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Biden restores protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

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Part of Tongass National Forest

Urbanglimpses | Istock | Getty Images

The Biden administration on Wednesday announced it’s reinstating restrictions on logging and road-building on about nine million acres of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest.

The rule, which was finalized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, repeals a Trump administration decision that stripped safeguards for the forest in southeastern Alaska. The agency’s plan prohibits road construction, reconstruction and timber harvest in the rainforest’s roadless areas.

The Tongass is a pristine area of 16.7 million acres that serves as a major carbon sink and provides habitat for wildlife such as salmon and trout, brown bears and bald eagles. The rainforest is also considered critical for carbon sequestration and storage to help mitigate climate change. The country’s forests absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to more than 10% of U.S. annual greenhouse gas emissions, according to the USDA.

“As our nation’s largest national forest and the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, the Tongass National Forest is key to conserving biodiversity and addressing the climate crisis,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

“Restoring roadless protections listens to the voices of Tribal Nations and the people of Southeast Alaska while recognizing the importance of fishing and tourism to the region’s economy,” Vilsack added.

The dispute over protections of the Tongass has lasted for more than a couple decades. Alaska officials have argued that restrictions on the rainforest’s roadless areas have limited economic opportunities for the state.

Alaska’s Republican governor Mike Dunleavy, in a statement on social media, called the Biden administration’s ruling a “huge loss” for residents.

“Alaskans deserve access to the resources that the Tongass provides — jobs, renewable energy resources and tourism, not a government plan that treats human beings within a working forest like an invasive species,” Dunleavy wrote.

Environmental groups praised the rule as a win for the forest, its wildlife and the local communities that depend on its intact ecosystems.

“This decision puts public lands and people first, and we are grateful for the action,” Andy Moderow, state director of the Alaska Wilderness League, said in a statement.

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Axis Bank exposure to Adani Group ‘comfortable’, only 0.94% of its net advances

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Reuters | | Posted by Singh Rahul Sunilkumar

Axis Bank on Saturday said its exposure to Adani Group entities stood at 0.94% of its net advances on December 31, adding that it remained comfortable with its exposure. Read: How Adani’s $58 billion wipeout in 6 days fares vs Bankman-Fried’s wealth loss

“Our exposure to Adani Group is primarily t o the operating companies in the Ports, Transmission, Power, Gas Distribution, Roads, Airports etc,” the bank said.

The Adani Group, led by billionaire Gautam Adani, is reeling from a U.S. short-seller’s scathing report in January that has cratered its shares, prompted calls from opposition lawmakers for a wider probe and the central bank to check on banks’ exposure to the conglomerate. ALSO READ: Axis Bank Q3 result: Profit jumps 62% to 5,853 cr

State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender, said on Friday it has no concerns so far regarding its exposure to the Adani Group and that any further financing to the conglomerate’s projects would be “evaluated on its own merit”.

SBI’s total exposure to the conglomerate was 0.9% of its total loan book, or around 270 billion rupees ($3.30 billion), the bank’s Chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara said.

The crisis at Adani Group was triggered by last month’s report by Hindenburg Research that accused the conglomerate of stock manipulation and unsustainable debt. Adani Group has rejected the criticism and denied wrongdoing in detailed rebuttals.

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Inside Relativity Space’s monster factory 3D-printing reusable rockets

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The exterior of “The Wormhole” factory.

Relativity Space

LONG BEACH, California – It was a few days into the new year yet Relativity Space’s factory was anything but quiet, a din of activity with massive 3D printers humming and the clanging of construction ringing out.

Now about eight years on from its founding, Relativity continues to grow as it pursues a novel way of manufacturing rockets out of mostly 3D-printed structures and parts. Relativity believes that its approach will make building orbital-class rockets much faster than traditional methods, requiring thousands less parts and enabling changes to be made via software — aiming to create rockets from raw materials in as little as 60 days.

The company has raised over $1.3 billion in capital to date and continues to expand its footprint, including the addition of more than 150 acres at NASA’s rocket engine testing center in Mississippi. Relativity was named to CNBC’s Disruptor 50 last year.

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The company’s first rocket, known Terran 1, is currently in the final stages of preparation for its inaugural launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida. That rocket was built in “The Portal,” the 120,000-square-foot factory the company built in Long Beach.

The inside of “The Wormhole” factory in Long Beach, California.

Relativity Space

But earlier this month CNBC took a look inside “The Wormhole:” The more than one-million square foot facility where Boeing previously built C-17 aircraft is where Relativity now is filling in with machinery and building its larger, reusable line of Terran R rockets.

“I actually tried to kill this project several times,” Relativity CEO and co-founder Tim Ellis told CNBC, gesturing to one of the company’s newest additive manufacturing machines – this one given an internal codename “Reaper,” in reference to the StarCraft games — which marks the fourth generation of the company’s Stargate printers.

A closeup look at one of the company’s “Reaper” printers at work.

Relativity Space

Unlike Relativity’s prior Stargate generations, which printed vertically, the fourth generation ones building the main structures of Terran R are printing horizontally. Ellis emphasized the change allows its printers to manufacture seven times faster than the third generation, and have been tested at speeds up to 12 times faster.

The scale of one of the Stargate “Reaper” printers.

Relativity Space

“[Printing horizontally] seems very counterintuitive, but it ends up enabling a certain change in the physics of the printhead which is then much, much faster,” Ellis said.

A pair of the company’s “Reaper” 3D-printers.

Relativity Space

So far, the company is utilizing about a third of the cavernous former Boeing facility, where Ellis said Relativity has room for about a dozen printers that can produce Terran R rockets at a pace of “several a year.”

For 2023, Relativity is focused on getting Terran 1 to orbit, to prove its approach works, as well as demonstrate how “fast we can progress the additive technology,” Ellis said.

“Given the overall economy, we’re obviously being very scrappy still, and making sure we’re delivering results,” he added.

The company’s Terran 1 rocket stands on its launchpad at LC-16 in Cape Canaveral, Florida ahead of the inaugural launch attempt.

Trevor Mahlmann / Relativity Space

Correction: A previous of this story misstated the speed the company’s 3D-printers had been tested.

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On Adani row, SEBI says it’s committed to ensuring market integrity

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The Securities and Exchange Board of India on Saturday said it is committed to ensuring market integrity and structural strength, referring to the controversy surrounding the Hindenburg report on Adani Group.

After the fallout of the report, the Adani Group’s shares have been on a free fall as the seven listed firms have lost more than $100 billion.

“In all specific cases, Sebi examines all matters that come to its notice and takes appropriate action”, PTI quoted the market regulator.

“For orderly and efficient functioning of market, all surveillance measures in place to address excessive volatility in specific stocks”, it added.

ALSO READ: Inside the 19-hour Adani embroglio that led to scrapping of $2.5 billion FPO

Referring to Adani Group, SEBI said, “During past week, unusual price movement observed in stocks of a business conglomerate”. The market regulator added that it is committed to ensuring that stock market functions in an uninterrupted, transparent, efficient manner as has been case so far.

Earlier in the day, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in the last two days the foreign exchange reserve had gone up by eight billion. Responding to Adani’s FPO pull out, she said that the FPOs come and get out and such fluctuations happen in every market. She added that the foreign reserves going up by eight billion proved that the perception about India and its inherent strength is intact.

ALSO READ: How Adani’s $58 billion wipeout in 6 days fares vs Bankman-Fried’s wealth loss

On February 2, the Adani Enterprises had announced it decided not to proceed with its FPO, this after the shares of the firm sank 28.45 per cent to close at 2,128.70. The company also said it needed to protect its investors by returning their proceeds.

On Friday, the Reserve Bank of India had said the country’s banking sector is resilient and stable and that the central bank maintains constant vigil on the lenders. The RBI said it is constantly monitoring the banking sector.


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