IEEFA Energy Finance 2016: Renewables: ‘Still a Lot of Work to Be Done on Storage and on New Business Models’

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Daniel Firger, who leads global work on climate change and clean energy for Bloomberg Philanthropies and who moderated an afternoon discussion today on clean energy finance, posed the question: “With advocates pushing for more clean energy on the grid, what really is going to drive additional renewable energy project development in the U.S. in the next couple of years?”Deutsche Bank managing director Vishal Shah said he thought that from a standpoint of increasing renewable energy development in the U.S., the extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) last December was a good step.“There’s still a lot of work to be done on storage and on new business models,” he said. “That’s where some investments could be done.”Panelist Jonathan Barrett, president of Luminus Management, was skeptical about the efficacy of investing in renewable projects in this country in the near future. “I don’t think that the current dollars spent on reducing carbon emissions in the US are well spent,” he said.Barrett took issue with the idea that the tax credits would promote technological advancement. “The vast majority of dollars that are going to come out of taxpayers’ pockets to fund ITC and PTC will not be going to new technologies,” he said. “They’re going to existing technologies or slightly improved ones,” to help them get a leg up on traditional fuel sources. IEEFA Energy Finance 2016: Renewables: ‘Still a Lot of Work to Be Done on Storage and on New Business Models’last_img read more

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Ohio: ‘Wind Is Our Shale’

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Midwest Energy News:Two bills in the Ohio Senate aim to ease restrictions in a 2014 law that have effectively blocked the development of new commercial wind farms in the state.“We have stopped further development of wind projects in the state of Ohio while everyone else around the country seems to be progressing,” said Cliff Hite (R-Findlay), who introduced Senate Bill 188 on September 14. “Unless we do something, we’re not going to compete with these other states.Hite’s bill is similar to a budget amendment that the Ohio Senate passed in June, but which was rejected by the Ohio House of Representatives in conference committee negotiations. Under Hite’s bill, the property line setback would be 120 percent of the turbine’s height, which is still more than the pre-2014 law required.The other bill, SB 184, would restore the pre-2014 property line setback of 110 percent of the turbine height. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) introduced that bill on August 31.Between them, SB 184 and 188 have 20 co-sponsors, which is more than a majority of the 33 lawmakers elected to the state senate. “I think we’ll get it done in the Senate,” Hite said. “Then we’ll see what happens in the House.”Before the law changed in 2014, the minimum setbacks for commercial wind farm turbines were about 1,300 feet from the nearest habitable building and 1.1 times the turbine height from the property line.At a minimum, that meant that a turbine would be about a quarter mile from any home, explained Andrew Gohn at the American Wind Energy Association. And if a turbine fell down, it still wouldn’t land on an adjoining property.Any arguments that the residence setback should apply to the property line for health and safety reasons are “specious,” said Gohn. The current requirements are “essentially a de facto zoning from the legislature, which is certainly something that that’s not welcomed by a lot of communities that want to host wind projects.”Those communities have been “the real losers here,” said Peter Kelley, also at the American Wind Energy Association. Although some companies have been unable to move forward with projects in Ohio, most usually go elsewhere, he continued. “So really, who’s missing out here are the communities in Ohio that would like to have this option for their economic development.”The benefits of that development can be huge. According to a May 2017 study by the Wind Energy Foundation, the current law acts as a market barrier and has blocked over $4.2 billion in lifetime economic benefits for Ohio.Among other things, those benefits would include “millions for your county that will be invested into your schools and your local county government,” Hite explained.For example, he noted, Van Wert County has already received millions of dollars for its schools and other needs. Another project in Hardin County should bring in about $17 million for the local government and schools over a 20-year period, he added.“Wind is our shale,” Hite stressed. Other revenues and jobs may be at stake as well.Amazon, Facebook, General Motors and other companies have announced goals of sourcing their electricity needs from 100 percent renewable energy. For example, on September 19, Starwood Energy Group Global announced a deal in which General Motors agreed to buy all the electricity to be produced by a commercial wind farm in northwest Ohio.That project is the last grandfathered project that was permitted under the prior law, noted Trish Demeter at the Ohio Environmental Council. If Ohio’s lawmakers don’t see the opportunities from wind energy and fix the law, “Ohio will be left in the dust in the clean energy era,” she said.Indeed, cities and states often compete with each other to attract new facilities that will add jobs. “Those opportunities are not going to wait around forever,” Kelley said.“Farmers love this because it’s a cash crop they can rely on when commodity prices go south or when there’s a drought,” Kelley continued. “When it becomes difficult to make the family farm work, having turbines on their land can be a huge boon to a way of life that was disappearing. And yet their property rights are negated by this overzealous setback rule.”Hite says he wants “a compromise between protecting the property rights of people who don’t want [turbines on their land], but also protecting the rights of people who do want them. And I think this bill does that.”“I just think it is right for a state to use the resources that it has to try to help make the state better,” Hite continued. “Where we live, we’ve got wind and we want to harvest it and use it.”“And,” he added, “I don’t have a problem reducing the carbon footprint in the state of Ohio for my granddaughters.”More: Ohio bills would ease restrictive setbacks for new wind farms Ohio: ‘Wind Is Our Shale’last_img read more

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Wood Mackenzie sees peak oil coming in 20 years

first_imgWood Mackenzie sees peak oil coming in 20 years FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Financial Times ($):One of the world’s most influential oil consultancies has forecast that global oil demand will peak within 20 years, as a “tectonic” shift in the transport sector towards electric cars and autonomous vehicles gathers pace. Wood Mackenzie, which works closely with companies across the energy industry, said in its long-term outlook that it sees oil consumption topping out around 2036, an earlier date than many energy majors use in their scenario planning. The prediction illustrates how projections of peak oil demand, once confined to the fringes of energy planning, have become accepted within the mainstream, and are already shaping how the world’s biggest oil and gas companies will invest in the future. “A lot of our clients recognise that peak demand is real,” said Ed Rawle, Wood Mackenzie’s head of crude oil research. “It’s just a question of when it arrives.” Wood Mackenzie’s long-term energy outlook, which was given to clients in May but not yet reported on, comes as many of the world’s oil majors have begun to embrace the “ energy transition”, preparing for a future when oil demand is no longer steadily rising. More ($): Peak oil demand forecast for 2036last_img read more

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Ohio utility commission charts coal’s declining share of state’s electricity generation

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Columbus Dispatch:Coal has quickly slipped as Ohio’s dominant source of electricity.In just a dozen years, coal has gone from powering 87 percent of the state’s homes, stores, offices and factories to 47 percent last year, according to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The use of coal in fueling electricity fell 11 percentage points from just 2017 to 2018 even as President Donald Trump has vowed to revive the coal industry.It is a similar story elsewhere around the country, especially in the Midwest and East, where several coal-fired power plants have shut down in the past several years. Coal is falling victim primarily to cheap, abundant supplies of natural gas, some of it sourced in the Utica and Marcellus shales in eastern Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.Columbus-based American Electric Power, one of the nation’s largest power companies and once heavily dependent on coal, has slashed its carbon dioxide emissions 59 percent since 2000 with a goal of an 80 percent reduction by 2050 as the company moves away from coal to natural gas and renewable sources such as wind and solar.“Coal was by far the dominant source of the resources in this part of the country,” said Nick Akins, the company’s chairman, president and CEO. Now, with the revolution of shale along with the regulations on emissions of power plants, it is harder to make the case for coal,” he said.“It (a coal plant) is a large capital investment, maybe a 60- to 80-year investment. Where technology is moving today, it is a tough bet to make,” Akins said.More: Coal no longer dominant source for Ohio electricity Ohio utility commission charts coal’s declining share of state’s electricity generationlast_img read more

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Austria shuts down country’s last coal-fired power plant

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:Austria’s largest power provider, Verbund, shut down the Mellach district heating plant in the state of Styria on Friday. The shutdown marked the end of coal-fired power generation in Austria because the district heating plant was the last operational coal-fired unit in the country. For 34 years, the power plant produced more than 30 billion kWh of electricity and 20 billion kWh of district heating. In the future, it will be kept ready for back-up, according to Verbund.“The closure of the last coal-fired power plant is a historic step: Austria is finally getting out of coal power supply and is taking another step towards phasing out fossil fuels,” said Austrian Minister for Climate Protection Leonore Gewessler, noting that the government wants to switch to a 100% power supply based on renewable energies by 2030. “This also gives us economic independence: We are currently spending €10 billion on imports of coal, oil and gas.”Verbund will now develop Mellach into an innovation hub. A pilot plant for high-temperature electrolysis and fuel cell operation for hydrogen production has already been set up. Large-scale battery storage systems are also being tested for use as buffer storage, for example in ultrafast charging stations for electro-mobility at the site, Verbund emphasized.According to Austrian PV association Photovoltaic Austria, the country still has “a very intensive road” to travel. “Because Austria still produces a quarter of its electricity from fossil fuels. For a sustainable power supply, natural resources have to be used much more,” Managing Director Vera Immitzer told PV magazine.The country’s installed PV capacity must be increased tenfold over the next 10 years in order to achieve the 100% green electricity target by 2030. According to “Europe Beyond Coal” surveys, 15 European countries have already decided to phase out coal-based electricity generation, and 14 of them want to exit coal by 2030.[Sandra Enkhardt]More: Austria’s last coal power plant shuts down Austria shuts down country’s last coal-fired power plantlast_img read more

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first_imgMy husband and I received the most unusual and intriguing dinner invitation this weekend. We received a text from friends here in town that said we were invited to their annual FRIENDSGIVING dinner on Saturday night. We were told to bring nothing but ourselves, be casual and be there by 7pm.Our friends have three grown / growing girls: one in high school, one in college and the third graduated from college and lives out of town. Apparently, a number of years ago the daughters all agreed that after they had spent Thursday with family, eating turkey and scarfing down pies, they wanted to have a relaxed evening with their friends – relaxing, in fellowship, enjoying one another. And so Friendsgiving began.Rather than rush into Christmas – buying discounted electronics or waiting for huge mall sales to save a few dollars, they spent their post Thanksgiving days together, with the family they chose for themselves – their friends and family, laughing, reminiscing, making new memories by recounting old ones. Sitting at table. Together.This week I heard a wonderful sermon about Advent – and waiting. Not rushing. Not stressing. Not overdoing or overbuying. But waiting.Regardless of your religious views or faith perspective, the next four weeks are special. Fall will turn into winter. The last leaves will drop, open clear skies will be followed by bright stars and cold air. Our bodies will tell us to slow down despite the messages from elsewhere that demand otherwise. SHOP NOW. Buy more. DO MORE. Today. THEY NEED THIS GIFT. Your love depends on these earrings. BUY 3 GET 1 FREE.It has become increasingly difficult to drown out the noise, the dull aching roar we hear during the Holidays but I think we must. We must slow down. We must listen. Celebrate with people we love, laughing, around table, together, quietly choosing to ignore the  outside world, even if just for a night.So I think this weekend has reminded me of something. DONT STRESS. About anything. Not about getting it all bought, wrapped, done, baked. Cut a few corners. Take a few naps. Watch your favorite old movie and create a new tradition – like Thanksgiving, that celebrates the greatest blessing of all. Each other. And when you think about this Holiday Season and cannot recall what gift you gave or received, you will realize it was the gift of time together that meant the most.last_img read more

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Car Camping is Cool

first_imgIt was sitting there in my garage on the far back shelves—in a dusty place where ancient gear and electronics, and a troubling number of mice, go to die. I stumbled upon it when I was rummaging for an old, trusty The Clapper to hand down to my seven-year-old son. I’m referring to my long-distance backpack. I bought it in Fairfax, Va., in 1995, back in the era when my wife and I were young, living in sin, and making preparations for an Appalachian Trail thru-hike for the following year.Since then, the pack has outlived its purpose. I’m a harried dad of two young kids now, and when I’m not yelling at them or driving them to and from soccer practice—or doing both at the same time—I don’t have the energy to lug several days’ worth of supplies on my already chronically aching back. Don’t get me wrong, I still love sleeping under the stars, serenaded by cricket chirps. I just want to do it on an inflatable queen-sized mattress after shutting down the electric generator and putting away the popcorn popper. That’s right, I’ve gone to the dark side. I’m now a car camper.Before all you long-distance backpacking purists start spouting off about the “true outdoor experience,” I have to warn you: there’s a sporting chance that when you settle down and have little ones, you’ll become one of us—and like it. We car campers turn the campgrounds of the Blue Ridge into our own little rustic islands of good-living party time. Yes, it’s true that the amount of gear we bring isn’t measured in cubic inches. Nor do we generally crap in the woods, thank you very much. And our idea of cutting edge performance apparel is an official NFL gameday jersey. But wait until that first time when you cook over an open fire (started by gasoline, if you really go old-school). You won’t be able to stop the words “Good times!” from spewing from your mouth like beer from a shook-up can of Budweiser.This is not to say that letting the old backpack collect dust in the garage has been easy. It served as my trusty companion as I hiked literally thousands of miles on the trails, alternately being soaked in near-monsoons, coated with ice, and baked in the summer sun. It sprinted with me from a bear in the Smokies, and was once raided by a Snickers-hunting skunk in Shenandoah National Park. The transition to car camping wasn’t quick, either. It occurred gradually, after my daughter was born nine years ago.At first, as a new dad, I still got to escape once in a while to go backpacking with the guys. The wife and I also got to escape into the backcountry a couple of times, asking family to do the babysitting. But over time, the backpacking trips dwindled, and then stopped altogether.Our first attempt at spending a night in the tent with the kids occurred in the backyard, when our daughter was three and our son was two. It went so well that we soon started packing up the car and heading to a local campground for a night. And then two nights. And then, vacation time permitting, sometimes three or four. We initially used all of our lightweight backpacking equipment—the micro-sized headlamps, the titanium sporks, the coffin-sized tent. The wife would still prefer to do it this way, frankly.But I couldn’t help jealously eyeing the nearby campsites, pulling out their shiny hatchets to chop firewood–even though they could buy an armful of logs from the nearby camp store for a couple of bucks—and lovingly adjusting their satellite dishes to just the proper angle facing the brilliant night sky. Naturally, I wanted to be just like them. I began by buying a Coleman camp stove. With a griddle, of course. The kind with legs so it can stand alone—also ideal for tailgating, by the way. The next purchase, over the course of many months of saving and planning, was a pop-up canopy to place over the campsite picnic table—with the optional bug netting accessory to drape around it, so I could leave a bowl of potato salad out all day without fear of flies diving into camping signThe wife grudgingly got into the spirit by picking up a couple of telescoping forks for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire, and shortly after, a gas lamp that was so blinding it made our car’s halogen headlights seem like dull embers. Her biggest concession was giving the go-ahead for an inflatable mattress. I got one that was “raised and flocked” according to the box. I’m not sure what raising and flocking is, but I like it.I feel like the point of no return for my transformation into a car-only camper came with the purchase of the 80-quart cooler, named something awe-inspiring like the Cooltastic Chillmaster Extreme. It’s big enough to hold 106 beer cans (with ice) so you can rehydrate yourself all morning, afternoon, and night, and not run out. It even sports two studded off-road wheels that look like they were pried from an ATV. I took it with us this last Memorial Day weekend when we reserved a group campsite in the Smokies with a few other families. Their jealousy brought me great joy.I still have a way to go before completing my car camping equipment arsenal, though. My family still only sleeps in a cozy four-person tent, though I’m eyeing a condo-sized one that has a separate room for the kids. And though I was kidding earlier about the electric generator, I could envision myself someday sitting in one of those camp chairs (with the footrest, of course), my camouflage jacket blending me into the surrounding woods like a chameleon, as I watch college football on satellite TV while enjoying fresh air of the great outdoors. Dare to dream. Sometime, years down the line when the kids are older and bigger, I’m sure we’ll buy some new backpacks, and return somewhat to our minimalist camping and distance-hiking ways. But not today. Please pass the gasoline.last_img read more

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Giving Good this Holiday Season

first_imgSpread the wealth this Holiday season with our 2015 Good Giving Guide!  We’ve teamed up with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Appalachian Voices, and the Southern Environmental Law Center to give back to the Blue Ridge area. Make a holiday donation to these deserving non-profits by clicking, here, here or here. Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 3.36.25 PMlast_img

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Muddy Water: The Dirt on Stream Sedimentation and Forest Roads

first_imgThen there’s the cost of filtering muddy water. Many of these streams are sources of drinking water in towns throughout Western North Carolina. For example, Catheys Creek in Pisgah Forest is the sole water source for Brevard. Sediment that enters this creek from nearby Forest Service roads requires additional filtration at the treatment plant before it is safe for consumption. These increased costs at water treatment facilities are paid for by state taxes. As a result, we find ourselves paying for the impacts of sedimentation in more ways than one. What YOU Can Do As for recreational access roads that outdoor enthusiasts frequently find themselves on, regular inspections occur. Barry Jones, the Engineering Staff Officer with the National Forests in North Carolina states, “major culverts and bridges are on an inspection cycle every two years”. However, much damage can occur to road infrastructure between inspections. Culverts can become clogged with debris and soil in a matter of days if the conditions are right. When you’re driving to your next adventure, take a moment to notice potential sources of sedimentation and the condition of your favorite streams. Sedimentation issues are a priority for the Forest Service, and reporting this information can be the difference between thousands of pounds of soil entering our waterways or effectively conserving our aquatic natural resources. As travelers on gravel roads nearly every time we venture into the forest, we can serve as the eyes and ears for the USFS through these simple actions. Nick Holshouser, a local in the Brevard area, has had success in contacting various organizations regarding sedimentation from a logging operation in Pisgah National Forest. “You could clearly see brown water flowing off the site and into the river. Just above that, the North Fork was running clear.” Holshouser contacted the Southern Environmental Law Center, who then contacted the U.S. Forest Service. The Dirt on Sedimentation Working Culvert Some culverts are so damaged or buried that they can be overlooked during inspection. Additionally, with an estimated 1.7 million recreational vehicles traveling USFS roads daily, degradation can occur much more rapidly than on logging roads. So, in addition to the USFS monitoring, Jones continued, “early reporting [by citizens] of road damage is always helpful.” As demonstrated by Holshouser, keeping an eye out for these issues while visiting recreational areas of the National Forests can make a huge difference. This is bad news for wildlife in the streams. By reducing sunlight and clouding up the water, sedimentation disrupts the aquatic food web. Plants are unable to photosynthesize, while insect, fish and amphibian eggs are smothered. Many fish, including our native brook trout, can’t find food in the murky waters. In short, the impacts of sedimentation are felt throughout the aquatic food web and cause some of the most treasured species in our region to suffer. He also posted pictures to social media which were picked up and featured in a story by the Transylvania Times. “From there, the Forest Service reached out to me, and I went to the site with them several times. I continued monitoring throughout the logging, and they continued to address my concerns.” The Forest Service’s role Citizens Can Play a Key Role in Improving the Health of Streamscenter_img Soil enters our waterways through a process called sedimentation. It isn’t well-known, but sedimentation is the primary water pollutant in our region. The main source of sedimentation in the clear streams of Western North Carolina’s National Forests is gravel roads managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS). Holshouser’s story also indicates that while the USFS works hard to prevent sedimentation issues, instances occur where a single site can have a large impact. Although the USFS has drastically increased the amount of recreational areas in recent decades, logging has historically been their focus and its impacts continue to be more well monitored and studied. The report, conducted by North Carolina Forest Hydrologists Brady Dodd and Dick Jones, concluded that 97% of the USFS practices resulted in streams with no visible sediment. While demonstrating promise that the USFS is effectively mitigating many potential sources of stream sedimentation during logging operations, logging roads make up only a portion of the total USFS roads and are not used by the public.  Many of these roads, which in total stretch 380,000 miles nationally, are the gateway into some of our favorite natural areas. The proximity of these roads to streams, paired with damaged culverts, causes excess soil to enter our water. Many of us are called outdoors by the sound of rushing water. In Southern Appalachia, there is no shortage of clear, flowing streams back-dropped by the beautiful hardwood forests and rolling mountains that define our region. Damaged Culvert We’ve all noticed these same streams rushing rapidly after a hard rain, now characterized by a light brown cloudy appearance caused by soil erosion. After several dry days, the water regains its typical character, yet the questions still exist: where did all that soil come from, what are the impacts, and how can I help? Think like a scientist. Collect information as you travel along forest roads that will help inform the proper authorities of what you notice. Take GPS coordinates with your smart phone and write notes so the responders have the right equipment to fix the issue. Document what you see with photographs. Scientists and engineers in our area have known that forest roads are a major source of sedimentation for almost a century. Since the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in Otto, NC, was established in 1934, experts have been conducting research to assess the impacts of these roads on local streams. In 2018, a ten-year assessment was released on the condition of logging roads in Croatan, Uwharrie, Pisgah, and Nantahala National Forests. Send the information you collect to multiple authorities. Sometimes federal or state agencies can be slow to respond. When you notice an erosion issue on a USFS road, you can contact local environmental organizations such as MountainTrue, the Forest Keepers Alliance, the Southern Environmental Law Center, Trout Unlimited, or Conserving Carolina in addition to the appropriate Ranger District. Consider bringing a “tool kit” along when you hike, bike, climb, or fish. This can include a small shovel, a handsaw, and flags. The shovel and handsaw can be used to clear built up soil, leaves, and other large debris from the entrance of a blocked culvert. The flags are useful to mark the location of a damaged culvert or other potential issues so that the responding authority knows the location of the site.last_img read more

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Outdoor Updates: Great White Pinged off North Carolina Coast

first_imgGreat white shark pinged off the coast of Kitty Hawk, NC Maryland welcomes its first national marine sanctuary Maryland’s Mallows Bay has officially become a national marine sanctuary by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Mallows Bay is located along the Potomac River and is an 18-square-mile stretch of water that houses the submerged remains of vessels dating as far back as the American Revolution. This is the first national marine sanctuary designated in the past 19 years. In total, there are 13 national marine sanctuaries, which make up a network of “underwater parks” encompassing more than 600,000-square miles of water.  It turns out that Sammut had discovered an 1894 Winchester rifle. After tracking down a few digits of the serial number, he was able to date the gun between 1896 and 1908. While it’s unknown why the gun was buried in the ground or whom it belonged to, Sammut says he feels lucky to have found the mysterious rifle. “It’s just been a very amazing experience to be able to find an old relic that people have literally walked past God knows how many times,” he said. “I’m the person who found it. I feel like I hit the lotto.” Scientists originally thought that Cabot pinged in the Albemarle Sound, located inside of the Outer Banks. The last time a shark swam inside of the Albemarle Sound was in 2017, when a 300-pound tiger shark entered those waters. An updated ping the following day, however, showed Cabot on the outside of the Outer Banks near Kitty Hawk.  A 533-pound great white shark has been identified in coastal waters off of Kitty Hawk, NC. The great white shark, named “Cabot,” is 9’8” and was tagged in Nova Scotia. The shark pinged off of the coast of Kitty Hawk on November 13 just after 8pm. Great whites are often found in the coastal North Carolina waters as they migrate up and down the Atlantic coast.  California man finds antique rifle while out for a hike Chalk this up as another bizarre find by an astute hiker. Joey Sammut of Laguna Beach, CA, was out hiking with friend on a trail near his neighborhood when he spotted a metal object sticking out of the ground. “[It] looked like a pair of gardening shears to me,” Sammut said in a recent interview. But when he reached down to pick the object up it was heavier than he was anticipating. Further investigation revealed a barrel, trigger and hammer. Sammut turned to his friend and said, “Oh my God, is this a gun?”last_img read more

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