For many people in government and the auto industry, the main concern is whether there will be enough lithium to meet soaring demand for electric vehicles.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed in August, has raised the stakes for the auto industry. To qualify for several incentives and subsidies in the law, which go to car buyers and automakers and are worth a total of $10,000 or more per electric vehicle, battery makers must use raw materials from North America or a country with which the United States has a trade agreement.

rising fast.

California and other states move to ban internal combustion engines. “It’s going to take everything we can do and our competitors can do over the next five years to keep up,” Mr. Norris said.

One of the first things that Sayona had to do when it took over the La Corne mine was pump out water that had filled the pit, exposing terraced walls of dark and pale stone from previous excavations. Lighter rock contains lithium.

After being blasted loose and crushed, the rock is processed in several stages to remove waste material. A short drive from the mine, inside a large building with walls of corrugated blue metal, a laser scanner uses jets of compressed air to separate light-colored lithium ore. The ore is then refined in vats filled with detergent and water, where the lithium floats to the surface and is skimmed away.

The end product looks like fine white sand but it is still only about 6 percent lithium. The rest includes aluminum, silicon and other substances. The material is sent to refineries, most of them in China, to be further purified.

Yves Desrosiers, an engineer and a senior adviser at Sayona, began working at the La Corne mine in 2012. During a tour, he expressed satisfaction at what he said were improvements made by Sayona and Piedmont. Those include better control of dust, and a plan to restore the site once the lithium runs out in a few decades.

“The productivity will be a lot better because we are correcting everything,” Mr. Desrosiers said. In a few years, the company plans to upgrade the facility to produce lithium carbonate, which contains a much higher concentration of lithium than the raw metal extracted from the ground.

The operation will get its electricity from Quebec’s abundant hydropower plants, and will use only recycled water in the separation process, Mr. Desrosiers said. Still, environmental activists are watching the project warily.

Mining is a pillar of the Quebec economy, and the area around La Corne is populated with people whose livelihoods depend on extraction of iron, nickel, copper, zinc and other metals. There is an active gold mine near the largest city in the area, Val-d’Or, or Valley of Gold.

Mining “is our life,” said Sébastien D’Astous, a metallurgist turned politician who is the mayor of Amos, a small city north of La Corne. “Everybody knows, or has in the near family, people who work in mining or for contractors.”

Most people support the lithium mine, but a significant minority oppose it, Mr. D’Astous said. Opponents fear that another lithium mine being developed by Sayona in nearby La Motte, Quebec, could contaminate an underground river.

Rodrigue Turgeon, a local lawyer and program co-leader for MiningWatch Canada, a watchdog group, has pushed to make sure the Sayona mines undergo rigorous environmental reviews. Long Point First Nation, an Indigenous group that says the mines are on its ancestral territory, wants to conduct its own environmental impact study.

Sébastien Lemire, who represents the region around La Corne in the Canadian Parliament, said he wanted to make sure that the wealth created by lithium mining flowed to the people of Quebec rather than to outside investors.

Mr. Lemire praised activists for being “vigilant” about environmental standards, but he favors the mine and drives an electric car, a Chevrolet Bolt.

“If we don’t do it,” he said at a cafe in La Corne, “we’re missing the opportunity of the electrification of transport.”

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Ukraine’s Donbas, Where Putin Sowed the Seeds of War

CHASIV YAR, Ukraine — On a clear spring morning eight years ago, Oleksandr Khainus stepped outside his house to go to work at the town factory when he spotted new graffiti scrawled across his fence. “Glory to Russia,” vandals had written in angry black spray paint. “Putin,” another message said.

Mr. Khainus was perplexed. It was true that Chasiv Yar, the Rust Belt-like town where he has spent his entire life in a region called the Donbas, had long contained many conflicting opinions on its identity. Geographically, the Donbas was part of Ukraine, no question, but it was so close to Russia and so tied to it historically that many maintained that their true home really lay eastward.

“It was the type of stuff you’d argue about over the dinner table,” he said. “But nothing that anyone would get violent over.”

protests exploded. Armed separatists seized chunks of the Donbas right under the authorities’ noses. Two so-called People’s Republics were declared. Russian troops stormed in.

the most far-reaching war in generations. It was the Donbas that became Mr. Putin’s pretext for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. And now it is heating up again.

masterful offensive in the Kharkiv region, in Ukraine’s northeast, where town after town fell without a shot. Now they are heading south. Columns of dark green military trucks and American-made rocket launchers are thundering down the long, straight highways into the Donbas. But they will have a much harder fight on their hands.

Wagner Group and close air cover because of the proximity to the Russian border. They can also rely on separatist fighters and a well-financed network of citizen-spies who relay secret information to the invaders, often with devastating consequences.

Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s pro-Russia president, out of office. Mr. Yanukovych came from a Donbas steel town. In one stroke, Russia lost its ally and the Donbas elite its godfather. That is when the trouble started.

People flooded into the Donbas streets waving Russian flags. At first, said Alisa Sopova, a journalist for a Donbas newspaper at the time, “We were sure they were fake people brought in from Russia to pose for Russian TV.”

to speak so much Russian. A critical aspect of Ukrainian independence was reviving the Ukrainian language, marginalized during Soviet times. But those arguments were typically confined to social media posts or intellectual debates, until this moment.

“I’d go into the supermarket to buy some meat, and the shopkeeper tells me, ‘If you don’t speak Ukrainian, I’m not going to sell you any meat,’” Mr. Tsyhankov said. “I’ve been speaking Russian my whole life. How do you think that made me feel?”

done something similar in 2008 in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two regions of Georgia, and before that the Russians had meddled in Moldova, backing the breakaway Transnistria region. The tools were generally the same: bankrolling pro-Russia political parties; deploying intelligence agents to foment protests; sowing disinformation through Russian TV.

Mr. Putin’s strategy was to turn strategic slices of the former Soviet Union into separatist hotbeds to hobble young nations like Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, all struggling to break free from Moscow and move closer to Europe.

Under the Kremlin’s wing, Donbas’s separatists killed Ukrainian officials, took territory and declared the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. When Ukrainian forces rolled in to quell the rebellion, some residents saw them as occupiers. They spoke a different language, hailed from a different region, embraced a different culture — or so went the pro-Russia narrative. In some villages, babushkas lay down in the roads blocking Ukrainian tanks, officers said, and in one, an especially cunning babushka kept stealing the soldiers’ helmets.

“It was frustrating,” said Anatolii Mohyla, a Ukrainian military commander. “We’d come to liberate them and they’d give us the finger.”

Mr. Putin dispatched thousands of Russian troops to support the separatists, later saying he had been “forced to protect” the Russian-speaking population. Towns like Chasiv Yar were occupied by separatist fighters, then liberated by Ukrainian troops a few months later. By 2015, the heavy fighting had died down. But it was not like Mr. Putin forgot about the Donbas.

He upped the ante in 2021, saying, “Kyiv simply does not need the Donbas.” And on Feb. 21 of this year, three days before he invaded Ukraine, Mr. Putin accused the Ukrainian government of perpetrating a “genocide.” He justified the most cataclysmic war in decades by citing the very tensions he himself stoked.

In early April, the agricultural land around Chasiv Yar began to thaw. Mr. Khainus, the pro-Ukraine farmer, drove out to check a sunflower field. A Ukrainian military vehicle raced up. A soldier leaned out the window and fired an assault rifle, the bullets skipping up in the dirt. Mr. Khainus slammed on the brakes.

A Ukrainian commander he recognized, a man whom Mr. Khainus said he had complained about before, jumped out. The commander greeted him with a punch to the head, Mr. Khainus said, and then smashed him in the face with a rifle butt.

He does not remember much after that. He shared photographs of himself lying in a hospital bed with two black eyes. Military and law enforcement officials declined to comment.

Mr. Khainus remains a supporter of the military, saying, “One stupid person doesn’t represent the army.”

But, he added wryly: “It’s one thing to be a patriot in Kyiv. It’s another to be a patriot in the Donbas.”

At 9 p.m. on July 9, four cruise missiles slammed into a dormitory at the old ceramic plant. The buildings crumbled as if they were made out of sand. Viacheslav Boitsov, an emergency services official, said there were “no military facilities nearby.”

But according to Mr. Mohyla and Oleksandr Nevydomskyi, another Ukrainian military officer, Ukrainian soldiers were staying in that building. The night before, they said, a mysterious man was seen standing outside flashing light signals, most likely pinpointing the position.

The military calls such spies “correctors,” and they relay navigational information to the Russians to make missile and artillery strikes more precise. Ukrainian officials have arrested more than 20 and say correctors are often paid several hundred dollars after a target is hit. The strike in Chasiv Yar was one of the deadliest: 48 killed, including 18 soldiers, the officers said.

“For sure there are Russian agents in this town,” Mr. Mohyla said. “There might even be spies in our unit.”

Few in Chasiv Yar are confident that the town will stay in government hands.

Mr. Khainus said the Russians were steadily moving closer to his sunflower fields. About a week ago, a friend’s house was shelled. A day later, in an online messaging channel, separatist supporters said Mr. Khainus should be next, calling him a “hero” — adding an epithet.

Is he scared?

“Why should I be?” he said. “They’re nobodies.”

Mr. Tsyhankov, the retired dump truck driver nostalgic for the Soviet times, seemed pained by all of the bloodshed but did not blame the Russians or the separatists. “They’re doing the right thing,” he said. “They’re fighting for the Russian language and their territory.”

As he said goodbye, insisting that his guests take with them a jug of his homemade apple juice and some fresh green grapes, he shook his head at the enormity of it. “Why can’t we be friends with you guys, the Americans?” he asked. “Politics are keeping all of us hostage.”

Every night, the horizon in Chasiv Yar lights up with explosions. Ukrainian soldiers operate here almost as if they are on enemy territory, hiving themselves off from the public, watching their backs, traveling by night in long convoys of cars with the lights blacked out, the drivers wearing night vision goggles. According to separatist messaging channels, the Wagner mercenaries have reached the outskirts of Bakhmut, a major Donbas town. As for Soledar, it is now off limits to journalists, but volunteers there trying to rescue civilians say it is as deadly as ever.

People here used to describe the Donbas in simple terms like “beautiful,” “honest,” “unbreakable” and “free.”

Now it is destroyed, depopulated, sad and empty.

“It’s like the Rust Belt,” Ms. Sopova said. “It’s not needed anymore. All that industry is obsolete.”

Countless communities have risen in the Donbas. Many are now falling. Ms. Sopova glimpses a perhaps not so faraway future where the Donbas goes back to what it once was: a wild field.

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting.

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This Remote Mine Could Foretell the Future of America’s Electric Car Industry

Hiding a thousand feet below the earth’s surface in this patch of northern Minnesota wetlands are ancient mineral deposits that some view as critical to fueling America’s clean energy future.

poor environmental record in the United States, and an even more checkered footprint globally. While some in the area argue the mine could bring good jobs to a sparsely populated region, others are deeply fearful that it could spoil local lakes and streams that feed into the Mississippi River. There is also concern that it could endanger the livelihoods and culture of Ojibwe tribes whose members live just over a mile from Talon’s land and have gathered wild rice here for generations.

provoked outrage in 2020 by blowing up a 46,000-year-old system of Aboriginal caves in Australia in a search for iron ore.

at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group in the state. Locals say the only Tesla for miles is Talon’s company car.

“Talon and Rio Tinto will come and go — greatly enriched by their mining operation. But we, and the remnants of the Tamarack mine, will be here forever,” Mr. Applegate said.

near tribal land.

approved a plan to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.

Indonesia and the Philippines, releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide before being refined in Chinese factories powered by coal.

Another source of nickel is a massive mining operation north of the Arctic Circle in Norilsk, Russia, which has produced so much sulfur dioxide that a plume of the toxic gas is big enough to be seen from space. Other minerals used in electric vehicle batteries, such as lithium and cobalt, appear to have been mined or refined with the use of child or forced labor.

With global demand for electric vehicles projected to grow sixfold by 2030, the dirty origins of this otherwise promising green industry have become a looming crisis. The Democrats’ new tax and climate bill devotes nearly $400 billion to clean energy initiatives over the next decade, including electric vehicle tax credits and financing for companies that manufacture clean cars in the United States.

New domestic high-tech mines and factories could make this supply chain more secure, and potentially less damaging to the global environment. But skeptics say those facilities may still pose a risk to the air, soil and water that surrounds them, and spark a fierce debate about which communities might bear those costs.

can leach out sulfuric acid and heavy metals. More than a dozen former copper mines in the United States are now Superfund sites, contaminated locations where taxpayers can end up on the hook for cleanup.

canceled leases for another copper-nickel mine near a Minnesota wilderness area, saying the Trump administration had improperly renewed them.

Talon Metals insists that it will have no such problems. “We can produce the battery materials that are necessary for the energy transition and also protect the environment,” said Todd Malan, the company’s chief external affairs officer and head of climate strategy. “It’s not a choice.”

The company is using high-tech equipment to map underground flows of water in the area and create a 3-D model of the ore, so it can mine “surgically” while leaving other parts of the earth undisturbed, Mr. Malan said. Talon is also promising to use technology that will safely store the mine’s toxic byproducts and do its mining far underground, in deep bedrock where groundwater doesn’t typically penetrate.

Talon has teamed up with the United Steelworkers union on work force development. And Rio Tinto has won a $2.2 million Department of Energy grant to explore capturing carbon near the site, which may allow the mine to market its products as zero emission.

estimates, the world will need roughly 20 times as much nickel and cobalt by 2040 as it had in 2020 and 40 times as much lithium.

Recycling could play a bigger role in supplying these materials by the end of the decade, and some new car batteries do not use any nickel. Yet nickel is still highly sought after for electric trucks and higher-end cars, because it increases a vehicle’s range.

The infrastructure law passed last year devoted $7 billion to developing the domestic supply chain for critical minerals. The climate and tax law also sets ambitious thresholds for ensuring that electric vehicles that receive tax incentives are partly U.S.-made.

has begged miners to produce more.

is home to deposits of nickel, copper and cobalt, which were formed 1.1 billion years ago from a volcano that spewed out miles of liquid magma.

Talon has leased 31,000 acres of land in the area, covering an 11-mile geological feature deep under the swamp. The company has zealously drilled and examined the underground resources along one of those 11 miles, and discovered several other potential satellite deposits.

In August, the company announced that it had also acquired land in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to explore for more nickel.

Talon will start Minnesota’s environmental review process within a few months, and the company says it anticipates a straightforward review. But legal challenges for proposed mines can regularly stretch to a decade or more, and some living near the project say they will do what they can to fight the mine.

Elizabeth Skinaway and her sister, Jean Skinaway-Lawrence, members of the Sandy Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa, are especially concerned about damage to the wild rice, which Ms. Skinaway has been gathering in lakes several miles from the proposed mine for 43 years.

Ms. Skinaway acknowledges the need to combat climate change, which also threatens the rice. But she sees little justice in using the same kind of profit-driven, extractive industry that she said had long plundered native lands and damaged the global environment.

“The wild rice, the gift from the creator, that’s going to be gone, from the sulfide that’s going to leach into the river and the lakes,” she said. “It’s just a really scary thought.”

“We were here first,” said her sister. “We should be heard.”

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Prince William Charity Invests With Bank Tied To Dirty Fuels

Financial experts say investments like those of the prince’s conservation foundation can be blind spots for charities and philanthropies.

The conservation charity founded by Prince William, second in line to the British throne and who launched the Earthshot Prize, keeps its investments in a bank that is one of the world’s biggest backers of fossil fuels, The Associated Press has learned.

The Royal Foundation also places more than half of its investments in a fund advertised as green that owns shares in large food companies that buy palm oil from companies linked to deforestation.

“The earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice,” the prince, a well-known environmentalist, is quoted saying on the websites of the Earthshot Prize and Royal Foundation.

Yet in 2021, the charity kept more than $1.3 million with JPMorgan Chase, according to the most recent filings, and still invests with the corporation today. The foundation also held $2 million in a fund run by British firm Cazenove Capital Management, according to the 2021 filing. As with JPMorgan, it still keeps funds with Cazenove, which in May had securities linked to deforestation through their use of palm oil. The foundation invested similar amounts in both funds in 2020, its older filings show. As of December 2021, the charity also held more than $12.1 million in cash.

The investments, which the Royal Foundation didn’t dispute when contacted by the AP, come as top scientists repeatedly warn that the world must shift away from fossil fuels to sharply reduce emissions and avoid more and increasingly intense extreme weather events.

Financial experts say investments like those of the foundation can be blind spots for charities and philanthropies. As climate change is an increasing area of attention for foundations and others, organizations have sometimes struggled to recognize where their own investments lie and align them with more environmentally friendly choices, despite growing numbers of ways to steer clear of funds linked to fossil fuels.

Like the Royal Foundation, in recent years other foundations, including high profile British charities like the National Trust and Wellcome Trust, also have faced criticism for investments with strong connections to fossil fuels or environmentally harmful practices. Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates announced that he divested his foundation’s direct oil and gas holdings in 2019.

Charities that are talking the talk “also need to walk the walk,” said Andreas Hoepner, professor of Operational Risk, Banking and Finance at University College Dublin, who helped design several European Union climate benchmarks and has sat on its sustainable finance group.

“There are funds that are more sustainably oriented,” Hoepner added, pointing to a dozen alternatives to the JPMorgan product that are marketed as sustainable.

There are also alternatives to Cazenove’s sustainability fund. For example, funds manager CCLA caters to churches and charities and does not invest in businesses that get more than 10% of their revenue from oil and gas. Another option is Generation Investment Management, founded in part by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

The Royal Foundation said by email that it had followed Church of England guidelines on ethical investment since 2015, and goes beyond them.

“We take our investment policies extremely seriously and review them regularly,” the statement said.

The foundation said management fees paid to JPMorgan were small, but declined to provide a figure.

It’s not clear what role, if any, Prince William had in investment decisions, as he did not respond to AP requests for comment. JPMorgan Asset Management in an email declined to comment on questions about charities investing in their products despite its record of financing fossil fuels.

Bloomberg data show JPMorgan has underwritten more bonds and loans for the fossil fuel industry and earned greater fees than its competitors in the five years up to 2021.

Environmental NGO Rainforest Action Network looked at direct loans and stock ownership along with bonds and estimated that between 2016 and 2021, JPMorgan’s banking arm financed fossil fuel companies with some $382 billion. This was more than any other bank.

“Major investors have their pick of companies to manage their assets, and mission-driven institutions have options well beyond the world’s worst fossil fuel bank,” said Jason Disterhoft, senior energy campaigner with Rainforest Action Network.

As one of the world’s biggest banks, JPMorgan is also a leading financier of green projects, and has set a target of investing $1 trillion in these over the next decade. However, it made about $985 million in revenue from fossil fuels compared to $310 million from green projects since the Paris Agreement in 2015, about three times more, according to Bloomberg Data.

Compared to some other charities, the Royal Foundation’s investments are small, with little impact on climate change. But they are not in line with the ethos of the foundation, which lists conservation and mental health as main points of emphasis, or Prince William’s public statements. His Earthshot Prize, a “global search for solutions to save our planet,” awards grants of up  to $1.2 million each year to projects confronting environmental challenges, according to the charity’s website, which suggests banks as among potential recipients. In July, the Royal Foundation announced that the Earthshot Prize had become an independent charity and Prince William would be its president.

Through launching and awarding the prize and in other public appearances, Prince William has been outspoken on the environment for years. He has argued that entrepreneurs should focus their energies on saving the Earth before investing in space tourism, encouraged parents to consider how their children don’t have the same outdoor opportunities they had and urged conservation.

“Today, in 2022, as the queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee, the pressing need to protect and restore our planet has never been more urgent,” the prince said in June during Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.

The policies of the Royal Foundation do not allow ownership of stock in oil companies, tobacco or alcohol. But profits from the Royal Foundation’s account could enable JPMorgan to loan more money to the many oil companies it backs, allowing their expansion. In the same way, investing in companies tied to problems with palm oil supply could help fund unsustainable practices.

While the Cazenove fund is marketed as “sustainable,” as of May 31 the fund held almost $6 million of shares in Nestlé, and shares worth $8.1 million in Reckitt Benckiser, according to Morningstar Direct data. Both Nestlé and Reckitt Benckiser have faced controversy over their palm oil supply. Clearing rainforests to make way for palm oil plantations is one of Southeast Asia’s biggest drivers of deforestation.

Nestlé is the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturer, while Reckitt manufactures popular U.S. brands including Lysol and Woolite, and Vanish and Dettol, familiar in the U.K.

A 2021 investigation by the environmental NGO Global Witness said both companies were sourcing palm oil via intermediaries from illegally deforested areas in Papua New Guinea. The plantations responsible were also accused of corruption, use of child labor and paying police to attack protesters.

Another 2021 report, by sustainability analysts Chain Reaction Research, said both companies purchased palm oil from an Indonesian firm that has an affiliated mining project accused of deforestation in an orangutan habitat.

An investigation in 2020 by Chain Reaction Research found that more than 1,235 acres — over 1,000 American football fields — of rainforest in Indonesia’s Papua province were felled by a supplier to Wilmar, a giant food and oils producer, from which both source their palm oil.

David Croft, head of sustainability at Reckitt, said no tainted palm oil entered its products from the Papua New Guinea properties, while conceding their mills were previously in its supplier list. An intermediary company linked Reckitt to the Indonesian mining conglomerate in its supply chain, he said, and it was investigating. Croft said they have had “active discussions” with Wilmar, which stopped sourcing from the Papua plantation in January 2022. In a public statement published in response to Chain Reaction’s investigation, Wilmar disputed the cleared area was high conservation value forest.

Despite being a “relatively small user of palm oil,” Reckitt knows there is more to do, said Croft, and is accelerating its progress. Croft said Reckitt could not get all the product it needs from certified producers before 2026.

Emma Keller, head of sustainability at Nestlé U.K. and Ireland, said the Wilmar case was to be investigated. Nestlé engages with suppliers that fall short to help them change and monitors performance, she said.

Sixty percent of Nestlé’s palm oil supply was certified as sustainable by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, an industry-organized effort, in 2021, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. For Reckitt, that figure was 15.3%.

Keller said that by winter 2021, more than 90% of Nestlé palm oil was deforestation-free and it will achieve zero-deforestation status by the end of 2022. It uses supply chain maps, on-the-ground verification and satellite monitoring for verification. Nestlé was moving toward “a model for conserving and restoring the world’s forests,” Keller said.

Lily Tomson, of the responsible investment charity ShareAction, said Cazenove had shown some leadership on sustainable investing, but there “remain areas charities such as the Royal Foundation can push them on.”

Investors can vote on key environmental issues in companies where they hold shares, for example setting targets to align with the Paris Agreement, or on climate lobbying. Yet Cazenove’s parent company, Schroders, voted against 22% of environmental resolutions last year, ShareAction research has found.

Kate Rogers, head of sustainability at Cazenove Capital, said the company engaged with Nestlé and Reckitt, and has seen progress on deforestation.

Environmental factors are ingrained in the company’s decision-making, she said, every investment assessed for sustainability. Cazenove has committed to eliminating commodity-driven deforestation from its investments by 2025 and said a new voting policy meant that as of June 2022, the firm had voted against 60 directors of companies it invests in over a lack of climate action.

Dr. Raj Thamotheram, former head of responsible investing at both a $109 billion British university pension fund and AXA Investment Managers, said foundations should be better regulated, with annual reports made to detail how well their investment strategy aligns with their mission.

Thamotheram, now an independent adviser, called unsustainable investments a “cultural and governance blind spot of huge proportions,” and said they were endemic in the charity sector.

“It’s the status quo approach and it needs shaking up,” he said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Initial Dives In Collapsed Mexican Mine Unsuccessful

By Associated Press
August 12, 2022

15 miners became trapped Aug. 3 inside a coal mine in Sabinas, Coahuila, about 70 miles southwest of Eagle Pass, Texas.

Rescue divers’ first attempts to reach 10 miners trapped inside a flooded coal mine since last week were stopped by debris-filled shafts and poor visibility, Mexican authorities said Thursday.

They made four attempts Wednesday and managed to remove more than a dozen pieces of wood and some 15 yards of hose, but were not able to go far.

“They found they didn’t have space to advance,” said Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval. “With the lights they carry they don’t have the visibility they need to identify what they find.”

On Aug. 3, 15 miners were inside the coal mine in Sabinas, Coahuila, about 70 miles southwest of Eagle Pass, Texas. Authorities believe the miners breached a wall containing another flooded area. Five miners managed to escape with injuries, but there has been no contact with the remaining 10.

For much of the past week authorities have used dozens of pumps to try to lower the water level inside the flooded mine shafts. Wednesday’s dives were the first attempt to enter the mine.

Coahuila Gov. Miguel Riquelme said via Twitter Wednesday that pumping would resume before more attempts were made to enter.

In June and July of 2021, cave-ins at two Coahuila mines claimed the lives of nine miners.

Mexico’s worst mining accident also occurred in Coahuila on Feb. 19, 2006, when an explosion ripped through the Pasta de Conchos mine while 73 miners were inside. Eight were rescued with injuries including serious burns. The rest died and only two of their bodies were recovered.

López Obrador’s administration promised two years ago to recover the remaining 63 bodies, a highly technical endeavor that has still not begun.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Firefighters Partially Surround Deadly California Fire

The fire broke out last Friday and has charred nearly 90 square miles of forestland, left tinder-dry by drought.

Firefighters have gotten their first hold on California’s deadliest and most destructive fire of the year and expected that the blaze would remain stalled through the weekend.

The McKinney Fire near the Oregon border was 10% contained as of Wednesday night and bulldozers and hand crews were making progress carving firebreaks around much of the rest of the blaze, fire officials said at a community meeting.

The southeastern corner of the blaze above the Siskiyou County seat of Yreka, which has about 7,800 residents, was contained. Evacuation orders for sections of the town and Hawkinsville were downgraded to warnings, allowing people to return home but with a warning that the situation remained dangerous.

About 1,300 residents remained under evacuation orders, officials said.

The fire didn’t advance Wednesday, following several days of brief but heavy rain from thunderstorms that provided cloudy, damper weather.

“This is a sleeping giant right now,” said Darryl Laws, a unified incident commander on the blaze.

In addition, firefighters expected Thursday to fully surround a 1,000-acre spot fire on the northern edge of the McKinney Fire.

The fire broke out last Friday and has charred nearly 90 square miles of forestland, left tinder-dry by drought. More than 100 homes and other buildings have burned and four bodies have been found, including two in a burned car in a driveway.

The blaze was driven at first by fierce winds ahead of a thunderstorm cell. More storms earlier this week proved a mixed blessing. A drenching rain Tuesday dumped up to 3 inches on some eastern sections of the blaze but most of the fire area got next to nothing, said Dennis Burns, a fire behavior analyst.

The latest storm also brought concerns about possible river flooding and mudslides. A private contractor in a pickup truck who was aiding the firefighting effort was hurt when a bridge gave out and washed away the vehicle, Kreider said. The contractor had non-life-threatening injuries, she said.

However, no weather events were forecast for the next three or four days that could give the fire “legs,” Burns said.

The good news came too late for many people in the scenic hamlet of Klamath River, which was home to about 200 people before the fire reduced many of the homes to ashes, along with the post office, community center and other buildings.

At an evacuation center Wednesday, Bill Simms said that three of the four victims were his neighbors. Two were a married couple who lived up the road.

“I don’t get emotional about stuff and material things,” Simms said. “But when you hear my next-door neighbors died … that gets a little emotional.”

Their names haven’t been officially confirmed, which could take several days, said Courtney Kreider, a spokesperson with the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.

Simms, a 65-year-old retiree, bought his property six years ago as a second home with access to hunting and fishing. He went back to check on his property Tuesday and found it was destroyed.

“The house, the guest house and the RV were gone. It’s just wasteland, devastation,” Simms said. He found the body of one of his two cats, which he buried. The other cat is still missing. He was able to take his two dogs with him to the shelter.

Harlene Schwander, 82, lost the home she had just moved into a month ago to be closer to her son and daughter-in-law. Their home survived but her house was torched.

Schwander, an artist, said she only managed to grab a few family photos and some jewelry before evacuating. Everything else — including her art collection — went up in flames.

“I’m sad. Everybody says it was just stuff, but it was all I had,” she said.

California and much of the rest of the West is in drought and wildfire danger is high, with the historically worst of the fire season still to come. Fires are burning in Montana, Idaho and Nebraska and have destroyed homes and threaten communities.

Scientists say climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the last three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive. California has seen its largest, most destructive and deadliest wildfires in the last five years. In 2018, a massive blaze in the Sierra Nevada foothills destroyed much of the city of Paradise and killed 85 people, the most deaths from a U.S. wildfire in a century.

In northwestern Montana, a fire that has destroyed at least four homes and forced the evacuation of about 150 residences west of Flathead Lake continued to be pushed north by winds on Wednesday, fire officials said.

Crews had to be pulled off the lines on Wednesday afternoon due to increased fire activity, Sara Rouse, a public information officer, told NBC Montana.

There were concerns the fire could reach Lake Mary Ronan by Wednesday evening, officials said.

The fire, which started on July 29 in grass on the Flathead Indian Reservation, quickly moved into timber and charred nearly 29 square miles.

The Moose Fire in Idaho has burned more than 85 square miles in the Salmon-Challis National Forest while threatening homes, mining operations and fisheries near the town of Salmon.

And a wildfire in northwestern Nebraska led to evacuations and destroyed or damaged several homes near the small city of Gering. The Carter Canyon Fire began Saturday as two separate fires that merged.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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2 Found Dead In Charred Car Within California Wildfire Zone

By Associated Press
August 2, 2022

The McKinney Fire in Northern California exploded in size to nearly 87 square miles. It’s the state’s largest wildfire of the year so far.

At least two people have died from a raging California blaze that was among several menacing thousands of homes Monday in the Western U.S.

Two bodies were found inside a charred vehicle Sunday in the driveway of a home near the remote community of Klamath River, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. The names of the victims and other details weren’t immediately released.

The McKinney Fire in Northern California near the state line with Oregon exploded in size to nearly 87 square miles after erupting Friday in the Klamath National Forest, firefighting officials said. It is California’s largest wildfire of the year so far and officials have not yet determined the cause.

Gusty winds from a thunderstorm powered the blaze of a few hundred acres into a massive conflagration while lightning caused a couple of smaller blazes nearby, including one near the community of Seiad Valley, fire officials said.

On Monday, heavy rain helped dampen the fire but it still threatened structures after torching more than 100, ranging from homes to greenhouses, fire and sheriff’s officials said.

About 2,500 people remained under evacuation orders.

“If you get an order, that means go. This fire behavior, as you’ll hear, is incredible. Don’t try to fight it. Don’t try to stick around,” Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Services Director Bryan Schenone said at a community meeting Monday evening.

Stormy and cloudy weather helped fire crews attack the blaze, and bulldozers had managed to ring the town of Yreka, fire officials said.

As of Monday, the blaze was about 4 miles from the town of around 7,500 people.

Valerie Linfoot’s son, a fire dispatcher, called to tell her their family home of three decades in Klamath River had burned. Linfoot said her husband worked as a U.S. Forest Service firefighter for years and the family did everything they could to prepare their house for a wildfire — including installing a metal roof and trimming trees and tall grasses around the property.

“It was as safe as we could make it, and it was just so dry and so hot and the fire was going so fast,” Linfoot told the Bay Area News Group. She said her neighbors have also lost homes.

“It’s a beautiful place. And from what I’ve seen, it’s just decimated. It’s absolutely destroyed,” she told the news group.

In northwestern Montana, winds picked up Monday afternoon on a fire burning in forested land west of Flathead Lake, forcing fire managers to ground all aircraft and leading the Lake County Sheriff’s Office to start evacuating residents on the northeastern corner of the fire.

The fire was putting up a lot of smoke, creating visibility problems for aircraft, said Sara Rouse, a spokesperson for the fire management team.

The fire, which started Friday afternoon near the town of Elmo on the Flathead Indian Reservation, measured 20 square miles, fire officials said.

The Moose Fire in Idaho has burned more than 85 square miles in the Salmon-Challis National Forest while threatening homes, mining operations and fisheries near the town of Salmon. It was 23% contained Monday.

And a wildfire raging in northwestern Nebraska led to evacuations and destroyed or damaged several homes near the small city of Gering. The Carter Canyon Fire began Saturday as two separate fires that merged. It was about 30% contained by early Monday.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Saturday, allowing him more flexibility to make emergency response and recovery effort decisions and to tap federal aid.

Scientists have said climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the last three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

The U.S. Forest service shut down a 110-mile section of the famed Pacific Crest Trail in Northern California and southern Oregon. Sixty hikers in that area were helped to evacuate on Saturday, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon, which aided in the effort.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Higher Demand For Air Conditioning Could Further Affect The Climate

Increasing demand for air conditioning is outpacing supply. This rise in AC use will also affect the climate, which could lead to more heatwaves.

The increased demand for air conditioning in the U.S. has been underscored by record-breaking heatwaves, impacting tens of millions of Americans coast to coast.  

Experts argue that added air conditioning and energy capacity is necessary for health reasons, as extreme heat is responsible for more weather-related deaths in the U.S. than any other kind of hazard. At the same time, there are concerns that this energy usage could make the effects of climate change worse.

“Climate change has caused it to get warmer, and as humans, the best adaptation policy or action that we can take is to use air conditioning,” said Renee Orbringer, assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University’s School of Energy and Mineral Mining. “That in turn, depending on where you get your energy — which in the US is largely fossil fuels — leads to furthering climate change. What we’re seeing is that it’s happening a lot faster than a lot of the utilities were prepared for.”

In fact, residents in regions that had historically less need for cooling devices are seeing spikes in aircon adoption. In Seattle, where only 44% of households have an window unit or central AC, demand has been so high that installation companies in the area were already booked out for the summer in April.

It won’t take much of a temperature increase to drive demand, either. A study by Orbringer found that household demand for air conditioning is expected to increase by 13% if the world warms up by two degrees Celsius, or about 3.6 degrees Farhenheit. If global temperatures increased by half a degree Celsius, it could triple the demand for air conditioning in Indiana and Ohio, which could put a strain on energy grids unprepared for the increases.

“Worst case scenario: Our demand increases, our supply stays the same,” Orbringer said. “We’re going to have potentially two weeks’ worth of deficit where we don’t meet our demand, and ultimately, the way that electricity grids work is they don’t want to shut down the whole grid, because it takes so much to get it back up and running. So, they’ll shut down portions of the grid to keep everything sort of going.”

Fixing the problem is going to require finding ways to make our air conditioning more efficient, which may mean retrofitting entire old buildings.

But how much energy you need to cool your house depends on the climate you live in, so air conditioning specs for one part of the country may not match another area.

“What leads households in Arizona to increase their air conditioning use is not going to be the same as in Florida, because this humidity factor is absolutely critical for determining sort of how we experience temperature as humans,” Orbringer said.

Source: newsy.com

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‘Get the Stretcher!’ Life and Death on Ukraine’s Front Line.

DONETSK REGION, Ukraine — Between the cracks of mortar fire and the metallic bangs of Russian self-detonating mines, Yurii, a Ukrainian Army medic, readied an intravenous line for the soldier sprawled on the stretcher below him.

The soldier looked to be in his mid-20s. His face was smeared with dirt and fear.

“Do you remember your name?” Yurii asked.

“Maksym,” the soldier whispered back.

Earlier that morning Maksym had been under a Russian bombardment at the front in eastern Ukraine that had left him severely concussed. Yurii and other Ukrainian medics were tending to him at an aid station barely removed from what has come to be known as the “zero line” where the shelling is relentless.

several anti-vehicle mines around the road and aid station where Yurii and his crew were treating Maksym. Even if the mines are not disturbed, they are set to detonate on a daylong timer.

Ukrainian forces had cleared some of the soda-bottle-shaped explosives, one soldier said, pointing to a video taken on his phone in the predawn darkness that showed troops shooting at a mine until it exploded. But mines were still in the bushes, waiting to detonate.

Yurii and the other medics tried to keep their focus on the wounded soldier. But the immediate demands stretched beyond their checklist of treating intense bleeding or assessing the airway. How to comfort the wounded? How to reassure them that they have survived and made it away from the front? How to give hope even if dozens of their friends have died?

“Don’t be afraid, my friend. You’ve arrived,” Yurii said soothingly as Maksym wormed around on the stretcher, his eyes wide and frantic.

It was clear that in Maksym’s mind, the shelling hadn’t stopped. He was breathing hard, his chest rising and falling in rapid bursts.

“Don’t worry. I am putting the needle in the vein. You’ve arrived, it’s a hard concussion,” Yurii soothed again.

The soldiers who carried Maksym to the aid station piled back in their truck to drive the roughly two miles back to the front line. They were returning to the same task their friend had been carrying out before he was nearly killed: waiting for a Russian attack or for an incoming Russian artillery round to find them.

As they departed, a soldier beyond the trees yelled “Fire!” A Ukrainian mortar launched a shell toward Russian positions. Smoke drifted up from the firing site.

The artillery war in Ukraine’s east is seemingly never-ending. Even without either side attacking or counter attacking, the shelling is constant — wounding and killing and driving those soldiers cowering in trenches and foxholes slowly insane.

At the sound of mortar fire, Maksym lurched on the stretcher once more.

“It’s all good! Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. It’s all fine. All fine. These are ours. These are ours,” Yurii told Maksym, assuring him that he wasn’t being shelled again.

Maksym’s breathing slowed. He covered his face with his hands and then looked around.

The first complete thought Maksym organized and communicated was a string of expletives directed at the Russians.

“Go on, talk to us. You got a wife? You got kids?” Yurii nudged, seizing the opportunity to bring Maksym back among the living.

“The shrapnel,” he muttered.

“Shrapnel?” Yurii asked. He was surprised. Maksym was clearly concussed, but showed no signs of other wounds.

“He’s got shrapnel right here, and here,” Maksym said, his voice trailing off. The medics quickly realized that he was talking about his friend who was wounded when the Russian artillery struck earlier.

“He’s been driven away, taken to the hospital,” Yurii said, though the medic had no idea what had happened to Maksym’s friend. He was just trying to keep his patient from panicking again.

“Is he alive?” Maksym asked cautiously.

“He has to be,” Yurii replied, though he didn’t know.

For Yurii’s ambulance crew and other medics assigned to the area, these types of calls are common. Some days they wait a few miles from the bus station-turned-aid station, the determined pickup point between the front lines and safety, and their 24-hour shift ticks by uneventfully: Yurii calls his wife several times a day. Ihor sleeps. Vova, the son of an armorer, thinks about how to modernize Ukraine’s Soviet-era weaponry.

Other days the casualties are frequent and the medics are left with a constant rotation between the hospital and the aid station as they place bloodied men with tourniquets strapped to their extremities in the back of their ambulances.

Yurii stared down at Maksym, encouraged by his newfound ability to communicate.

“You’re not hurt anywhere else?” Yurii asked.

Maksym put his hand behind his neck and pulled away, looking at his appendage, almost expecting blood to be there.

“We were all covered by shelling,” Maksym said quietly.

“It’s all good, you’re alive,” Yurii said, trying to change the subject. “The main thing is you did well. Good lad.”

As Yurii readied the stretcher and Maksym for the ambulance, an aging red sedan, a Russian Lada, pulled up to the aid station. The Soviet-era staple came to an abrupt halt, practically skidding on the churned up pavement.

The dust settled. In the distance artillery thudded in a familiar rhythm.

A man in a baggy gray T-shirt, clearly distraught, jumped from the car’s driver seat. The passenger opened his door and yelled: “The woman is wounded!”

She was an older woman named Zina, they would soon learn, and she was facedown in the back seat.

Another group of medics would take Maksym to the hospital while Yurii’s crew handled the newly arrived patient in the sedan, the medics decided.

The two men who had driven Zina to the aid station — her husband and her son-in-law — had asked Ukrainian military positions near their home where to take her after shrapnel from an artillery blast struck her head. The troops had directed them to Yurii’s aid station.

In the Lada, Zina’s blood had begun to pool on the fabric. She seemed to be at least in her 50s, unconscious, another civilian wounded in the four-month-old war, like so many who have been caught between the guns.

“Get the stretcher!” Yurii called.

It was not quite 11 a.m., and another of the Russian-strewn mines suddenly exploded near the aid station.

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What Happened on Day 104 of the War in Ukraine

KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — Just to enter Sievierodonetsk, Ukrainian soldiers run a gantlet of Russian artillery shells zeroed in on the only access route: a bridge littered with the burned husks of cars and trucks that didn’t make it.

And once inside the city in eastern Ukraine, the focus of both armies for the past several weeks, Ukrainian soldiers battle Russians in back-and forth combat for control of deserted, destroyed neighborhoods.

Ukraine’s leaders now face a key strategic decision: whether to withdraw from the midsize city and take up more defensible positions, or to remain and risk being boxed in if the bridge is blown up. It reflects the choices the country has had to make since the Russian invasion began, between giving ground to avert death and destruction in the short term, and holding out against long odds in hopes it will later pay off.

In Sievierodonetsk, that calculation has taken on significance beyond the city’s limited military importance. In remarks to journalists on Monday, President Volodymyr Zelensky referred to Sievierodonetsk and its neighbor across the river, Lysychansk, as “dead cities” ravaged by Russian attacks and nearly empty of civilians.

And yet he insisted there was a compelling reason to stay and fight: Ukraine’s position throughout the war has been that it intends to hold onto its sovereign territory, and not yield it to Moscow.

Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

Retreating now to better positions on higher ground across the Seversky Donets River, and then fighting to retake the city later, he said, would be harder and carry a higher price in bloodshed than holding on.

“It will be very costly for you to return, in terms of the number of people killed, the number of losses,” Mr. Zelensky said.

“Our heroes are not giving up positions in Sievierodonetsk,” he added. “Fierce urban combat continues in the city.”

It was a rare public rumination by Mr. Zelensky on strategic decision-making in the war, providing a window into the goals of his government and its military. Sievierodonetsk is the last major city in the breakaway region of Luhansk that the Russians have not taken; capturing it would give them near-total control of that enclave.

There are other factors as well. Falling back could be demoralizing to Ukraine’s forces. And some Ukrainian soldiers said it is worth drawing out the phase of urban combat to inflict more casualties on the already depleted Russian forces, and possibly damage their morale.

It was also possible Mr. Zelensky was aiding the military with misdirection by signaling one intention while quietly pursuing an opposite course of action.

The government has not said how many military casualties Ukraine has suffered overall since the Russian leader Vladimir V. Putin ordered the invasion in February. But Mr. Zelensky said last week that in the recent, intense fighting, each day his country was losing 60 to 100 soldiers killed and 500 wounded. Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said Tuesday that 6,489 Ukrainian service members had been captured.

Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry this week estimated civilian casualties at 40,000 killed or wounded, though some government officials say the true figures are higher. Ukrainian officials said Tuesday that ruptured sewer and water pipes in the southern city of Mariupol, seized by Russia after a devastating siege, have created a risk of severe disease outbreaks that would raise the civilian toll.

The battle for Sievierodonetsk, part of Luhansk and the broader Donbas region in the east, has raged now for weeks, and some Ukrainian soldiers have questioned why the army has not ordered a tactical retreat.

“They are killing a lot of our guys,” said a soldier who asked to be identified only by his nickname, Kubik, interviewed last week while smoking beside a road in the town of Siversk, a staging area to the west of the fighting. He had recently rotated away from positions near Sievierodonetsk.

“Let them come forward a little bit, let them think they have captured the town, and then we will meet them beautifully” from the more advantageous position, he said.

The city lies on the mostly flat, eastern bank of the Seversky Donets. The western bank, in contrast, rises in a prominent hill that provides commanding views and firing positions.

Earlier in the war, Ukrainian soldiers were surrounded in Mariupol and fought for weeks, eventually retreating to hold just a tiny pocket of ground in a steel factory complex where they sheltered in bunkers, before Mr. Zelensky ordered the holdouts to surrender rather than be killed.

Ukrainian commanders decided to avert a smaller-scale version of that siege earlier this week in Sviatohirsk, a town lying on the low bank of the Seversky Donets.

Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Trying to trap Ukrainian troops in the town, Russian forces had been firing artillery at their only remaining route across the river, a bridge near an Orthodox monastery that was also frequently hit. On Monday, the Ukrainian army pulled back, blew up the bridge and took up positions on the river’s high bank, Ukrainian officials said.

Sievierodonetsk was once a sleepy, provincial backwater of about 100,000 residents, with streets lined with poplar trees and a skyline dominated by smokestacks of a fertilizer factory.

Now it is a largely abandoned ruin where battle lines sway often, with each side at times claiming to have expelled the other from part of the city. On Tuesday, Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian military governor of the Luhansk region, said Russian forces were again storming positions. “Combat continues,” he said.

Russian artillery fire into the potential fallback position on the high bank, where Lysychansk lies, has also been ferocious. Shelling hit a market, a mining academy and a school, Mr. Haidai said. The strike on the market touched off a fire that burned through the day Monday. Two civilians were wounded.

The Ukrainian government has been emphasizing the tenuousness of its positions in the battle for Donbas, the mining and farming region now mostly controlled by Russian forces.

The pivotal access bridge to Sievierodonetsk is a panorama of destruction, testifying to the difficulty and risk to Ukraine in holding even some portion of the city.

Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

A video recorded by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reporters who entered on a resupply run last week showed the mayhem on the span: crossing it meant weaving between the burned husks of cars and shell craters in the bridge deck.

The debris has piled up over the past two weeks. In an interview in late May, a soldier at a sandbagged checkpoint at the western edge of the bridge cautioned that Russian artillery spotters had the span — clear of debris at the time — under observation and opened fire whenever a car drove over. Two other bridges into the city were destroyed earlier in May.

Mr. Haidai has justified Ukraine’s efforts to hold Sievierodonetsk as partly a matter of symbolic resistance.

“Strategically, the city of Sievierodonetsk is not of great importance,” he said over the weekend. The high opposite riverbank is more significant militarily, he said. “But politically, Sievierodonetsk is a regional center. Its liberation will lift our morale substantially and demoralize the Russians.”

Still, Mr. Zelensky said he was open to reconsidering his decision based on developments. Either command — to hold ground or to retreat — had potential downsides, he said.

“In the first option there is risk, in the second option there is risk,” he said.

Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Oleksandr Chubko contributed reporting.

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