormous complexity". "We ignore this problem at our peril," warned David Santillo, senior scientist with the Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter. Researchers from the NGO tested 13 rivers earlier this year, casting nets in 30 rural and urban areas.

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Japan quake causes minor tsunami, 16 hurt

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 18:05

A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake rocked Japan, sparking a tsunami advisory that was later lifted with no reports Wednesday of major damage and only a handful of light injuries. The nation's meteorological agency had warned Tuesday that a wave of one metre (three feet) could hit the coast of the Sea of Japan, north of Tokyo, but only small ripples of 10 centimetres were recorded. The earthquake registered six on the Japanese scale, which goes up to a maximum of seven and was felt in the capital, which is more than 300 kilometres (185 miles) away.

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Canada PM approves controversial pipeline expansion

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 17:35

The Canadian government on Tuesday approved a controversial pipeline expansion project to deliver oil to the Pacific coast for shipping overseas, setting the stage for a major political battle ahead of elections. "Today, I am announcing that our government has approved the Trans Mountain expansion project going forward," Trudeau told a press conference in Ottawa. The project is to replace an aging conduit built in 1953 to deliver 890,000 barrels of oil a day from landlocked Alberta to the Pacific coast for shipping to new markets in Asia and elsewhere.

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Facebook Triggers Fresh Washington Fury Over Crypto Project

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 17:24

(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc.’s plans to create a new cryptocurrency that can be used for everything from commerce to money transfers is facing pushback from angry U.S. lawmakers.House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters urged the company to halt development of the token until Congress and regulators can examine it. Other lawmakers demanded hearings and questioned whether the coin, called Libra, will have appropriate oversight.The scrutiny shows the risks for a corporate titan like Facebook, which already faces deep skepticism in Washington, of moving into a controversial industry like cryptocurrencies. Still reeling from allegations that it failed to protect users’ data, the Silicon Valley power is now entering a space that is known for its lax regulation and resistance to oversight.“Facebook has data on billions of people and has repeatedly shown a disregardfor the protection and careful use of this data,” Waters, a California Democrat, said in a statement. “With the announcement that it plans to create a cryptocurrency, Facebook is continuing its unchecked expansion and extending its reach into the lives of its users.”Representative Patrick McHenry, the top Republican on the financial services panel, wants Waters to hold a hearing. He said Congress needs to go “beyond the rumors and speculations and provide a forum to assess this project and its potential unprecedented impact on the global financial system.”Particular concerns lawmakers have had about digital currencies include the risk that consumers’ coins might be stolen and the potential for money laundering.David Marcus, the Facebook executive leading the company’s cryptocurrency and blockchain efforts, told Bloomberg last week that he has been in touch with regulators and central banks in multiple countries. “We really wanted to make them stakeholders early on in the process and get their feedback early on,” he said.In response to criticism Tuesday from U.S. lawmakers, a Facebook spokeswoman said: “We look forward to responding to lawmakers’ questions as this process moves forward.”Facebook intends to launch its coin in 2020. Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said he was concerned the company appears to be using its corporate heft to move into and try to dominate new industries.Senator Sherrod Brown, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, made a point that was common in lawmakers’ statements: regulators must make sure Facebook users are protected. But like others, he didn’t identify a particular watchdog, perhaps signaling uncertainty over who might police Libra.The Securities and Exchange Commission typically steps in when companies raise money by selling ownership stakes in an asset likes shares. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has oversight of trading in futures and derivatives but not underlying digital tokens. States and banking regulators like the Federal Reserve could potentially have a role in regulating Libra.The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Facebook said a Libra subsidiary that will create crypto wallets that can be used to pay for items will be regulated. Facebook didn’t say which agency will have jurisdiction.(Updates with Facebook comment in seventh, eighth paragraphs.)\--With assistance from Kurt Wagner.To contact the reporter on this story: Jesse Westbrook in Washington at jwestbrook1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Mott at, Jillian Ward, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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2-year-old diagnosed with rare ovarian cancer is now cancer-free

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 17:09

McKenna Shea Xydias, the toddler who captured national attention after she was diagnosed with a rare ovarian cancer, is now cancer-free. Known to family and friends as "Kenni," the 2-year-old had four rounds of chemotherapy since being diagnosed on Feb. 15 with ovarian yolk sac tumor. Parents Mike and Meagan Xydias said they received the news of their daughter's clear bill of health on June 12 from Dr. Katie Sutton, pediatric oncologist for the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

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Game-changing cancer drugs which can attack all tumours will be fast-tracked by NHS

Yahoo Science News feed latest items - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 17:01

Game-changing cancer drugs which can attack all types of tumour will be fast-tracked by the NHS, the head of the health service will today announce. Simon Stevens will say that a revolutionary class of treatments - known as “tumour agnostic” drugs - could offer hope to thousands of patients in cases which were previously untreatable. They work by targeting tumours according to their genetic make-up, rather than where they originate in the body. As a result, they can be used to treat a range of type of diseases - shrinking tumours in up to three quarters of cancers tested. Today Mr Stevens will tell a conference of NHS leaders in Manchester that preparations are underway to ensure the next generation of treatment can be quickly made available to patients. Two of the first drugs are expected to be licenced later this year, and could be approved by NHS rationing bodies soon after, depending on price negotiations. Cutting cancer risks | 10 recommendations Earlier detection and treatment of cancer is a central part of the long-term plan for the health service. Mr Stevens is expected to tell the NHS Confederation conference: “This exciting new breakthrough in cancer treatment is the latest example of how the NHS can lead the way in the new era of personalised cancer care. “The benefits for patients, in particular children, of being able to treat many different types of cancers with one drug is potentially huge, helping them to lead longer, healthier lives.” It follows a decision last year to make England the first country in Europe to fund another pioneering treatment, called Car-T, which programmes the body to attack rogue cells, for children. Today Mr Stevens will say that children should also be among the first to benefit from the new generation of drugs, which target tumours with the genetic variation which accelerates growth. With such treatments, testing the tumour’s genes or other molecular features assists in deciding which treatments may be best, regardless of where the cancer is located. The advances are possible because of the NHS national genomic medicine and testing service, launched last year, which allows patients to be tested to see who can benefit from access to targeted treatment, often when no other options are available. The genetic flaw - known as neurotropic tyrosine receptor kinase, or NTRK - is most commonly found in rare cancers such as  salivary tumours and infantile fibrosarcoma but is also in low levels in more common cancers. Two drugs - Larotrectinib, produced by Bayer, and entrectinib, from Roche, are expected to be the first drugs to be licenced, later this year. How does chemotherapy work? Health officials said around 850 patients a year could benefit from the frontrunners while many thousands a year are eventually expected to benefit from other treatments on the horizon. The drugs work by blocking the NTRK enzyme, effectively shrinking the tumour. Early clinical trials showed the tumour responded in two thirds to three quarters of the cancers tested. Existing cancer drugs need to be approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for each individual type of cancer they treat such as breast or colon cancer. However, when approved, the new drugs would be available to treat all types of tumour without individual approval. Mr Stevens will urge health leaders to prepare to introduce the drugs, ahead of meetings next week about how to ensure speedy adoption of the drugs. Today he will also say that manufacturers need to set fair and affordable prices for the treatments. In recent months, a number of deals have been agreed between the NHS and manufacturers, allowing the rollout of drugs for rare disease, but they remain at loggerheads about the pricing of a treatment for cystic fibrosis, which the NHS refuses to fund. Mr Stevens will today say: “Preparations are underway to make sure the NHS can adopt these next generation of treatments, but manufacturers need to set fair and affordable prices so treatments can be made available to those who need them.”

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