Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Local Awareness Group Meets on Marcellus Shale

Peters Township Marcellus Shale Awareness Group will be meeting at the Peters Township Library Community Room on January 5. The Facebook page of the group states it's mission is: "to share information on Marcellus Shale issues; to promote the health, safety and welfare of PT residents & the environment". For more information see the article in the Almanac.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Public Forum on Marcellus Shale at the Mt. Lebanon Public Library

Marcellus Shale: Energy Solution? Environmental Problem?

Public Forum with Representatives from Industry, the Environmental Community, and Government addressing aspects such as land, leases, legal and financial issues, regulations, compliance, safety, and the economic, environmental, and community impact of Marcellus Shale on our state.

Kathryn Klaber, Marcellus Shale Coalition
Jack Ubinger, Pennsylvania Environmental Council
Alan Eichler, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Dan Sandman, retired U.S. Steel executive and current board member of Phillips Production Company.

December 2 @ 7-9pm, room A

For press coverage on the program see the article in the Post-Gazette

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Marcellus Shale Panel Discussion

There is another opportunity coming up for interested parties to attend a panel discussion on the Marcellus Shale drilling issue. The participants are:

Kathryn Klaber - President of the Marcellus Shale Coalition;

Dr. Radisav Vidic - University of Pittsburgh, Chair and Professor of the Department of Civil Engineering;

Robert Donnan -Peters Twp resident;

Chris Moore of WQED - moderator.

The presentation will be held at the Engineers' Building, 337 Fourth Ave on October 4, 12noon. Reservations must be made in advance. Tickets are $20 for Press Club of Western Pennsylvania members and $25 for non-members. For more information, call - 412-281-7778.

For more information on the Marcellus Shale Coalition, check their web site. For more information on Kathryn Klaber check this article in the Post Gazette.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Drought Warning for Allegheny County

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a drought warning for Allegheny and 23 other counties. Please refer to the DEP website for more information on the drought and the measures you can take to conserve water.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Marsellus Shale Updates

I have attended two Town Hall panel discussion meetings; one in Lawrenceville and one in my living room. Each were very informative. Each had similar representation from gas industry, public health, local/state government representatives, PA, DEP., etc. One of the primary issues that have not been answered to the satisfaction of many of the attendees is environmental pollution of water due to the process of fracking. There is so much concern, City Council member Doug Shields introduced a bill the first week of September banning drilling within the Pittsburgh city limits. The issue is not restricted to Western PA; there is a similar situation in New York where the EPA is scheduled public meetings on the gas drilling technique. Additional reading on the environmental impacts of gas drilling can be found in a report on the Riverkeeper web site. Riverkeeper is a environmental group who's mission is to protect New York drinking water.

The other issue that is a great concern to town hall attendees is "forced pooling": which in the attached article refers to the ability of the gas company "to drill under a landowner's property even if the owner didn't want to lease his land for gas exploration".

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Marcellus Shale Debate

We all have a stake in the outcome of the Marcellus Shale Debate, so to help us keep up to date on the issue, I hope to post relevant updates whenever possible. I will not provide the background to the issue, as others have done it so well already. Please refer to the Eleventh Stack, the blog of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. This is an excellent review of the issue published earlier in the summer. As I find them, I will provide some updates to that overview in hopes of condensing information into one compact source.

In the next few weeks, there are several major events that interested parties should be aware of:

1. Thursday, September 2, Duquesne University is hosting 2010 Pittsburgh Energy Forum, click for the list of panelist and registration information.

2. Tuesday, September 7, Doug Shields will present his bill against drilling before the City Council.

3. Wednesday, September 15, CMU will host another panel discussion, The Promise and Perils of the Marcellus Shale

Friday, June 4, 2010

BP Oil Spill

Has anyone out there noticed that gasoline prices have dropped since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? I don't usually comment on financial markets since I lack expertise to comment on the stock market. But, I have been watching the price fall at the pump and thought this was rather curious, so I did a little research. The very short answer to a globally complicated question is: there appears to be lower global demand for oil at the moment. Here is a report from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. We know this is temporary. Right?

Even so, it is hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that oil prices are falling while oil is slipping away and destroying our coastline. Oil is a commodity; one not easily found or extracted. I cannot think of crude oil without thinking "black gold"; it doesn't just bubble up out of the ground a la Beverly Hillbillies. So for me, it begs the question: Why hasn't Big Oil, (especially 20 years following the Exxon Valdez spill) figured out a way to retrieve all that black gold, before it drains into and destroys entire ecosystems, and keep the money in their own pockets? Better yet, why haven't they come up with better technology to cap such spills?

In May we learn that Kevin Costner, along with his lawyer partner John Houghtaling has spent 15 years and $24 million on a contraption to separate oil from sea water. Costner bought the technology after the Valdez disaster. As of two weeks ago, BP agreed to test the machines developed by Costner and his company, Ocean Therapy Solutions. You may view news clips on how it works on the law firm web page of John Houghtaling. According to an article in the NY Daily News, Costner has 300 models of his invention in different sizes. "The largest, at 2 1/2 tons, is able to clean water at a rate of 200 gallons a minute - faster than the well is leaking, Houghtaling noted". I have looked for updates on the success of the test of the Ocean Therapy machines. I have been looking for headlines proclaiming, "Robin Hood Saves Gulf!" or "The Postman Delivers Oil". But the headlines remain grim.

The bad spill news could continue through fall. According to an article yesterday in the Financial Times, it will be August before two relief wells are drilled and finished that will presumably stop the spill. That is not the end of the story by any means. There is talk of class action against BP. There is evidence that BP did not prepare properly. In another FT article reporting on the exploration plan and environmental impact analysis prepared by BP, Robert Wiygul (an environmental lawyer based in Mississppi), contends the reports lack evidence that BP addressed the appropriate technology necessary to manage a spill at 5,000 feet."The point is, if you're going to be drilling in 5,000 feet of water for oil, you should have the ability to control what you're doing."

If I learn more from Costner's Ocean Therapy Solutions, I will be sure to let you know. I looked at the web site and it is oddly secretive. I registered to receive "updates" and I will share any that are interesting or relevant. In the mean time, to learn more about the long term effects of oils spills, here is a short list of books and a DVD available in the library:

Degrees of Disaster: Prince William Sound: How Nature Reels and Rebounds / Jeff Wheelwright / 363.7382 W52d

In the Wake of the Exxon Valdez: The Devastating Impact of the Alaska Oil Spill / Art Davidson / 363.7382 D38i

Crude DVD 628.16833 C77