Thursday, June 30, 2011

Plot Thickens: Diane Rehm Has Land in Susquehanna County, PA

I am told that Diane Rehm has 150 acres in Harford, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania and has told others that she was a near lone hold out in refusing to lease her land for drilling.

To be clear, I would defend the right of any private land owner to lease their land or not to lease their land.  Gas drilling is industrial activity and it cannot be done with zero impacts.  Some landowners have joined Ms. Rehm in not leasing their property, while the vast majority have signed leases.

But the favoritism that Ms. Rehm shows toward the NYT Reporter and the Cornell professor who wants to ban shale gas and the hostility she cannot conceal for those who disagree with that view now makes a lot of sense.

Going Back To Diane Rehm Show

Yesterday I received a gracious call from the producer of the Diane Rehm show.  She called to apologize for two reasons.

First, my phone line and apparently other phone lines at the show went dead with about 5 minutes of the show left.  I had no idea why the line went dead but I did not hang up, to answer a question some listeners asked me by e-mail.  A few further said that I should have.

I received many messages complaining about the show and copies of some emails that some listeners had sent to the show, expressing their displeasure at the clear imbalance in the discussion. I had not complained to the show, though I appreciate the support of so many listeners.

The producer also expressed regret for how the show went and recognized that I had not been given equal opportunity to speak or respond to statements such as gas is as dirty as coal made by another guest.

The producer asked if I would appear on the show again. I said that I would be glad to do so.  No date has been set.

Stay tuned.

Shale Gas Stops Entergy's Planned Conversion of Power Plant From Gas to Coke & Coal Plus New Coal Plants

Why do major environmental groups like EDF, NRDC, and PennFuture support strong regulation of shale gas but oppose banning it?  Look no further than the case of the Little Gypsy power plant in Louisiana.

Entergy planned to convert the 538 megawatt Little Gypsy power plant from gas to petroleum coke and coal. 

You read that correctly.  In 2007, high natural gas prices drove Entergy to gain regulatory approval to switch Little Gypsy from gas and were boosting plans to build more than 150 new coal plants.  A climate pollution disaster was highly likely.

But the shale gas revolution stopped Entergy's plan to switch Little Gypsy and was a major factor in stopping the expected wave of new coal plants.

"The plan to convert a generator at the Montz plant from natural gas to petroleum coke was approved by the Public Service Commission in November 2007 when high natural gas prices were hitting billpayers...But natural gas prices have been in a major slide partly because of the development of the Haynesville Shale in northwestern Louisiana and other shale plays." See Associated Press May 17th, 2011 story at

Petroleum coke is a byproduct of the refinery business and emits more than two times the carbon dioxide of gas and even more than coal. The national Sierra Club filed suit in 2008 to stop the conversion, fearing massive new pollution.

Now shale gas production jumping from 2 billion cubic feet per day to 16 billion cubic feet per day has yielded $4 gas and stopped the environmentally disastrous Little Gypsy conversion from gas to petroleum coke and coal plus a wave of new coal plants without carbon controls.

So again why do major environmental organizations like EDF, NRDC, and PennFuture support strong regulation of shale gas but not a ban?

Look no further than the powerful example of Little Gypsy power plant.

Bachmann Rising & White House Cheering

Congresswoman Bachmann has had a great month and nobody is happier than President Obama's political team. 

Congresswoman Bachmann is tied with Governor Romney in Iowa, according to the respected Des Moines Register Poll this month.  Public Policy Polling also has Bachmann leading in Montana and Oregon (

Political analyst Chris Matthews is among a number of pros who are now predicting Congresswoman Bachmann will win the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

This blog in March identified Bachmann as a major force, pointing to her remarkably strong fundraising.

But there are two potential flies in the ointment for Bachmann: Rick Perry and Sarah Palin.

Both Perry and Palin would compete with Bachmann for the 60% of Republican primary voters who oppose Romney.  Romney needs preferably both Perry and Palin in the race but at least one of them to split the conservative Republican vote.

Romney's wish will almost certainly be granted by Governor Perry, though Sarah Palin may still be teasing a week before the Iowa caucuses.

Perry will run well in the South and damage Bachmann, making it possible for Romney to win the nomination.  That would stop the cheering in the White House.

President Obama Leads Governor Perry In Texas

President Obama leads Governor Perry 47-45 in Texas, reminding one of that old saying that familiarity breeds contempt, according to Public Polic Polling ( .  Both the President and the Governor have higher disapproval than approval ratings.

Governor Perry better hope he is better liked outside Texas than in it.

President Obama would also defeat former Governor Palin in Texas, but trails Congresswoman Bachmann, former Governor Pawlenty narrowly.  Former Governor Romney is ahead of the President 50 to 42 in Texas, the only Republican candidate with a real lead.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Must Read: IHT Energy on NYT Reporter Misusing Their Emails

IHS has issued a statement on the deliberately misleading use of their emails by the NYT reporter in his June 26th story.

The statement is posted at:

I also am hearing that another email used prominently by the NYT reporter was written by a summer intern for one of the companies.

At this point, the editors of the NYT are as culpable as the Reporter.

State Budget Makes Drilling Tax Issue Totally Toxic For PA Gas Industry

Just how toxic?  See today's massive Philadelphia Daily News story at

Huge cuts to education and no drilling tax have created a fireball of public anger and a lot of  public anger is falling on the gas industry.  The gas industry for more than a year has been split on the question of the drilling tax, with companies like EQT, Range, and Chesapeake publicly indicating support for one.  The failure to pass a drilling tax last October after the House Democrats passed it twice in 2010 remains a disaster for the state and the industry.

Governor Corbett is proudly and primarily responsible for the drilling tax not passing now when it could have played a role in preventing massive education cuts. The Governor adamantly opposes a drilling tax and threatened to veto even an impact fee if it was part of the budget.

The only winners in this circumstance are House and Senate Democrats who now have an enormous issue gift wrapped for them.

What comes next? The drilling tax issue will not go away.  It will just get hotter and insiders are saying something will be done in the Fall. 

Meanwhile the public overwhelmingly sides with laid off teachers, children losing kindergartens and schools, and taxpayers facing rising property taxes to make up partially for state education cuts.

Constellation Energy's Investment in Small Solar Installer Is a Big Deal: Here's Why

Constellation Energy, a major energy company that owns BGE utility, and sells electricity and gas nationally has bought an equity position in Astrum Solar.  See

Why is this a big deal?

In the world of big business, Astrum Solar is small fry, installing solar residential systems in the northeast, including Pennsylvania.  But this is a big deal, because Constellation Energy understands that the energy business is about to be turned on its head by solar just as it has been by shale gas.

And Constellation Energy knows that companies that own utilities--gas, electricity, water--are uniquely positioned to become major players in the rapidly growing solar installation business.  Right now solar installation companies are very small but the solar market is exploding. 

Any company that can get to scale first in the solar installation business will have a substantial first mover advantage and will have high margin sales for an extended period.  The solar business just in the USA is likely to be close to $10 billion this year.

Constellation Energy sees these strategic opportunities and is moving to realize them.  Why does it see the opportunity when others do not?  Good management in part, and Constellation Energy does solar installations for commercial and industrial customers, giving it direct experience with the declining costs of installation and the burgeoning solar market.

NYT Reporter On NPR Uses His Sleazy Skills: NYT Still Has Not Reported Tests Disproving February 26th Story

The NYT Reporter called yesterday on the NPR Diane Rehm show the fact that test results released more than 6 weeks ago proving PA waters are not contaminated with radionuclides "good news."

 For NYT readers these old test results would be news indeed.   The NYT Reporter has not written a story about the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority monthly test results that are on the world wide web at its website or the May 16th Pennsylvania American Water Company test results of massive testing that it did.

To be clear the NYT Reporter knew about the tests but has not written an article about them and did not tell the NPR listeners (see below for one more example how manipulative this reporter is) about them until I managed to confront him on the show with the test results.

These test results and others prove how sensational and false the NYT Reporter's February 26th story was that claimed PA residents were at risk of ingesting radiation poisoned waters.  They are not fit to print in the NYT.

The last New York Times story on radiation and PA waters was April 7th with a headline of "Pennsylvania Calls For More Testing." It is another story designed to fan fears. See

Prior to that the NYT wrote on March 7th a story about Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in stream test results showing no contamination.  The story went to some lengths to argue those test results of 7 streams were not definitive. 

Here is what happened on the show.  The format and the tight control by the host prevented any direct engagement with what guests said but Ms. Rehm asked the NYT Reporter about the (deliberately false) NYT February 26th article and its findings.

In response the NYT reporter said simply that the article found that pa's waters could be contaminated with radionuclides due to supposedly inadequate oversight of drilling waste.  Nothing more.  He just repeated the false narrative about pa waters and radiation.

Probably about 5 minutes or more later I was asked another question and did not answer it but used the opportunity to inform those listening that massive testing had now been done by the drinking water companies involved and found no contamination.

Ms. Rehm immediately said "Ian Urbina" and the NYT reporter then said yes the results were "Good News".  How amazingly ironic and yet another example of what a skilled manipulator of information this NYT reporter is. 

He is effective and readers are just putty in his unrestrained hands.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Reposting Statement About NYT June 26th Ponzi Article

Here is the link to my Statement about the NYT June 26th Ponzi/Enron Article.

The original posting was June 26th.

4 Sets of Test Results Prove PA Waters Not Poisoned With Radiation: NYT Wrong Again

Unfortunately the truth that Pennsylvania's waters and drinking water have never been and are not now contaminated with radionuclides has not caught up with the misinformation that they allegedly were.  Indeed Democracy For America was recently sending mass fundraising emails warning the recipients that gas drilling was causing radiation contamination of drinking waters. 

Yet, there are now 4 sets of test results proving false the sensational premise of the February 27th NYT story that PA drinking waters were possibly contaminated with radionuclides as a result of gas drilling.

Testing has been done by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania American Water Company, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, and a group of 14 drinking water suppliers that PA DEP directed to test.

This blog has been tracking the results and reporting them as they become available.  See the following postings for details:

1. PA DEP testing:

2. Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (doing monthly testing for a year):

3. Pennsylvania American Water Company:

4. List of 14 drinking water suppliers conducting tests:

Shale Gas Production Facts: Not Fit To Print

Shale Gas production was less than 1% of all US gas production in 2000 and now accounts for 25% of all gas production.

Shale Gas production has skyrocketed since 2007 when it was 2 billion cubic feet per day (about 3% of total gas production) to 16 billion cubic feet per day in February 2011.

Productionin the Fayetteville Shale has increased sharply from January 2007 to October 2010 and slowly since then, despite the number of drilling rigs there falling from about 50 in October 2008 to about 30 in January 2011.

The Haynesville Shale production has skyrocketed from nothing in January 2007 to now supplying 8% of all US gas.  That is amazing.  The rig count in Haynesville hit about 170 in April 2010 and declined to 130 in January 2011.

Barnett Shale production rose rapidly until April 2009 and has been essentially flat since then, depite a large decline in rig counts.  In July 2008 about 170 rigs operated in the Barnett but only 60 by January 2011.

Marcellus production went from essentially nothing in January 2008 to 2,000mmcf/day in January 2011. The rig count has increased steadily and is now at about 120.

The NYT Reporter printed none of this actual production data, while eagerly printing explosive, sensationalistic anonymous emails, often a couple years old, that got Ponzi and Enron into the frame.

All this production has been great for consumers who have saved $1,000 at least in lower gas and electric bills. 

All this production has caused the price of gas to fall sharply and caused owners of many old coal power plants to announce that they will shut.  Gas, wind, energy efficiency by replacing old coal are saving tens of thousands of lives lost from power plant pollution and preventing hundreds of thousands of illnesses.

All this production has been a mixed blessing for investors in gas as low-prices are not their friend. 

The gas is in the shale in enormous amounts.  A great deal of it has been produced with gas at $4.  A great deal of it would be produced if gas goes to $6.  And even more of it would be produced with $8 gas. 

Markets sort out the pricing and investors take the risk.

Record Day For Blog: Thank You

Yesterday this small blog had a record day for page views with over 6,600 page views. Thank you for coming to the blog and participating with comments.

I would encourage readers to read the comments made yesterday and into today concerning the sunday NYT June 26th story.  Those comments appear under the Statement posting; AP posting; Barnet Shale posting.

The comments colletctively have good facts, reasoning, and discussion. Please keep them coming.

NYT Reporter & Me On Radio Today

The NYT Reporter who wrote the Ponzi, Enron, Radiation stories will be on the Diane Rehm NPR show today.  The show originates in the Washington DC area.

Showtime is 10:00 am eastern.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Barnett Shale Production Now Record High: Facts Not Fit To Print In NYT

According to information provided by Tudor, Pickering & Holt, Barnett Shale production is now at record highs of about 5.6 billion cubic feet per day.  The previous peak production was in 2008 at 5.3 billion cubic feet per day.

The current record production of 5.6 billion cubic feet per day has been achieved though the drilling rig count in Barnett has declined by about half.

If wells were producing less than expected and declining faster than predicted, how is the Barnett at record high levels of production?  Remember the drill rig count is down half so the alleged ponzi schemers are not just drilling more holes. 

Sounds like each gas well drilled in Barnett is producing more than was the case--the opposite of a ponzi scheme.

Again the real scandal is the NYT reporter who includes and excludes information in the June 26th and February 27th stories to fit his predetermined sensational and false narrative.

Updated Associated Press Runs Polar Opposite Story to NYT: Marcellus Shale Gas Production Better Than Expected

While the NYT on sunday ran its now expected tabloid, sensationalist story declaring shale gas to be a ponzi scheme, the Associated Press ran a story by Michael Rubinkam that said this:
          "The result is that the Marcellus...has turned out to be an even more prolific source
           of gas than anyone anticipated.  Energy firms are boosting their production
           targets, not only because new wells are coming on line but also because they're
           managing to coax more gas from each well."

Please read the whole AP story.  It is in tons of papers around the country.  Just google: "Associated Press Gushers Marcellus Potential." 

So the NYT reporter that wrote a discredited story saying falsely that Pennsylvania's waters were possibly poisoned with radionuclides declares shale gas a ponzi scheme on the same day the AP publishes a story documenting that Marcellus shale production is exceeding expectations.

The scandal remains the NYT reporter who has a track record of sensational, false stories designed to attack natural gas that sacrifice fairness and truth.

PA FY 2011 Budget Surplus Hits $675 Million

The fiscal year that began on July 1, 2010 and ends on June 30, 2011 will end with a $675 million budget surplus in Pennsylvania.  That budget was a product of a long fight but time has proven it was a fiscally responsible budget.

The decision to not use any of that surplus in the FY 2012 budget that begins July 1, 2011 to lessen 18% cuts to higher public education and huge cuts to K-12 public education that are forcing teacher layoffs and property tax hikes will damage Pennsylvania's economy and its future.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Longwood Gardens States Flowers Blooming Earlier As Temperatures Rise

Flowers are now blooming 1 day earlier for every decade compared to 150 years ago according to data from Longwood Gardens and the American Public Gardens Association.

NOAA and the American Public Gardens Association have formed a partnership to educate the public about the realities of how changing, warming climate is impacting the growing seasons of plants.

Climate change is real and increasing.

UPDATED Statement about today's NYT Front Page Article Suggesting Shale Gas Is Ponzi Scheme: Reader Beware

The same reporter for the NYT that wrote the February 27th, 2011 hit piece falsely suggesting Pennsylvania's drinking waters were poisoned with radionuclides is back at it. He has another NYT front page, sunday story attacking shale gas as a ponzi scheme and the industry as filled with Enrons.   He just about calls for FBI raids.

The piece is already rocketing around facebook sites and the internet.

Reader beware.  This reporter puts sensationalism ahead of fairness or truth. Pennsylvania's drinking waters are not poisoned with radionuclides, as substantial testing has verified, and the reading public should drink from this journalistic cup with great caution.

Could anyone imagine more sensationalistic narratives than Radiation, Ponzi, and Enron?

Consistent with this reporter's method, today's article uses often anonymous statements to paint a sensational narrative and leaves out or underplays critical information that is inconvenient to establishing the credibility of the dominant anti-gas narrative.

For example, the reader will not learn the following:

1. That 2010 natural gas production in the United States reached the highest levels since 1973 and neared record levels.  Nor will the reader be told that the US produces more natural gas than any nation.

2. The reader will be told that natural gas prices fell by 66% due to the 2008 near depression, but the reader will not be told that US GDP in 2010 returned to 2007 size or that GDP has grown for 7 quarters.

3. The reader will not be told that actual large shale production has been the primary cause of low gas prices in 2010 and 2011, and the 2008 near depression has not been a factor in 2010 and 2011 pricing.

4. The reader will not be told that actual large shale gas production has shattered the historic pricing link between oil and gas and now oil prices have gone up while gas prices have gone down

5. The reader will not be told that, while oil prices have spiked up due to supply straining to meet demand, actual shale gas production has caused gas prices to decline.

6. The reader will be told that the alleged shale ponzi scheme could harm consumers, but the reader will not learn that actual shale gas production so far has saved a consumer heating with natural gas about $5 to $8 per thousand cubic feet or conservatively $500 per year.

7. The reader will again be warned that consumers could be hurt by the alleged ponzi scheme, but the reader will also not be told that actual shale gas production has lowered the wholesale price of electricity about 5 cents per kilowatt-hour and saved a residential electric consumer using 10,000 kilowatt-hours per year another $500 per year.

8. Though Pennsylvania and Marcellus had a starring role in the February 27th piece, the NYT reporter this time has just a couple sentences about the Marcellus.  It is an interesting near exclusion.

9. All the reader is told about the Marcellus is that a Penn State professor reports well production is meeting or exceeding expectations in the Marcellus.  No charts or bar graphs.  No data. Nothing. Why? Very inconvenient facts for the ponzi, enron narrative is the answer.

10. The reader is not told that the well production data for the Marcellus is posted on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.  It is transparent and available to anyone.

11. The reader is told that liquids that can be produced with the natural gas can be valuable but no details.  How valuable?  Getting into this detail would be inconvenient to the ponzi, enron narrative.

12. The reader is told that improvements in shale gas drilling are lowering costs but no details. The details are impressive and in a separate posting we will discuss them. Again getting into this detail would be inconvenient to the ponzi, enron narrative.

And who are among the victims of the alleged Ponzi scheme?  Exxon, Chevron, Shell, Statoil who all have made substantial investments in the Marcellus shale plays.  They could be wrong.  They could be victims of a crime.  But they are incredibly sophisticated companies that engage in massive due diligence before making big investments.

The truth I suspect is something like this:

Substantial real and actual shale gas production has been a boon for consumers by driving down substantially the price of gas, saving them $1,000 or more in gas and electric bills.

Substantial, real actual shale gas production has prevented a broad energy shock by keeping gas and electricity bills stable in the United States when oil prices jumped this spring.

But booming shale gas production has been a mixed blessing for investors in gas because the success of the industry has caused the price of gas to fall sharply.

As the price of gas has fallen from $13 per thousand cubic feet in 2008 to $4.30 today, investors have not fared as well as they had expected, because returns on investment of some shale gas plays are lower than had gas been priced at the predicted $8.

Indeed at today's $4 gas, recent improvements that reduce substantially the cost of shale gas drilling and the revenues from gas liquids are vital to keeping gas wells economic.

If gas prices fall below $4, some shale gas wells will be shut in until prices return to profitable levels.

The Marcellus shale play remains the most attractive gas reserve for investors since its wells are meeting or exceeding production estimates; it has comparatively low-costs; it is located near areas consuming large amounts of gas; and portions of it are producing significant amounts of valuable liquids.

Now that is not a radioactive, ponzi, enron story.  It is not sensationalistic.  Why bother writing a story with that as the dominant narrative?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Brits Say No to No Nukes: Build 8 More

The Germans and Swiss ditched even existing nuclear power plants in reaction to Fukushima, but the British will build 8 new nuclear plants by the end of this decade.

The British 8 new nuclear plants will not make up for the 7 German plants already retired right after Fukushima and 10 more that will be closed by 2021 or the Swiss plants that will be retired.  Yet, the British decision indicates that new nuclear plants are not dead on arrival post Fukushima even in Europe.

Britain will also build 33,000 megawatts of new renewables, mainly offshore wind. 

One result of these combined decisions--pro-nuclear and pro-renewables--is that Britain is one nation where the rush to gas is slowed.

EPA Focuses on Marcellus For Welcome, Important Hydrofracturing Study

The Marcellus Shale will be a focus for the EPA congressionally mandated assessment of potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing.  Three of 7 studies done in the nation will be conducted in Pennsylvania or the Marcellus Shale.

The EPA study is a good thing, and the EPA is conducting it in a professional, independent manner, while listening to all involved.

Among a total of 7 case studies, EPA will conduct 2 retrospective case studies in Pennsylvania:  one in Susquehanna and Bradford counties and the other in Washington county. 

Retrospective studies will look for impacts where drilling has taken place.

In Washington county, the EPA will conduct also a prospective case study, looking at the well development process as it takes place and assessing impacts.

Gas migration to private water wells and other waters as a result of poor drilling has taken place in Bradford and Susquehanna counties.  The gas that migrated at least in the Susquehanna county cases was not Marcellus gas but shallower gas that was not properly isolated in the drilling process.

Some spills and leaks at the surface have also impacted a small number of private water wells in southwest Pennsylvania.

No case of frack fluids migrating from depth (typically 5,000 feet to 8,000 feet) back to groundwaters has taken place in Pennsylvania.  Moreover EPA Administrator Jackson testified to Congress in May that no such case has taken place anywhere in America.

Here is the list of the 7 case studies:

Prospective Studies

Haynesville Shale--DeSoto County, LA
Marcellus Shale--Washington County, PA

Retrospective Studies

Bakken Shale--Kildeer, Dunn County, ND
Barnett Shale--Wise and Denton counties, TX
Marcellus Shale--Washington County, PA
Marcellus Shale--Bradford and Susquehanna counties, PA
Raton Basin--Las Animas County, CO

EPA selected these 7 sites for study from a list of over 40 possible study sites. 

The Duke University study also selected water wells in Bradford and Susquehanna counties where the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has done extensive testing.  See blog post on the Duke study in the May Archives of this blog.

For more information about the EPA study, go to

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Costs Of War

4,500 members of the armed forces have been killed in IRAQ, 1500 members have lost their lives in Afghanistan, and the nation has spent at least $1.3 trillion we don't have.

Both wars were debt financed, with no taxes increased to pay for them.  Both wars were supposed to be short and low-cost.  Indeed IRAQ oil revenues were supposedly going to pay for our costs in IRAQ.

We now have been in Afghanistan a few months shy of 10 years and in IRAQ a few months more than 8 years.

As Secretary Gates said, IRAQ was a  war of choice. 

Afghanistan was not a war of choice, but it has been bungled, leading to a war three times longer than US involvement in World War II.

Had we stayed focused on Afghanistan, Bin Laden would have been dead years ago and we should have been out of Afghanistan years ago.

US Coal Exports Surge: UP 49%

First quarter 2011 exports of US coal reached 26.6 million tons, jumping 49%.  Coking coal accounts for 64% of the coal exported but exports of steam coal (power plants) led the boom in exports.  Steam coal exports skyrocketed 160%. 

Coal exports reached the highest level since 1992 and could exceed 10% of US coal production.

You have one guess about where most of the coal is going.

New Rooftop Solar PV Record Set

The North American record for the largest rooftop solar system once  held by Glaxo Smith Kline at a warehouse in York, Pennsylvania is in the process of being broken.

An incredible 9 megawatt solar PV system is under construction on the roof of a building at the Holt Terminal located right by the Walt Whitman Bridge that crosses the Delaware River in New Jersey.

The 9 megawatt system will be finished this fall and supply enough electricity for 1500 homes.  The capital costs of the system is $42 million. 

Sun Power is providing the panels with a system that does not require penetration of the roof as the method for securing the system.

Roof top solar continues to boom around the country.  Their scale is reaching a point where they will impact transmission planning and reduce what otherwise would have been bigger new transmission investment needs.

Gas Well Operating Since 1887: Is it the Oldest in the World?

CNX has a gas well near Monroeville Pennsylvania that began producing in 1887 and still produces today.  That would be 124 years of production.

Is that the oldest operating gas well in America?  Does it set the record for the World?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CNX An Example of Drilling Company Discharging Zero/Less Wastewater Than Pre-Marcellus

I was speaking at a conference yesterday in Pittsburgh and shared the podium with Craig Neal from CNX.

CNX has been drilling gas wells in Pennsylvania for decades.  It has 9,000 shallow wells.  It also has Marcellus wells.

As of May, CNX no longer discharges any drilling wastewater from any of its shallow or Marcellus wells.  Congratulations to CNX and thank you.

The Marcellus development has put an end to a decades long practice of discharging drilling wastewater from shallow wells untreated for Total Dissolved Solids into Pennsylvania's rivers and streams.

And how many Pennsylvanians are aware of this major environmental improvement?

MarketWatch Charges Obama Administration With Doing All It Can To Stop Shale Revolution

On June 17th, MarketWatch ran a commentary by David Kansas that began: "An innovation revolution is underway in the domestic energy market, but the Obama Administration and its allies are doing all they can to thwart it."

Total garbage, though Josh Fox wishes it were true.  America produced more natural gas in 2010 than in any year since 1973.  America produced more gas in 2010 than any nation in the world.

Just ask the Environmental Working Group whether the Obama Administration is doing all that it can to thwart shale gas.   EWG has gone ballistic, attacking as pro-gas 6 of 7 of the Obama Administration's appointments to the so-called Shale Gas Commission that hopefully will make useful recommendations to improve further the performance of gas drilling.

EPA Administrator Jackson just testified to Congress that not one case exists in the nation of frack fluids returning from depth to contaminate water wells or ground water.

The EPA was directed by an Act of Congress to conduct a further study on fracking and its environmental risks.  It is professionally following Congress' command and doing the study. 

To David Kansas, this amounts to pandering to inordinate fears. Total garbage once more

There are inordinate fears that good people have and government can help to deal with them by listening to everyone, responding, and doing so factually.  There are also real issues that need to be addressed and are being in most cases. 

Moreover gas drilling or gas itself is not perfect and never will be.  But gas drilling can and must be excellent.

The shale gas boom offers major opportunities and challenges.  EPA & DOE have vital roles to play in maximizing the opportunities and addressing responsibly the challenges.  Both agencies are meeting their responsibilities.

Finally, the gas industry would do well not to give aid and comfort to the kind of ideological, political attacks launched by David Kansas.  The industry should not confuse questions or concerns with opposition.  Don't make more enemies.

Private Sector Job Facts 2007-2011

Job creation numbers can be a fighting topic as the kerfuffle between the Keystone Research Center and the Marcellus Shale Coalition shows.  The topic is tension producing, because the nation has been traumatized by a decade of poor job creation, followed by an historic plunge in jobs.

The Great Recession began in November 2007 and came on the heels of an economy that created very few jobs from 2001 until it started.

Here are the monthly average private sector national job numbers for the period 2007-April 2011

2007--Plus 50,000 per month

2008--Minus 380,000 per month

2009--Minus 350,000 per month

2010--Plus 110,000 per month

2011--Plus 160,000 per month

The plunge in employment peaked in January 2009 when an incredible 747,000 jobs were lost in that month alone.

By January 2010 jobs loss had been stopped, with essentially zero jobs lost or created.

What about public sector jobs in local, state, and federal governments?

There are 500,000 less government jobs now than in January 2009.

If current trends continue, it will take to about 2015 to claw our way back to the total number of jobs that existed prior to the start of the Great Recession.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

MSC issues blistering response to KRC

Rapid Response is alive at Marcellus Shale Coalition.

Here is MSC's hot, hot reply to the Keystone Research Center policy brief.

Keystone Research Center puts Marcellus Jobs at Less than 10k

A new Keystone Research Center policy brief indicates recent reports that Marcellus drilling has created 48,000 jobs are inflated. KRC states the 48k estimate confuses new "hires" with new "jobs." KRC puts the amount of new Marcellus jobs at 9,288.

Read the brief for yourself. Go to

Supercomputer Rankings

Japan now has the fastest super computer in the world that is four times faster than the second placed one.

China has the second fastest, and the USA has fallen to third.  Our dominance in this technology no longer exists.

USA's fastest supercomputer is located at the Oak Ridge National Lab.

Alarming Retirement Facts

The typical 401(k) account has $98,000 at retirement; just 20% have a defined benefit plan pension, down from 40% in 1975; and 34% of Americans have nothing saved for retirement, according to labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan in yesterday's NYT.

Why do Americans oppose overwhelmingly making Medicare a voucher program or privatizing Social Security?

See above for answers.

Monday, June 20, 2011

8 Reasons Why Low Gas Prices Are Not Killing Green Energy

Why are low-gas-low-electricity prices closing old coal plants and stopping new nuclear power, while not stopping dead new renewable plants or closing existing ones here and around the world?

1. Once built wind, solar, and hydro plants are low-cost producers with much lower production or operating costs than coal, gas or even nuclear plants. Low-cost producers don't close once built. High cost producers like old, inefficient coal plants don't operate or close when gas drives down the price of electricity.

2. Only renewable power plants  can provide a 25 year fixed price for electricity, since fuel cost is zero and fixed and most costs are capital costs of construction.  Renewable energy plants are a major hedge against fluctuating fossil fuel prices.

3. Costs are declining sharply for solar and significantly for wind, making wind in some circumstances cost-competitive with gas.  Neither solar nor wind would be growing but for the large declines in costs.  Solar costs are continuing to decline toward $2 per watt installed.  By contrast, new nuclear costs are escalating.  Low-gas prices and the lower power prices have made it next to impossible to finance in USA the $10 billion or more capital costs for a new nuclear plant, unless Uncle Sam one way or another takes all risk.

4.  As once external, environmental costs like mercury, soot, smog, heat trapping pollution become internalized to the price of energy, the energy price signal signals that renewables are more and more economic.  The EPA proposed Air Toxic Rule is a powerful example of internalizing once external costs.
5. Fukushima and other energy shocks make renewables look good.  Germany, Japan, Switzerland are all examples of countries adopting much more renewable energy just as a result of the Fukushima energy shock.

6. Approxiamately 36 states have policies such as portolio standards that require increasing percentage of renewables plus the federal government has tax policies and other measures that support renewables.  These policies in combination provide a substantial pull for renewables.

7. Some renewable power systems like solar are ideally suited for on-site generation at homes and businesses, enabling owners to avoid or reduce distribution and transmission costs that coal, nuclear, and most gas plants incur.

8. Thee most important reason for renewables continuing growth is the enormous public support for them in the USA and most nations.  Polling puts the support for renewable energy typically at 80% or higher. This is the foundation on which renewable energy grows.

Renewable growth would be even stronger with higher natural gas prices, but the foregoing 8 reasons are why low gas prices are not killing Green Energy..

Gas Charged with Killing Green Energy: Is It True?

Reuters ran on June 16th an article with the headline, "Gas Is Killing Green Energy in Price War."  The piece was based on comments made at a London conference.  So gas is supposedly poisoning our waters, dirtier than coal, and killing green energy.  Quite an indictment, but all of it is hyberbolic and untrue.

Specifically, as distinguished from conference comments, the facts, the data, about renewable energy production and plant under construction at least in the USA contradict the fashionable claim that low gas prices are killing Green Energy.  (Gas prices are much higher in Asia and some other parts of the world than in the USA).

Consider these facts:

1. Grid connected USA solar power in the first quarter of 2011 increased 66% over first quarter 2010.  See solar market reports at Or

2. Total annual USA solar installations in 2008 were approximately 450 mw; but 950 mw in 2010; and projected to be a record 2,000 megawatts in 2011.  These annual numbers document spectacular increases when gas prices have been typically below $5 per thousand cubic feet.

3. Right now 1,160 megawatts of concentrating solar thermal plants are under construction in USA.

4. Xcel and FPL are two utilities that actually married in 2010 gas to solar and wind to boost the viability of solar in hybrid gas-solar/wind systems.  Gas in fact will increasingly be vital to building out both solar and wind to manage intermittency of both when market penetrations exceed 10% of total capacity.

5. Pennsylvania's  SEIA ranking jumped from 8th in solar installation in the first quarter of 2010 to 4th in the first quarter of 2011. Pennsylvania growth reflected policy support from the General Assembly and Governor Rendell, sharply lower solar prices, stimulus funding, and federal tax credits.

6. 2011 will be a record year globally for solar with up to an incredible 20,000 megawatts of solar added.

So if US and global solar is booming, perhaps low gas prices are killing wind.  Actually not.

7. First quarter 2011 wind installations were 1,118 megawatts in 12 states compared to 541 megawatts in the first quarter of 2010.  In other words, so far wind in 2011 is up more than 100% compared to 2010.

8. Another 5,600 megawatts of wind in 26 states, including Pennsylvania, is under construction.  Today  twice the amount is under construction as at the same time in 2009 and 2010, both strong years for total wind installation in the USA.  See data reported at in Awea's first quarter 2011 Market Report

And what do national renewable energy production levels for the first quarter of 2011reported by the Energy Information Administration show (

9. Renewable energy hit record levels, providing 13.4% of all electricity produced in the USA from January to March 2011. See earlier posting. The high production was a function of booming wind production, growing solar generation, and a spike in hydro due to large rainfall.

10. None of the facts add up to gas is killing Green Energy.

Low priced gas has lowered the wholesale price of electricity and challenges keeping old, inefficient fossil fuel and nuclear plants running and financing new plants of all types.

Lower electric prices have caused large closings of old coal plants.  TVA announced in May the closing or refueling with gas of 18 coal units.  AEP announced in June the closing or refueling of 12 coal units.  The TVA and AEP announcements mean much cleaner air for Pennsylvania, especially for western Pa, where a lot of pollution blows in from the south and west.

Though gas is closing old coal plants, renewables continue to grow dramatically despite low-electricity prices. More on why in the next posting.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Stunning Fact: China Uses 13 Times More Cement Than World #2

The scale and pace of change in China is hard to fathom but a single fact like China using 13 times more cement than the second biggest consumer of cement drives it home.

Which nation is number 2 but incredibly far behind China?

India ranks second in cement use.

China now is the largest energy user in the world, the largest emitter of heat-trapping pollution, and for a short period more the second largest economy in the world.

Thank You Secretary Gates

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates deserves the gratitude of every American.  He became Secretary on December 18, 2006, replacing the disastrous and long tenure of Donald Rumsfeld, and leaves office on June 30th 2011.

Secretary Gates immediately became an advocate for providing our troops with the equipment they needed to fight the enemy and protect themselves, equipment the importance of which Secretary Rumsfeld dismissed with the infamous retort that, "You go to war with the army you have."  Secretary Gates shook the bureaucracy to get troops the equipment they needed.

Secretary Gates also became an immediate opponent of former Vice President Cheney within the Bush Administration over using America's military, our blood, and treasure.

In today's New York Times in an article about Secretary Gates, this is said: "...he [Gates] has learned most clearly over the last four and a half years that wars 'have taken longer and been more costly in lives and treasure' than anticipated."

On saturday, 8 NATO members of the armed force died, with the nationalities of the dead not released until their home nation's can provide notification to their families and nations.

Gates further said: "If we were about to be attacked or something happened that threatened a vital U.S. national interest, I would be first in line to say, 'Let's go.'  I will be always an advocate in terms of wars of necessity.  I am just more cautious on wars of choice."

Secretary Gates also supported the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and has implemented the Congressionally passed statue repealing DADT.

Secretary Gates writes a personal condolence letter to the families of all members of the armed forces who lose their lives.  Before he writes the letter, he reviews a briefing on the life of the service member, a briefing that he commanded be prepared when he became Secretary.

Within the armed forces, for his focus on equipping properly our troops and for his care for them, Secretary Gates is known as the "Soldiers' Secretary."

Secretary Gates is a wise man and exactly the kind of public official the nation needs.  President Bush gets credit for selecting him to replace Rumsfeld, and President Obama should get even more praise for keeping him in office, ignoring the normal partisan pressures to select a person of "your" party.

Thank you again United States Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates.

PA Economy Loses 14k jobs When US Economy Grows Jobs

May 2011 was not a great month for the US economy when it added just 54,000 jobs, but the US economy boomed in May compared to Pennsylvania's which lost 14,000 jobs.

Hopefully the Keystone Research Center will soon be providing some further understanding about the May data.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

PA Economy Goes Wrong Way In May

Pennsylvania has been one of the nation's strongest creators of jobs from January 2010 to April 2011, putting Pennsylvania's unemployment rate well below the national rate of 9.1%.

But in May 2011, Pennsylvania lost 14,400 jobs.  The unemployment rate actually also fell from 7.5% to 7.4%, because more people stopped looking for work than jobs were lost.

But Pennsylvania in May went from creating thousands of jobs every month to losing a significant number.  Headlines around the state in May included notices of massive layoffs of teachers and education staff as a result of huge education budget cuts.

As the economists at the Keystone Research Center ( said, the May job numbers are a cause for concern.  Keystone also said it would provide further analysis of the May job numbers to understand better where Pennsylvania shed desperately needed jobs.

Hopefully May is a one-month blip and not the start of a trend.

Governor Perry & The Texas "Miracle"

Rush Limbaugh and the right wing ideologues on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal are fawning before Governor Perry, urging that he run for President of the United States, hailing Texas as a model of economic development, and neglecting at every turn inconvenient Facts such as 23 states have unemployment rates lower than Texas's 8.0.

That's right: 23 states have a lower unemployment rate than Texas and Delaware at 8.0 matches Texas.  The Texas average wage is also considerably below the national average wage.

My goodness, New York which is often ridiculed by the right as an example of economic mismanagement, has an unemployment rate of 7.9%.  Perhaps former NY Governor Pataki would be a better Republican Presidential candidate.

Or perhaps the nation would be better served by looking at the Vermont Miracle where the unemployment rate was 5.4% in May.

Texas also has more than 25% of its population without any health insurance; more than 50% without dental insurance.  Texas ranks near the top in high school dropout rates; near the top in teenage pregnancies.

Not to much to brag about there.  More nightmare than miracle.

Then there is a little matter of Gov. Perry and his coddling of secessionists and secession.

Thank goodness it is a free country.  But public officials swear allegiance to the United States and swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.  I have taken two such oaths as a Commissioner of the Pennsylvania PUC and DEP Secretary.

No public official sworn to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States should ever obtain public office again--and certainly not the Presidency--after coddling secessionists.

Friday, June 17, 2011

2011 Q1 Solar Installations Grow at 66% Rate on the Road to 100,000 Megawatts by 2020

It is not a fluke.  It is not a flash in the pan.  It is real and growing.  It is an energy revolution.

Building on 100% growth in 2010 for US solar installations, the US solar industry grew in the first quarter of 2011 66%, according to data released by Rhone Resch, the President of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

US solar installations in 2011 may reach 2,000 megawatts, up from just a little less than a 1,000 megawatts installed in 2010. Solar costs nationally to the consumer declined by another 15% in the last 12 months or by 1.25% per month.

Lower prices are a key foundation of sustaining the booming US solar industry. Resch predicted that the solar industry would add nationwide 25,000 to 50,000 jobs in 2011.

By 2015, 10,000 megawatts per year of solar will likely be built in the USA.  By 2020, the USA will likely have 100,000 megawatts of solar operating.

Globally a total of 40,000 megawatts is now installed and another 20,000 megawatts is likely to be built just in 2011.

Utility Executives Hold Contradictory Views About Energy Prices and Renewables

What utility executives think matters.  They make key technology, capital investment, and fuel decisions for their investors, public owners, and consumers.  They have energy distribution monopolies, though they increasingly operate in competitive electric generation markets or are buffeted by them.

According to the 4th annual survey of utility executives conducted by Black and Veatch (, 70% of 700 utility executives believe electricity prices and commodity prices will increase significantly in the next 5 years.

Despite the large majority that believes large electricity price increases are ahead, only 34% of utility executives believe renewables will be cost competitive within 5 years. Another 18% are not sure and 48% think that they will not be economic.

I agree with the 34% of utility executives that believe renewables will be cost competitive in 5 years and I am doubly sure of that result if large electricity price increases take place in the next 5 years.

There are clear reasons to think electricity prices may go up, though I have my doubts that the increases will be large or "significant."  Interest rates are likely to rise from historic lows and the utility industry has high capital costs; substantial upgrading of utility infrastructure is needed in many service territories; and a case can be made that coal and gas prices will go up over the next 5 years.  All those are real reasons to believe electricity prices will increase and perhaps significantly.

The counter case would focus on burgeoning demand-side resources, energy conservation, booming distributed generation, and the shale gas revolution.

I tend to think there are conflicting price pressures; some pushing down and others pushing up, with the result being modest electricity price increases.  A big X factor is the economy.

Policies are being successfully advanced in Congress that would bring another economic contraction, and were that to happen, electricity demand will fall, putting further downward pressure on generation prices.

But I am sure that if significant electricity price increases do occur within 5 years, then solar will be at  grid parity by 2015.   That will occur without major grid electricity price increases as solar is on the way to $2 per watt fully installed.  Wind energy, biomass, hydro, and geothermal would all be cost-competitive within 5 years given large electricity price increases.

Utility executives that are not preparing to take advantage of or navigate safely in an energy world where renewables are cost competitive within 5 years are making a significant strategic business mistake.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What If Natural Gas Cost $10 Per thousand Cubic Feet?

As recently as July 2008, natural gas was priced at $13 for a thousand cubic feet so asking what if it cost $10 is not asking what if the impossible happened.

Here are 7 Big Changes that would happen if gas cost $10 for a thousand cubic feet:

1. Coal plants that are now retiring would not retire.  Why?  The wholesale price of electric generation would nearly double or be about $100 per megawatt-hour or 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.  Owners of coal plants would keep them operating and make the investments required to do so, because the plants would earn at least twice the revenues they do now when gas is at $4.50;

2. Building new natural gas plants to make electricity or switching coal plants to natural gas would grind to a complete stop.  Natural gas at $10 would make natural gas plants uncompetitive and uneconomic.

3. Natural gas at $10 would boost sharply the price of electricity, forcing more energy conservation through the pain of high prices.

4. Natural gas at $10 would make wind energy more economic than building a new natural gas plant.  The cost of a wind farm is now in the range of about $55 to $70 per megawatt-hour and $10 gas means about $100 per megawatt-hour wholesale electricity generation prices.

5. Natural gas at $10 would cut the payback period for solar systems significantly as the price of grid electricity would be much higher.

6. Natural gas at $10 would mean a customer using natural gas to heat (90 mcf/year) would pay about $500 more per year in gas heating bills.

7. Natural gas at $10 would mean electricity bills that would increase by about 5 cents per kilowatt-hour or $500 per year for a customer using 10,000 kilowatt-hours per year.

Electricity Competition: A Tale Of Service Territories & Customer Classes

While competition to supply large customers with electricity since rate caps ended everywhere on December 31, 2010 has been substantial across the Commonwealth, competition has waxed and waned for smaller customers or residential customers across Pennsylvania.

In the PECO service territory competition is waxing with as many as 30 companies competing to supply residential customers and more are fighting for large commercial and industrial accounts.  The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Energetix and Constellation are two companies newly competing for residential accounts in the PECO service territory.

Savings in the PECO service territory can be considerable and both the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate provide full residential shopping guides listing all offers.  Consumers can save money by shopping; can lock in longer term pricing; and can buy green power products of many descriptions.  I personally have switched to a 100% wind power product with the wind energy produced in Pennsylvania and our regional PJM power pool.

Energetix, the new entrant for example, is offering residential service at 8.95 cents while the PECO default rate is 10.42 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 500 kilowatt-hour and 11.69 cents per kilowatt-hour for usage over 500 kilowatt-hours, while Constellation is offering a product that save customers up to 12% according to their product offering.

Yet in some service territories, competition for residential customers through May has been minimal, with just 1% of residential customers switching in the Metropolitan Edison, the Pennsylvania Electric, and the Allegheny Energy service territories.  In these service territories, about 99% of customers remain on Default Supply or purchasing electric generation service from their local distribution electric utility.

Steps need to be taken to boost competition in all parts of the Commonwealth.  More on this later.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Natural Gas Production Reaches Record Level & Prices Fall

According to the Energy Information Administration data, US natural gas production reached record levels in March, 2011.  Why?  Shale gas production, plain and simple.

In March 2.42 trillion cubic feet was produced or an incredible 77.83 billion cubic feet per day.  Gas output is up 11% since 2007.

And what has happened to the price of natural gas in the USA as production soars?

The price has declined 38% since 2007 and 8% over the last year.

Natural gas is just about the only commodity to have its price decline, since the economy stopped collapsing following the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy on  September 15, 2008 that triggered a near depression and a collapse of the oil price to $33 per barrel in December 2008.

Google Invests $280 Million in Solar Systems

In the latest sign that big money is flowing from many directions into solar power, Google's latest clean energy investment is $280 million in Solar City to install about 10,000 rooftop solar systems.  The deal is a win-win for Google and Solar City.

The deal also will lead to another approximately 60 megawatts of distributed solar systems in California that will benefit the environment, create jobs, increase supply and grid reliability.

This large investment in small, distributed solar generations displays the unique flexibility of solar power.  Solar power now ranges from very large, utility scale projects to rooftop systems for homes.

Air Force Academy Completes 6 MW Solar System

The United States Air Force Academy is now operating a 6 megawatt solar system. 

The system was installed by a partnership between SunPower and Colorado Springs Utilities, the local electricity utility.

Canadian Solar Becomes Official Sponsor of Yankees

In another indication that the solar industry is big business, Canadian Solar is now an official sponsor of the NY Yankees.

Canadian Solar has poor taste in baseball teams but somebody in marketing seems to think its association with the Yankees is a plus.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

PA Public Wants Gas Drilling 2 to 1 But...

Pennsylvanians believe the economic benefits of gas drilling outweigh the environmental impacts 63% to 30%, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.  See

The public even more strongly supports taxing the gas industry, favoring a drilling tax by 69% to 24%.

The Pennsylvania public wants the gas produced, the industry to pay a drilling tax, and the environment protected.  These polling numbers confirm that Pennsylvania is a common sense, centrist state that looks askance at ideological approaches to solving problems.

Pennsylvanians oppose moratoriums at least on private lands and oppose rigid ideological pledges against imposing taxes or fees on anything.

While Quinnipiac did not specifically ask a question about regulating the gas industry, I know that the public overwhelmingly demands that the state of Pennsylvania to regulate strongly the industry to reduce environmental impacts.

Quinnipiac also reports that Governor Corbett has a 39 to 38 approval-disapproval rating with a canyon separating the genders.  Men approve of Governor Corbett's performance by 48 to 34 but women disapprove by 43 to 30.

Finally, opposing a drilling tax is as unpopular as supporting major cuts to university funding, with 69% of the public disapproving of cuts to universities and 69% supporting a drilling tax.

Shale Commission Sees and Hears Natural Gas Passions

The visit to Pennsylvania of the so-called Shale Gas Commission formed by Secretary Chu to advise about improving the safety and environmental performance of shale gas drilling and fracking triggered efforts by pro-drilling and anti-drilling groups to insure their viewpoints were expressed directly to the members of the Commission.  Even the Washington County Republican party got involved, urging pro-drilling members of the public to attend.

This is an example of democracy in action and what makes our country strong.  The Commission for sure gets a taste for the passion swirling around shale gas issues.  But hopefully Pennsylvanians can provide not just the heat of the issue but shine some light by making specific suggestions for improving natural gas drilling.

Thank you to the Commission for coming to Pennsylvania and hearing directly about this important topic.

America's Utilities Turn Bullish on Solar in 2010

Utilities integrated 561 megawatts of solar capacity into their systems in 2010, an 100% increase over 2009, according to the fourth annual rankings of utility solar projects published by the Solar Electric Power Association.  See

Prior to 2010 most solar development was behind the meter, distributed generation systems.  But in 2010 utilities themselves turned bullish on solar and began building, owning, or otherwise integrating solar into their portfolios.

Pacific Gas and Electric ranked number 1 with 137.3 megawatts and Florida Power and Light ranked second with 87.2 megawatts, including a 75 megawatt hybrid concentrating solar power and natural gas plant that could well be a model for much more development.

Other major solar projects built in 2010 included a 48 megawatt and 30 megawatt PV systems built in Nevada and New Mexico respectively.  There were 8 centralized solar projects built in the USA greater than 10 megawatts.

Three of the top 10 utilities for total capacity integrated are in California.  But 2010 saw utilities from Colorado, New Jersey, Arizona, and North Carolina breaking into the top 10.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Study of 7 Million Linkedin Members Shows Which Industries Growing Jobs

According to Wired Magazine in an article entitled, "The Economic Rebound: It Isn't What You Think," Renewable Energy and Environment was the industry with the strongest job growth from 2006 to 2010. Jobs increased 56.8%.

The study was based on a survey of 7 million US members of Linkedin who changed industries from 2006 to 2010.

The massive implosion of real estate prices starting in 2006 then led to a devastating recession beginning in December 2007 that in combination has produced 6.5 million less jobs today than in 2007.  The GDP in 2010 was as big as the GDP in 2007 but millions less jobs were needed to produce the same amount of economic output.

Yet, some industries have been growing jobs as others have lost even more.

Where are the jobs growing?  In what industries is employment increasing?

Renewables and Environment was number 1.  Number 2 was Online Publishing with a 29.1% increase; Wireless up 21.4%; and Oil and Energy up 7.3% also scored highly.

The data again contradict conservative ideologues who say green jobs are not real or don't exist.  Pennsylvania has a great opportunity to grow gas as well as renewable energy and environment jobs.  Indeed at the end of 2010, Pennsylvania had 41,000 jobs in renewable energy with many more possible in 2011 and beyond.

Christie & Merkel: Conflicting Views About Renewable Energy's Limits

Two high profile, political conservatives--Governor Christie and Chancellor Merkel--made recent,  contradictory announcements about renewable energy requirements.

Merkel, a trained physicist, literally watched with horror a hydrogen explosion at Fukushima and shortly thereafter immediately pulled the plug on Germany's 7 oldest nuclear plants and said that all 17 nuclear plants would be retired by 2021.

To replace nuclear, Merkel announced Germany would rely on gas and jump its renewable energy power from a current 17% to 35% by 2020.

Governor Christie meanwhile announced that New Jersey would reduce its renewable energy requirement from 30% to 22.5% by 2021, while also deploying more natural gas plants.  Christie said the  30% target was not achievable.

So Christie and Merkel agree on gas but head in different directions on renewables. 35% is achievable in Germany but 30% is not in New Jersey. What explains the different view on renewables?

Political will and politics.  Nothing more or less.  The technology options for both are identical.

But it should also be noted the similarities that remain between New Jersey and Germany.

Both also are marrying large amounts of renewable energy with gas, making them the dominant fuels of the future.  New Jersey and Germany are big examples of the renewable energy and natural gas revolution.

Merkel and Christie, however, do completely disagree about the future of nuclear plants.  Christie believes new nuclear plants should be built, and plainly Merkel does not.

Lastly, Chancellor Merkel is an example of European conservatives who accept climate science.  Former Prime Minister Thatcher, another trained scientist, is another prominent example of a European Conservative not foolishly at war with climate science.  The European embrace of renewable energy is rooted in climate science.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

America's Power Costs Would Zoom and Lights Flicker Without Renewable Energy Generation

What would America be like without the 13.4% of electricity provided by renewable energy power plants--wind, solar, biomass, hydro, and geothermal?

The air and water would be dirtier, as nearly all alternatives to renewables have more environmental impacts.

But our health and environment are not the only things that would suffer without the electricity coming from renewables.

Our power costs would skyrocket everywhere and our lights would flicker in some places without the 13.4% of electricity coming from renewables in the first quarter of 2011.

Indeed the combination of big increases in renewable electricity production and lower natural gas prices have prevented a broad energy shock from crippling our economy as oil prices have zoomed up from $33 in December 2008 to over $100 in 2011.  Without electricity from renewable energy plants, electricity consumers would feel rate shocks in many parts of America, including in the PJM power pool, America's largest wholesale electricity market.

At current rates of growth, renewable electricity could be providing America more power than nuclear plants within the next 10 years.  Currently nuclear plants generate about 20% of the nation's power.

In short, renewable electricity is right now vital to keeping America powered and our lights on and keeping our electricity bills affordable.  Renewable energy companies and their production are important parts of our nation's economy.

Solar Power Booms in First Quarter of 2011

Solar power plant production increased 104.8% in the first quarter of 2011 compared to first quarter of 2010.  Solar power plants reporting production to the Energy Information Administration produced 255,000 megawatt-hours in the first quarter.

Total electricity generated by solar technology will exceed the EIA numbers as the data does not include the substantial solar generation from small solar facilities at homes and businesses.

At current rates of growth solar power will produce more power than geothermal plants sometime in 2013.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Updated: Renewable Electricity Hits New Highs Nationally in March 2011

According to the Energy Information Administration data, 13.4% of the nation's electricity power from January to March 2011 came from renewable resources.  That represents a major increase in market share for renewable energy.

The big jumps came from large increases in hydro production due to record rain fall and another 20% jump in wind power in March 2011 compared to March 2010.

The hydro increases may not be sustainable, but the wind power increased production results from the increasing numbers of wind farms being built around the nation.

Hydro represented 8.2% of electricity produced and non-hydro renewables 5.2%.

March EIA Data Show Energy Revolution Picks Up Speed

The March Energy Information Administration data shows that the shift to gas and renewables and away from coal-fired generation is quickening.

Nationally the nation generated 2% more power in March 2011 than in March 2010.  The growing economy over the period explains that number.

But where the power comes from continues to change quickly.

Natural gas generation was up 5% in March 2011 compared to March 2010.  Wind up 20%.  Hydro up 52% due to record rain.

And coal-fired electricity generation was down 6.9% or nearly 10,000,000 megawatt-hours.

These changes in how electricity is being made will lead to substantially cleaner air and water.  Loading of our environment with toxic pollution and heat trapping gas will decline.

March 2011 Pouring Rain and Booming Hydro Power

March 2011 was one of the wettest on record.  It was the second wettest ever in the Pacific Northwest and the ninth wettest in California.

Hydro power production jumped 52% or by 10,759 thousand megawatt-hours in March 2011 compared to March 2010.

The average national temperature in March 2011 was 1.4 degrees above the long run average.

All data comes from the Energy Information Administration in its monthly report.

Friday, June 10, 2011

MIT Confirms Gas Will Cut Heat Trapping Pollution--BIG TIME

An MIT study group of 30 faculty members and graduate students published yesterday a must read study on natural gas.  Its main conclusion: "Natural gas will play a leading role in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions over the next several decades, largely by replacing older, inefficient coal plants..." See The Future of Gas authored by the MIT Energy Initiative.

It is time to be direct.  Shutting down shale gas hurts efforts to get toxics out of the air and reduce carbon emissions.  Regulating strongly gas drilling and excellent operations by gas production companies is needed to make real the benefits made possible by natural gas.

Shale gas has boosted substantially natural gas supplies and lowered its price.

One result is that natural gas can now replace cost effectively significant amounts of coal generation.

MIT found that natural gas by itself can cut quickly and economically carbon emissions from the power plant sector by 20%.

When natural gas is combined with energy efficiency to reduce demand, the carbon reductions reach 50% of the total carbon emissions.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Regulatory Hot Seat: Did Gas Drilling Cause It?

While most people in Pennsylvania get their water from public water systems that comprehensively test the drinking water delivered at the tap, there are more than a million private water wells in Pennsylvania.  And about 25% of them have been contaminated with something, manganese, biogenic or naturally occurring methane, even E-coli bacteria.

Everyone on a private water well should regularly test their water to insure that it is safe.

Sometimes contamination is caused by poor water well construction that allows natural and unnatural contaminants to impact the water well.  Sometimes the ground water itself has been contaminated by pollution.

When the ground water itself is contaminated by pollution, the most common cause is more than 200 years of industrial activity and agriculture (nitrate pollution of water).  By comparison to these historic, significant threats to private water wells, gas drilling has had a minor impact on private water wells, but everyone should work hard to make the impact smaller still.  We should also deal with the much larger non-gas drilling sources of contamination of our groundwater

Gas drilling has probably impacted less than 100 water wells in Pennsylvania.  Gas migrating from poorly constructed and designed gas wells is the biggest source of contamination within this category.  A handful of water wells also may have been impacted by spills and leaks.  But fracking fluids and the chemicals in them have never returned from depth in Pennsylvania to contaminate a private water well.  The Duke University study found no such contamination. Lisa Jackson testified in May to Congress that frack fluids had never returned from depth to contaminate water anywhere in the country.

When a claim is made that gas drilling caused pollution to a water well, the industry and the regulators have the job of responding.  Sometimes the industry and the impacted family resolve the issue.  Sometimes a dispute erupts that leads to a regulatory or a court case or both.

In this situation, the regulators find themselves on the hotseat and must simply do good testing, be transparent, and let the facts answer the question.  When I served as Secretary, DEP found through comprehensive testing both that gas drilling had caused gas to migrate and contaminate water wells and found that gas drilling was not the source of the contamination in a water well.

I, however, would caution anyone looking at these claims or denials against jumping to any conclusion.

To see how complex, difficult, and emotional these disputes about private water well contamination can become, please read the story at

DEP Budget Cut Through The Bone

The House of Representatives set the state general fund contribution to running the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection at $136 million or more than $2 million less than the $138.2 million budget proposed by Governor Corbett.

Governor Corbett's state funding budget for DEP in turn was more than $7.2 million less than the DEP budget of $145.2 million for the current fiscal year that ends on June 30.

To make matters even worse, vital fee packages that would pay for air permitting and inspections, mining program operations, regulation of water systems have stopped dead in the water.  The fee packages that would charge those using services for a portion of the cost of providing the service (not the entire cost) would generate between $20 million to $25 million. 

DEP cannot do its mission reasonably, let alone address the growing challenges it faces, with a budget effectively below $170 million. 

There are two ways to get to $170 million for the coming year. 

Method one: set the state general fund contribution at $170 million.

Method two: set the state general fund contribution at $145 million and enact immediately the fee packages that should have been finished by now to bring in another $25 million.

The state will finish on June 30th the fiscal year with approximately a $600 million surplus.  Using a tiny portion of that surplus and moving forward the stalled fee packages to give DEP a barebones budget to protect our health, environment and safety should be a no-brainer.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

PUC Holds Today Important Electricity Competition Hearing

I will be testifying today to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in its proceeding to look at the state of electricity competition and what steps could be taken to increase competition.

The amount of competition varies across the Commonwealth and by customer class to some extent.  Industrial consumers have shopped in huge numbers, with 90% of their load now supplied by competitive electricity suppliers.  Larger commercial customers also have shopped in large numbers.

But residential customers have shopped at much lower rates and continue to take generation service from their local electricity distribution company through "Default Service" products.  The rate of residential competition and the number of companies competing for residential customers is highest in PPL, PECO, and Duquesne Light service territories and lowest in the Allegheny Energy, Penelec, and Met Ed territories.

In the Allegheny Energy, Penelec, and Met Ed territories nearly all residential customers are being supplied by the local electricity distribution company through default service.

More than 14,000 megawatts and 1 million customers are now supplied by competitive electricity suppliers.   The numbers are increasing which is good but more needs to be done to boost competition.

I will be making 5 recommendations today in my testimony to increase choices for all customers and especially residential consumers.

Times Tribune Ran Zero Drilling Discharge Story

Yesterday I asked for one example of a paper running on the front page and above the fold a story about Pennsylvania achieving Zero drilling wastewater discharges to rivers and streams.

A reader of this blog said that the Times Tribune ran an AP story on saturday, June 4th on its front page and above the fold.  The AP story apparently that ran was abbreviated but this counts.

We have one front page story, above the fold.  Any others?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

No Wonder Good People Think Their Water Is Poisoned With Radiation

"Do You Want Radiation in Your Water?," asked the main banner outside the Capitol today in Harrisburg where people gathered from around Pennsylvania came to express their concern about or outright opposition to gas drilling.  The gathering drew substantial press coverage.

Comprehensive testing for radionuclides and other contaminants have been done by the Pennsylvania American Water Company, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, 14 drinking water suppliers, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.  All this testing has been done from November 2010 to today.

All the testing shows all water meets the Safe Drinking Water Act levels with just background levels of radionuclides.

Moreover as of June 2nd, Secretary Krancer stated that ZERO drilling wastewater is being discharged into Pennsylvania's rivers and streams.  As a result, the gas industry is putting less wastewater into streams today than before the first Marcellus well was drilled in 2005.

Good people don't know any of this good news that results from great work by regulators, industry, and environmental organizations.  And there is a reason. 

Good people have not had it reported to them at all or in a manner maximizing the odds that they will read it.  In fact the media essentially has reported the opposite to them in big, sensational stories.

And so good people believe that the gas industry is poisoning their water with radionuclides, chemicals, and total dissolved solids.  Why? 

Some are demagoguing these vital issues.  But the bigger problem is the press coverage.

The media consistently fails to cover at all or in the same way the news about radionuclide test results or achieving zero drilling water discharges as it covers initial sensational reports of possible problems. 

The possible problem is front page news.  The good news is not news at all apparently or so boring as to be relegated to small articles buried in the paper.

Would somebody in the Pennsylvania media beyond the Patriot News report on Secretary Krancer's statement that ZERO drilling wastewater is going into rivers and streams? 

Would even one paper make that news a front page, banner headline?  Good people deserve better.

Success Drops Solar Credit Prices: Boom-Bust-Boom Cycle

Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) Prices have fallen substantially in Pennsylvania.  A year ago SRECs traded for around $300 and have been going down since then.  In May, 2011 SREC prices reached $80.

So does this mean that solar is doing badly?  No.  It actually means that solar projects in Pennsylvania are booming but that success is creating a problem that could cause a major slow down for 2 years in Pa solar projects. 

Here is the story:

The 2004 Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act requires companies selling retail electricity products to use increasing percentages of alternative energy.  The AEPS has a solar requirement of 0.5% by 2021of all electricity sold being supplied from solar.  About 800 megawatts of solar capacity will be needed in 2021.

The AEPS establishes annual requirements that slowly increase toward the 0.5% goal.  As a result of a solar boom in Pennsylvania, with PA crossing the 100 megawatt solar threshold years earlier than expected, Pennsylvania is ahead of the solar deployment schedule required in the AEPS.

In fact, Pennsylvania may be two to three years ahead of the schedule set forth in the 2004 AEPS.  The Boom leads to the Bust, and then the Boom resumes around 2014 when the AEPS requirement will match or exceed the amount of PA solar projects.

Representative Chris Ross, a Republican from Chester County and a prime sponsor of the 2004 AEPS, has proposed new legislation to smooth out a boom-bust-boom cycle.

PA Sunshine Program BEST in Nation

The PA Sunshine program is the most successful state solar program in the nation. But its funds will be exhausted by July.

Here are the impressive numbers:

PA Sunshine will  build about 90 megawatts of solar PV in more than 6,000 solar projects around the state.

How much is that?  90 megawatts is enough electricity for about 11,000 homes.  And through 2008 Pennsylvania had about 4 megawatts of solar.

The Pa Sunshine program also supported successfully hundreds of great solar thermal projects or using the sun to heat water.

PA sunshine leveraged conservatively $450 million of economic activity by securing about $3.50 of private matching funds for every state dollar.

PA Sunshine did all that with one of the lowest solar incentives in the nation of roughly $1.10 per watt.

PA Sunshine drove down the price of solar with the median residential solar PV price falling from over $7 per watt in 2009 to now about $5.50 per watt.  Commercial solar projects are priced in the $3.50 to $5.00 range.

And the timing of the program was perfect.  It created thousands of jobs just when the people of Pennsylvania needed them. It came to market just when the global solar boom took off and solar prices began to fall significantly.

But its $100 million initial budget will be exhausted in July after the program has operated since its opening in May 2009.

PA Sunshine, a tremendous value, should receive another $25 million to keep the momentum going.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Media Generally Fails To Report ZERO Drilling Discharge Milestone

With the notable exception of The Patriot News, I have yet to see any coverage of Secretary Krancer's announcement on thursday, June 2nd that no drilling wastewater is being discharged to Pennsylvania's streams.

I reported this news on my blog on June 3rd.  PennFuture reported the news in its excellent weekly publication, Session Daze (see  I saw a link to The Patriot News story on the website of Keep Tap Water Safe.  As of last night, google searches turned up just these reports to the public.

Has anyone seen other reporting of this milestone?  Please send them here if you have.

Pretty amazing.  Pennsylvania for decades discharges drilling wastewater to rivers and streams without treatment for TDS.

The NYT states Pennsylvania water is quite possibly poisoned with radionuclides and then does not bother to report each and every water test proving not so. 

The AP runs numerous stories that are put on front pages around the state raising alarms of one sort or another about drilling wastewater discharges.

But when an historic milestone--good news, not sensational, not alarming--of zero drilling wastewater discharges is achieved, this Big News is covered in Facts of the Day, PennFuture, and a page 4 story in the Sunday Patriot News.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

E. Coli Odds & Regulation

Your odds of being poisoned by food contaminated with one of the Big Six E. Coli strains is 1 in 2,700 per year.  A not so nice fact since food poisoning is hell.

I speak from recent experience, though it is not certain that my food poisoning case was caused by E. coli.  But certainly Europe is now riven with fear from a massive outbreak of a virulent, new strain of E. coli bacteria contaminating food.

According to Jeff Benedict, writing in today's NYT, the Government Accountability Office estimates that 6 new strains of E. coli bacteria caused 113,000 illnesses in 2009.

That would be put your odds of being made ill by one of the Big Six strains of E. Coli at about 1 in 2,700 per year.

Amazingly until 1993 meat was not inspected at all for E. coli contamination.  Inspection and testing began only after the infamous Jack in the Box food poisoning disaster that killed 4 and sickened hundreds.

Today protections of our food supply from pathogens have advanced a bit but remain full of gaping holes.  For example, just one per cent of food imported is inspected at all.

Overcoming major opposition from conservatives, the Congress did pass in 2010 the Food Safety Modernization Act that would boost protections against E. coli and other pathogens.

But implementing the Act has fallen prey to budget cutting with no money appropriated.  Given the stakes as well as my own experience that put me in the emergency room of the Hershey Medical Center, failing to fund food inspections and regulatory systems is worse than penny wise and pound foolish.  It is playing with life and death.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saudi Prince Loves Grover Norquist & Club For Growth

Prince Talal, a grandson of the founding King of Saudi Arabia and the 26th richest man in the world, said to CNN reporter Fareed Zakaria on May 29th Saudi Arabia should lower the price of oil to $70 to $80 to prevent the West from breaking its addiction.

"We don't want the West to go and find alternatives, because, clearly, the higher the price of oil goes the more they have incentives to go and find alternatives,"  said the Prince.

We have alternatives right now that are cleaner and cheaper than oil.  Natural Gas costs the equivalent of $1.40 per gallon.  Why are we not using them?

It is not news that Saudi Arabia wants the West addicted and vulnerable to foreign oil.  And the Saudis have manipulated oil prices over the decades to maintain our addiction.

But the power to and the battle to break our addiction is at home.

It is a battle between common sense policies like the Natural Gas Act and right wing ideology that holds the invisible hand is working just fine.

The Saudi Prince loves Grover Norquist and the Club for Growth.

What is good for the Saudis is not good for America.  It is time to make Prince Talal a little less rich. It is time to put Grover back in his far right corner--hopefully alone.

Pass the Natural Gas Act.  Ramp up electric vehicle fueling stations.  Charge forward with biodiesel and next stage biofuels.  Raise fuel efficiency standards for gasoline vehicles.

Our future hangs in the balance.

Friday, June 3, 2011

DEP Confirms to Patriot-News Zero Drilling Water Discharges

Don Gilliland has the story. 


This is a major milestone.  Pennsylvania now has less drilling wastewater going into its rivers and streams than prior to the first Marcellus well being drilled in 2005.

For decades Pennsylvania had a gas drilling industry and had been discharging drilling wastewater to rivers and streams without treatment for Total Dissolved Solids.

Congratulations to all involved--DEP and Secretary Krancer, environmental organizations, drinking water suppliers, and the gas industry itself.

Boone Pickens Fires Back At Right Wing Ideologues to Defend Natural Gas Vehicles

Grover Norquist and the Club for Growth have picked a fight with a man unafraid to tumble--Boone Pickens.  Grover and his merry band of right wing ideologues have been attacking the Natural Gas Act, a bill in Congress designed to promote natural gas vehicles.  These attacks caused already Republican support to waiver for the Natural Gas Act.

Pickens is now firing back at Grover and his brigades.  See

Pickens sides with most Americans in thinking that our addiction to oil is dangerous since 70% is foreign, is expensive because it sure is, and dirty which it is too.  The Natural Gas Act is common sense, but it offends right wing ideology.

Simply put, strong policy is needed to break our dangerous, expensive, and dirty oil addiction.

Advising the Shale Gas Commission

At the Shale Gas Commission meeting in DC yesterday (more formally the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board's Natural Gas Subcommittee), there were several comments made that the concerns that have been voiced about gas drilling are ideologically motivated attacks on fossil fuels.  The point was made by non-Commission members that some believe our power should come exclusively from solar, wind, renewables, and the proponents of this view are attacking gas drilling to advance this goal.  This description of what is driving public concerns about drilling is partially correct but also significantly incomplete and erroneous.

Many of the concerns about drilling are not rooted in ideology.  They are rooted in real impacts--small and big.  They are rooted in real problems like road damage and gas migration that has contaminated a comparatively small number of private water wells. They are rooted in anger about no drilling tax in Pennsylvania.

It is also true that  many media stories have been wrong and exaggeratedly sensational and have had the impact of creating unfounded fears and concerns.  It is also the case that good news such as the water testing results that show no radionuclide contamination get little space while the suggestion that drilling could cause radionuclide contamination is front page above the fold news.

Correcting the record is vital and never complete.  That is true unfortunately.

But it would be a huge mistake to dismiss the real issues as a combination of ideological attack and false, sensational media narrative. 

The public interest requires focus on real problems and full explanation of what are not real problems.  Yesterday in the afternoon there was a lot of discussion about managing drilling wastewater; gas migration and the Duke University study; creating organizations to spur industry improvement; and some talk unfortunately about the NYT February 27th story.

Chairman Deutch and the members of the Commission were a model of good government yesterday: asking questions, listening, and pushing to identify real issues and their roots.  I am hopeful that the Commission can help move forward responsible, safer shale gas development.

Taxes Lower Today Than During Reagan Presidency

The average income tax rate for a family of four in 1983 was 11.06%

The average income tax rate for a family of four in Clinton Presidency was 9.18%

The average income tax rate for a family of four during 2010 was 4.68%.

Don't believe it?  See

During President Reagan's eight years tax revenue ranged from 7.8% to 9.4% of GDP.

In 2010, tax revenue was 6.2% of GDP.

In 2009, when the Tea Party was formed, taxes were the lowest in 60 years.  Many have said Fox News made the Tea Party, though today it is more than Fox. 

Historically speaking, it is as though the British had slashed taxes in 1775 and before, but the Tea protest in  Boston Harbor happened anyway.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Path to the Low-Carbon Economy: Renewable Energy and Natural Gas

The Worldwatch Institute has a must read report entitled: "Powering the Low-Carbon Economy: The Once and Future Roles of Renewable Energy and Natural Gas."  See  Saya Kitasei is the author of the paper.

I will be dialoguing with her and other panelists today at the PennFuture Energy Conference in Camp Hill about the topic of her paper.  It will be a lively, informative discussion.  The panel begins at 9:15 and PCN will be televising live the panel and the entire conference that begins with an address by Senator Casey at 8:30.

Germany is moving to 35% renewables by 2022 and will be using gas to enable that shift.  California gets about 55% of its power from gas and plans to be at about 30% renewables as well in 10 years.

Renewables and gas are becoming the dominant power sources in advanced economies.

The List of Drinking Water Suppliers Doing Additional Testing in Response To NYT

14 drinking water suppliers have been doing since March 11, 2011 ADDITIONAL testing (beyond their normal extensive testing) of their finished drinking water and in-stream water supply.  The 14 suppliers are testing for radionuclides and for Total Dissolved Solids to determine whether gas drilling or any other pollution source is contaminating their water in any manner.

Here is the full list: Aqua PA-Emlenton. Authority of the Borough of Charleroi, Beaver Falls Municipal Authority, Brackenridge Borough Water Department, Buffalo Township Municipal Authority, Midland Borough Municipal Authority, Newell Municipal Authority, Pennsylvania American Water Company-Clarion, Pennsylvania American Water Company-Pittsburgh, Tri County Joint Municipal Authority, United Water, West View Borough Municipal Authority, and Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority. 

These 14 suppliers were directed to do more testing due to their proximity to treatment plants that were processing drilling wastewater and discharging it.

All 14 took samples by April 11th.  The additional TDS testing will be done quarterly and the radionuclide testing once per year.  My understanding is that the results to date show drinking water meets Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.

Pennsylvania American Water Company (PAWC) and Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (which is not on the list) released their test results for radionuclides that showed no contamination.  See earlier postings. PAWC also did an extensive battery of testing for other contaminants and released those results that again showed no contamination.

The good news is apparently close to no news.  Most Pennsylvanians have had little or no opportunity to read all about it.