Friday, April 29, 2011

Weekend off and Good News

I'm off for a weekend in Shenandoah NP, weather should be nice after all the storminess and destruction.

It'll a break from the serious stuff for a few days. And there is some good news, at least for us Boston sports fans (Massholes!).  The Sox stopped their slide, though they have some work ahead if they want to catch up, they're still below .500.
The Celts swept the Knicks in the first round, always nice to get the NY Post worked up.  The take on the Heat on Sunday!?! Good God the NBA stretches things out.
Best of all, the Bs broke with tradition and won a Game 7 against the Habs. What made it even more awesome was their comeback from being two games down. Next up, the Flyers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Marcellus News for Pennsylvania, April 20-27

Have to do this quick this week:

The big news since the last update is the blowout that occurred in a Chesapeake operated well in Bradford County on April 19th. What happened was that thousands of gallons of fracking fluid under pressure burst out of the well head and poured into  a nearby stream. This incident of course adds fuel to the fire in the fracking debate.

In order to raise money, the Pennsylvania Game Commission will lease more state-run hunting land to drillers.

S&T Bank is opening a new division to service landowners who are leasing property for drilling.

Reuters provides a rundown of the active players in the Marcellus drilling industry. Atlas has the most active wells (247) while Chesapeake holds the most permits (1229). Interestingly the latter only has 87 active wells listed.

Dow Chemical will build its first ethylene production plant in the U.S. since 1995 to take advantage of increasing shale-gas supplies. The plant will be built on the Gulf coast, not in PA. Ethylene is used as a petrochemical feedstock in the manufacture of plastics.

Gastar Exploration Ltd. has been awarded another contract for their buried seismic array for use in Marcellus exploration.

James P. Teeple Jr., vice president for global operations for Weiler Corp.said in front of Senate Democratic Policy Committee that Pennsylvania should offer tax breaks to Marcellus Shale drillers that buy goods and services from Pennsylvania-based companies.

The Republican (PA) House Policy Committee heard testimony from two industry representatives, two regulators and a citizens' group on ideas to improve Marcellus operations and regulations.

Green Party members and others picketed DEP headquarters on April 21 in an Earth Day protest against hydrofracking.

A study by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center shows that energy companies in Pennsylvanis (including gas drillers) paid less in local and state taxes than they claim.

Michael Krancer, acting secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection believes that the drilling industry will soon stop discharging wastewater into streams. Pssst you could TELL them to stop.


Corbett's reluctance to tax drillers undermines confidence in his leadership

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

People Need to Grow Up II: High Gas Prices

Not only do we have 12-year old level sniping over failed pol's families, but the whine over gas prices is rising.  We were warned about this scenario back in the 70s and got the first hit in 2008.  Its likely we've hit the production peak and are seeing waves of supply constriction, aggravated by the Middle East unrest and rising demand from China and India.
The head of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, Michael Bromwich, put it best: "The problem is, not enough people are listening.You can't drill your way to lower oil prices. It's a world market. We have a very limited impact on that."
People don't want to hear that though, they've already forgotten what happened a year ago.

People Need to Grow Up I: Obnoxious Internet Brats, Left and Right

Now I often spend time knocking the better-off liberal (or "progressive") activist class for being spineless in directly confronting the right wing and also for refusing to engage the working class, but that doesn't mean I want them to out Limbaugh Limbaugh.  This brings us to a vile post in a the supposedly satircal site Wonkette that mocked Palin's son with Down's Syndrome, Mediaite provides a good run-down on what all the noise is about.  Personally I think Palin's a joke and deluded people have elevated her and her family to some weird pseudo-religious status, but I also know that rational adults don't stoop to the level of a mean 12 year old bully in response and claim that it was somehow satire.

Methinks that although their stated politics are different, Drudge, Briebart and the Wonkette folks are all cut from the same cloth. Pretty much snotty internet nerds who have nothing but contempt for others in general. Neither contribute to the discussion or the solutions.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Donald trumps Santorum

Well it was fun, but since Trump has raised right-wing lunacy to new heights, the media seems to have lost interest in the Rickster.  But I'll keep an eye for more tales of Santorum.

According to Nate Silver,The Donald has also knocked Palin out of the news cycle, leaving her starved for attention and willing to somethin' really crazy.

The sad part is that the rise of Trump and all the crazy Teabuggery is making the incompetent opposition think they can win by default.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pennsylvania Marcellus News, April 11-20

Disclaimer: As a public service, I provide a round-up of news related to Marcellus Shale gas in Pennsylvania on a roughly weekly basis.  Although I may add a snarky comment now and then, my entries are meant to accurately reflect the stories and I provide links directly to original source. Occasionally I may provide a bit of background on the issue. You should always check the articles themselves for details. My rules for aggregating the stories are as follows:
1) The story must relate in some way to shale gas issues in the state of Pennsylvania.
2) Sources are mainly from general news sources. PR opinion pieces from industry, environmental or political websites are not included. If I find something of interest in one of those places, I comment on them in separate posts.
3) Blogs and editorials are usually not included unless they contain hard information that readers can check. These will be posted under Editorials.

Politics and Policy
The state Public Utility Commission may build a facility to train more pipeline inspectors.

Robert M. Summers, acting secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, wants the federal government more involved in regulating fracking.

The U.S. Senate is holding hearings on fracking in the Marcellus and other formations.

Dr. Conrad Volz of Pitt testified before a congressional committee on fracking. He also announced he is leaving Pitt and unfinished research. He has not published his findings form the research conducted to date.

More than 200 people attended a Marcellus forum in Wellsville. The meeting "included experts from the drilling industry, a health researcher, a consultant opposed to hydrofracking and county Legislator Kevin LaForge of Wellsville, chairman of the county Special Communications & Technology Ad Hoc Committee."

A $6.8 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery II (Tiger II) federal grant has been awarded to upgrade and repair bridges and 200 miles of track in Lycoming, Centre, Blair and Northumberland counties for use iin supporting Marcellus drilling operations.  The project is estimated to provide 300 jobs.

Meanwhile, state budget cuts to Penn State will result in cuts to agricultural research programs and possibly also Marcellus Shale educational workshops for landowners, local governments, businesses and chambers of commerce.
Chesapeake Energy Corporation says it will disclose hydraulic fracturing chemicals in a web-based database.

Robert Howarth of Cornell has published a study asserting that natural gas from shale is worse than coal for releasing greenhouse gases. A brief explanation, as this story is genearting a lot of commentary.  Prevailing perception is that burning natural gas releases less CO2 than coal for an equivalent amount of energy. The problem arises not as a result of the CO2 from combustion, but rather from natural gas itself, which is largely methane. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas (absorbs more heat) than carbon dioxide and any leaked methane (known as fugitive gas) would end up in the atmosphere. Howarth contends that the amount of fugitive methane cancels out any reduced CO2 from burning shale gas instead of coal.  More opinions on it can be found in the blog Class M and comments therein.

The DEP  is urging drillers to stop sending wastewater to 15 treatment plants.

100 people turned out at a protest against Range Resources.

Business and Operations
Last update I posted on news that lawyers are getting more business due to Marcellus operations, you can add landscape architects to the list of professions that may find more opportunities.

Eureka Resources, operator of a treatment plant for fracking waste water, is spending $18 million for 3 new flowback treatment units.

Consol Energy Inc. has drilled 13 wells in the Marcellus shale in the first quarter, which is ahead of its schedule of 70 wells for the whole year.

Gas drillers are offering millions to drill on land belonging to the tiny North Branch Land Trust.

A Canadian company, GasFrac Energy Services Inc. says it has developed an alternative fracking fluid using liquified petroleum gas and three "chemical additives".

Marcellus Shale gas industry pays taxes, but not many.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Weather

This has been a tough spring for gardening 'round these parts. We have a plot out front of house, around 10 x 25 feet, and share a larger garden on SB's father's farm.  I've been able to till our home plot, but since it has rained on average every three days and the temperature swings from near 80 down to 60 degrees F it has been hard to do much else. Plants started inside have done well, but the only seeds been able to sow outside have been peas, and they have yet to sprout.

In the U.S. as a whole the spring weather continues to be wild, with convoluted jets streams and numerous systems continuing to march across the land. As of today, they are still picking up the pieces from a massive tornado outbreak in North Carolina, awaiting another in the midwest, historic fires rage across a parched Texas, snow is occurring on the back side of the system and record warmth is expected here tomorrow.

There'll be more on the garden as the spring and summer progress, showing that having nothing but a huge lawn around your suburban property is a waste of your land.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

More random Sunday stuff

I've been to Iceland, people seemed friendly enough, though a little reserved. Turns out there's a lot of dicks there.

Single? Looking for love on-line? Its in your rational self-interest to check this site first, to see who to avoid.

Raul Castro thinks that term limits are a good idea.Guess he doesn't want to be the next Maximum Leader for Life.

"Dog the Bounty Hunter bails out Nicholas Cage." I can't really add anything to that, except the only thing missing is the involvement of Trump.

The first time was to case the joint and just rob it a little.

I wonder if the people who don't get Colbert are the same people who think Dilbert is funny. Anyway the creator of Dilbert is a self-impressed dick.

I guess when you're a low-level writer for a big city paper and they stick you with a stupid small town story, the best you can do is pun it up.

While searching for Chupacabra, I discovered Pancho Villa's finger in El Paso.

There's Chupacabra! In Goodyear, AZ this time.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday Santorum...again

Ricky has been on a tear this week:

Santorum thinks he has an advantage in the presidential race because a dog once pissed on him, or something. Hey, I have to pick-up dog poop every day, I'm as good as elected!

The Rickster also wants to "make America America again", well at least until he found out that pro-union, pro-immigrant and anti-racist Langston Hughes wanted to as well. What's even more fun is that many believe Hughes was gay. One thing about wingnuts is their short attention span; John Kerry used the line in '04 and was attacked for it based on the beliefs of Hughes.  You can read the poem here.

Our man is also on-board with Beck on the danger from leftists and Islamic fundamentalists establishing the "caliphate". Just like the way they cooperated in Afghanistan in the 80s, right?

You have to admire (ok you don't) Santorum's unwavering faithfulness to his fellow wingnuts. Instead of just hiring the most competent political operative-mercanaries, he sticks to his with his principles, thus hiring neo-Prohibitionist Sharon Angle's finance director.  Appropriately enough, she is named Amanda Kornegay.

The Rickster also went after Rep. Ryan's" kill the weak budget" because it's not Randian enough, saying, "My big argument with Paul Ryan is that he doesn’t apply a lot of these programs to the current generation of seniors..." Yes, many of today's seniors will happily eat dog food and drop dead while working $1/hour jobs.

If you were up super early today in Somersworth, PA you could've attended "a miniature golf tournament featuring Sen. Rick Santorum on Saturday, April 16 at the Hilltop Fun Center," Wow, now that IS fun it and even better registration started at 7 AM!

Talking about fun, here is a classic Santorum story from last February: "Sen. Rick Santorum.... blasted President Obama for siding with Egyptian protesters as they press for democracy, instead of the American-friendly authoritarian Egyptian government of President Hosni Mubarak." Never forget, that damn democracy cost the Rickster his cushy Senate job.

BTW, is Stephen Colbert Santorum's long lost twin?
As George Carlin once said, "Makes you think...or maybe it don't."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Man(ny) Crushes

Hitting savant Manny Rameriz has decided to retire from baseball rather than face the music, a 100 day suspension, for getting popped a third time for using performance-enhancing drugs.

Manny brought some positive things to the game, a natural hitting ability, immunity to pressure and a goofy attitude, child-like attitude known as Manny being Manny. We all remember his mid-game disappearance into the left field wall to take a leak.

But Manny being Manny also included shoving the Sox traveling secretary to the ground when he couldn't get the world to fulfill Manchild's desired travel plans. He also turned petulant and acted like a spoiled brat, quitting on his teams when he didn't get his way.  And now it turns out he was juicing the whole time, and kept doing so even after he being caught twice before. His attitude (if genuine) to his departure is classic Manny self-centeredness, "God knows what's best (for me)."

It's a sad indictment of many people's blind loyalty to celebrity that he still has vocal defenders.  When he was traded from the Sox, many pink hatters blasted the management, claiming he not only was the main reason for the WS wins in '04 and '07, but was the sole reason they followed the Sox at all. They had no problem defending whatever he did, because they loved his his goofy attitude and his occasional homers, in other words his entertainment value. These so-called baseball fans came out of the woodwork again when Manny announced his retirement this weekend, as seen by some of the comments on these stories:

"Great Great player. the man one the sox 2 world series, after not winning for 86 years. and this is how people are talking about him. it really is disappointing"
"On a day where the RedSox section of the Globe should have nothing but good things to read, here's yet ANOTHER example of Boston writers' never-ending shot-taking at players."
"Makes me sick seeing everyone diss on him so bad here. I don't care that he cheated or that people think he plays for money or even that he sort of dissed Boston on the way out. He had one of the sweetest swings in the history of the game and we got to watch it for 8 years. The worst I could really say about him is that he seems like a child in a man's body. Manny the Man-child. I don't know about the rest of Red Sox (aka Amnesia) Nation but I will miss you."

Yes, ego is big among professional athletes, they are entertainers and he's not the only one who doped.  But Manny took it up to the level of a completely self-centered sociopath. I think that many who still defend him and other celebrities (like say -Donald Trump) who behave like this are projecting their own desires onto them. The desire to be someone with no other obligations whatsoever to other human beings, to be the center of attention and to get every material thing they want.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Marcellus News Roundup, April 11

Politics, Policy and Legal Issues
Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania are pushing bills that "use tax credits and grants to expand the number of natural gas-powered vehicles on the state's roads." The state goal is to encourage that gas drilled in PA is used here.

Drilling companies are suing or threatening to sue Mt. Pleasant and North Bethlehem Townships over regulations the local governments have passed. 

Plum Borough is discussing restrictions on where drilling can occur within the borough's jurisdiction.

Class action and personal injury lawyers are anticipating work resulting from accidents and environmental disaster scenarios related to Marcellus drilling.

Along these lines, Marcellus Shale Oil and Gas Litigation Group has been formed in Bradford County to assist landowners with legal issues regarding leasing, royalties etc. related to gas drilling.

Business, Development and Operations
Terry Engelder, of Penn. State, is talking up the potential of other gas-bearing shales in Pennsylvania, the Utica and Upper Devonian Shale units. Please see his website for details on his research.

Despite 1,797 leases by Range Resources and Chesapeake Appalachia in Beaver County, development has been slow to date for a number of possible reasons, including a "depressed gas market."

Drilling around Williamsport has created such a demand for diesel and other mechanical technicians that other business are having trouble finding qualified applicants, at least according to anecdotal reports. Would be nice to see some hard numbers, and some interviews with the people who took the gas jobs over other ones. Not saying its not happening (and it would makes sense that it would), but this story reads like boosterism.

In Bradford County, where more wells have been drilled than any other county in PA, there is hard data on jobs, as the unemployment rate there has fallen to the lowest countywide in the state.

More jobs news: US Steel operations are returning to McKeesport for the first time since 1987. It is speculated that this is due to the demand for pipe and other tubular steel in drilling operations, so we don't have hard data that this development is indeed related to Marcellus development.

A Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce Gas Expo attracted hundreds - two hundreds in fact.

Another industry expo was held in the East Wing of the State Capital. Good use of public property...

New guidelines from the DEP will require twice-monthly testing for radioactive material in publicly owned waste-water treatment plants. Natural occurring radioactive minerals may be found in fracking waste and concern over contamination from these materials has become a contentious issue.

EPA head Lisa Jackson said she has tried to reach PA Governor Corbett to discuss drilling regulations, but he hasn't returned her calls. Corbett denies this. I would think the truth could be found in the phone records, not from some political staffer, but from the phone company.

Little bit of trivia, Ray Walker, Range Resources VP for Marcellus ops made $1.9 million in 2010.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Rambling, April 10

This week I feel like doing a little random musing as well as posting any strange stuff I've come across.

Asteroid 2005 YU55 - ever heard of it?  You will, because this puppy, "one of the larger potentially perilous space rocks in the heavens" will be passing closer than the moon on November 8. The 2012 Apocolyptcos will be all over it, I guarantee. I wonder if there's a way of making money off of them over this...

Speaking of fleecing the paranoid, gold hit $1475/oz on April 8.  The price is rising due to high demand driven by "worries over inflation."  Now if the price of something rises due to high demand, isn't that inflation?

This map is useless. Environmental factors are not constrained by state lines, and comparing things like "organic apples" and autism rates is like comparing, well apples to autism.

Would these guys have been fired if the pics were of women? Or did the pics also contain women, who were showing their uterus's? Is that the correct plural of "uterus"? Or is it "uteri"?

"How to survive at stay at the hospital"? Are there any editors at CBS?

 Maybe he's just a Ron Paul type who fancies himself a settler.

Considering the way things are going water-wise in the SW, the state of lawns in Phoenix is a moot point. BTW, why do people let these private homeowner's associations control irrelevant aspects of their property (and often force them to be wasteful), but at the same time freak out over their representative government doing something for the greater good?

Finally, a movie for all the self-impressed assholes out there.

Iceland rejects socialism...for bank losses.

No new news for chupacabra (sigh).

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday Santorum, April 9

Let's see what the former Senator has been up to this week.

In this edition, the Rickster tells us that gas prices are rising because we aren't mining enough coal.  Ummm, we don't get gasoline from coal. And we don't burn gasoline or much petroleum at all in place of coal to generate electricity. Maybe he wants us to switch to coal-fired steam driven automobiles?

Along with other Italian-Americans selling out their immigrant forbears, Ricky warned us of "losing" our country to socialism and entitlements, saying "“once the government has control over your life, over your health, it’s almost impossible to get it back, almost impossible to get freedom back.”   I'm sure his coal mining grandfather was thrilled with the working conditions back in the day, and I'm sure Santorum won't be getting a Senate pension and never used his government-paid senate health plan.

BTW, what does he do for a living? Nothing productive I'm sure.

He kept up this screed when talking to some home school advocates in California*. He also added that he backed the GOPers who were holding the budget hostage over Planned Parenthood elimination and other far-Right riders. Santi said,""I wouldn't have picked this fight, but now that they've picked it, they've got to play it out,...."My concern is that you've got to draw the line on policy, not on a couple billion dollars."  Looks like ya lost that one Rick. I wonder why doesn't go by Dick?

According to The Wikipedia, former Sen. Bob Kerrey once quipped, "Santorum - that's Latin for asshole." Sounds about right,

Friday, April 8, 2011

Climate in Graphic Form

The first motive I had for starting this blog was to recorde my thoughts and observations on the great challenges we face in the upcoming decade. In particular I focused on climate, energy, politics and higher ed.  From time to time then its useful to just look at what' going on.  Since a picture speaks a thousand words, we can often get a quick snapshot of the current state of affairs. Today I offer the state of the global climate in images.

First up, the global temperature anomalies for February 2011 compared to a 1951-1980 baseline. Map generated from NASA GISTEMP data:
February 2011 temperature anomaly.
As seen all winter, the polar regions have been warmer compared to the baseline.  This is reflected in the Arctic sea ice coverage, based on the National Snow and Ice Data Center's data

Maximum ice coverage for winter 2011.
The maximum extent was reached on March 7th, close to the record low and below the baseline.  Interestingly it has stabilized at its maximum.
Arctic sea ice extent compared to previous years, as of April 7, 2011.
Another interesting, and troubling, data set is the heat content of the oceans. The data is from the National Ocean Data Center and you can read how they gather and process the data here.  As a former sonar technician, I know that temperature measurements have been gathered continually since the beginning of the Cold War in other to determine ASW sonar ranges, so their has been a motivation to gather a robust and substantial data set.

The average of the global heat content of the oceans. Increased heat content means warmer oceans and with a greater volume (separate from any volume added from melting glacial ice).

Finally, the latest CO2 measurements, painstakingly gathered from the observatory on Mauna Loa, Hawaii:
Atmospheric carbon dioxide trends at Mauna Los, as of March 2011.

Regardless of paranoid, narcissistic-rage fueled denials, the global climate is changing, we know why, and nothing is being done about it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Stupid, Surreal Sunday News

Did they use Pampers or Huggies?...we're so screwed.

The perfect crime foiled! How did they figure it out?

A crazy guy thinks health care reform created a secret Obama army, and US military actions in Libya are part of the plot to put it into use. Oh yeah, this particular idiot is a duly elected congressman representing part of the great state of Texass.

If you want make a Florida state rep blush, just say, "uterus." Wanna bet you get get them with the old "your epidermis is showing."

Ha, that's so funny....I can't believe people would call the police...  Idiot is lucky she was only fined $159.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Saturday Santorum

A new feature here on Notes. A weekly roundup of all the nonsense spewed by the once and never more senator from the Keystone state.

The Rickster is one of those conservative Catholics who seem to ignore every teaching but those on abortion, which they then tie to everything. So its no surprise that he blames abortion for Social Security's fiscal problems.  Wow, where to begin...nevermind.

Moving on, Santorum also informs us that Obama is a puppet of the evil UN, with dem furriners pulling his strings on Libya.

I'm sure that as long as the Rickster wants attention, he'll provide enough material to make this a weekly feature.