Spaced out along 10 miles of mountain ridge about 100 miles north of my home are a line of humongous propellers mounted on poles. There are about 60 of the propellers, twirling, almost constantly, above Mahanoy City – a town in the center of Pennsylvania’s once-thriving anthracite coal industry. The slowly spinning blades drive turbines said to generate enough electricity to power more than 60,000 homes.
Phase II of the project – addition of 51 turbines to the original 13 – was accomplished in 2009 with the assistance of a $295 million federal grant. The money from us taxpayers, according to published reports, enticed investors such as Morgan Stanley and Citigroup to kick in more money – money they were loath to invest without Iberdrola, a Spanish wind energy firm currently involved in four other wind-power projects in the U.S., coming up with a significant investment.
The grant was part of more than $500 million we taxpayers kicked in during 2009, Continue reading …
“This planet has – or rather, had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.” from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
In 1985, I retired from the Navy and moved to Maine, next to Mom, where I’d been raised. That was the year Halley’s comet passed by, a treat I enjoyed on my way home for nearly a week of November evenings.
It hung there, as though, had I hiked up the power line to the top of the hill over which it seemed parked, I could have reached out and touched it. News reports excitedly proclaimed it to have come SO CLOSE – only about 93 million miles. A chunk of ice, rock and dust about 6 miles in diameter, with a tail some hundred million miles long, looking, from where I stopped each night to watch, like a baseball hit for a home run into deep center field, leaving a three-foot trail of dust.
Chinese astronomers first recorded its passage in 240 B.C., Continue reading …
Gov. Tom Corbett’s seems to believe that putting money into things like education, so that future jobs might find young Pennsylvanians qualified to take them, is unnecessary, wasteful spending. Investment, on the other hand, means continued tax breaks to gas and coal companies so they can have profits now, some of which they may later contribute to his re-election campaign.
Case in point: A report published in December revealed the state gives about $2.9 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. Continue reading …
The state Department of Environmental Protection announced last week it had fined Chesapeake Appalachia LLC “$565,000 for multiple violations” in its Marcellus operations. Chesapeake Appalachia is a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy Corporation, an Oklahoma City, Okla.-based company which claims to be the nation’s second largest producer of natural gas.
In Potter County, the company was found to have insufficient erosion and sedimentation controls. The deficiency was discovered when heavy rains washed dirt off a road and a nearby well pad, into the Right Branch of Wetmore Run, am environmentally high-quality stream.
“High-quality streams receive some of the highest levels of protection in the state,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said in a prepared statement, “and (natural gas drilling) operators are expected to ensure their work does not negatively affect them.
The sediment carried by the stream also “impacted” Galeton Borough Authority’s water treatment filters, which, to be fair, Chesapeake paid to repair. Continue reading Fines, remediation & campaign contributions: all “a cost of doing business”
My wife occasionally asks me how I want my final send-off to be arranged. Being a country boy with a penchant for history and “a blaze of glory,” I’ve suggested placing the part of me that used to look like me on a large pile of dry wood, crack a couple kegs of Corona and whatever other libation pleases those in attendance, turn up the Jimmy Buffett and set the pyre afire.
That’s illegal, she says.
Anyway, where I live the blaze likely would result in a fire department response, and a visit from a representative of the Department of Environmental Protection. Continue reading …
As I begin to write this offering, we await Gov. Tom Corbett’s second State of the State address, scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 11:30 a.m. There is some expectation he will remove a moratorium on releasing additional state forest land for Marcellus shale natural gas exploration. Currently, about 700,000 of the state’s more than two million publicly owned acres has been leased to Marcellus shale developers.
Meanwhile, the state House of Representatives has received a Senate report on House Bill 1950 – a bill that has been batted back and forth, in one form or another, for two years and which may, eventually, begin to levy a tax on the billions of dollars in profits gas and oil companies plan to extract from beneath our feet.
Several years ago, my mother owned 50 acres of woodland in Maine. One day, while I was on leave from the Navy, she came home to report seeing a van parked on the road that ran around the property. Would I go check on it, she asked. Continue reading …
On a trip to New England last week, my niece treated me to some really good salsa. It was made in Maine, we were in New Hampshire, and I’m now home in Pennsylvania, way south of where I can buy some.
On the other hand, there are several Mexican stores almost within walking distance of home where maybe …
Meanwhile, I was in the local discount grocery store the other night and picked up a container of Marketside Chipotle salsa. It actually has a nice flavor, and adds a pleasant bite to my favorite chips which, the way I eat the stuff, are simply devices for scooping large dollops of salsa the way someone might otherwise use a soup spoon to scoop the favored ice cream.
If fresh salsa is what you seek, though, you probably won’t find it in a container marked “Manufactured for Marketside, a division of Walmart Stores Inc.” Continue reading Organic and independent farmers feel under assault
A good thing to do on a hot summer afternoon at Twirly Top!
Or even a final Fall reason to look forward to Spring.
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If you haven’t heard The Willys, you’ve missed a treat. We caught them one recent evening at The Underside, a restaurant and pub under the Altland House, on Abbottstown Square.
Their music is difficult to define. It’s been called “classic rock and beyond,” which leader Bill Serfass said sums it up about as well as any other description.
To my ear – I only know what I like but I’m not good with labels – it’s a mixture of gentle Rock-and-Roll and ballads. As my wife and I sat enjoying an appetizer of potato chips and sauce (both of which are made in the Underside kitchen) the group started one song I thought could have played in a Jimmy Buffett concert, though it wasn’t a Buffett song. In another number, Continue reading Songs you’ll wish you knew, and a few you do
Wednesday was opening day for the Adams County Farmers Market Association. Nearly a dozen vendors, representing growers from around the county, set up their tents at the Gettysburg Rec Park.
There is nothing tastier than fresh stuff on the dinner table. Place two dishes of lettuce on the table, one from the grocery store plastic bag produce section and one from the farm market, then chomp into a sample from each. Continue reading Adams County farm markets season open
A friend of mine died this week. I’d never met him, and I think I’m poorer for it, but another friend I’ve actually howdied with a couple times introduced me to Joe Bageant when she wrote of his departure from this plane. Then another friend (keep your shoes on; there aren’t that many more to count) said Joe was a great writer and would I like to read one of his books, the one called “Deer Hunting with Jesus,” if he could find his copy. Continue reading Books, birdlings and blind satellites
Ah, ‘tis the season.
A friend was informed by her husband that Thanksgiving is over and it’s time to put up the tree.
Another chimed in that her tree is up already.
Continue reading The truth about Santa Claus
One of the nice things about my home workspace is when I’m at my keyboard I can look out the window at the new double-arm bird feeder pole.
And at the squirrel who hasn’t yet figured out how to raid the seed supply.
Continue reading It’s the powder
There was ice in the bird bath this morning. a blanket of frost coated the lawn, and the thermometer in back of the house showed about 28 degrees. A lone oak leaf clung to the farthest end of the skinniest branch on the tree in our front yard.
I guess it’s time to stock up on ice melt and windshield de-icer, and maybe buy that snow thrower we’ve been thinking about. Or we could wait. Continue reading Leaves a-Fall-ing
Friday night at it seemed like the thing to do was sample a haunted house. After all, it’s Halloween season, and we do live near a ghost-town (Gettysburg, Pa.).
So off we went, a friend with her five-year-old Alex and I with the seven-year-old, almost eight, granddaughter Ari. Continue reading Round Barn of Terror
At about the mid-point of a 450-plus mile journey home, we crossed the Delaware River westbound from Port Jervis, N.Y., to Matamoros, Pa. ate at the Perkins, and decided to see whether there might be less expensive gasoline if we followed U.S. 6 for a bit. We found the less expensive gas, but the real treasure was on the way uphill from the center of Milford back to the interstate. Continue reading Off the interstate, into history …
From Interstate 691, while enroute from home in Gettysburg to a nearly year-old great-niece I had not yet hugged, I spied poking out of the trees near the top of a granite mountain at the outskirts of Meriden, Conn., a structure with the appearance of a super-sized rook from a giant chess set.
“What the heck is a castle doing out here,” I wondered aloud to my travel partner.
Continue reading Castle Craig
We had a compost pile when I was young. Newspapers had a variety of uses, from wrapping other waste to starting fires to rolling tightly and burning as logs.
We had a town dump where I was raised. It was a great place for weekly social gathering. It’s amazing how much business is decided — personal, commercial and governmental — at such meet-ups. Continue reading Recycling can be a bother, but …
When I was in the Navy, there was a commonly held belief that many requirements, especially if they required spending money to replace something with which the only thing wrong was it wasn’t the new thing, were caused by the “Brother-in-Law Effect.” Continue reading Brother-in-Law Effect
My wife and I visited Morningstar Marketplace Saturday.
We hadn’t been since at least last year, but I have a back pack that lost a clip on its waist strap, and I remembered there was a display at that particular market that probably would have it. So off we went. Continue reading Visit to a multi-market