While too many of us are focused on the latest Trumpian tweets, there is at least one Election Day contest worthy of note right here at home. There are several of them, actually, but our gubernatorial contest is a good example of the choices we face as we move toward handing the Commonwealth to our grandkids.
A few years ago, I wrote about the subsidy Pennsylvanians give to oil companies. I’d done some research and some math, and calculated that if we paid the subsidies at the pump rather than in our tax bill, gasoline would cost slightly north of $16 a gallon. We are still paying, but it’s likely more now.
Natural gas is plentiful and, for now, cheap, but it was the United States government that used taxpayers’ money to make fracking an economically viable process.
Seasonal weather finally is upon us, maybe. Temperatures should be in the 40 F range, and they’re often in the 60s, but last year this time they were in the 80s, so I suppose it is a bit more seasonal. The juncos, looking like flying preachers in their white shirts and dark gray capes, have returned. Nearly all the other “snowbirds” – what northerners who move south for the winter are called – have departed for what they hope are warmer climes.
In another life, another state, Mom came home one afternoon and told me about a van parked beside the road a couple hundred yards from our driveway. You notice things like that out in the country, where no one lives except you. You cannot pretend the vehicle might belong to someone visiting your neighbor because you don’t have any neighbors. Not within walking distance of the parked van, anyway.
So I went out to look around, and discovered someone had been using a hand saw to cut birch trees into four-foot logs, then loading them into the van and selling them at the mill in town, for about $70 a cord, where they would be sliced into veneer to cover particle board bedroom furniture and make it look expensive.
Nuclear disaster in Japan and aggression in Ukraine could be good for natural gas producers in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region. For Pennsylvania taxpayers, not so much.
Much of western and central Europe buys about a third of its natural gas from Russia. That’s a lot of countries wondering how they will cope if Russian President Vladimir Putin makes good on his threats to close the valve.
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.
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 driving the Jeep that day as we climbed as high as I dared into the San Juan Mountains, part of the Colorado Rockies. One particularly impressive part of the hours-long climb up narrow, rock-strewn switchbacks was looking up at what someone later told me was, as I recall, Steeple Spire. Or something of that ilk.
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 map of Delaware. What’s a little exaggeration between friends? I’m guessing if you and Mitt would get in a private room together, both of you could come up with some things you wished your parents hadn’t found out didn’t happen just the way you said they did.
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.”
Which appears to many to be what Gov. Tom Corbett, R-Marcellus, declared his award winning state park system director, John Norbeck. It seems Norbeck’s “no drilling in the state parks” crashed into the “drill everywhere” juggernaut, and the people of the Commonwealth lost.
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. York Water Company draws water from the river, and sells millions of gallons a day to residents on the eastern side of Adams County, where I live.
“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.”
Summer 2012 proved, or at least strengthened, the dual argument that global warming is real, and continued operation of air conditioners in an effort to pretend otherwise is not a divinely declared certainty.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection may not be protecting the environment and the Commonwealth’s citizens as much as they deserve.
That is the assertion of a report issued Tuesday by Earthworks, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental watchdog agency.
The report begins by noting “more than 5,700 ‘unconventional’ shale gas wells have been drilled (in Pennsylvania) since 2005.” It also acknowledges DEP’s claim that staffing has increased – including, in 2012, about 83 inspectors. If the “unconventional wells” – a euphemism referring to deep shale fracking wells – were the only wells needing oversight, that would mean about 68 wells for each inspector.
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 method of producing natural gas from deep underground shale.
A National Petroleum Council report chartered by the U.S. Secretary of Energy says fossil fuel-powered engines will be the motive power for the nation’s transportation machine for the foreseeable future.
Ya think? Gasoline-powered vehicles sold this year will need gas at least 10-12 years from now to keep them tooling down the road.
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 them unable to supply electricity for their elderly customers.
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 a school, or a pipeline under homes.
According to a release last week by MarcellusMoney.org, the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry has spent $23 million in direct contributions to favored legislator campaigns and lobbying efforts since 2000.
The big winners in the Cash for Legislation sweepstakes between 2000 and April 2012 were:
The largest wind farm in the world may be coming to the Wyoming prairie. And smaller farms are in the works offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The Wyoming project would comprise up to 1,000 turbines, generating enough electricity to serve a million homes. The project, in two groups of turbines named, respectively, the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre sites, would occupy about 2,000 acres of public and private land south of Rawlins. Together, the two farms could replace two coal-fired generating plants in nearby Nevada.
The Bureau of Land Management has completed the final environmental impact statements …