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DOJ sues Jim Justice’s coal empire over unpaid fines for mining violations

W.Va. Gov. Justice

The Justice Department is suing the coal empire of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice for failing to pay more than $5 million in civil penalties assessed by the Department of the Interior.

The 128-page civil action, filed Tuesday against 13 of the Justice family businesses and Justice’s adult son, comes as the governor, a Republican, launches a Senate bid against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

The suit alleges that the businesses failed to pay fines for more than 100 violations of federal mining regulations that created “health and safety risks” or threatened “environmental harm.” Justice Department attorneys are seeking a court order to force the Justice companies to repay the fines, with interest.

The bulk of the lawsuit spells out the individual violations of federal mining regulations, overseen by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. The Justice Department notes that the imposition of these penalties was “uncontested.”


Climate change: Vietnam records highest-ever temperature of 44.1C (111.38F)

 Vietnam records 111.38C temperature

Vietnam has recorded its highest ever temperature, just over 44C (111F) - with experts predicting it would soon be surpassed because of climate change.

The record was set in the northern province of Thanh Hoa, where officials warned people to stay indoors during the hottest times of the day.

Other countries in the region have also been experiencing extremely hot weather.

Thailand reported a record-equalling 44.6C in its western Mak province.

Meanwhile Myanmar's media reported that a town in the east had recorded 43.8C, the highest temperature for a decade.

Both countries experience a hot period before the monsoon season but the intensity of the heat has broken previous records.


Germany Shuts Down Its Last Nuclear Power Reactors

Germany shuts last nuclear plant

Germany is set to complete its controversial phaseout of nuclear power Saturday, shuttering its last three reactors just months after Europe’s largest economy turned to coal, candlelight and chopping wood to survive last winter’s energy crisis.

The closures cap off a decades-long struggle that began in the Cold War as a fight against atomic weapons and morphed this century into a dramatic referendum on whether it’s safer to live with or without fission’s abundant carbon-free energy in an era when geopolitical tensions are rising alongside global temperatures.

On the eve of victory, the anti-nuclear movement whose followers once filled the streets by the thousands offered only muted triumph, having seen its numbers dwindle in recent years as fossil fuel emissions reached crisis levels and environmentalists refocused on climate change.


US to announce release of 15M barrels of oil from strategic reserve

US will release 15M barrels of oil

The U.S. will release 15 million barrels of oil from its strategic reserve, Biden administration officials plan to announce Wednesday.

The 15 million barrels are the final tranche of a disbursement of 180 million announced in March and come as energy prices threaten to rise again less than a month before Election Day.

Rising prices have emerged as a drag on Democrats as polls show the economy is one of the issues most top of mind for voters as they head to the ballot box. Early voting began in some states this week.

The sale comes after OPEC+ announced a production cut of 2 million barrels of oil per day earlier in October. Oil prices had dipped as low as $75 per barrel in September before rebounding after the OPEC announcement to more than $90. West Texas Intermediate crude is now at $83 per barrel.


Drone strikes knock out half of Saudi oil capacity, 5 million barrels a day

Saudis shut down half of oil output after attackDrone strikes on Saudi Arabian oil facilities have disrupted about half of the kingdom's oil capacity, or 5% of the daily global oil supply, people with knowledge of Saudi's oil operations told CNN Business.
Yemen's Houthi rebels on Saturday took responsibility for the attacks, saying 10 drones targeted state-owned Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, according to the Houthi-run Al-Masirah news agency.
Five million barrels per day of crude production have been impacted after fires raged at the sites, one of them the world's largest oil production facility, people with knowledge of the kingdom's operations said. The latest OPEC figures from August 2019 put the total Saudi production at 9.8 million barrels per day.

Wholesale energy prices dip below zero because of California’s solar power

Solar power in CaliforniaSolar power shines bright in California, and wholesale energy prices prove it. Last winter and early spring’s dependence on solar drove wholesale energy prices to negative prices, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Solar power in the California Independent System Operator accounted for nearly 40% of net grid power for three hours on March 11, 2017, the administration reports —a major first.

These figures don’t translate for the consumer into retail prices, which are based on averages. But the move will likely cause energy companies to pay more attention to green energy options.


Nuclear reactor at Indian Point plant in N.Y. shut down again after leak found

Indian Point reactor leakOne of two reactor units at a nuclear power plant near New York City has been taken offline for the second time in four months after leakage was found in a pipe that pumps water into the facility, officials said Friday.

Reactor Unit 2 at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y., was shut down Thursday after discovery of the malfunction. Officials said the leak was found in a non-radioactive part of the plant.


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