December 2020

Navajo Nation begins work on second phase of Kayenta Solar project

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享KTAR News:A solar facility in Navajo Nation is expected to double the number of homes it can provide renewable energy to over the next year. Navajo Nation broke ground on the second phase of an expansion project that will provide a 28-megawatt addition to the Kayenta Solar generation facility in northeastern Arizona.Under the guidance of the Native American nation, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and the Salt River Project, the facility is expected to serve 36,000 homes once upgrades are complete in June 2019.“Extending electricity to homes without has always been our goal as well as our challenge,” said NTUA general manager Walter Haase. “Kayenta II is catalyst in that direction and will help us to improve the standard of living for many Navajo families.”The groups will work toward projects that would provide 500 megawatts of renewable energy over the next five to 10 years, according to the release.The initial Kayenta project was estimated to have brought $15.6 million in economic activity to the surrounding communities.More: Navajo Nation solar facility expansion expected to double power output Navajo Nation begins work on second phase of Kayenta Solar projectlast_img read more

Dubai solar bid ties record low at 2.4 cents/kWh

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:The Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) has announced that Phase IV of its 5 GW Mohammed bin Rashid Maktoum Solar Park, originally planned to deploy 700 MW of CSP capacity, will now also include a PV section of 250 MW.The power utility also said that the PPA it awarded to Saudi energy giant, ACWA Power for the construction of the 950 MW plant has now been amended and that the price for the sale of electricity from the new PV section has been set at $0.024/kWh. This price equals the lowest price ever recorded for a large-scale solar project in the Emirates – $0.0242/kWh – which was offered in March 2017 by the joint venture of Jinko Solar and Marubeni for a 1.17 GW solar project in Abu Dhabi.The previous lowest price in Dubai was that of Phase III of the Mohammed bin Rashid Maktoum Solar Park, which is planned to have a capacity of 800 MW and is currently being developed by a consortium formed by Masdar, the Abu Dhabi-based developer of renewable energy, Spain-based GranSolar and Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), which is a unit of the Saudi Arabian firm, Abdul Latif Jameel. In May 2016, the consortium offered a tariff of $0.029/kWh, at the time the world’s lowest solar bid ever recorded.As for the 700 MW CSP section of Phase IV, ACWA and DEWA had agreed a price of $0.073/kWh. It will consist of a 600 MW parabolic basin complex and a 100 MW solar tower. “The project will have the world’s tallest solar tower at 260 metres, and the largest thermal energy storage capacity in the world of 15 hours, which allows for energy generation round the clock,” DEWA stressed in its statement.For the huge solar complex, DEWA has recently announced plans to include a hydrogen plant and a storage facility, while also issuing a tender to seek IPP advisory services for Phase V of the project.More: Dubai: Tariff for large-scale PV hits new low at $0.024/kWh Dubai solar bid ties record low at 2.4 cents/kWhlast_img read more

U.S. Labor Department: Coal mining employment fell to record low in 2018

first_imgU.S. Labor Department: Coal mining employment fell to record low in 2018 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享West Virginia Public Radio:It’s been two years since President Donald Trump took office and began rolling back environmental regulations on the coal industry. At a November rally in Huntington, West Virginia, the president took credit for a coal comeback in front of a cheering crowd.But federal data about the industry tell a different story. Mine operators and independent contractors are required to report regular employment information to the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA. Preliminary figures for 2018 show 80,778 people were employed by mine operators and contractors. That’s a record low, and about a thousand fewer than were employed by coal in the last year of the Obama administration.Nationwide, coal plant retirements neared a record high, and overall coal production dropped to the lowest level in nearly 40 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a non-partisan government agency that tracks energy trends.The Trump administration has leaned heavily on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to try to boost the region’s coal industry. In March 2017, Trump signed an executive order that kicked off an in-depth review of a series of environmental regulations. Since then, the administration has proposed a series of regulatory rollbacks aimed at helping struggling coal plants and operators.But many industry analysts believe Trump’s looser environmental rules have not helped the industry. “So, we had some pretty significant regulatory rollbacks in 2018,” said Trevor Houser, a coal analyst at the independent research company Rhodium Group. “And yet, 2018 was a record year in terms of coal plant retirements.”Across the Ohio Valley, utilities announced more coal power plant closures in 2018. After Ohio-based FirstEnergy Solutions declared bankruptcy, it announced it would close two coal-fired power plants, one in Pennsylvania and one in Ohio. Another of its plants in West Virginia will close by 2022. Another major utility, American Electric Power, announced it was moving up the closure date for some units in its Conesville plant in Ohio to 2019.A report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, an energy think tank, found cost is the biggest force in coal’s decline. Renewables and gas-fired generation continue to provide a cheaper and more flexible alternative.More: Coal comeback? Coal at new low after two years under Trumplast_img read more

Hawaiian Electric proposes big battery storage buildout on Oahu

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press:Hawaiian Electric Company Inc. has proposed using giant batteries manufactured by auto maker Tesla Inc. to provide energy to Oahu’s power grid. The proposal estimates costs of $200 million to $300 million and would accommodate more renewable energy production across the island, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.Banks of liquid-cooled, lithium-ion batteries could become the first and biggest stand-alone, utility-scale energy battery system tied to the grid of Hawaii’s largest utility. The plan involves placing Tesla batteries in 244 lockers, with each one extending 23 feet (7 meters).Hawaiian Electric proposed developing the project in 2021 on land next to its Kahe power plant in Nanakuli on Oahu, along with four smaller energy storage facilities on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island. The five storage systems are subject to a competitive bidding program in which Hawaiian Electric is the initiator but also a competitor and initial decision maker.Hawaiian Electric solicited bids in August for renewable energy production and storage systems of about 900 megawatts on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island. The initiative is expected to be the largest push for renewable energy in Hawaii so far. Hawaiian Electric plans to select the winning bids in May. A majority of the new capacity, about 600 megawatts, is planned for Oahu and could be developed with or without attached battery storage.Hawaiian Electric believes the company can produce stand-alone storage at a reasonable cost because of its capacity to build battery facilities on land it owns next to substations that reduce infrastructure connection costs, spokeswoman Sharon Higa said.More: Hawaiian Electric proposes Tesla batteries for Oahu power Hawaiian Electric proposes big battery storage buildout on Oahulast_img read more

Trail Mix September 2012

first_imgIn 1927, Ralph Peer’s journey to Bristol, a sleepy town tucked away in the mountains of Northeast Tennessee, seemed somewhat unremarkable.  With the simple goal of recording the sounds of the Appalachians, few would have predicted that Peer’s trip would herald a seismic shift in modern music, becoming what many call the Big Bang of country music.Now, the third week in September serves as a reminder of Peer’s mission, which opened the world’s ears to such luminaries as The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, among many others.  The Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion draws music fans from around the globe to celebrate Bristol’s role in the birth of modern country music.This month’s Trail Mix features artists performing at the Reunion, taking place September 14th-16th.Leading off the mix is a track from Folk Soul Revival, easily one of the favorite bands in the Southwest Virginia/Northeast Tennessee region and long a festival darling.  “D’Railed” comes from the band’s latest record, Prompting The Dapperness.Featured are brand new tracks from Josh Phillips Folk Festival, Angel Snow, Zach Deputy, Uncle Lucius, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Tift Merritt, James Justin & Co., Cahalen Morrison and Eli West, Spirit Family Reunion, Anthony Keys, Humming House, and  This Mountain.Also in the mix are tunes from Dale Jett & Hello Stranger,  A Great Disaster, Chris Rose, Sol Driven Train, Eric Brace & Last Train Home, Pert Near Sandstone, William Walter & Tucker Rogers, The Grass Cats, and Paper Bird.This mix is representative of the diverse line up of the Reunion.  Check out the complete line up and schedule at!Download Trail Mix September 2012 here.Click here to open the player in a new window.Download more music from month’s past here! They never go out of style.No flash player!It looks like you don’t have flash player installed. Click here to go to Macromedia download page. Powered by Flash MP3 Playerlast_img read more

Go Green, Go Hemp!

first_imgWhat are your initial thoughts on hemp? A favorite pair of shoes? Dreadlocked hippies with woven necklaces? Granola?While all of these things may come to mind, the recent beginnings of industrial hemp production in the United States should bring a foray of other topics to the forefront of your thoughts. Hemp is going through a revival, both as an alternative to harmful industrial processes and as a medicinal herb.It’s all Cannabis.Marijuana, the THC-filled champion of modern drug culture, has always had a place in the outdoor-enthusiasts first-aid kit, however, legitimate science is beginning to back up the importance of this plant to every facet of our culture. Marijuana, and hemp, are part of the flowering genus of Cannabis. And although the names are synonymous, what we consider hemp has been cultivated since the beginning of plant domestication, selectively bred for long, straight stalks, ideal for fiber cultivation. While marijuana, the bushy short-growing relative, has made its mark as a non-addictive, natural-healer, demonized by the DEA for decades, fortunately, attitudes and laws are changing for both members of this genus and the future of their cultivation looks bright.As a fiber alone, industrial hemp has more uses than most plants. Clothing, rope, biodegradable plastic, and Styrofoam alternatives, building materials, and paper are just a short list. In addition, research is being done that shows potential for hemp as an efficient bio-fuel, food source, soil remediation base, and all-around environmental savior.As outdoor enthusiasts we are in a unique spot to influence the future of hemp and other sustainability initiatives.We look for quality in every product we buy. We will pay more for a superior product and, as consumers, we are part of a forward-thinking bunch of early-adopters. It’s no surprise that the companies that serve our demographic follow the same pattern and have re-defined entire industries. Patagonia, a premier outdoor garment manufacturers in the world, is also a pioneer in socially-responsible business practices. Recognizing the advantages of hemp has driven them to add hemp products for men and women like the Men’s Hemp Overstone Pant and Women’s Island Hemp Crossover Dress.Prana has also been at the forefront of embracing hemp, continually adding hemp blended garments to their clothing lines, active and casual-wear alike. Top-selling examples of these include the Women’s Linea Pant and Men’s Sutra Slim Shirt.hemp4Consumers will drive the environmental movements of the future.Famed as an outdoor brand and environmental advocate, Patagonia, has been producing hemp clothing from fabric grown and processed in China. They, like most other manufacturers, would prefer to buy the material from U.S. producers but the supply chain for hemp is nearly non-existent compared to the rest of the developed world. Patagonia will continue to purchase this fabric from sustainable farmers and factories around the world and sell them in major markets to help more consumers see the importance of hemp in the environmental story unfolding in our generation.A quick anthropological look at the history of ancient civilizations will show a rapid decline in human populations as natural resources run out. A famous example is the Rapa Nui civilization of Easter Island who cut down forests to sustain rapid population growth and ultimately deforested all of their precious natural resource, leading to their own demise.Hemp provides a different ending – its potential has barely been realized by even the most advanced producers and its benefits as a crop are immediate.Generations of fossil fuel dependency has humans living the least sustainable lives in history, so much so that it has become ubiquitous with the human condition. The rate at which the consumer culture devours these precious resources has become astonishing, albeit quite commonplace, throughout the world. In truth it’s built into every facet of humanity. It’s easy to recognize the amount of petroleum you use – heck, every time you’re at the pump the receipt is all too truthful, but do you stop to consider that every light you turn on, every piece of clothing you wear, every piece of packaging you pitch, every book you read, and damn near every decision you make pulls from a gamut of limited resources?Hemp provides a renewable, biodegradable alternative to many of these consumer-driven habits.Compassion for humanity and the environment are the driving forces in the yet-to-be-decided hemp debate but its benefits reach far beyond what we need. Fashion designers, food connoisseurs, engine nerds, and laissez-faire farmers are touting the accolades of this green gold while consumers reap the benefits of their work with this plant. Having a similar texture to linen (produced from flax, a cousin of cannabis), hemp can be used effectively in bedding and clothing, producing durable and luxurious products with a more sustainable business model. But yet, the U.S. still imports nearly all of this raw material.The United States has always been a leader in consumerism and industrialism. With evidence of an uncertain environmental future and concern for the economic prosperity of our youngest generations, looming just beyond this century, we are faced with a decision. Do we continue the unsustainable pattern of growth and consumption, or invest time and resources into sustainable practices in every facet of our culture? If you care about yourself, your children, and the future of this beautiful planet then the choice is obvious and hemp will be the driving force.Two of America’s favorite presidents, Washington and Jefferson, were proponents of hemp and sung its praises as it grew in their fields at Mount Vernon and Monticello, respectively. They proved that Virginia, really the entire region, is an optimal climate for cultivating Cannabis and was the heart of colonial agriculture that produced hemp through the First World War. Back then it was used mostly for clothing, rope, ship sails and other textiles. Knowing what we know today about this plant, it’s infuriating that we lost nearly 80 years of crops.Hemp cultivation in the Philippines in the early 20th century.Hemp cultivation in the Philippines in the early 20th century.It’s what Doug Fine, in his book Hemp Bound, calls the next agricultural revolution.Having more than 10,000 years of human cultivation under its belt, hemp is positioned to make a major comeback after being nearly eradicated from American soil and banned from our shelves for the better part of a century. And while the federal government plays catch-up on antiquated laws, the rest of the industrialized world has seasons of yields that they’ve learned, and profited, from. Luckily, nearly half of the U.S. states have already passed legislation to differentiate industrial hemp from marijuana in the eyes of the law, while instituting research programs to re-learn what we’ve forgot about hemp in the last 80 years. Here in Appalachia, Kentucky seems to be leading the charge but Tennessee, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Maryland are close behind.Virginia and North Carolina need to be next.Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, the first chapter of the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition (VIHC) has been educating the public on this important issue since 2012. The group meets regularly to discuss ways to further their mission and this year marks a major breakthrough – Virginia House Bill No. 1277, Amending the Virginia Farming Act to allow hemp cultivation for research purposes, is on the floor. Jason Amatucci, Founder and Executive Director of the VIHC, worked with Delegate Joseph R. Yost to help draft the bill. Amatucci says,“2014 has been a very positive year for hemp legislation. The 2014 Farm Bill which was signed into law in February allowed for individual states to conduct research via universities and state agriculture departments for growing industrial hemp. Our neighbor Kentucky had a successful season of growing hemp crops this year. Also this year an amendment passed and was signed into law that effects the budget of the DOJ and DEA and strikes any interference those agencies may have in regards to these state hemp programs. In other words, the Feds have to be hands off state hemp programs moving forward. That means no more playing games with hemp seed importations or harassing hemp farmers who are playing by the rules. 2015 is poised to be a big year for industrial hemp in Virginia as we have the Virginia Industrial Hemp Farming Act (Bill #1277) up on deck. The VIHC worked with Delegate Yost from the Blacksburg area to draft the bill. A vote on the bill is likely late January or early February in the 2015 General Assembly session. We need Virginians right now to call, write or email their State Delegates and State Senators to ask them to co-sponsor or support this bill. Check out for more information.”– Jason AmatucciAlthough there’s a long road ahead before planting Virginia farms with varieties of industrial hemp, this is a major step in the right direction.Not only can hemp replace many petro-industrial products, but it will revitalize the soil in our fields. Hemp is considered a carbon negative crop because it removes more CO2 (greenhouse gas) from the atmosphere than other plants, often offsetting the amount of carbon emitted in its cultivation and harvest. Its roots work deep into the soil in a short period of time to support its tall stalk and aggressive growth habits. In addition to fixing nitrogen levels and loosening compacted, damaged soil in the process, hemp is a positive addition to any farmer’s rotation.Last, but certainly not the least, hemp holds the closest thing to a fountain of youth known to man. Carrying the elite status of a complete protein, hemp seeds (often referred to as hearts after the shell is removed) have the most concentrated balance of proteins, essential fats, vitamins, and enzymes while being naturally low in sugars, starches, and saturated fats. These facts make it one of nature’s near-perfect food sources and that alone is enough of a reason to legalize and encourage its rapid, widespread cultivation.The history of agriculture in this country has proven that farmers must work in a symbiotic relationship with the fields they plant in. Hemp offers a crop that will reinvigorate farmers with sustainable opportunity throughout the region. Laws have already begun to change on a national level due largely to the efforts of individual states.hemp3So, what can we do?Educate others. Pass along your newfound knowledge, soon to become passionate obsession, to friends and family – especially those outdoorsy types who have children.Use your buying power. Choose hemp, local, and sustainable products whenever possible. Also pay attention to the types of packaging, and how much of it, the products you buy incorporate. As consumers, our dollars speak volumes and that has a big impact on Wall Street and in Washington.Voice your opinion. Blog about it and call your government representatives and let them know how you feel about this important issue. Legislation will be hitting the floor in the VA General Assembly during early January (VA House Bill No. 1277) and we could be poised to have seeds imported in time for spring plantings.Sow your seed. Are you a landowner or have access to farmable property? If so, sow the agricultural revolution with your own two hands. The Cannabis family is colloquially called weed for a reason; because that’s how it grows. Hemp is a low-maintenance crop that requires very little irrigation and little to no pesticides while producing higher yields per-acre than nearly every other crop. U.S. states that have legalized hemp spend some time in a research phase in which you must apply for a permit or licensure from the state commissioner. Once the research phase is complete, and varieties of hemp are bred for cultivation in your region, then widespread commercial production will open to the public.That is unless the Federal Government lifts the ridiculous marijuana prohibition laws first – in which case our right to grow this divine plant could be fully restored!Get involved. Join the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition and other local organizations that promote a sustainable future. Involvement in these organizations helps to spread awareness at the grass-roots level, educating the populace and acting as a liaison to elected officials. Check out their Facebook page here to stay up-to-date with Virginia’s decision.last_img read more

WATCH: Epic Mountain Biking Footage in Pisgah and DuPont

first_imgYou probably already know that Western North Carolina is home to some of the best mountain biking in the country, but this short video from the folks at Trail TV really drives it home.The video showcases some of our all-time favorite WNC single track, from Green’s Lick/Ingles Field Gap in Bent Creek to Cedar Rock/Big Rock in DuPont, and it also highlights the thriving beer culture that WNC is now nationally known for.If you already live in the WNC area, this video will remind you of just how lucky you really are, and if you don’t, it’ll likely have you packing your bags and making a beeline for Brevard.Enjoy!last_img read more

How To: Taos, New Mexico

first_imgThere is one way for this tour to be a reality, our sponsors! Sending a thank you shout out to our title sponsor Nite Ize, and all of our other awesome sponsors that make this happen: Crazy Creek, National Geographic, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, Lowe Alpine, Old Town, Leki, HydraPak, UCO Gear and Wenzel. If you like the gear that keeps us groovin’ click here to enter for a chance to win Easy to find materials are utilized, like glass bottles and tires. They are used to build durable structures. Currently, there is an Earthship being built in Puerto Rico that is hurricane resistant. If you are interested you can volunteer, or donate!It’s proximity to both mountains and desert make Taos a fun place to camp. You can experience both flat and spacy desert camping and classic Rocky Mountain alpine camping in a single weekend. There are several free established and dispersed camping areas on the road from Taos up to Taos Ski Vally. The sites were close to the road at times but they were shaded and next to a creek. On the west side of Taos, there is ample BLM land that allows free dispersed camping as well. We found a great spot right on the rim of the Rio Grand River. It’s hard to beat the stars in the desert. It’s no wonder there are so many alien sightings in New Mexico… In the morning we woke up to the most amazing sunrise and a hot air balloon taking off only about 100 feet away. It was a good way to start the day.PlayThis is where Taos really shines. Most people know of Taos Ski Valley as a winter destination. However, Taos is much more than that. The town sits at the base of the Sangre De Christo range. The same Sangre De Christo range that you visit if you have ever been to Great Sand Dunes National Park. They’re beautiful. Summit the highest point in New Mexico – Wheeler Peak (13,161 ft above sea level). This 8 miles out-and-back hike will reward you with views all the way back into Colorado – literally. There is also a large heard of Big Horn Sheep who frequent the saddle just below the summit.If you want to stay close to town, hike the Devisadero Loop Trail. This locals favorite will take you through diverse terrain with a beautiful view overlooking the town of Taos and beyond. Don’t forget your fishing rod! The Rio Grand River is just a short drive out of town. There are several river access points. We stopped at a small day-use area near Arroyo Hondo and had coffee in the shade right on the banks of the river. It was wonderful. Taos is also surrounded by natural hot springs. We hiked to quite possibly the nicest natural hot spring we have ever visited; right on the bank of the Rio Grande. We hiked in about an hour before sunset and there was only one other human there. We enjoyed this area so much that we decided not to name it in the blog. However, if you are interested in knowing its location – you can send us an email at [email protected] or message us on social media and we’ll be happy to tell you where it is. There is a large parking area and it might not be much of a secret, but for us, it was perfect. New Mexico is Colorado’s southern neighbor. The north-central portion of the state shares the Sangre de Cristo mountain range with Colorado and that’s where Taos and New Mexico’s highest peak live. Taos, the “place of red willows,” is a collection of restaurants and shops surrounded by rugged beauty, warmth, and culture.Taos Pueblo, the town bordering Taos on the northern side, is known to be one of the oldest continually inhabited communities in the United States. It is believed to be over a millennium old and built somewhere between 1000 and 1450 A.D. Currently, 150 people live in the structure year round.We were able to road trip down to Taos for a few days and experience as much of this quirky town as we could. We climbed mountains, relaxed next to hot air balloons, and explored the Rio Grande River.EatIf you were hoping to get any recommendations besides Mexican food, then you need a different article. We had Mexican food for every meal, and we’re very happy about it. Out of all the restaurants we tried, one stood out from the rest. It had a focus on quality ingredients, two locations, and didn’t break the bank. Taos Diner was by far our favorite and we wish we would have gone first so we could go every day we were there. Get a burrito ‘Christmas style’ and never look back. Their green chili shines, but the red is just as delicious. It is easy to get a great meal in Taos under $10.00. Try out Guadalajara to eat among the locals. Hit Michaels in the morning and grab a green chili croissant. For a super cheap and delicious breakfast, stop by El Taoseno Restaurant just south of town. All the food in Taos is delicious and reasonably priced. We decided to go on a green chili tour and tried every green chili each restaurant had to offer.If you want a great coffee (and coconut milk!) try out The Coffee Apothecary. It has great brews, comfortable laptop spots, and it’s attached to a bicycle spot– what more could you ask for? We spent an afternoon there hiding from the sun and caffeinating for our hot spring excursion that evening (more on that later).SleepTaos is home to the mystifying Earthship Biosphere community. We were lucky enough to stay in Picuris for a night, one of the rentable Earthships in the community. Earthship homes are unique because they are fully self-sustaining while using very simple construction techniques to work with the Earth and elements. They use solar, but their answers for water use and heating/cooling is the most interesting, especially because Taos only gets on average seven inches of water per year.The water is used three times, for drinking water, watering all the plants inside, to fill the toilet, and then finally to water the plants outside. With such little rain, it’s incredible how it can be used efficiently. The plants inside the house purify the air and help with filtration of the water. It makes for an extremely comfortable atmosphere. When we stepped into the Earthship, we instantly felt relaxed and at home. There is a meditative aspect to staying in these structures. They feel more in tune with the needs of the land. Even with all the incredible eco-friendly practices, it doesn’t feel like you’re “roughing it” in any compacity. There is a fully functioning kitchen, hot showers (you just have to wait for two minutes for the water heater to kick on), indoor lighting, and a comfortable temperature all year round.  Temperatures in Taos range from 12 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and because of the construction of the building dug down into the earth, it regulates inside. The placement of the windows work with the summer and winter sun to either cool or warm the attached rooms. center_img last_img read more

The Outdoor Ballot: Which midterm elections matter most?

first_imgMost people don’t associate the outdoors with politics and government policy. Around Washington, D.C., and state capitals, many take to the woods with the explicit goal of forgetting about politics for a while.Yet the outdoor environment and recreation there is inextricably linked to what happens in the halls of Congress and other political arenas. Whether it’s ownership of public lands or the quality of our environment, funding for land management agencies or the trade and tax policies affecting gear manufacturers, what happens in the outdoors is dramatically affected by elected lawmakers.With America more politically polarized than any time in the last 50 years, November’s congressional midterm elections carry higher-than-usual stakes. Beyond the issues that vary by district and state, voters will decide who controls both the Senate and House of Representatives. That will, in turn, determine the broader shape of politics in the country, including its wildlands.Although outdoors issues aren’t considered as divisive as cultural wedges such as guns and abortion, they have their constituencies. The League of Conservation Voters and the Outdoor Industry Association both issue lawmaker scorecards rating representatives on their votes on legislation affecting the environment and outdoors.Advocacy groups don’t limit their involvement to scoring lawmakers. The Sierra Club, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, has contributed $60,516 in the 2018 cycle so far. The Outdoor Industry has contributed $28,296. And the League of Conservation Voters already has spent $2.4 million, mostly on candidates.Some of this activity is a matter of course for Washington politics. Yet there’s also no doubt that Donald Trump’s 2016 election, Republicans winning majorities in both congressional chambers, and the decisive shift in policy and lawmaking since then has energized conservation and public lands advocates.In April 2017, Trump ordered a review of all 27 national monuments created since 1996. In December, he signed an executive order to shrink Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent. Political maneuvering in Utah around public lands, including calls to sell federal lands to the state, led the Outdoor Industry Association to move its Outdoor Retailer show from Salt Lake City, where it had run for two decades, to Denver, Colorado.The same dynamic played into the OIA’s decision to release and publicize its congressional scorecard.“The monuments review galvanized this industry and made it operate in an entirely different way,” said Alex Boian, the OIA’s political director. “Some of the brands got more vocal about the policies and their disappointment with what was happening. During the comment period on the monument review, more than 3 million Americans registered comments, and the majority said to leave the monuments intact. We really saw the American people stand up for public lands.”The OIA started planning its 2018 theme #VoteTheOutdoors last fall. The organization’s goals are different than some other groups in that it prioritizes not just conservation and public lands measures but also tax and trade policy, which matter to its members who manufacture outdoor gear. Boian said the organization is endorsing roughly 20 candidates and ballot measures, mostly in western states, but it is publicizing its congressional scorecard for a national audience to build momentum for the 2020 elections.“We really think the outdoor industry, the outdoor recreation economy, and protection of public land will be voting issues in the election this fall,” Boian said. “If we can prove that and help foster that in these races, then going into 2020 it’s going to be even stronger.”Most observers see an easier path for Democrats to win a majority in the House than in the Senate this fall. To win a House majority, Democrats need to net 23 seats—the same number of Republicans that hold seats representing districts won in 2016 by Hillary Clinton. Instead of focusing just on those districts, however, Democrats have broadened the field to target other congressional seats, even in areas where Trump won decisively.In the Senate, Republicans hold 51 seats to the Democrats’ 47, with two independents caucusing with Democrats. The path to a Senate majority is narrower but demographically harder, with fewer paths to victory.With both chambers potentially up for grabs, here are six key races to watch in Blue Ridge Outdoors country this fall.U.S. Senate:West VirginiaThe Mountain State has tilted increasingly Republican since 2000, when four of five of its seats on Capitol Hill were held by Democrats. That may have culminated last year, when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 42 points, the most in state history and second only in the country to Wyoming. That’s put all eyes on Joe Manchin, the only Democrat still standing in West Virginia’s congressional delegation.Attorney General Patrick Morrisey emerged victorious from a tough primary fight in which he defeated 3rd District Congressman Evan Jenkins (more on that district below) and former Massey Energy coal baron Don Blankenship, who somehow won nearly 20 percent of the vote despite decades of environmental atrocities, miners’ deaths, and a criminal conviction for conspiring to skirt mine safety rules.Morrisey is running as a Trump Republican, but he may have trouble painting Manchin as a Clinton Democrat. Manchin has long branded himself as a centrist. His first campaign for the Senate included an ad in which Manchin used a gun to shoot a bill to reduce air pollution by instituting a cap-and-trade system. Since Trump’s election, Manchin has played the role of swing voter, occasionally breaking with Democrats to support the president’s cabinet appointments but sticking with his party on healthcare and other issues.TennesseeIncumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Corker was among those to receive an F on the Outdoor Industry Association’s scorecard, but he is retiring. With his seat open, former governor Phil Bredesen won the Democratic nomination and will face Republican nominee Marsha Blackburn, a 16-year congresswoman.Tennessee leans Republican as a matter of course. The GOP holds seven of the state’s 9 House seats, and Democrats haven’t held either of its U.S. Senate seats since the mid-’90s. Trump won it by 26 points, so Democrats have a difficult slog ahead. However, pre-primary polling showed Bredesen with a lead over Blackburn, which gives Democrats some hope. The winner will represent a state with a thriving tourism industry that includes its share of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which drew 11 million visitors in 2017, making it America’s most popular national park.House of Representatives:Kentucky’s 6th District  KY-6 includes parts of Appalachian Kentucky but also the metro area around Lexington. It’s flipped back and forth between parties since the late ’70s, and since 2013 has been represented by Republican Andy Barr. He blew out his 2016 opponent, but this year faces a very different political atmosphere and opponent. Amy McGrath, a charismatic former fighter pilot, defeated Lexington Mayor Jim Gray in a May primary, largely by building a national fundraising network on the strength of her campaign ads. McGrath functions as the ideal 2018 Democratic candidate, both as a veteran and as one of a record-breaking number of women to run for office.Pennsylvania’s 17th DistrictEarlier this year, federal courts rejected Pennsylvania’s congressional districts and drew their own, with the result that incumbents Keith Rothfus, a Republican, and Conor Lamb, a Democrat, now live in the same western Pennsylvania district. Rothfus won election in 2012, narrowly defeating a Democratic incumbent after narrowly losing in 2010 to a different Democratic incumbent. Now he faces Conor Lamb, a Marine and former federal prosecutor who won a special election to Congress earlier this year. Lamb represents one model for success among several that Democrats are pursuing this fall: a scrappy, pro-labor veteran with enough independence from the national party that voters feel confident he or she will fight for them.Virginia’s 5th DistrictThe 5th once was a rural Southside Virginia seat dominated by tobacco and textile manufacturing, but economic decline and gerrymandering have stretched it north to the point that Charlottesville has become its center. Until this spring, it appeared that it would be defended by freshman Congressman Tom Garrett, a Republican. In May, however, Politico published a story in which former aides alleged he verbally abused them, and later that week, Garrett announced he was an alcoholic and would retire. Republicans subsequently nominated distillery owner Denver Riggleman, who faces journalist and filmmaker Leslie Cockburn. Republicans have accused Cockburn of anti-Semitism in a 1991 book she wrote; Democrats have accused Riggleman of an interest in, um, Bigfoot erotica. Buckle up, this is going to be a weird one.West Virginia’s 3rd DistrictTrump won this southern West Virginia district by 50 points in 2016, but WV-3 was actually held by Democrats up until 2014, when former Democrat Evan Jenkins switched parties to defeat longtime incumbent Nick Rahall. With Jenkins leaving to unsuccessfully run for the Senate, the 2018 campaign for his open seat has become one of the most closely watched House races in America. That’s due almost entirely to Richard Ojeda, a charismatic Democratic state senator who advocates for legalized marijuana, openly supported Trump in 2016, was brutally assaulted days before he defeated an entrenched incumbent in a primary that year, and became a hero of the 2018 teacher’s strike. He’s running against Carol Miller, a state delegate whose father represented an Ohio district in Congress.State governors:Georgia The race for governor in Georgia will be closely watched around the country. After years of mostly centrist white male governors, this year’s candidates, Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, represent radically different views of America that in many ways echo national political and cultural clashes. Kemp is a populist in the Trump mold, proudly politically incorrect with ads that showed him brandishing a shotgun and offering to use his own truck to take immigrants back. Abrams, who could become the country’s first African American woman governor, built her primary campaign on an unabashedly progressive platform that includes affordable childcare, economic fairness, and clean energy jobs. Demographically, Georgia has been growing more diverse, and in November its voters will choose between two bright-line candidates who represent very different directions.TennesseeThe Volunteer State has seen Democrats and Republicans trade stints as governor in roughly equal measure since 1970. The outgoing governor is Republican Bill Haslam, whose net worth of more than $2 billion makes him the richest governor in America, including West Virginia resort and coal magnate Jim Justice. The state is home to much of the Smokies and Cherokee National Forest, with numerous state parks. Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is running as the Democratic nominee and will face businessman and political newcomer Bill Lee, who won a four-way primary that broke campaign spending records.  Ballot measures:GeorgiaThe “green space” amendment would change the Georgia state constitution to set aside up to 0.75 percent of sales and use taxes on outdoor recreation equipment to maintain, restore, or buy land, waterways, or parks for conservation and outdoor activities. The amendment, paired with action by state lawmakers, could funnel tens of millions of dollars into conservation and outdoor recreation in the state. Although the Outdoor Industry Association is focusing mostly on western races, it heavily supports this ballot measure.last_img read more