So, Massachusetts, why can’t you do this instead of proposing to build new explosive pipelines?
So, Massachusetts, why can’t you do this instead of proposing to build new explosive pipelines?
From Peter Sinclair’s Climate Denial Crock of the Week.
I posted last week the news that Saudi Arabia seems to have recognized that the age of Oil is drawing to an end.
Below, Amory Lovins Whale oil analogy might have seemed quixotic a few years ago. Now?
Sunday, April 17th was the designated moment. The world’s leading oil producers were expected to bring fresh discipline to the chaotic petroleum market and spark a return to high prices. Meeting in Doha, the glittering capital of petroleum-rich Qatar, the oil ministers of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), along with such key non-OPEC producers as Russia and Mexico, were scheduled to ratify a draft agreement obliging them to freeze their oil output at current levels. In anticipation of such a deal, oil prices had begun to creep inexorably upward, from $30 per barrel in mid-January to $43 on the eve of the gathering. But far from restoring…
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Quite a week, broadly defining “week”.
It began with a vibrant demonstration in West Roxbury against the West Roxbury Lateral. Why? Generally speaking, fixing a problem with leaks in a local distribution system by over-pressurizing it is a bad idea. Releasing extra-forceful fugitive methane into atmosphere by mining, processing, and transporting it ain’t too cool and idea either. And building additional fossil fuel infrastructure, let alone investing in it, is pretty dumb.
Worked a bunch on last weekend, with a minor breakthrough of sorts involving association rule models. Follow-ups on that occupied much of the week.
In a tumult of scheduling, a meeting with Senator Mike Rush regarding the omnibus energy legislation on behalf of MAICCA and the associated half-a-day off on Thursday got scrubbed, because Senate needed to deal with a newly minted budget for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Rescheduled for a week from then.
Heard Friday about the explosion of the Algonquinn/Spectra Energy pipeline in Salem Township, PA on Friday. Luckily not many were hurt, but, as before and as will happen in the future, more will, and it’s just a statistical consequence of putting explosive methane in unmaintained and relatively unmonitored channels near people’s homes.
And Saturday evening, after confusing dates of 7th May for 30the April for a performance of Kevin Connolly at the Homegrown Coffeehouse, Claire and I went out to the Dedham Square Coffeehouse to hear some music. The DSC used to be called the “Paradise Café“. Their atmosphere is friendly, and they have a rich assortment of drinks and desserts, and sometimes the music is excellent. But it is very much the equivalent of an industrial incubator but for music, and the acts don’t get paid, they get seen. YMMV.
Claire and I attended a lovely music Sunday at the UU Needham congregation, and had lunch at the Hearth Pizzeria next door, a lovely down-to-earth place which in feeling and cuisine delivers a lot more than what it’s name suggests.
(There was a glitch in the original link of this video, leaving it about 11 minutes long. The full hour and 10 minutes is now available.)
Karl Rabago is an expert on the value of renewable energy. This talk examines the data backing up the transformation of electric utilities, in Germany, California, and New York.
“We started it, but didn’t finish it.”
“This is the time that’s right.”
“The economics of the central generation plant are exhausted.”
I love the presentation and discussion of the central generation model as being “brittle.” I like less Mr Rabago’s description of the change as transformation instead of disruption. I think that’s a politically-motivated gloss.
Careful consideration to really basic things like this is, for me, incredibly refreshing, and helps with the self-discipline needed to deal with real-world problems, those often being messy and having distracting entanglements.
A couple of thoughts:
- I think the mechanism for automatically rolling and recording the results of rolls is pretty slick. Of course the perennial doubter in me wonders if for any given rolling hardware there might be a bias introduced by the hardware, and not the dice. This could be checked in a couple of ways. One, design and build a completely different system for rolling and checking dice, and repeat the experiment, comparing results. Two, roll sets of dice, and see if the sequence of rolls show any long term albeit weak temporal dependencies both for a single die and then across dice.
- To what degree does a machine implementation of rolling dice mimick what players do when rolling for D&D? People tend to be bad generators of randomness, and I’ve sometimes wondered if the rolling done by hand for ordinary dice or d20 randomizes these enough. Casinos tend to use machines to randomize, even when rolling dice. This is important because results as in the article may not apply well to the casual D&D game unless there’s a mechanical roller. Anyone know if in high stakes D&D games they use mechanical rollers?
- I wonder if there may not be more efficient ways of detecting discrepancies between a die and uniformity, or between two dice than rolling 8300 times. In particular, I wonder if a sequential updating scheme using a Dirichlet-Multinomial model might not help here, and get us to significance sooner than 8300, something which is attempting to model the relative frequency counting ideal.
- There are ways in which this problem could be modified that would help it be a toy world for training people in data science. For example, suppose there were a million rolls, but some of the time the value produced on the roll was not available? Or suppose it was constrained to be to a small proper subset of the 20 sides? Or suppose there were a million rolls of a thousand dice? Or suppose the objective was to simulate a million rolls of a thousand dice? Like the socks of Karl Broman, this could be the basis for a neat teaching case.
What with talk of killer heat waves, droughts, floods, etc. etc., this blog tends to get pretty serious. When it does, we don’t deal with happy prospects, but with the danger of worldwide catastrophe. But every now and then we need to “lighten up,” so let’s have a little fun.
Recently a reader comment pointed to a website reporting the results of testing dice for fairness. Specifically, it tested the “d20” or 20-sided die. It’s a die often used in tabletop games, especially D&D (Dungeons & Dragons). That site links to yet another site which tests dice (specifically, the d20). They make enough of their data available for us to take a close look.
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Spectra Energy transmission line explodes. I highlight transmission because, by all reports, transmission lines are advertised to be “much safer” than distribution lines. The pipeline in question, from reports, was installed in 1981 and last inspected in 2012. Of course, we know that distribution lines in the West Roxbury, MA area, which the West Roxbury Lateral transmission pipeline is supposed to feed, are very leaky.
30 inch 36 inch transmission line. About the same size as is being put through West Roxbury and other places. Sure they are safe.
I remember a Spectra engineer at a Planning Commission meeting in the Town of Westwood, formally reviewing the proposal to pass a section of the West Roxbury Lateral through the Town. (Being Westwood, it passed without much opposition or question.) He said to my question, “We’ve been building pipelines for 50 years, and we know a damn bit more about them than you do.” In my encounters with Spectra Energy representatives, there, at the Westwood Conservation Commission, and in other prospective or actual forums, what they seem to know a “bit about” is being arrogant and condescending.
“We’re at the mercy of the Spectra Energy emergency response team.” That was local Fire Chief Bob Rosatti.
Asked if they had ever conducted practice drills with Spectra Energy, Chief Rosatti said “We conduct drills with the county, but we’ve never done drills with industry.”
I mentioned West Roxbury, MA in connection with the West Roxbury Lateral. But nearly any town in Massachusetts with explosive methane infrastructure shows serious leaks:
Update, 30th April 2016
Courtesy of Ross M Donald, this link to a WPXU update on the explosion, and the recalcitrance of PHMSA, the federal agency in charge of explositve methane (*) pipeline safety to release details of safety inspections.
(*) “Natural gas ain’t granola.”
Mr Pentland begins:
Germany’s energy revolution has become the perennial punching bag of American energy policy.
In particular, American pundits have lampooned German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to phase out the country’s fleet of nuclear reactors by 2022 as at best naïve and at worst delusional. Germany’s generous renewable energy subsidies have also provoked the ire of conservative groups.
Germany’s energy policy – the Energiewende or Energy Transition – has pushed up electricity prices, eroded the profitability of Germany’s largest power companies and created a clutch of operating challenges that could ultimately threaten the central power grid’s reliability.
And yet as the Energy Transition emerges from the chaos of its beginning, it is becoming increasingly clear that American critics of the Energiewende are missing the forest for the trees. The critics are not wrong. Germany’s renewable subsidies have pushed up electricity prices. It is also true that Germany’s policies requiring natural gas and nuclear plants to mitigate the grid impacts of variable resources like solar and wind have massively eroded the economics of baseload power plants.
And Mr Pentland concludes:
So it goes with Energiewende. So what is it that makes the Energiewende unique? It wants to make baseload power obsolete. This ambition distinguishes Energiewende from every other large-scale energy initiative underway in the world.
The Energiewende has galvanized a gale of economic destruction. What American critics of the Energiewende have yet to appreciate is that the Energiewende’s destruction is of the decidedly creative ilk.
Joseph Schumpeter is cheering.
About feed-in tariffs.
The details are available at Our Children’s Trust.
In granting the youth a remedy, Judge Hill noted the extraordinary circumstances of the climate crisis, saying, “this is an urgent situation…these kids can’t wait.” The court discussed the catastrophic impacts of climate destabilization globally, including the impending loss of polar bears and low-lying countries like Bangladesh. The court explained that while it had no jurisdiction outside of Washington state, it did have jurisdiction over Ecology and would order the agency to comply with the law and do its part to address the crisis. After a landmark November, 2015 decision, in which Judge Hill found that the state has a “mandatory duty” to “preserve, protect, and enhance the air quality for the current and future generations,” and found the state’s current standards to fail that standard dramatically, Ecology nonetheless unilaterally withdrew its proposed rule to reduce carbon emissions in the state in February, just months after Judge Hill specifically underscored the urgency of the climate crisis.
And there’s a suit filed against Massachusetts. There is a blog about it, the case is Kain v. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (SJC-1196), and a hearing was held on 8th January 2016 (see video here), with a decision expected Spring 2016.
“Climate is not just an environmental issue.” Professor Mary Wood
From Dr James Hansen’s blog, of today.
So, Mr. Buffett, I am heartened by the words in your last annual report, where you conclude that continued inaction on climate change “is foolhardy.” You wrote: “Call this Noah’s Law: If an Ark may be essential for survival (your emphasis), begin building it today.”
Your Ark’s characteristics will need to be informed by science and practical matters. Fossil fuel energy, encouraged and subsidized by our governments, has powered our economic development for more than a century. Science now informs us, unambiguously, that fossil fuel emissions must be phased out rapidly, or our children will inherit a climate system out of their control.
I recognize and salute your commitment, with Mr. Gates and others, to invest in development of clean energy technologies. Such R&D is an essential component of sound energy policies. Yet even your resources are tiny in comparison to the total fossil fuel economy.
We need good national and global energy policies to move the world off fossil fuels onto clean energies. However, the Paris climate accord, signed with pomp and circumstance, is only a precatory agreement, based on the hope that each of 190 nations will choose an effective “cap” for their emissions. But when a U.S. citizen is responsible for 25 times more emissions than an Indian citizen, what cap can we expect India to adapt and how would it be enforced?
Dr Hansen has been invited to speak at the annual meeting of the Berkshire Hathaway Corporation on 30th April 2016 in support of a shareholder resolution on potential impacts of climate disruption on its business which Mr Buffett and their Board opposes.
To quote oceanographer and geophysicist Wally Broecker, “The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking at it with sticks.”
Check One: A 4.3 MW solar array.
Oops, but the Ohio state legislature creates a bump-in-the-road by passing SB 310 and with Governor and Presidential candidate John Kasich signing it:
SB 310 had the calculated effect of taking the value out of Ohio in-state SRECs [solar energy credits], removing investor confidence in the Ohio SREC market as a whole, and devaluing any projects in development and planning due to the RPS [renewable portfolio standard] cancellation threat …
Prior to SB 310, solar investors could, with confidence, factor the SREC production into their financial modeling. By the most conservative of pricing models, without [SB] 310, SRECs would have added nearly 1.5 million dollars in value to the 4.3 Mw Minster solar project in the first 10 years of operation.
(From PV Magazine.)
So, Check Three: A 7 MWh energy storage facility so attractive in combination with Minster’s solar array, that they’ve converted to a power purchasing agreement, meaning that there’s no upfront cost.
Solar: It’s unstoppable. Try to slow it down, Mr Public Utility (with governmental minions in tow), your demise takes a step closer and faster.
Update, 2016-04-28: And what, exactly, does the Paris agreement (COP21) mean?
See this story.
Yeah, how about warming up the seas a bit more by building pipelines, buying into more explosive methane (*), and encouraging fracked gas people to export? What could it hurt? There are many alternatives, most sketched here on this blog.
S. Kruel, “The impacts of sea-level rise on tidal flooding in Boston, Massachusetts“, Journal of Coastal Research (in press):
In Boston, Massachusetts, chronic tidal flooding due to sea-level rise will occur in many developed parts of the city over the next several decades and beyond. This study examines the frequency and severity of tidal flooding due to increases in sea level of between 0.3 to 1.8 m (1.0 and 6.0 ft), as well as where flooding will generally occur. Local tide gauge data are compared to the National Weather Service’s flood stage categories to determine how frequently they will be reached at high tide as sea level rises. GIS data are used to demonstrate where flooding is likely to occur, and U.S. Census data are used to identify assets that will be impacted. The study also depicts the relationships among the multiple datums currently used to measure water levels in Boston. Results of the analysis indicate that in the absence of any new flood barriers, the incidence of minor tidal flooding will increase to about 75 times per year within Boston Harbor with 0.3 m (1 ft) of sea-level rise. Nine-tenths of a meter (3 ft) of sea-level rise will result in about 30 occurrences of moderate flooding per year, and 1.2 m (4 ft) will bring that same frequency of major flooding incidents. Tidal flooding due to 1.8 m (6 ft) of sea-level rise will affect approximately 20% of the population and land, as well as housing, public facilities, transportation infrastructure, and hazardous waste sites. The study suggests that future conditions will require the development of non[-]emergency responses to flooding as well as a new approach to urban floodplain management.
A. Bonner, “Coastal communities face extreme peril, must prepare“, The Boston Harbor Association, 10th March 2016
E. Douglas, “The rising tide in Boston: Sea level rise and coastal flooding due to climate change“, University of Massachusetts, Boston.
“Climate indicators in Boston“, City of Boston.
“Sea level rise projections for Boston“, City of Boston.
(*) I use “explosive methane” rather than “natural gas” because the latter is a long-time sales slogan for gas producers. “Natural gas ain’t granola.” Indeed, it <a href="http://www.ou.edu/class/che-design/a-design/projects-2009/BTEX%20Removal%20from%20Natural%20Gas.pdf"contains Benzene and Xylene in addition to Methane. Benzene is a power carcinogen. There are sufficient concerns regarding the long term effects of (primarily) fracked methane gas to move some (beginning in 2012) to propose a long term registry of those who have been exposed to it.
(Amendments on 25the April 2016.)
Sorry, folks, it’s It’s not just El Niño. El Niño’s have gotten bigger over the years.
Hat tip to Dan Satterfield, and, of course, to the wonderful folks at NOAA who collect, analyze, and curate all this data. Keep tabs on things at their central site.
And don’t even get me started on the hooligans who publicly disclaim NOAA’s scientific veracity. The people in question are not simply ignorant, they are downright evil, and probably engaging in fraud, using the legal sense of the term, right along with organizations like Exxon-Mobil. BEST is independent of government. So why does BEST agree so well with NOAA?
And, there’s this, a plot I constructed in 2014 from the open data:
The point is the nearly linear relationship between the two quantities, with time removed from the picture. Because time and dependent data sequences can be confusing to some, it’s often better to integrate it out, or collapse it.
Greenhouse gases seen from the perspective of their marginal radiative forcings. This is a nice normalization of how much we should care about each. Note the context in the figure below (found on Mr Smiths Physics at Weebly.com):
(Click on image to see larger figure. Use your browser’s Back Button to return to blog.)
Ah! Sankey diagrams!
The four greenhouse gases with the strongest effect on climate through their climate forcing are water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) (I’m omitting halocarbons, which come in a wide variety). We don’t control the concentration of water vapor, temperature does that. But the CO2, CH4, and N2O load is directly due to us.
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I also monitor Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
And not preserving the climate will be very, very expensive, as summarized by the Harvard Business Review, based upon an article in Nature Climate Change. This is the loss of wealth which Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about.
Energy Storage Participation in the Energy, Capacity, and Ancillary Services Markets
On April 11, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced that it will expand its evaluation of ISOs/RTOs policies that could lead to revolutionary changes in the energy storage industry. Specifically, FERC is evaluating those changes to market rules and tariffs that may be required for energy storage resources to participate fully in an ISO’s/RTO’s capacity, energy, and ancillary service markets.
As an initial step, FERC has directed each ISO/RTO to document, among other things: (1) the eligibility of electric storage resources to be market participants; (2) the qualification criteria and performance requirements for storage to sell capacity, energy, or ancillary services; (3) bidding parameters; (4) opportunities for distribution-connected and aggregated electric storage resources; and (5) the procedures followed when electric storage resources are receiving electricity.
The ISO/RTO reports are due to FERC on May 2, 2016.
If you are an energy storage provider that does business in a particular region or anticipates expanding your business to an ISO/RTO region, FERC has invited you to submit comments that directly address the issues that are discussed in the ISO/RTO reports. These comments are due to by May 23, 2016.
Read it and weep, Carbon Worshippers.
Facts are, with so much cheap solar electricity around, even if its supply is uneven in any particular locale, (a) the energy storage business will have big incentives to roll out, and roll out fast, (b) technologists and businesses will have big profit incentives to make use of this energy in any way they can, whether it is hydrogen for fueling air transport, or piling on electric drive cars and trucks, and (c) there will be motivation for many as yet on-the-drawing-board technologies to move forward.
Tony Seba looks downright prescient.
The difference is that Ray Kurzweil has studies quantitative profiles of technologies rolling out in depth, producing accelerating returns and accelerating change. The original summary of this claim was in SolarPowerWorld, but hat tip to CleanTechnica for popularizing it.
There are serious implications here, which few, other than Professor Sovacool at University of Sussex and Professor Tony Seba of Stanford University have countenanced, let alone planned for: Economies and employment based upon fossil fuels (will) suffer terribly during this rapid transition, down to the second order businesses. What I mean is that if a company is currently powered by fossil fuel energy, their competitors who switch to solar-plus-storage will have energy costs that are a fraction of theirs, giving them big advantages on costs of operations. And you don’t need to think about manufacturing here, you can think about high technology and data centers.
And I see few local and state governments who are ready for this transition, which will happen whether or not they want it to, without their control. Worse, decisions being made now on energy are mostly ignorant of this Transition. In fact, what should be planned now is leaving fossil fuels and the dislocation of thousands of workers who are currently supported by them. It is hard to make an ethical call here. It was inevitable that given our collective commitment to fossil fuels and the running-of-of-time on the climate clock meant that to make the mitigation schedule, economic disruption of one kind or another was going to happen. If blame is to be had, it should be placed on bones of fossil fuel companies who tried to retard the transition, and upon the government leaders, both Democratic and Republican, in the States, who failed to act despite repeated warnings.
(Update, 23rd April 2016)
So does Michael Osborne …
“Welcome to the rest of our lives …”
There is a cute little number called Loschmidt, the number of molecules in a cubic meter of air at 1 atm and 0° C, 2.6867774(47) x 1025 molecules/m3 …
Eli Rabett provides a neat way to see why, even if the mix of CO2 in atmosphere seems low, there are a whopping number of them holding on to excess Earth-generated infrared.
On average a 15 micron photon at the surface will travel a couple of meters before it is absorbed[.]
See the linked text above for the details.
More fun from Eli, where he dissects Dr Peter Ward, who posted alternative-ish one and alternative-ish two. The discussion with Ward where this came up is illuminating. In short, he claims, essentially, that all physical calculations pertaining to atmosphere are now being done incorrectly, and he knows the right direction, but none of the details. For example, from JohnMashey‘s summary in comments:
There has been a fundamental misunderstanding in physics about what radiant energy is and how it should be calculated. Natural philosophers and scientists have debated for 2400 years whether light travels as waves or as particles. New observations show that light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation travel simply as frequency, in a manner similar to the signal from your cellphone or a radio station, and that the thermal energy involved is simply equal to frequency times a constant, representing the energy of the atomic oscillators which are the sources of radiation. It turns out that the energy of ultraviolet B radiation is actually 48 times greater -48 times “hotter”- than the energy of infrared radiation, confirming common experience. There simply is not enough energy involved with greenhouse gases for them to play a significant role in global warming.
Sorry, Dr Ward, an alternative scientific hypothesis does not rise to the level of worth-spending-time-on until the proponent does all the details. Otherwise the present science, which does offer a reproducible means of doing calculations which are corroborated by observation and make sense in physical theory, continues to win.
It’s clear when the trees are casting shadows on the panels, because as the Sun climbs behind them, there are drops in generation at distinct times of day.
That’s not too bad: It’s just 10th April, about 20 days since Spring Equinox.
And we’ll break 60 kWh energy generated today, about 114% of theoretical maximum (insolation, assuming a south-facing array), because we were helped later in the day by our 5 panel west-facing subarray.
Dr Ricky Rood is a professor at the University of Michigan, both a meteorologist and climate scientist, and a regular contributor to the climate and weather blogs at Weather Underground. In a post from April 6th (titled “No Way to Slow Down: Silence Howling in Antarctica”), he summarizes the most recent edition of the class, the 10th time he has taught it, with his personal analysis:
- It will be difficult to avoid a world that is four degrees warmer.
- We have, in fact, underestimated the impacts of warming.
- We have some control over how fast and how far the warming will go.
- We are committed to irreversible changes, for example, sea-level rise.
- We can ‘cope’ with this. We must. There is opportunity.
This list has been largely the same since 2010, and the class analysis of the Paris Agreement did little to change the list.
Dr Rood has a great deal more that’s good to read at the post, summarizing recent findings, especially regarding Antarctica. He has been carefully following that since a a post in 2012 titled “Things going fast” (from which the title of this blog post comes) where he outlined the dangers of Antarctic disintegration.
I offer these links because I think there are many to speak with me that think I am unduly pessimistic, either because they don’t want to face the matter, or because they have an unrealistic hope in technology, or “the free market”, or something. Dr Rood knows way more than I do about these things, even if I have also followed the development of the papers he describes and cites, and the phenomena. I, too, sense that the pace of climate change is increasing, and that’s something the Global Climate Models (“GCMs”) did not catch. There are plenty of reasons why that’s the case, as I mentioned elsewhere here.
Nevertheless, I urge you to read Dr Rood.
And if you want this summed up for you compactly, there’s a YouTube video which sketches the possibilities. Now, I’ve addressed this matter before, and we aren’t quite at the amounts of emissions that the Permian Extinction saw, although we are apparently forcing the climate faster than volcanics did then, because our emission rates are faster. Note the talk in the video is all about methane. That’s the key energy ingredient in so-called “natural gas”. Anyone think it is a good or even rational idea to add to these emissions, as we do with our crazy pursuit (in Massachusetts and New England) of methane power and building more pipelines?
See the very interesting discussion at his blog, From the bottom of the heap. It would be nice to see some information theoretic measures on these results, though.
Bloomberg has a nice and simple set of animations which show the relative effects of factors which might contribute to the warming of the world. It’s pretty simple, and it’s been known a long time: It’s us, and our burning of fossil fuels, production of cement, and leakage from methane (“natural gas”) pipelines.
“The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus“, T. C. Peterson, W. M. Connolley, J. Fleck, http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/2008BAMS2370.1.
Climate science as we know it today did not exist in the 1960s and 1970s. The integrated enterprise embodied in the Nobel Prizewinning work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change existed then as separate threads of research pursued by isolated groups of scientists. Atmospheric chemists and modelers grappled with the measurement of changes in carbon dioxide and atmospheric gases, and the changes in climate that might result. Meanwhile, geologists and paleoclimate researchers tried to understand when Earth slipped into and out of ice ages, and why. An enduring popular myth suggests that in the 1970s the climate science community was predicting “global cooling” and an “imminent” ice age, an observation frequently used by those who would undermine what climate scientists say today about the prospect of global warming. A review of the literature suggests that, on the contrary, greenhouse warming even then dominated scientists’ thinking as being one of the most important forces shaping Earth’s climate on human time scales. More importantly than showing the falsehood of the myth, this review describes how scientists of the time built the foundation on which the cohesive enterprise of modern climate science now rests.
Commonwealth Edison is reinventing itself as a smart energy platform, amidst New York State’s reforming the energy vision (“REV”) initiative.
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