first_imgThe Catawba River was recently named the most endangered river in the country. It stretches from the mountains of North Carolina to the Wateree Watershed in South Carolina and then to the Atlantic Ocean. From source to sea, it flows over 400 miles. Along the way, it meets several challenges: coal ash ponds, dams, agricultural draws, nutrient and sewage spills and recreation and drinking water needs for a growing population.One man is working to protect the river. His name is Rick Gaskins, a Harvard educated environmental lawyer and the executive director of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation.Just how bad is the Catawba currently?In 2008, American Rivers, an organization that works to protect America’s waterways, rated the Catawba as America’s Most Endangered River (download the PDF report here). Plus, just this year, American Rivers rated the Catawba as the fifth worst river in the United States due to coal ash pollution. In 2010 and 2012, The Southern Environmental Law Center, a nonprofit that uses the law to fight for protection of the Southeastern environment, listed the Catawba River as one of the top ten endangered places in the Southeast.  In 2011, the Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization that uses science to push for policy change, found, due to power plants, that the Catawba was the fourth most stressed river in the United States.Which sections of the Catawba are in the worst shape? That is hard to answer. If the standard is whether the Catawba is fishable, for example, then one hundred percent of the basin fails to meet the unrestricted fishability standard. There are fish advisories throughout the Catawba basin for excessive levels of mercury in some types of fish. Burning coal is the primary source for most mercury found in the water. High levels of mercury affect the neurological development of children and can cause learning disabilities and other lifelong disabilities. High levels of mercury are especially toxic to children and pregnant women.Is the river getting better or worse? There is some improvement. For example, Charlotte has worked hard to restore the natural state of the tributaries to the Catawba, even instituting buffer areas. Also, some sewage plants are doing better treating sewage. However, the overall trend is not good.Do you ever use litigation to help protect the Catawba?At times we use litigation to solve issues, but that is our last resort. Our first step is to talk to the source of the problem.  If the source does not correct the issue, then we contact the appropriate regulatory body, hoping for an enforcement action.We’re currently involved in litigation against the North Carolina Department of Transportation to stop a proposed toll road that would potentially damage water over discharges from coal ash lakes into Mountain Island Lake, part of the Catawba River. This discharge is a direct threat to Charlotte’s drinking water.How about lobbying legislators? We aren’t large enough to have paid lobbyists, but we encourage members to use grassroots lobbying. We get information to our volunteers so they can talk to their legislators. When there is a bill that directly affects the waterway, then the foundation might rent a van and take volunteers to their legislators in Raleigh.Is it true that the Catawba could run out of water?Current projections are that the region’s demand for water will exceed our quantity of water by the year 2048. Industry and agriculture must use less water. Forty-eight percent of the water consumed from the Catawba is used for cooling power plants. This can and should be reduced. Also, a big chunk of the water is consumed by towns outside the basin. In short, these towns want water from the Catawba River, but they don’t return water to the Catawba. This must be regulated.What are the biggest threats to the Catawba? Coal-burning power plants and their coal ash waste storage. On any scale, coal ash ponds surrounding the Catawba are given the highest hazard potential. Other major water quality problems are by-products of poor development practices that result in large amounts of polluted storm water, poor treatment of sewage, and excessive water usage. Sewage spills and inadequate treatment of sewage are also a major problem. Sewage systems fail with regularity. State regulators are underfunded; one inspector might be responsible for thousands of sites. And even when current regulations are enforced, they are not enough to maintain a high level of water quality.How do dams affect the river and its natural environment?  There are 14 dams along the length of the Catawba.  These are primarily used to generate electricity and to create a source of cooling water for thermoelectric power plants. Power plants use the water for cooling, then they dump hot water into the Catawba after using it.There are sections of the Catawba that rest between two power plants, one upstream and one downstream. During peak power usage this particular section will have little to no water flow. In fact, it might have backward flow if the power plant upstream is larger than the plant downstream.last_img read more

first_imgHenk Meijerink, Owase’s chairman, said that the independence of the ASR vehicle appealed to his pension fund, as ASR’s APF is the only one to employ a fiduciary manager without a link to the APF’s founder.He said that Owase’s pension provider – Dion Pensioen Services, which is also an affiliated employer – would continue its role providing services to workers and employers.Like most of the employers affiliated with Owase, the provider is based in Hardenberg in the east of the Netherlands.José Suarez Menendez, chairman of the consolidation vehicle, said that the negotiations had been relatively easy. He highlighted the importance of a local service desk such as Dion “as workers prefer a personal contact point nearby”.Menendez added that Owase also liked the governance model of Het Nederlandse Pensioenfonds, which offered the scheme’s stakeholders some input on important elements of the pension plan, including investment policy and contribution levels.Owase is to join Het Nederlandse Pensioenfonds in an individual compartment under a five-year contract. The €900m Dutch pension fund Owase is to join Het Nederlandse Pensioenfonds, the consolidation vehicle (APF) of insurer ASR.The scheme, which services 26 former subsidiaries of tubing manufacturer Wavin, previously indicated that it wanted to join an APF as its costs were relatively high and its board was facing increasing complexity.Last year, the defined contribution scheme spent €573 per person on administration across its 1,300 participants.As a consequence of Owase joining, the assets of Het Nederlandse Pensioenfonds are to increase to €2.4bn, making it the second largest APF in the Netherlands after Aegon’s Stap.last_img read more

first_imgHolland lost ground in their bid to secure automatic qualification for Euro 2016 as they were beaten 1-0 by Group A leaders Iceland on Thursday after being reduced to 10 men in the first half.Gylfi Sigurdsson scored the only goal of the game for Iceland from the penalty spot in the 51st minute after the hosts had Bruno Martins Indi sent off in the 33rd minute.The defeat means Holland remain third in the group, eight points behind leaders Iceland and six adrift of second-placed Czech Republic, who beat Kazakhstan 2-1.Yuri Logvinenko opened the scoring for the Kazakhs in the 21st minute but two second-half goals from Milan Skoda, including an 86th-minute winner, saw the Czechs keep their qualification on track. Turkey drew 1-1 with Latvia in the other Group A game.Elsewhere, Wales maintained their grip on the top of Group B and continued their unbeaten qualification run with a 1-0 win over Cyprus. Gareth Bale headed the only goal of the game in the 82nd minute to snatch the victory which kept Wales three clear of second-placed Belgium, who defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1.Roma striker Edin Dzeko put Bosnia and Herzegovina ahead in the 15th minute before Marouane Fellaini and new Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne put the hosts 2-1 ahead at half-time in Brussels. Eden Hazard sealed the win from the penalty spot in the 78th minute. Israel kept alive their hopes of a top-two finish in Group B with a comfortable 4-0 victory over rock-bottom Andorra in Haifa. Eran Zahavi struck the opener after just three minutes, with Nir Bitton making it 2-0 with a 22nd-minute header. Brighton striker Tomer Hemed added a third from the penalty spot four minutes later before Munas Dabbur completed the scoring.Meanwhile, Graziano Pelle’s 69th-minute goal saw Italy defeat Malta 1-0 to move top of Group H while Norway remain third after their 1-0 win over Bulgaria, Vegard Forren scoring the only goal just before the hour mark.Croatia drew 0-0 with Azerbaijan in the other game to slip into second place as their goal difference is worse than Italy’s.–Follow Joy Sports on Twitter: @Joy997FM. Our hashtag is #JoySportslast_img read more

first_imgThis offseason, we’ll look at players around the majors whose 2019 seasons were overlooked for various reasons. This week’s edition focuses on White Sox third baseman Yoán Moncada. Few players in baseball made bigger steps forward from 2018 to 2019 than Yoán Moncada. In one season, he flipped the “Is this guy a bust?” narrative and effectively silenced those questions. But despite posting a .315/.367/.548 slash line, Moncada didn’t garner an All-Star nod in 2019, and seemingly few paid enough attention to how well he was doing. Moncada is hardly unfamiliar to baseball fans; he was one of the centerpieces of the 2016 trade that sent Chris Sale to Boston and played his first games with the White Sox in 2017. Still, his stellar 2019 season deserves more discussion.FAGAN: Assessing the AL Central’s most problematic contractsMoncada was among the best in baseball in average exit velocity (92.8 mph) and WAR (5.7, per FanGraphs), and he finished third in the American League batting title race while putting together a .915 OPS.And Moncada did all this while playing a new position on defense. He had only dabbled as a third baseman while with the Red Sox three years ago, but since going to Chicago, Moncada spent all his time at second base. But a move to the hot corner didn’t slow him; in fact, Moncada was arguably among the top-10 best position players in baseball.Why did we sleep on this guy?So how, despite all the success, did we overlook the year Moncada had? A lot of it might have been his colleague on the left side of the infield. Tim Anderson made national headlines for a bat flip in April that sparked a skirmish with the Royals, then he went on to win the AL batting title. He was outspoken early in the season about his desire to infuse more fun into the game, even likening his pioneering baseball spirit to that of Jackie Robinson.But though Anderson won the batting title by a healthy margin, Moncada was Anderson’s better by more than two wins above replacement. And by several measures, Moncada was also better on defense. Another factor is the reality that the White Sox have been divisional cellar dwellers for years. This season, they finished third in the AL Central, the highest in the division they’ve been since 2012. The White Sox have not reached the postseason since 2008, when Moncada was still pubescent. Sure, a robust farm system and the promise of a rebuild can be exciting, but it can sometimes mean that really good players at the major league level get overlooked.And even when the White Sox are good, they are almost always playing second fiddle to the Cubs. Decades upon decades of a World Series drought only helped to make Chicago’s northsiders more endearing, while the White Sox have typically gotten the Catelyn Stark to Jon Snow treatment.What’s ahead in 2020?Things are trending in the right direction for Moncada in nearly every way. His top-notch average exit velocity in 2019 was up more than 2 mph from his 2018 average. His OPS jumped by more than 200 points, and his wRC+ went from just below average at 97 in 2018 to what FanGraphs deems a great season at 141 in 2019. He made more high-quality contact and pulled the ball less and upped his extra-base hit totals in almost 100 fewer plate appearances.Moncada is a switch-hitter, and in 2018 the difference between how well he did from the left side compared with the right was almost enough to negate his ambidextrousness. He hit close to 40 points lower from the right side in 2018, but this year Moncada cut the difference almost in half. It helps that overall his batting average was 80 points higher from last year to this one, but consider that Moncada went from hitting .209 from the right side in 2018 to .299 this season. In 2018, Moncada’s biggest nemesis was a ghastly strikeout rate of more than 33 percent that led to a league-leading 217 Ks. On a more granular level, Moncada suffered from perhaps too good of an eye, as he struck out looking 85 times in 2018.  But as Moncada told Sporting News in April, one of the ways he adjusted was by being more aggressive. It worked. This season, Moncada trimmed his K total to 154 with a 6 percent decrease in his strikeout rate, and he struck out looking just 39 times in 2019. That was significantly less than Ronald Acuña Jr., Joey Votto, Matt Chapman and Aaron Judge. Moncada dropped his pitches per plate appearance from 4.35 when he made his debut with the Red Sox in 2016 to 3.96 this season, and the difference in how often he’s looking at a third strike is telling.And where Anderson is probably due for some regression in 2020, it’s reasonable to expect that Moncada maintains something close to his 2019 performance. His improvements are more sustainable. So while we might be forgiven for sleeping on Moncada’s 2019 performance because he didn’t play with the flair of Anderson and because — for now — his team isn’t so good, let’s not make the same mistake next season.last_img read more