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Briefcase: Death toll of miners this year at 18

From Staff And Wire Reports

Eighteen miners died during the first six months of 2015, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration reported Wednesday.

The toll represents a decrease of five deaths from the same period in 2014. 

“Mining fatalities are preventable, and each of these deaths reminds us that much more needs to be done to protect the nation’s miners,” said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor. “Safe mine operation must be at the forefront at all times to avoid the pain and suffering the families of these miners now have to endure.”

The deaths occurred in coal, metal and rock mining operations. Machinery and powered haulage accidents were the most common cause of mining deaths, accounting for eight fatalities. Other deaths were attributed to roof cave-ins, hoisting and falls.

Of the 18 miners killed, six were contractors, five were supervisors and one was a mine operator.

Clearwater: Digester will reduce emissions

Clearwater Paper expects greenhouse gas emissions to decrease at its Lewiston mill if the company builds a new $160 million chip pulp digester.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is accepting public comments through Aug. 19. The permit application can be viewed on DEQ’s website.

The department has 45 days to take action on the permit request unless new information merits additional review, said Dan Pitman, DEQ’s senior air quality engineer.

The new digester would increase greenhouse gases by 10,758 tons per year, Pitman said, bringing the total to 1.69 million tons per year. But he said that increase would be offset by a decline in greenhouse gases from other parts of the plant because the upgrade would reduce the amount of energy used at the Lewiston operation.

Clearwater Paper and the state haven’t quantified what that decrease would be.

Obama pressing Ex-Im renewal

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is ramping up pressure on Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

The obscure federal agency’s charter expired last month after lawmakers refused to reauthorize it. The bank underwrites loans to foreign companies purchasing American products, but conservatives call it corporate welfare.

Obama met Wednesday at the White House with owners of small- and medium-size businesses that have benefited from the bank. The White House said some of those businesses have already been affected by the bank’s lapse and that thousands more will be at a competitive disadvantage unless Congress renews it.

Use Lyft, give a lift to Starbucks points

NEW YORK – Starbucks said people will soon be able to earn rewards points by using the ride-hailing service Lyft, a move intended to further expand the universe of its loyalty program.

The companies said the program will be rolled out later this year. People will essentially be able to earn Starbucks “stars” for using Lyft, and drivers will be given stars for reaching certain milestones.

The partnership is the latest evidence of how Starbucks is using its mobile app to cultivate loyalty and drive up sales. Already, Starbucks said 20 percent of transactions are made with mobile devices. The company has also announced tie-ins for its mobile app with the music service Spotify and the New York Times, both of which include ways to earn stars.

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