What if Marsh Creek was in Flint or Uniontown

Marsh Creek, a short distance from my home, is bloated like a certain writer who has partaken overmuch of turkey and ice cream at a family dinner. Rain pours down on the tableau, filling the myriad tributaries that flow into the creek like an array of gravy and soup bowls, each adding ingredients they have collected from minor hills and valleys in the larger creek’s watershed.

Just over a week ago, a snowstorm laid a biodegradable covering across the scene. Now the rain melds it into the water that is its main ingredient, expanding the creek to a degree the spring and summer feeder streams will not.Read more

Water, water, everywhere (with limited drinkability)

Hands cradle the EarthThe ice is gone from my favorite paddling pond. There’s a saying from somewhere in my past that 75 percent of Earth is covered with water. Clearly, the saying goes, God intended for man to spend thrice the time fishing as working. It’s probably closer to 70 percent, but the point is well made.

About 97 percent of the planet’s water is ocean saltwater. Of the three percent that is freshwater, nearly three-quarters is trapped in polar ice and glaciers, leaving about two percent drinkable.Read more

Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting with Disaster

Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting with Disaster, by Walter M. Brasch(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 10/4/2013)

Well before most Pennsylvania residents were aware of a natural gas industry north of the Gulf of Mexico, it was taking root in the Commonwealth. “Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting with Disaster,” by Walter M. Brasch, is the story of that enterprise.

The narrative begins in 2000, when Mitchell Energy, with help from the U.S. Department of Energy, finally proved that extracting natural gas from shale a mile and-a-half below the state’s surface was a practical – read profitable – undertaking.Read more

Promised Land: The popcorn was great.

Another pipeline path cuts across Loyalsock State ForestThe hype made it out to be a movie about frackers coming to a small Pennsylvania town, population 880, and buying up leases from unsuspecting farmers. And then …

The “and then” was a little unclear, even in the trailers, but there was considerable implication there would be conflict of some sort. Alas …

As the story begins, Read more

Author sues townships organization for access to public information

In spite of publicity in recent years about state agencies being made more transparent, there remain plenty of road blocks to acquiring information which seemingly should be public. Such a situation faced Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania-based author and social issues journalist Walter M. Brasch earlier this year. “I was needing information for a book I was workingRead more

Exploitation without conservation: a recipe for disaster

I love traveling. I enjoy meeting people in a variety of places, with different manners of talking and thinking. Though sometimes there aren’t as many differences as one might think. A friend turned 40 a few years ago, nearly at the top of Engineer Pass, just outside and way above Ouray, CO. I was drivingRead more

Letter to Obama

My son used to tell untruths. Sometimes he’d even say he hadn’t done a thing I’d just stood there watching him do. But he’s all grown up and haired over – except that place on his head where you could draw a map of Alaska and not mess up any follicles. OK, maybe a mapRead more

DCNR on its way to being DR

A bill in the Pennsylvania legislature has conservationists on high alert. House Bill 2224, some fear, will open the way to sale of public lands without the normal path through the courts. All they would have to do is declare the “parks, squares or similar uses and public buildings … no longer necessary or practicable.”Read more

Adequate DEP funding should be budget priority

A truck crash dumped “minor amounts of petroleum fluids” into Pine Creek, in Lycoming County. That’s important where I live because Pine Creek, at the southern edge of a heavily drilled natural gas field, flows into the Susquehanna River, which runs past Harrisburg and the City of York, in its way to the Chesapeake Bay.Read more

Electricity-water “collisions” becoming increasingly frequent

“Electricity-water collisions” is a term that’s reportedly been around a couple years, but it hasn’t had much attention. Summer 2012 may change that. According to a post by a Union of Concerned Scientist’s senior climate and energy analyst, Erika Spanger-Siegfried, “Our electricity system, it turns out, wasn’t built for summers like 2012, and it showed.”Read more

Courts to rule on fracking regs

Citing a lack of regulations to complain about, a U.S. District Court judge Monday ruled against a requirement for a full environmental review of fracking in the Delaware River Basin. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania townships await a ruling by that state’s top court that may determine whether traditional municipal control over zoning applies to the controversial methodRead more

Coal, nukes, fracking and 16.9-ounce plastic bottles

Throughout this nation’s history, we have counted on a plentiful supply of water. With 75 percent of the Earth’s surface covered by water, goes the old adage, clearly man was meant to spend 75 percent of his time fishing. Unfortunately, with 75 percent of the planet covered by water, the majority of the Earth’s surface,Read more

Demand for electricity straining water supplies

The Chicago Tribune reported last week nuclear and coal-fired power plants along the Great Lakes have been granted waivers to release hotter-than-normal water into the lakes, causing fish to die or migrate to deeper, cooler locales. Plant operators say they need the waivers because shutting down the plants will cost them profits and make themRead more

EVs closing in, slowly, on their niche

Electric Vehicles are coming – as soon as the charging stations are built and the price comes down. They have the mirror image of the problem Marcellus Shale drillers having. Nissan Leaf  has sold about 1,400 of its all-electric LEAF so far this year, down about 70 percent from 2011 sales. The company only soldRead more

Nero plays while …

In the past couple weeks, the evening news has been occupied with obesity, Distracted Walking, and appropriate attire for women playing Olympic beach volleyball. NBC anchor Brian Williams had the first two items. For more than a week, aided by a steady parade of guest experts, he told us of the consequences of being obese.Read more

Appeals court says municipalities may tell frackers where to go

For years, Pennsylvania’s municipalities have held zoning power within their borders. As long as they provided a place within their borders for all legal land uses, they were allowed to tell developers of all stripe where to go. But fracking developers did not want township leaders deciding whether the wells would be allowed near aRead more

“UnClean Coal” not listed on billboards

King Coal loudly proclaims its place in our society, from the employment it claims to offer to the electricity it sends to our homes. Billboards along the Interstate insist that coal – often referred to as “clean coal” – is the way to go for continued prosperity and energy independence. But the billboards and televisionRead more

1 2