Top U.S. Energy Regulator Resists Call to ‘Blow Up’ Electricity Markets With Coal, Nuclear Subsidies

first_imgTop U.S. Energy Regulator Resists Call to ‘Blow Up’ Electricity Markets With Coal, Nuclear Subsidies FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Hill:FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee, whose agency would be responsible for implementing Perry’s plan, told reporters Friday that he would not put in place a policy stemming from the proposal if it would “blow up” competitive electricity markets or not withstand court challenges.Chatterjee’s comments were the first time he has weighed in on Perry’s proposal from last month.Perry’s plan, officially made in the name of ensuring a resilient electric grid, has rocked the energy world amid charges that it would dramatically overhaul how electricity is sold. It would require that electric grid operators pay coal and nuclear plants for their costs and a fair rate of return if they have 90 days of fuel on-site.Chatterjee was cautious in commenting on the proposal, and did not fully commit to supporting or opposing any particular action.“I’m sympathetic to some of the things that Secretary Perry has raised,” Chatterjee said at FERC’s Washington headquarters.“This idea that there are perhaps attributes that certain generating sources have that have values that are not appropriately being captured by our existing market structure. We need to look at that carefully and examine that and make a determination on whether changes need to be made to continue to enhance the market structure that we have,” he continued.“I also believe strongly in markets,” he said. “We’ve invested nearly two decades and billions upon billions of dollars in our existing market structure, and I don’t want to do anything to disrupt that market structure. And I also want to ensure that whatever steps the commission takes withstand legal scrutiny and are legally viable.”Chatterjee, a Republican native of coal-heavy Kentucky who previously was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s top energy adviser, said that he’s confident FERC can write a regulation that helps the grid “in a legally defensible manner that doesn’t blow up markets.”But it may not look much like Perry’s original proposal.He went on to say that he isn’t even certain that there is a resilience problem with the electric grid that needs FERC action, but he’s committed to using FERC’s processes to figure that out.“Reliability is not an issue today,” he said. “We have to look at the long term. I think valuing resilience is an extension of reliability, and we have to look to the long term. We don’t know what the future’s going to hold.”More: Energy commission head ‘sympathetic’ to parts of proposal to prop up coal, nuclearlast_img read more

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Little support for coal bailout in Michigan

first_imgLittle support for coal bailout in Michigan FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Detroit News:Michigan energy suppliers say proposed actions by the Trump administration to declare an energy state of emergency are unnecessary and could lead to higher electric bills for customers.Members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates electricity sales and transmission, testified before Congress last week that there is no energy emergency to justify the federal action. Michigan utility companies agreed, saying coal is expensive and that they can provide reliable electricity from cheaper and greener sources such as natural gas, solar and wind.“If they’re going to buy more expensive power, that comes out of ratepayers’ pockets,” said Jim MacInnes, chair of Michigan’s Utility Consumer Participation Board, a five-member group appointed by the governor to provide grants to organizations representing the interests of residential energy utility customers. “System operators are telling us we have more than adequate capacity. Michigan already has the highest electricity rates in the Midwest. Why would we want to make them higher?” “We don’t believe there is an energy crisis or state of emergency, but we do believe there is an opportunity of a generation to have a cleaner and leaner energy supply,” said Patti Poppe, president and CEO of Consumers and its parent, CMS Energy. “What we are doing is beyond federal regulations or mandates. We’re doing this because we can generate electricity with this new balanced and clean energy portfolio in an affordable way that still provides for energy stability, reliability and accessibility.”More demand for coal power would not save many of Michigan’s coal plants, most of which will have been in operation for 60 years or longer by the time they retire. Some parts to repair and update Lansing Board of Water and Light’s two power stations from the ’50s and ’70s are not even available anymore, said Amy Adamy, the board’s spokeswoman.“These plants are old. They’re reaching the end of their life,” said [Irene] Dimitry, [DTE’s vice president of business planning and development.] “We’re in the transition stage already. We’re investing in them just to make sure they are reliable and safe through the transition period. It’s like a car. You replace parts until there’s so many big parts that need repairs that you just need to buy a new car.”More: Trump’s call for coal energy could cost Michigan consumerslast_img read more

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BNEF says new wind, solar now cheaper than existing coal generation in Australia

first_imgBNEF says new wind, solar now cheaper than existing coal generation in Australia FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:The era of cheap coal power in Australia is over; brought to an abrupt end by ever cheaper solar and wind power generation, and by rising coal prices, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Kobad Bhavnagri.“This is something that we only projected would occur in the mid 2020s. But the change in economics, particularly the increase in domestic coal pricing, has meant that this tipping point is already upon us today,” Bhavnagri said.Certainly, the fact that solar and wind have become the cheapest forms of new bulk electricity supply in almost every major energy market around the world – including Australia – is well accepted, including by the Australian Energy Market Operator.“It’s also cheapest, now, to build bulk dispatchable capacity from a wind farm, coupled with a battery, than it is to build a new coal-fired power station – or gas. The cost of building new peaking generation in Australia now favours batteries. For short durations, for an hour or so, a battery is cheaper than building an open cycle gas turbine or a gas reciprocating engine.”But the fact that Australia’s existing coal power fleet is – already – no longer the cheapest form of energy generation has not yet sunk in, Bhavnagri says, even against the backdrop of the global climate emergency. “A phenomenon that has not been well understood or well publicised is that the era of cheap coal in Australia has really come to an end. And that is true even for the existing generation assets.”This conclusion is also reflected in AEMO data, and in its newly released Quarterly Energy Dynamics report, that found the biggest reason for record prices was the rising cost of coal and gas generation. In the last quarter, coal was bid at prices of more than $100/MWh for more than half the time.More: Age of cheap coal power is over for Australia, says BNEFlast_img read more

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Florida city votes to close C.D. McIntosh coal plant by 2024

first_imgFlorida city votes to close C.D. McIntosh coal plant by 2024 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Ledger:The City Commission has five years to figure out an alternative method of providing an adequate supply of electricity.Lakeland Electric announced its plans to shut down C.D. McIntosh Unit 3 no later than fall 2024 at Monday’s utility committee meeting. It’s a matter of economics, according to Mike Beckham, LE’s assistant general manager of production.The city-owned utility has calculated that running the aging coal-powered generator costs about $20 more per megawatt hour than utilizing the natural gas-fired Unit 5. Unit 3 has been offline since February when the company discovered the 102-foot scrubber tank needed $1.4 million in emergency repairs. Beckham said the lower 22 feet of the metal exterior had significantly weakened and could have come apart at the seams.The outage was anticipated to last 45 days, but the repairs are ongoing and extensive. Unit 3 is not expected to be back up and running until May 22. Beckham warned that while Lakeland Electric does not anticipate any future work will be necessary for the scrubber, the ability to make further repairs may be limited on the debilitated structure.More: Lakeland Electric to shut down Unit 3 by fall 2024last_img read more

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Vattenfall studying salt-based storage to speed move away from fossil fuels

first_imgVattenfall studying salt-based storage to speed move away from fossil fuels FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Voice of America:At a power station in Berlin, Germany, visitors find a shining piece of machinery that looks out of place in the building. Its silver pipes and containers hold a substance that reportedly could become a major ingredient for producing power in the future.Vattenfall, the station’s operator, says this form of energy would not depend on traditional fossil fuels, such as oil or coal. The company, working with a Swedish company called SaltX, is testing the use of salt to store heat. Yet it is not the kind of salt you add to food.Heat-produced energy represents more than the half the power Germany uses. If it works well, the salt-based energy storage system could help solve a problem presented by renewable energy sources, such as wind and the sun’s energy.The problem is that renewable energy sources are not completely dependable. They sometimes make too much, and sometimes too little power. E.ON, another German power company, recently reported that wind and solar power produced up to 52 gigawatt hours of electricity during daylight hours on Monday, April 22. Germany’s energy usage at the time was just 49.5 gigawatt hours.Hendrik Roeglin heads the salt storage project for Vattenfall. He told the Associated Press that power companies are able to produce twice as much energy as Germany needs through renewable sources. However, they cannot do so continuously. “With many facilities like this one, in theory you wouldn’t need gas or other fossil fuel backups,” Roeglin noted.More: Salt batteries could be major step in move away from fossil fuelslast_img read more

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Green Race 2011 Recap

first_imgGreen Race winner Isaac Levinson drops in. Photo: Ashley Woodring Phew, another one under the belt.Green Race 2011 did not disappoint.  150 start times and 1000+ spectators meant that someone was flying off of Gorilla every single minute for two and a half hours!  The crowds were roaring, and all of the heavy hitters were out swinging with blistering fast times.Isaac Levinson, a 2012 Olympic hopeful, put together an incredible run, and walked away with his first title, while Adriene Levknecht fought her way to her 4th consecutive women’s title, finishing 10th overall and hurting a lot of the guys’ feelings! See the full results here.Check out this awesome video montage of the race by Pilot Collective Media:Aside from the top tier of competitors, there were also over 30 first-time racers.  These people form a critical part of the DNA that makes up the Green Race.  The pre-race motivational speech by Jason Hale was another great one.  Looking around the circle of paddlers standing proudly with their boats, I could see the adrenaline seeping out of everyone’s pores, but none moreso than the first timers.  While the top guys get to walk straight to the river, warm up and race immediately, these Green Race virgins stew in their own thoughts for another two hours before getting their shot at the class V course.Louis Geltman from Hood River OR, and Severin Haberling from Switzerland were two dark horses who upset quite a few locals!  Louis finished joint 5th in a tie with Pat Keller, and Severin came in a very respectable 8th place.  You know that with that good of a first year result, these guys will certainly be back, and will pose threats to the title in years to come.Another topic of discussion after the 2011 Green Race was the unprecedented amount of carnage that occurred.  While it is an inherently unpredictable medium, and the best paddlers do have bad lines on occasion, there were some paddlers racing who shouldn’t have.  It was scary to watch, and begs the question… should there be qualifying for the Green Race?  I don’t know what the answer is, but I don’t want to see anyone get hurt out there as a result of pride or peer pressure.Here is another video by Pilot Collective of the Green Race crashes:In spite of the bad lines (and I certainly added a few to the mix), the event ended safely for all, and everyone celebrated around the campfire and dancefloor at Wilderness Cove Campground.For additional Green Race coverage, check out the BRO Isaac Levinson interview, my Green Race article, and Shane Benedict’s comprehensive coverage.Time to start training for 2012!last_img read more

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July Contributor Question: What was your worst road trip moment?

first_imgOnce a month we throw our contributors for a loop with different question about their lives in the outdoors. Here are their responses to an inquiry about their worst road trip moments. WILL HARLANBeing held at gunpoint by narco militias in Mexico’s Copper Canyons. Totally ruined the vibe.Harlan-Will-photo-credit-Steven-McBride_FIXJENNIFER PHARR DAVISThe excitement and spray of projectile vomiting from a backseat toddler in five-minute interludes.JPD_FIXJOHN BRYANT BAKERWhile driving cross-country, I noticed a tire pass me on the right. Looking in the rearview mirror, I saw a shower of sparks spraying out from my camper.johnbryantbaker_FIXNICK NOESince I hardly ever carry cash, anytime a toll road pops up, my journey instantly falls into the Worst Road Trip Ever Category. If you’ve never written a check for 45 cents, you ought to try it some time.Nick_FIXCHRIS GRAGTMANSOn a desolate stretch of highway, one of my rooftop kayaks spiraled into the night like a boomerang. I slammed on the brakes and slid into the median, then ran down the middle of the highway towards my kayak, staring down the headlights of a semi truck barreling towards me. I yanked my kayak out of the way, just as the truck flew past blaring its horn.ChrisGragtmans_FIXTRAVIS HALLOn a cross-country journey from Yellowstone, I stopped to refuel in Somewhere, Illinois and mistakenly assumed that all gas pumps had been outfitted with auto-stopping mechanisms. When I returned from my routine beef jerky run, I discovered a $50 puddle of 87 octane outlining my ‘97 Mitsubishi Galant.TravisHall_FIXJESS DADDIOLeaving my wallet on top of the car, driving away into the night on a near-empty tank, returning the next day to the same stretch of highway to search for the wallet, only to run out of gas and be left totally stranded without fuel or the money to buy it._MG_9689last_img read more

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Beer and Tree Houses

first_imgFirst thing you need to know when you’re building a tree house for your kids, is that you’re going to fuck up. You’re not a carpenter. Unless you are. If you are a carpenter, stop reading. This doesn’t pertain to you. Go check out This Old House or something.Good.So, yeah, you’re gonna fuck up. Not every board will be level, corners won’t match, you’ll run out of screws and start using nails, which aren’t as structurally sound as screws, so you’ll go to the hardware store for the seventh time that day for more screws.Second thing you need to know, is you need to settle down. Keep it simple. Yes, a series of tree houses throughout your backyard connected by ziplines, climbing walls and swinging bridges would be awesome. So would a big ship, perched 15 feet up in a tree with a rappelling station at the end of the plank. But let’s be realistic here, you should focus on just building a box that won’t fall down the first time your kids climb the janky ass ladder you put up hastily after your oldest stood next to you when you declared the tree house to be done, and was like, “looks cool dad, but how do we get up there?”I know all this because I’ve built two tree houses, so I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I learned so much from my first experience building a tree house, I got to make an entirely new batch of mistakes on this second tree house.Also, you should be drinking a good beer the entire time you’re operating saws and nail guns because this is America and it’s your backyard, so what’s it to you!? For me, that beer was Starr Hill’s Northern Lights IPA. Actually, I was drinking two beers, Starr Hill’s old Northern Lights and their new Northern Lights. Same brewery, same style of beer, but the new Northern Lights has a revised recipe for a totally different outcome. Kind of like my two tree houses.If you have the chance to drink the old Northern Lights and new Northern Lights side by side, I highly recommend doing so. You’ll get a peek at the evolution of the IPA within these two bottles. Starr Hill started making Northern Lights in 2007, which in beer years, was forever ago. Back then, the idea with IPAs was to make them so bitter, they actually scarred the lining of your stomach and gave you heartburn. The modern IPA, on the other hand, employs a host of new hop strains and brewing technologies and comes across as more sweet and juicy than bitter. There’s still bite, but there’s balance and more complexity than just “hoppy.”Both of Starr Hill’s Northern Lights are period-appropriate interpretations of the American IPA. The older Northern Lights is a touch bitter, with heavy notes of pine and a dry finish. The new Northern Lights is more balanced, and packed with citrus. It’s juicy and a hell of a lot more refreshing than its predecessor. I think the word I’m searching for here is, “better.” Yes, the new Northern Lights is better than the old.Maybe, like me, they learned a thing or two over the years of building tree houses. I figure if I stick with it, by the fifth or sixth tree house, I might actually know what I’m doing.last_img read more

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Sheltowee Trace: The Best Bike Trail That You’ve Never Heard Of

first_imgThe Sheltowee Trace is a National Recreation Trail spanning 323 miles through the Daniel Boone National Forest and Big South Fork National River Recreation Area in both Kentucky and Tennessee. It’s Kentucky’s long trail and a premier thru-hike in the area, showcasing a side of Kentucky that most people don’t know.Scott Hess, Wes Murphy, and I decided to attempt the first end-to-end bike ride of the Sheltowee in March.On a cool, early spring morning, we set off down the trail headed south. The first day was gorgeous, but on the second day, rain punished us the whole way. Since the Sheltowee Trace through the Red River Gorged is closed to bike travel, we biked around it, stopping a Miguel’s Pizza to camp and enjoy the our best meal of the trip.Early on day three, we carried our bikes up 2,000 steps in Natural Bridge State Park to the ridge top, where we were met with a beautiful view and inspiring start to the day. But then, while riding through backwoods singletrack, Scott got a rip in his rear tire sidewall. It was small, and the repair was fairly easy, so we were able to put in nearly a 50 mile day.We started day four on an old ATV trail that had a good amount of flow. However, it also had a lot of fork-deep mud holes in the middle of the trail that we had to avoid.Up to this point, the terrain was very average, nothing too crazy. Sometimes we would push uphills because, with the weight of the bike, it was easier to save energy that way.But as we neared the halfway point, we began to have a serious issue: Wes’s knee. Through the pain, he pushed on to our camp spot for the day. We discussed if completion was a doable thing with half of the trail still to go. The terrain was only going to get steeper and more technical as we went farther south. All of our stomachs started to turn with worry about completion.Day five was our coldest morning at just over 20 degrees. Wes’s knee was still giving him some issues, and later that morning, he said, “My knee is killing me. I got it duct taped, but it’s popping, tearing, and grinding.” He decided to ride to our cache spot and reevaluate there.Before the ride, we planted a storage box off the trail near a highway intersection. The cache had a restock of food, fresh clothes, and a couple other supplies to restock on. A tricky part about the Sheltowee is having very few places to restock along the way. The cache was the only way. If it had been stolen, our trip would have ended.The time was now to ask Wes his decision to continue or bail. After a hearty breakfast and a lot of ibuprofen, his decision was to continue. It was relief for us all, as we were all in it together.We camped for the night just off Laurel Lake before diving into what would be the most difficult section of trail. It has awkward rock features that are difficult when riding, let alone bikepacking, and lots of downed trees due to heavy winds in the area, along with narrow and technical creek crossings. All of us were able to bunny hop over downed logs, even with all of our gear weight. Some of the most scenic and beautiful landscapes are found through here, but we were happy to be past it and into Big South Fork, where we crossed the state line into Tennessee.The final day was cold, constant rain. Then the small tear in Scott’s rear tire completely opened up into a massive hole. Away from any roads, or civilization in general, we had to make due with what we had. After going through our bags, the best option seemed to be a Sam Splint, the medical device used for broken bones. We used it to create structure for the sidewall, packed with pieces of old tubes and held together with zip-ties. Far from perfect, it was somehow holding air.With about 30 miles left, I got a flat on a descent and ripped my tire in a very rocky and fast section. Sidelined again, I used the last of our tubes.Scott’s tire needed to be inflated every quarter mile, and eventually he had to push the bike for two miles to reach the Bandy’s Camp Visitor Center. According to our map, we still had 20 miles to go. But when we asked the visitor center ranger about the rest of the trail, he informed us that bikes were not allowed on the remaining 20 miles. We had never been so delighted to be denied access.It took a minute for it to sink in. Was it real? Did we just complete it? After 7 days, 7 hours, and 2 minutes, we had just bested the Sheltowee via bike.last_img read more

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Overexposed: Social Media and the Outdoors

first_imgIs Social Media Spoiling the Best Outdoor Secrets?Scrolling through my Instagram feed, it seems as though every other photo is taken at the top of a mountain or at a scenic overlook. I won’t deny it: a hiker myself, I have posted mountaintop photos on more than one occasion.One of the most photographed viewpoints on the Appalachian Trail, McAfee Knob sees upwards of 90,000 visitors every year. The McAfee Knob hashtag has been used more than 14,000 times on Instagram, and thousands of other users have marked their trip with the geolocation feature.Places like McAfee Knob were popular before Instagram or Twitter were around. But around 2010, usage of the trail took off exponentially,  according to Kathryn Herndon-Powell, the education and outreach coordinator for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s regional office in Virginia.The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club is responsible for maintaining 120 miles of the A.T., including McAfee Knob.“It’s kind of crazy the amount of their resources that have to go towards that four miles, which only represents three percent of their section but takes up about a third of their volunteer time and trail maintenance,” Herndon-Powell said.Data collected by the regional office found that volunteers for the McAfee Knob Task Force have removed more than 1,600 gallons of trash and dismantled 187 illegal fire rings since the group was formed in 2015.That same year, the Leave No Trace Center declared the trail a Hot Spot, citing an increase in trash, erosion, graffiti and other damages along the trail. In conjunction with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, volunteers held workshops to educate visitors on how to help maintain the trail, practice Leave No Trace practices, and minimize their impact. The team returned in 2017 to strengthen education efforts on the trail.“McAfee Knob always gets a lot of publicity and attention,” Herndon-Powell said. “It gets plastered all over tourism marketing materials, and people are always getting proposed to up there. It’s great, but this place is in danger of being loved to death. Everyone should get the chance to visit McAfee Knob, but maybe you want to go on a Tuesday.”Places such as Jackson Hole, Wy. have gone as far as creating ad campaigns asking visitors to refrain from geotagging their exact locations while in town. Instead, the tourism board created a generic location for Instagram and Facebook that says, “Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild.”Vasu Sojitra, a professional skier and adaptive sports director at Eagle Mount Bozeman, said this campaign and the geotagging debate at large ignores the real issue. Instead, it highlights a sense of elitism that public lands are reserved for the few, not all.“The outdoor rec industry is massive, and it’s getting marketed heavily,” he said. “No matter what, people are going to go outside, whether these folks that are against geotagging like it or not.”Sojitra and others believe that it is too late to control social media. It has already woven its way into our daily lives. Besides, who are we to police how people are sharing their stories from the outdoors online? Outdoor enthusiasts should be showing off the vistas and the beauty that make Appalachia a celebrated tourism and recreation destination, especially as a region whose economy relied on resource-extractive industries for a long time.The geotagging debate also largely overlooks the indigenous communities whose land we enjoy. Sojitra regularly tags the ancestral lands on which he is skiing or hiking when posting to Instagram.“We take a lot from our outdoors but never give back,” he said. “How can we change that paradigm so it’s a two-way process?”In the spring of 2018, the Leave No Trace Center released new social media guidelines for outdoor enthusiasts posting about their adventures.“Our stance has never been to not geotag, just geotag thoughtfully,” said Ben Lawhon, the center’s education director. “Leave No Trace is not black and white, right and wrong. It’s a framework for making good decisions about enjoying the outdoors responsibly. We’re not the hiking police. We don’t tell people what to do. We give people suggestions for how to enjoy the outdoors in a way that leaves it as good or better than when they found it.”While a lot of discussion about social media’s role in the outdoors seems to be focused on the particular issue of geotagging photos, there are a lot of ways to protect and conserve these wild places in a way that does not exclude marginalized communities by restricting access to the privileged few.“We value social media as a great tool for reaching a lot of people,” Lawhon said. “The most important thing is how we use it.”The question often comes down to why you’re sharing the photo in the first place. If you don’t want other people to find out about these places, why are you posting photos of them online where thousands of people could potentially see it?Social media has also can serve as an amplifying voice for people all too often left out of the pages of magazines and advertising campaigns. It’s a platform to help rewrite the outdoor narrative and reach a whole community of new adventurers. Groups like Melanin Base Camp, Native Women’s Wilderness, and Brown Folks Fishing started on Instagram to connect and uplift communities in the outdoors.Other Instagram accounts like Unethical Outdoors and YouDidNotSleepThere challenge viewers to examine their social media behavior. They point out brands and influencers whose photos show unethical and sometimes illegal behavior. They engage with those users to promote responsible behavior when outside and posting online.Social media can enrich the outdoor experience and connectmore people with these places. Instead of discouraging people from visiting these places we love, we should be encouraging them to visit responsibly.SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDELINESFOR THE OUTDOORS1. Think about how you can use your platform, whether you are a brand, an influencer, or someone just posting to share with friends, to educate your followers on important issues facing the environment and the outdoor industry.2. Post information about the difficulty of the hike, things to look out for along the trail so future visitors can be prepared.3. Help connect your followers with resources and organizations for a better and safer outdoor experience. Follow any national park or public lands account for tips on how to navigate the protected spaces responsibly.4. Give back some of your own time to maintaining the trails, rivers, and outdoor spaces that you enjoy so that future generations can experience them as well.last_img read more

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