Monday, October 31, 2011

Marcellus News for Pennsylvania Oct. 31

I've decided to go with daily updates with the latest news.

Shale Gas Fuels Legal Boom
The natural-gas boom in Pennsylvania is stoking legal battles over who owns gas that was worthless until a few years ago but now holds the promise of great wealth.
Residents call for gas drilling regulations
Tapping into the natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formations in Pennsylvania is a good idea, said area residents who attended a public forum Saturday morning in Middletown.
But the gas drilling industry should be regulated to minimize its impact on the environment, said the residents at the forum hosted by state Rep. Steve Santarsiero, D-31.
PGC: Shale, storms will affect 2011 hunt
"This year it's going to be a little more important than just finding out where the food and bedding are. It's also going to be what else is going on. Marcellus shale drilling is now in full swing throughout much of Pennsylvania. A lot of prime hunting areas in the Big Woods area of north-central Pennsylvania, and in the northeast and down through southwestern Pennsylvania are under production for natural gas. There are a total of 148 permits issued for drilling Marcellus shale on state game lands; of that number 50 have been drilled.

Climate Drumbeat Continues

Here in SE Penn, we had a bit of snow on Saturday October 29.

This of course is the same record-setting storm that dumped over 30 inches of the white stuff in western Mass.  Once again, any single extreme event cannot be attributed to climate change, but we have been having quite a few around the globe the past few years.  Western Massachusetts has had tornado producing storms and flooding from Hurricane Irene this year as well.  I imagine a destabilized climate regime to be like the change of seasons in New England, greatly contrasting air masses leading to unstable moisture laden air and storms, but on a global scale. And for those who cannot connect heavy snow with global warming I would point out that in the spring in New England we have had some our heaviest snowfalls as the seasons change.

Let's not forget the ingoing flooding in Thailand and ongoing drought in Texas.  By themselves they mean little on a global scale and there is always drought and flooding at any given time - but record breakers all over?

What we do know is that it is warming, and a Koch brothers financed dissection of the data has confirmed it.  The spin has already started to discount this research, in some cases it is verging on hysteria.

Climate experts: Expect more extreme weather
Freakish weather disasters — from the sudden October snowstorm in the Northeast U.S. to the record floods in Thailand — are striking more often. And global warming is likely to spawn more similar weather extremes at a huge cost, says a draft summary of an international climate report obtained by The Associated Press. The report from the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will be issued in a few weeks, after a meeting in Uganda. It says there is at least a 2-in-3 probability that climate extremes have already worsened because of man-made greenhouse gases.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Strange, stupid and surreal Sunday, Oct 30

This is why monopolies are illegal...I think.

OK, first of all its friggin' Taco Bell and secondly they don't even use real meat, so don't ya think using a molotov cocktail to make a complaint is a tad bit excessive..

But it seems people everywhere are taking to fire to solve fast food issues. But pizza sucks in Florida anyway and c'mon, Domino's and Papa John's?  Again a tad bit excessive.

I guess Craig Ferguson and Sean Connery are screwed.

And some wonder why people hate the financial services industry.

"Experts say that consuming 2 ounces of black licorice per day for two weeks can set the heart stuttering in susceptible individuals."  If you eat that much licorice (yech) you're asking for trouble.

Bet they don't make a James Franco movie about this guy.

Sad, pathetic or both? You decide.

Wouldn't the old be tough and stringy? I foresee a lot stews and slow barbecue.

Why wouldn't a Harvard psychiatrist study zombie brains, another worked on alien abductions.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sitrep* on wealth and fairness

*sitrep, military-speak for situation report

The Congressional Budget Office reports the obvious, the richest 1% have been getting richer while everyone else has been stagnant:

Between 1979 and 2007, the top 1 percent of Americans with the highest incomes have seen their incomes grow by an average of 275 percent, according to the CBO study (PDF).
In comparison, the 60 percent of Americans in the middle of the income scale saw their incomes increase by just 40 percent during the same time period, according to the study, which was based on a combination of IRS and Census data.
 Meanwhile, people like Herman Cain and Rick Perry float tax plans that will punish the poor and help that 1%.  They and others like Ron Paul also want to strip the government to regulate business, presumably including safety of the food supply.  At the same time the present system shows it is not strict enough:
The death toll linked to Listeria-contaminated cantaloupes in the United States has climbed to 28, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.
Whole or pre-cut Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes from Colorado-based Jensen Farms have been traced as the cause of what has become the deadliest U.S. food-borne Listeria outbreak in a quarter century.
The way higher ed operates has gotten a pass (IMHO it is a systems of cronyism that awards the haves at the expense of the have-nots), except in terms of the cost:
In-state tuition at public colleges shot up 8.3 percent this year to an average of $8,244, according to an analysis by the College Board. Tuition at private four-year colleges jumped a more modest 4.5 percent, to an average of $28,500.
This is above the rate of inflation, but then so the salaries of the top administrators are way above that of faculty and staff - and the number of these administrators and their salaries keep growing.

Even the Vatican has chimed in on the economic stresses in the world (not surprising if you know Catholic Social teaching).  As Andrew Sullivan says, this has not gone down well with those who can't  reconcile modern American Republicanism with their supposed strong faith:
You knew the Church's effective endorsement of Occupy Wall Street would prompt a sudden outbreak of heterodoxy on the theocon right, didn't you? I mean any Catholic challenge to Randian orthodoxy in the GOP must be smacked down quickly, right? And, sure enough, the theocon blogosphere rises as one in dissent.
But some are saying us Gen Xers like yours truly are happy and balanced. Well there's my personal world and the greater world so I guess it depends on which you are looking at.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Off for the weekend

Leaving tomorrow for a field trip to the Potomac Corridor.  No new posts until next week

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Best report on OWS

From John Oliver on the Daily Show
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The 99%
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

In short, a mixed group including many wackos with an odd way of doing things are bringing attention to what many think, but are too busy to say.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Strange, Stupid and Surreal Sunday Oct. 16

***sigh*** more misuse of 9-1-1, what were they doing in a corn maze with a three-week old in the first place?

The Teabaggers know we can't let the commies contaminate our precious bodily fluids.

Yet another fine moment in Philly sports fandom - yeah cancer!

Guess the bankers can't even hide in the tundra.

Steven Seagal is keepin' busy.

Good Lord this is terrible.

Remember the old Simpsons when Bart was caught shoplifting and the store detective said he would grow up to "steal quarries and stadiums"?  Well don't laugh, infrastructure theft is real.

M..yes, Bigfut ees really from Mother Russia.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Delaware being occupied

An Occupy Delaware group has sprung up and this one has some real blue-collar origins:
Some who arrived at the United Auto Workers hall in Newark on Wednesday were unemployed, others were underemployed and those who had jobs like Von Spalding of Dover talked about the difficulties of supporting a family with current wages.
Spalding said he felt he needed to do something, so he attended a meeting in Newark this week to join the nascent Occupy Delaware group, a gathering modeled after the larger Occupy Wall Street movement spreading across the nation.
The reason why there is a UAW hall in Newark, DE is that there used to be a Chrysler plant in town. That closed recently and has been bought "as is" by the University of Delaware, who is marketing some vague economy defying plans for the property.
Funny thing is Newark is also a college town and one would expect an Occupy group to start up on campus (compare to Boston), but UD students have been accused of being among the most politically apathetic in the country.  I don't know about that, I saw some blazer and tie wearing College Republican fratties cheering for Christine O'Donnell outside the debate in campus last year. Seriously though, any involvement by UD students has been below the radar compared to other locations, I'll see if I can find it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The whole occupy thing...

I've been trying to get a post with my thoughts on Occupy Wall Street out, but with my obligations and the constantly shifting story I keep finding myself behind the curve. But I should since it ties in with the whole supposed point of this blog. So I'll get one with my impressions to date out tonight.

Someone who I often find myself simultaneously agreeing and disagreeing with, Thomas Friedman, disclosed that he himself is unsure what it all means, but points out two possibilities:
When you see spontaneous social protests erupting from Tunisia to Tel Aviv to Wall Street, it’s clear that something is happening globally that needs defining. There are two unified theories out there that intrigue me. One says this is the start of “The Great Disruption.” The other says that this is all part of “The Big Shift.” You decide.
Disruption, said Gilding. “Our system of economic growth, of ineffective democracy, of overloading planet earth — our system — is eating itself alive. Occupy Wall Street is like the kid in the fairy story saying what everyone knows but is afraid to say: the emperor has no clothes. The system is broken....Not so fast, says John Hagel III, who is the co-chairman of the Center for the Edge at Deloitte, along with John Seely Brown. In their recent book, “The Power of Pull,” they suggest that we’re in the early stages of a “Big Shift,” precipitated by the merging of globalization and the Information Technology Revolution. In the early stages, we experience this Big Shift as mounting pressure, deteriorating performance and growing stress because we continue to operate with institutions and practices that are increasingly dysfunctional — so the eruption of protest movements is no surprise.
Andrew Sullivan thought this picture looked like a South Park parody, but it may actually express many peoples frustration and uncertainty, in a crude sort of way:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday's Strange, Stupid and Surreal, Oct. 9

Blowing up Ikea?-Well it was bound to happen, but who would've thought Poles would be the ones?

Amish breaking bad.

Some would say this is why women shouldn't be in politics, or at least "lobbyists in stiletto heels."

Oops...big oops!

UFOs in KC. Could they be there to pick up Chupacabras? No because they're being shot dead in Mississippi.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Marcellus News for Pennsylvania Update: Sep. 28-Oct. 6

Laser pays lobby penalty
The state Ethics Commission levied the penalty of $1,995 against Laser Northeast Gathering Co. LLC for being nearly two months late in filing the report covering the fourth quarter of 2010. The commission approved a consent agreement with the firm earlier this week. Laser has already made payment.
Community Discussion Showcases Job Training and Workforce Development for Pennsylvania's Natural Gas Industry
Local residents in Youngwood, Pa. joined Congressman Tim Murphy, area leaders, educators and businesses today for a community discussion on natural gas training programs, the impact of workforce development in the region, and the natural gas industry's commitment to safe and responsible development of the Marcellus Shale. The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) and America's Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) jointly hosted the public event held at Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC).
W. Pa. county 3rd highest jobs gain in nation
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that two western Pennsylvania counties were among the top ten in the nation for employment gains in large counties, between March 2010 and March 2011.
Washington County was third, with 4.3 percent growth, and Butler County was sixth, at 4.2 percent. Elkhart, Ind. was on top at 6.2 percent.
Group hopes drillers will agree to spare parks

A Pennsylvania environmental-advocacy group has come up with a plan to keep natural-gas drillers from bringing their rigs, trucks, pipelines, and noise into pristine state parks.
The short version: Get them to pledge not to do it.
Responsible truckers run over in gas rush

The Marcellus gas rush has had a reviving effect on many local industries, but probably none have benefited as much as the trucking business in Pennsylvania.
The process of installing a gas pad and fracking a well require thousands upon thousands of truck trips, hauling equipment and water to remote sites largely inaccessible by any other means of transportation. Over my years covering the issue, I've spoken with dozens of owners of local trucking companies who have said their business has doubled or tripled since the gas companies arrived in the commonwealth.
Their success, however, has been blunted by the arrival of fly-by-night trucking companies, largely run by out-of-state owners looking to make a quick buck on the Marcellus boom, according to local truckers.
Ample supply of natural gas to lower most heating bills this winter
Heating costs for homeowners using natural gas will be lower or stable this fall, a comforting thought as Western Pennsylvania heads into a chilly weekend.
Equitable Gas set its quarterly rate for the fuel at $6.51 per thousand cubic feet, or mcf, starting today. That's down from $7.35 a year ago and $14.45 from fall 2008, when natural gas costs shocked homeowners.
Gas boom means little space for Pa. flood victims
Pennsylvania residents who lost their homes to Tropical Storm Lee more than three weeks ago are having a tough time finding affordable housing, or any housing at all, because workers in the area's natural gas drilling boom have filled nearly every room.

Last month's record flooding has worsened a housing crunch in north central and northeastern Pennsylvania, where a surge in drilling over the past few years has led to housing shortages and skyrocketing rents. Flood victims say that available units are few, and federal disaster assistance doesn't come close to paying the rent on the scattered vacancies that are left.
Shale Gas Producers Going the Extra Environmental Mile, Range Exec Says
Natural gas and oil exploration and production companies have heeded the call to improve transparency and institute better practices in the fast-developing shale resources, but there's more to do as the shale phenomena gets up close and personal in communities all across the continent, according to a Range Resources Corp. executive.
The industry as a whole also has "picked up the ball in best practices," Range Senior Vice President Ray N. Walker Jr. told NGI’s Shale Daily in an interview recently...Unless someone can show us a better way to grow value for our shareholders, we'll stick to the path we've been on.
Drill Fee Proposed for Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett proposed a fee on natural-gas drilling of as much as $160,000 a well in an effort to find a middle ground between public support for assessing drillers in the booming Marcellus Shale basin and a campaign pledge not to impose taxes.

Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Impact Fee: Day Two
More reac­tion and analy­sis on Gov­er­nor Corbett’s pro­posed impact fee on nat­ural gas drillers.
The Post-Gazette reports envi­ron­men­tal groups aren’t thrilled with the idea, even though it includes pro­vi­sions like increased set­backs between wells and water­ways, and stricter penal­ties for drillers.
Breaking down Corbett's drilling fee proposal

On Monday, Gov. Tom Corbett made a long-awaited announcement giving his blessing to allowing Pennsylvania's counties impose an impact fee on Marcellus Shale drillers.
The fee would let counties charge $40,000 per well in the first year, $30,000 in the
second year, $20,000 in the third year and $10,000 in the fourth through tenth
years, adding up to a potential total of $160,000 per well.
The impact fee revenues will be split, with 75 percent being retained at the local
level and 25 percent of the fee divided among state agencies.
Of the local money, 36 percent would got to the county, 37 percent would be distributed to municipalities with actual drilling and 27 percent would be distributed to all the municipalities within a Marcellus drilling impacted county.
WVU Researcher to Map Methane Sources in Monongahela-Area Drinking Water
Oil and gas operators and residents in the Marcellus shale region have become aware that drinking water can contain dissolved methane. But did it come from hydraulic fracturing, previously abandoned wells or from some other source?
Now a West Virginia University researcher is gathering data to help answer that question for aquifers in the Monongahela River watershed.
Newspapers seek opening of Marcellus lawsuit settlement

Washington County Judge Paul Pozonsky is questioning whether the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Washington Observer-Reporter newspapers have the right to intervene in a Marcellus Shale case that was settled in his chambers in August.
The Post-Gazette asked the judge to unseal the settlement between the plaintiffs, Stephanie and Chris Hallowich of Mount Pleasant Township and various defendants including Range Resources Corp. and MarkWest Energy Partners and Energy Group.
 Tea and gas don't mix well 
The Northeast Pennsylvania Tea Party is launching robo-calls, bashing congressmen Tom Marino, R-10, of Cogan Station, and Lou Barletta, R-9, of Hazleton, diehard conservative Republicans who have often identified themselves as members of the Tea Party.
In fact, it’s their Tea-esque rhetoric that helped get them elected, many observers have said.
So, why would the herd be turning against their own?
Two words: Natural gas