Sunday, July 31, 2011

Statement About Public Editor Slamming Again, Harder NYT Gas Reporter

The truth is gaining on the lie.  In today's Sunday New York Times, the NYT Public Editor slams the  rogue NYT gas reporter for yet another reckless false article. 

This time the NYT Public Editor reviewed the June 27th article that used a host of manipulative techniques--misleading redactions, misleading descriptors, anonymous sourcing--to mislead the good readers of the paper and to besmirch the Energy Information Administration with the serious charge that it was falsifying shale gas data and judgment. 

Serving as the ombudsman for the public, the NYT Public Editor finds the following:

1. An intern to EIA was described by the NYT gas reporter as an "official" when quoting him anonymously and never as an intern. 

2. As the Public Editor writes: "Can an intern be an 'official'?  It doesn't sound right to me."  But the manipulation is much more.

2. As the Public Editor states, the same individual who was the intern and later hired as a employee was quoted multiple times and given different descriptors such as "official," later as "energy analyst," and still later as "one federal analyst", creating the false, misleading impression that the single person was three, different people.

3. The Public Editor finds: "Without ample descriptions of the unnamed sources, readers couldn't know who was speaking and could not judge for themselves the merits of what was said.  In the case of the redacted e-mails, the descriptors tended to obscure how many E.I.A. staffers were involved and when an intern was the emailer."

4. The Public Editor writes:  "In addition to the redactions and use of confusing, multiple descriptors, in four e-mails references to interns were blacked out to protect sources."

5. The Public Editor then slams hard:  "However, redactions of an earlier 2009 e-mail from Mr. Whitmore to an NPR reporter did create uncertainities...The fact is, The Times decided to go with the redacted documents and, in doing so, placed the serious shortcomings of anonymous sourcing on display...Anonymous material says to the reader: Trust us. But if the reader ends up feeling burned - if, for example, an official proves to be an intern - the trust won't be there the next time."

The EIA has released all the emails to Congress, from interns and everyone, to let full transparency explode the reckless charge aimed at it.  The Acting Administrator in testimony to the US Senate also charged the disgraced NYT reporter used manipulative redactions to create a false sense of impropriety. See earlier posting for details on his testimony.

Now the NYT Public Editor also finds that the charge of manipulation against the NYT gas reporter is meritorious. 

The question becomes, will anyone at the NYT who has hiring and firing authority fire the NYT gas reporter?  He has now been found by the Public Ombudsman in two, separate reviews of two articles to have engaged in manipulative, disgraceful journalism. 

Is that a firing offense or how one gets ahead at the NYT?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Statement About NYT Gas Reporter Triggering SEC Subpoenas: His Power & Results

The disgraced NYT Gas Reporter today self-importantly tells his readers that the Securities Exchange Commission served subpoenas on unnamed gas drilling companies as result of his June 26th article that accused the shale gas industry of being a ponzi scheme filled with Enrons.

As I said on June 26th, that day's article just about called for FBI raids. SEC subpoenas will have to do for now.

The power of the press is considerable and abused at times as the News Corps scandal highlights. The rogue NYT gas reporter is gratingly self-important, but he does wield a mighty pen that convinces many and makes the federal government jump. The SEC is the latest jumper.

Consider what the NYT gas reporter has wrought.

He has triggered massive testing of Pennsylvania's waters for radiation; made EPA Region 3 to make a show of policing the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection within a week of his February 27th story; caused the Energy Information Administration to explain itself to members of the US House of Representatives and to testify to the US Senate at a hearing on whether it was cooking the books on shale gas supply; and now the SEC has reportedly issued subpoenas and is apparently investigating whether one or some gas companies have broken any laws governing representations to investors.

The NYT reporter is not being ignored. He cannot be, since he is employed by the NYT that influences millions, especially on the East coast. He has power, but what does his power serve, anything more than his own person and the commercial success of the NYT?

The results of the testing, hearings, and investigations unleashed by the February and June NYT gas stories already disprove that Pennsylvania's waters were polluted with radiation from gas drilling and that the EIA bosses were cooking its data on shale gas supplies. They prove that those stories were substantially false.

In response to his February 27th story creating the false specter that Pennsylvania's waters and drinking water were contaminated with radionuclides, massive radiation testing of streams and tap water were conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, Pennsylvania American Water Company, and 14 other water companies.

All that testing has proven that Pennsylvania's waters are not poisoned with radiation, but that has not compelled the NYT to report prominently or at all the results, the facts, the test results. No big sunday story saying, "Pennsylvania Waters Safe; NYT Story Wrong."

The original false story lives on, grotesquely deforming opinion, leading or allowing others to this day to repeat the NYT's original falsehood that gas drilling has poisoned with radiation drinking water in Pennsylvania.

As for the reckless charge that EIA was cooking the shale gas supply books, the EIA boss at the US Senate hearing put all the facts transparently on the witness table, including how the rogue NYT gas reporter manipulated emails by malicious redaction to create a false appearance of impropriety. At the same hearing, MIT reaffirmed its assessment confirming massive shale gas supplies in America and its judgment that 500 trillion cubic feet of shale gas could be produced at a gas price of $6 for a thousand cubic feet.

Yet, the lie that the EIA cooked the shale gas books will live on vampire like.

And now the shale gas industry that produced in 2000 less than 1% of US gas supplies and currently supplies 25% of US natural gas, more than 16 billion cubic feet per day, will have to answer subpoenas and work under the Ponzi, Enron cloud.

But just like the charges about radiation and EIA book cooking, the idea that the shale gas industry is a big ponzi scheme is false, smashed by 16 billion cubic feet per day production, numerous independent reserve studies, and $4 natural gas that shale gas production has made real.

The NYT gas reporter has the power of a reckless charge printed in the NYT and that is considerable. It changes events and the short-run behavior of the federal government. It does not change the truth.

38 of 54 Japanese Nukes Shutdown: What Does It Mean?

Prior to Fukushima Japan operated 54 nuclear plants that provided about 30% of the nation's electricity. Today 38 are shutdown and just 16 are running. The 38 shut nukes represent about 20% of the total electric generation of the third largest economy in the world.

Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal had front page stories about how the lights have stayed on in Japan, despite 38 nuclear plants not operating. Massive conservation that has become a near compulsory religion plus utilities scrambling to bring on line some gas and coal plants have maintained reliability.

Conservation has been so successful that most of the time Japan has substantial excess capacity and so successful that a serious debate has begun about closing all 54 nuclear plants, possibly as soon as 2012.

While Japan has kept the grid reliable and is using much less electricity, the decline of nuclear power has led to higher carbon emissions, since part of the nuclear loss has been filled with more coal and gas generation. This fact reminds once again that saying "no" to one power source means saying "yes" to something else. And sometimes it means taking steps forward and backward environmentally. Energy realities are messy and complex.

The Black Swan of Fukushima has triggered previously unthinkable changes in the powering of Japan, a big deal in energy and environment policy.

Friday, July 29, 2011

My Preliminary Review of EPA Rulemaking About Drilling Air Emissions

I am still digesting the EPA proposed rulemaking to reduce air emissions from both oil and gas drilling.  But here are some facts that I can pass along:

The EPA states that its deadline for finalizing the proposed rule is February 2012. And that may be optimistic for reaching a final rule.  The American Petroleum Institute has already called for a six month extension of the comment period.

 The EPA will hold three public hearings on the rule around the country and one will be in Pittsburgh, the home of the Marcellus, difficult air issues, and a battleground state in the 2012 Presidential election.  You choose which factor was the most important in holding a hearing in Pittsburgh.  But I am glad that the EPA will come to Pennsylvania for one of its 3 national air rule hearing.

The EPA claims that the rulemaking will produce a net savings of $30 million, because the revenue from the captured methane will be more than the costs of technology required to meet the rule. EPA claims that payback periods for the cost of the technology deployed to comply with the rule is about 1 year.  I am sure that these claims will be dissected and probed.

Where does the $30 million net savings number come from?  The EPA proclaims the rule would cost the oil and gas industry $754 million in 2015 but create revenue of $783 for the industry from sales of the extra natural gas and condensate that will be captured.

The EPA states that methane from the oil and gas industry constitutes 40% of all methane emissions in the USA and cut the industry's methane emissions by 26%.  That would work out to a 10% cut of USA total methane emissions.  EPA puts a dollar value of $1.6 billion on the climate change benefits of the rule.

According to the EPA, the rule would cut Volatile Organic Compound emissions from the industry by 25% and toxics by 30%.

The proposed rule (which is really 4 separate provisions) will regulate oil and gas drilling, production, transmission, storage.  It will regulate approximately 1.1 million existing oil and gas wells, another 500,000 existing gas wells, the roughly 11,400 new wells drilled, 600 natural gas processing plants, 3,000 compressor stations, and 1.5 million miles of pipeline.

Obviously an important rule that many will be analyzing closely and about which many will comment. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

EPA Proposes Important Air Rules For Drilling

Meeting by a few hours a judicial deadline of July 28, 2011 to propose rules regulating certain air emissions from oil and gas drilling and production, the EPA released proposed rules a few hours ago. See

According to EPA, the proposed rules would require capture of 95% of smog-forming volatile organic compounds from wells that are hydraulic fractured. The reduction would be achieved mainly by capturing gas that now escapes into the atmosphere. EPA claims the rules are "highly cost effective" because the captured gas now lost would be sold and turned into revenues. The rule would further reduce methane emissions from the gas industry and improve more natural gas' lower carbon footprint than coal and oil.

The proposed rules include a new source performance standard for VOCS; one for sulfur dioxide; and air toxics standard for oil and gas production as well as natural gas transmission and storage. See also

The EPA proposed rules require digesting and will be the subject of many comments in the proposed rulemaking. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Drilling Jobs Nationally Boom: Adding 5,900 Monthly

Teachers are being laid off in the thousands in Pennsylvania (see previous posting), but thousands are being hired across America as domestic oil and gas production has not been this strong in decades.

Ryan Dezember writing for yesterday's Wall Street Journal reported that in May nationally "there were 413,500 jobs in the oil and gas extraction and support businesses in positions ranging from roustabout to accountant."

Oil and gas added 17,200 jobs nationally in the first quarter. Through May, the sector was creating 5,900 jobs per month. The data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Debt Facts As Nation Slouches To Default

Watching the national fight over raising the debt limit makes me feel like a backseat passenger in a car as the driver and a front seat passenger fight over the wheel, while the car speeds toward a cliff.

We are not going to default. Tell me we are not going to be so reckless as to damage forever the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

In the meantime, here are some debt facts: national debt is $14.3 trillion and household debt is $13.4 trillion. Average credit card debt is $14,687. Median net worth has fallen from $125,000 in 2007 to $96,000 in 2009.

Decline of housing values and unemployed or underemployed using savings both have caused falling net worth.

Testifying Today At Marcellus Hearing

I will be testifying to the House Democratic Policy Committee today at 10am in Newtown Bucks County.

The topic is the Report of the Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission. PCN will cover and televise every pearl of wisdom offered.

My testimony will be a more extensive version of my posting about the Report in this blog.

Pennsylvania Lost Jobs In May & June

A leader in creating jobs from January 2010 to April 2011, Pennsylvania lost 14,000 jobs in May and another 2,600 jobs in June.

Pennsylvania has gone from doing much better than the nation in creating jobs to doing worse than the nation in May and June.

The Pa job machine is not stalled. It is in reverse. In three weeks the state data for July will be available.

PA Teacher Layoffs Exceed 4,000

Never in the history of Pennsylvania have so many teachers lost their jobs.  According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, at least 4,000 teachers statewide have been laid off.  Thousands more educational support employees have lost their jobs as well.

That is 4,000 less paychecks circulating in the state.  The loss of a teacher's job ripples through the economy and destroys about half of another job somewhere--restaurants, retail stores, manufacturing.

These massive teacher layoffs are one reason that Pennsylvania's job machine that had been a leader in the nation in creating jobs from January 2010 to April 2011 went into reverse in May and June 2011 when Pennsylvania lost nearly 17,000 jobs.

How does laying off 4,000 teachers make education better?  How does laying off 4,000 teachers help children?  How does laying off 4,000 teachers make Pennsylvania's economy and future stronger, better, and more prosperous?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dupont Plays Solar; Passes $1 Billion In Solar Sales

The American and global solar markets are now big busines, with big diversified companies like PPG, Air Products, and Dupont part of the solar supply chain and doing business in Pennsylvania.  In the case of Dupont, it now has $1 billion in revenues from supplying solar materials to solar manufacturers.

Dupont expanded yesterday its solar business by acquiring Innovalight, a company specializing in solar inks and technologies that increase the efficiency of crystalline silicon solar sales.

Companies and states that embrace solar will grow rapidly in what is already a big business.  States that do not will lose thousands of jobs.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Statement On the Report of Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission

Members of the Commission and its staff worked hard and should be thanked for offering 96 recommendations for the public's consideration, but what do they mean and what affect on policy will they have?  See

The Senate Republican leadership is being vocal in offering sharp critiques of the whole undertaking, with a leadership aide at one point declaring the Commission "irrelevant" to legislative deliberations, so perhaps the 96 recommendations could mean little.

I offer three principles for judging the Report, its recommendations, and drilling policy.  First, gas drilling is industrial activity that must be strongly regulated and reasonably taxed.  Second, policy should maximize the benefits from gas drilling and minimize its costs, while recognizing it cannot be done with zero impact. Third, every Pennsylvanian must receive a direct benefit from gas drilling, because all Pennsylvanians are impacted by hosting gas drilling and production.

The bulk of the Report's Recommendations are non-controversial, modest, useful ideas that in some cases are partially or even fully implemented and should be.  In some other cases, the recommendations need more work and detail.  Then there are a few recommendations that I oppose and three important issues not addressed.

I. Recommendations That I Support

The most useful part of the Report are recommended changes to the Oil and Gas Act that would strengthen environmental protections. 

The Report recommends raising the statutory fines, allowing DEP to assess the fines without going to the Environmental Hearing Board, giving DEP clear authority to condition permits based on its impact on public resources, and giving DEP stronger authority to deny, revoke, or suspend permits when operators are out of compliance with environmental regulations. 

The Report further recommends amending the Oil and Gas Act to increase setbacks to 500 feet from a private water well and 1,000 feet from a public water system, providing DEP the power to deny or condition drilling permits in floodplains, requiring notification of proposed drilling to anyone within 2,500 feet, requiring inspections for erosion and sediment controls prior to drilling the gas well, and mandating 24 hour notice by drillers to DEP of cementing and casing, hydraulic fracturing, pressure testing of production strings; and plugging.

The Oil and Gas Act is overdue for a modernization and a strengthening of the environmental protections.  The foregoing recommendations should be adopted.

II. Recommendations That I Cannot Support Now

The Report Recommends raising the bonding amount required to plug a well when the well stops producing.  The bonding amounts must be raised, and the amounts recommended are an improvement over the current levels but still inadequate.  A $250,000 blanket bond for all the wells drilled by a single company when the total already runs into the hundreds per company cannot be adequate to protect taxpayers from being stuck with a large liability in the future.  Pennsylvania's taxpayers are right now stuck with the costs of plugging tens of thousands of gas wells that have been abandoned, unplugged by drilling companies that no longer exist.  This mistake cannot be repeated.  More work is needed.

Using more gas to replace old, coal fired power plants with no pollution controls and to reduce oil consumption would slash pollution, reduce sickness and premature death from pollution, while boosting Pennsylvania's economy.

The Report's recommendations for using more gas are not bold, ambitious enough.  Pennsylvania must set a goal of getting off of foreign oil by 2025, a roughly 70% reduction.  Natural gas costs about $1.50 to $2.00 less than gasoline and is less polluting.  Pennsylvania should adopt a goal to build both natural gas fueling stations and electricity charging stations over the next decade so that both are within 5 miles of every Pennsylvanian. Pennsylvania's electricity and gas utilities and other private companies can be a major driving force behind achieving this vital objective. Pennsylvania should also accelerate the use of biodiesel, a fuel in which we are also a leader.  Again more work is needed on this issue.

III. Recommendations That I Oppose

The Report's Recommendation for a very limited impact fee is unacceptable.  Every Pennsylvanian is impacted by hosting gas drilling and production, and every Pennsylvanian must directly benefit.  A tax or broad impact fee that supports statewide environmental programs like Growing Greener, higher education, or early education can deliver important benefits to every Pennsylvanian.  One must be enacted.

The Report's Recommendation to put natural gas into Tier 2 of Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act is a mistake.  It will harm the industries and companies already in Tier 2, and the natural gas industry does not need this support.

IV. Three Important Issues Not Addressed

The Report makes no recommendation about regulating nitrogen oxide or other air emissions from gas production.  This issue is not going away and must be addressed.

The Report made no recommendation about regulating or reducing methane leakage from gas production.  Some states limit or ban venting of methane for example. Methane is a powerful heat trapping gas and reducing its leakage shrinks further the environmental footprint of natural gas.

The Report made no specific recommendation about future hiring and staffing levels for the oil and gas staff within DEP or about the future structure of fees used to pay for the staff. The staff is currently paid for by a one-time fee paid at the time an application to drill is made.  DEP needs to plan to move to a fee structure that includes an annual fee.

At this point, I urge the General Assembly to modernize and strengthen the Oil and Gas Act and to enact a drilling tax that delivers benefits to every Pennsylvanian.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Governor Christie Sinking...In New Jersey

Public Policy Polling finds the heartthrob of many Republican Presidential voters is sinking in New Jersey where 43% approve and 53% disapprove of his performance.  New Jersey has an unemployment rate above the national average and a terrible job creation ranking. 

Governor Christie now is a national politician.  I continue to predict that he will not run for re-election but will pursue the 2016.

Bachmann Rising...Santorum Sunk

Public Policy Polling ( finds Representative Bachmann leading in Pennsylvania among Republican primary voters with 24% support.  Governor Romney trails at 17%.  And then former Senator Santorum is third with 14% in his home state.

Senator Santorum has raised less than a million dollars and is trailing badly in his home state.  A double ouch.  He is sunk.

How long will it take for him to understand?

The South Has 6 of 10 States with Highest Unemployment Rates

The worst unemployment rates are concentrated in the states of the old Confedracy. Six of the top highest unemployment rates are in the 13 states of the Confedracy.

Those 6 are Florida at 10.6%; South Carolina at 10.5%; Mississippi at 10.3%; Georgia at 9.9%; Alabama at 9.9%; and Tennessee at 9.8%.

These states have low investment in education and healthcare. They have also minimal commitment to clean technology, clean energy, and environmental protection.

They have raced to the bottom and found high unemployment waiting.

Another Sunbelt state, Nevada, has the highest unemployment rate at 12.4%.

Slashing investment in education as Pennsylvania did in the 2012 budget is an expressway to high unemployment and an inability to compete in the global market.

Mideast Temperatures in Mid-Atlantic: 108 Degrees In Newark, NJ

Temperatures soared above 100 everywhere in the Mid-Atlantic, with truly extraordinary temperatures in some locations.

Since temperature records have been maintained, it has never, ever, on any day been hotter than July 21, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey when 108 degrees was reached.

Record temperatures are being set with increasing rapidity over the last 20 years and so Newark's all-time record and many of its daily records are likely to be broken yet again in the next 20 years.

But many conservative ideologues insist that the rising average temperatures that already are a fact and the inexorable, annual rising atmospheric concentrations of heat trapping gas are not associated and not linked.  Or these deniers of scientific facts insist that the rising temperatures and the rising atmospheric concentrations somehow are a product of natural changes and have nothing to do with human activity pumping huge amounts--more than 30 billion tons per year--of heat trapping gas into the atmosphere.

Ideologues of all stripes will deny science, facts, the truth when they collide with their ideology.

Friday, July 22, 2011

PJM Confirms Today Record Demand--A Day After You Read It Here

Just Saying! Thursday was a new record, though by 192 megawatts, a bit less than I calculated yesterday. Today demand was a good 6,000 megawatts below the new peak record.

Congratulations to PJM and all who work to provide safe, reliable electric service for doing so yesterday and again today--both were challenging days.

French Nuke Socialism: 50% Cost Overrun

Owned by the French government, EDF announced a second delay for the operation of the Flamanville 1600 megawatt nuclear plant and now a 50% cost overrun.

Flamanville was supposed to begin operations in 2012 and cost 4 billion euros. Last July EDF said the plant would begin operations in 2014 and cost 5 billion euros

Now EDF says it will operate in 2016 and cost 6 billion euros or $8.5 billion.

France and Georgia are both examples of how governments must build nuclear plants and socialize the costs.

Georgia Nuke Socialism: Ratepayers Will Get Nuke Cost Overrun Bill

The Georgia Public Service Commission ditched a proposal that Georgia Power Company and its captured, monopoly electricity ratepayers split the bill for any cost overruns at the the two nuclear plants under construction. Ratepayers will pay for all overruns, and profits to Georgia Power will not be reduced in the event of cost overruns.

The two nuclear plants have a current price tag of $12 billion, and the French experience at the EDF nuke plant under constuction at Flamanville indicates that Georgia electricity customers have a lot to worry about. The EDF project is now 50 per cent over budget.

In Georgia that would be the equivalent of $6 billion worth of pain and rate shock paid by consumers alone. How likely is a 10 percent or more overrun? The Areva nuclear plant under construction in Finland is also years behind schedule and billions over budget.

Both in Georgia and France ratepayers take all the financial risk, every penny of it, and in Georgia private investors keep all the profits. In Georgia, nuke profits are privatized and risks are socialized.

What happens to profits in France? The government gets the biggest piece, because EDF is owned by the French government. Socialist schemes are the only way to build a new nuclear plant in Georgia or France. The costs and risks are too high for real capitalist markets.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

PA Economy Goes Into Reverse: Unemployment Up

Following a poor May jobs report for Pennsylvania, the June unemployment numbers are a real cold shower. Pennsylvania unemployment rose to 7.6 percent from 7.4, and Pennsylvania lost jobs. This is the first time since January 2010 that the Pennsylvania economy is getting worse rather than better.

The biggest job losses in June were in the education and health care industries that are reeling from budget cuts. Education and health care are vital industries to Pennsylvania's economy, quality of life, and future.

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate is well below the national rate of 9.2 percent, but our state economy went into reverse in June.

Austerity economics was bad in Hoover's day and still is.

PJM Heats Up Record Peak Demand

PJM, the largest wholesale electricity market in the world, peaked today at 158,704 megawatts, and that would be a new record, with adjustments for major expansion of the PJM service since August 2, 2006 when the previous record was set.

PJM has not yet officially announced that a new record was set in today's triple digit heat, but it had said any demand beyond 158,448 megawatts would be a new record. Today's peak was 256 megawatts higher than that mark.

PJM has 180,400 megawatts of generation capacity plus 10,000 to 15,000 megawatts of demand response.

PJM also is interconnected with neighboring systems and has substantial import ability, including from Canada. PJM's strong import ability and its robust interconnection with neighboring systems is a major strength that Texas does not have. Texas is almost an electricity island.

Congratulations to PJM, the electricity generators that now include thousands of small solar systems, electricity utilities, and the demand response providers for keeping the lights on in the record heat and demand.

Today was not an easy day, but PJM may have been the only one not sweating from Chicago to New Jersey.

Energy Information Administration Top Dog Slams NYT & Stands By Shale Estimates

Acting Administrator Howard Gruenspecht had the joy of testifying tuesday to the United States Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee about EIA's gas supply and shale gas projections, and the NYT charge that EIA officials were cooking the books and thereby supporting the alleged Ponzi scheme.

The EIA top dog repeated the maxim of not getting into fights with people who buy ink by the barrel, but then did just that.  Good for him.

He reaffirmed the EIA shale gas projections which are consistent with the MIT projections and those of other non-government experts. And then he went further, according to Talia Buford for Political Pro who was covering the hearing.

He was asked by Senator Murkowski specifically about an anonymous email from an EIA staffer that the NYT reporter quoted to suggest that EIA top officials were ordering the books on shale gas to be cooked and overstated. 

Gruenspecht said the NYT reporter had "heavily redacted" the email to give the impression of impropriety and that EIA had sent the full email to the House of Representatives and would do so to the Senate so that they could see for themselves.  He also said the email was from an entry level staffer who was hired as an intern in 2009.

Nearly everyone who has the unfortunate experience of running across the NYT gas reporter can recount in some fashion how he manipulates information to create a skewed narrative that has one consistency--anti-natural gas.

Thank you to the EIA for joining the growing group who are blowing the whistle on the disgraced NYT gas reporter.

Sales Figures For Leaf &Volt: Fad? Or Next Prius?

The Prius was mocked by more than a few when it came to America with predictions that it would be a sales flop because Americans love big cars and because the car cost too much and because the savings at the pump were too little to justify the additional expense.  The mockers look foolish now. Gas in those days hovered around or below $2 and the thought of $3 gas seemed silly.

Today the Prius is a huge commercial success with a bright future, while the Hummer that was developed at the same time is history.  Will either the Leaf or Volt or perhaps both be the next Prius or be a passing fancy, nothing more than a fad, more Hummer than Prius commercially?

Sales for the Leaf were 3,875 cars and for the Volt were 2,745 vehicles in the first 6 months of 2011.  Both cars were on sale in limited parts of the country and were snapped up by consumers as soon as they hit showrooms.  A GM spokesman states that only 100 Volts are in inventory and production is ramping up. 

Both cars have hit the market when gas pushed by $4 so Nissan and GM get a top grade for market timing.  The Leaf and Volt are expected to be on sale throughout the country in 2012.

Next year will be a big one for the Leaf and Volt, and competition for the electric car dollar will heat up as other automakers are bringing more electric cars to consumers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pa Marcellus Production Numbers Are Humongous! No Ponzi Scheme

The United States Senate held a hearing yesterday to review the charges made by the disgraced NYT gas reporter that shale gas is a ponzi scheme but meanwhile in the real world Pennsylvania Marcellus gas production will reach in 2011 3.5 billion cubic feet per day or approximately 6 per cent of total US gas supply. At least that is the conclusion of 3 researchers at Penn State University in a report with other eye-popping production numbers that was commissioned by the Marcellus Shale Coalition. The report is entitled, "The Pennsylvania Marcellus Natural Gas Industry: Status, Economic Impact, and Future Potential."

Pennsylvania is on course to produce 1.2 trillion cubic feet this year and clearly will reach annual gas production of 2 trillion cubic feet before 2014, the year that I thought the 2 trillion cubic feet milestone would be achieved. These are real and humongous production numbers.

The Study released today has more speculative but plausible projections about the next decade, predicting that regional Marcellus production could reach 17 billion cubic feet per day, 6 trillion cubic feet per year, or 25 per cent of US gas production by 2020. Doctors Considine, Watson, and Blumsack wrote the study. Go to the Marcellus Shale Coalition website for the link to the report.

See Key Gas Drilling Violations Data

Anya Litvak of the Pittsburgh Business Times has compiled important data about the enforcement by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection of gas drilling regulations that have been strengthened since 2008. Litvak reports the following:

1. 5803 gas drilling rule violations issued from 2008 to May 2011;

2. The rate of violations is declining, dropping from one violation per every 2 wells or one violation for every 4 inspections in 2010 to one violation for every six inspections or one violation for every three wells in 2011.

3. 253 violations were issued in April and May 2011 and 313 in the first 3 months Of 2011.

DEP more than doubled gas drilling enforcement staff, increasing employees from 88 to 202, by hiring in 2009 and twice in 2010.

The Pittsburgh Business Times has created a searchable database of all violations. Http:// The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection also posts the violations on its website.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

SRBC Orders Stop to 36 Water Withdrawals

Demonstrating Pennsylvania's regulation that insures water withdrawals do not damage stream health, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission has suspended 36 individual water withdrawals, because stream flows fell to a critical point.  See  Or see the Scott Detrow NPR report at

Most of the suspended water withdrawals are for gas drilling.  As Scott Detrow reports, the SRBC receives stream flow data from gauges operated by the US Geologic Survey and also requires all withdrawals--not just gas withdrawals--to be metered each day and then reported quarterly to the SRBC.

While Pennsylvania can have low-flow conditions and drought, our problems pale in comparison to those in Texas and the Southwest where aridification may be unfolding.

Gas drilling accounts for less than 1% of the nearly 10 billion gallons of water withdrawn each day in Pennsylvania.

60 Tons of Nitrogen Oxide Per Compressor Station Will Not Work In The Marcellus

The Air Quality Study commissioned by Fort Worth to measure the impact of shale drilling on its air is a trove of important data (see earlier posting) and the consultants concluded that emissions to date caused no significant health impact.

But the study has a warning light for the Marcellus, as it reports that 8 compressor engines servicing production from 375 wells are emitting about 500 tons of nitrogen oxide per year or about 60 tons per engine.

The Marcellus air shed will not support 60 tons of nitrogen oxide per compressor engine. Pennsylvania's total nitrogen oxide emissions from all sources was about 180,000 tons in 2010.  And that amount must decline substantially to comply with the Clean Air Act.

If one takes the ratio of compressor stations to gas wells of 1 engine for every 46 gas wells that is implied by the Fort Worth data, 3,300 Marcellus wells now drilled would require approximately 76 compressor stations and hundreds in the future.

This is rough, back of the envelope analysis, but hundreds of compressor stations plus more than a hundred drilling rigs, if each is running on the dirtiest fuels with least controls, could produce so much nitrogen oxide as to compromise meeting legally mandated air quality standards.  Wyoming is now dealing with smog in counties where no smog existed as a result of drilling nitrogen oxide emissions.  This problem is not hypothetical.

A compressor engine producing 60 plus tons of nitrogen oxide is likely running on diesel without the best pollution controls.  The same engine running on electricity or gas with top pollution controls would emit about 5 tons per year.

The Clean Air Act's nitrogen oxide requirements can be met by deploying the clean engines and will not be met if the 60 plus ton emitters are installed throughout Pennsylvania.

Bachmann Takes National Lead In Poll: What Does It Mean?

Public Policy Polling tweeted last night that Representative Bachmann had a one point lead in its poll of national Republican voters that it will release today.

This blog with its "Bachmann Rising" posts has been tracing Bachmann's meteoric rise to the top of national politics and this morning the PPP poll means she is the national front runner and favorite to the be the Republican nominee in 2012.

Bachmann's July front runner status means that about 70% of Republican voters are looking for anyone other than Governor Romney and that Governor Romney now has a very difficult path to the nomination.

Republican voters are not buying Governor Romney who had been pro-life, then pro-choice in Massachusetts, and now again pro-life, who once favored action against climate change before caving, and who still favors universal healthcare and the individual insurance mandate, while simultaneously pandering to death panel politics.

Bachmann has also suffocated the chances of Governor Pawlenty and done the same to Sarah Palin, who has waited too long, if she were to plunge in.

Bachmann's biggest obstacle to the nomination is not Romney but Governor Perry and the daunting task of raising about $5 million per month or more.  But her new status at the top of the national polls will boost her fundraising.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Updated: Fort Worth Air Study Is Important Contribution

In no place in North America has large scale shale gas drilling and development taken place so close to a large population as in Fort Worth, Texas.  Fort Worth sits atop the Barnett Shale, where shale drilling has been the most intense for the longest period.

Within the city of Fort Worth, there are 375 shale gas wells, 8 compressor stations and other gas production equipment.  At the instigation of the residents of Fort Worth, the city government commissioned a one year, one million dollar study of the air emissions and possible health impacts.  The study was done by the Eastern Research Group.

You can download the study or view it at or the link to it is

This study is professional, objective, scientific, well-done.  It is important to read.

Eastern Research Group found "no significant health threat" from the development that has taken place to date, that the 600 foot setback requirement is adequate to protect health in most cases, that some equipment needed maintenance to reduce emissions, and recommended the installation of new pollution controls like vapor recovery units on tanks and 3-way catalysts/and or catalytic oxidizers at compressor stations.

The report also documents that the nitrogen oxide emissions from the 8 compressor stations is about 500 tons per year or about 60 tons each.  This is a problem if the cumulative number of compressors reaches into the hundreds.

The Marcellus development will run into a legal roadblock if each compressor engine emits 60 to 80 tons per year.  Total Pennsylvania nitrogen oxide emissions--from all sources--in 2010 was about 180,000 tons.  And that number must decline to meet Clean Air Act requirements.

Each compressor cannot emit 60 plus tons in Pennsylvania if a legal battle royal is to be avoided.  The good news is that the combination of pollution controls and electricity or gas instead of diesel to power the engines can cut the per compressor nitrogen oxide emissions to 5 tons per year.

Technology and cleaner fuels exist to make sure that the nitrogen oxide emissions cumulatively from Marcellus development is modest.  They must be used.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

NYT Public Editor Censures NYT Gas Reporter: Will NYT Reporter's Career End?

The NYT Public Editor is the equivalent of the Internal Affairs department within a police department, reviewing complaints from outsiders about insiders, with most outsiders skeptical that the insiders will police themselves.  The inescapable peer and institutional pressures on the NYT Public Editor are apparent in his piece today, but the NYT Public Editor brought in a verdict of "guilty" against the NYT Reporter on many of the serious charges of malfeasance lodged against him.  See

Of the June 26 article, after stating some of the specific charges of malfeasance and then including  consistently stonewalling, militant explanations from the NYT reporter or his editor about each charge, the NYT Public Editor states:

1. "... the story painted its subject with an overly broad brush and didn't include dissenting views from experts who aren't entrenched on one side or another of the subject."

2. "My view is that such a pointed article needed more convincing substantiation, more space for a reasoned explanation of the other side and more clarity about its focus."

3. "But the article went out on a limb, lacked an in-depth dissenting view in the text and should have made clear that shale gas had boomed."

The NYT reporter and his editor consistently shape information to serve their dominant anti-gas narrative by including sensationalistic words like "ponzi scheme" to stampede opinion, excluding key data, ignoring conflicting opinions, using anonymous, unchallenged sources, inaccurately describing sources to mislead readers, and other sleazy techniques.  TheNYT Reporter and his editor do the same thing on their gas beat that Fox News and the House of Murdoch do every day when covering President Obama.

Of course many viewers of Fox and readers of the Drilling Down series get their prejudices and biases confirmed.  But they do not get the truth from this despicable sort of journalism.

Today some justice for the cause of the truth has been rendered. 

The NYT Public Editor censures the NYT Reporter and his editor.  His piece is as tough as insiders reviewing other insiders will ever get.

In the military an equivalent letter of censure to that made by the NYT Public Editor would end the career of an officer.  The military has a culture of honor, excellence, and accountability.

I doubt the NYT institution and its senior management will meet those high standards. The NYT Reporter is a rogue within the NYT for as long as he is on its payroll, but he is now disgraced by the conclusions of one of his own. That is a measure of accountability.

USA Beats Japan 2-1. Good Luck USA!!

The USA women soccer team takes the field at 2:30pm Eastern Time for the Women's World Cup final.  I am sending my positive 2-1 victory thoughts across the Atlantic to Germany to a great group of soccer players who are representing us so well.

The Japanese team is highly motivated to bring joy to its nation that is reeling from so much death and destruction. Japan is also a technically excellent, superbly fit team that managed to defeat Germany, the world's dominant women's soccer team, on its home field. 

It won't be easy but this USA team has found a way when there seemed to be no way.

USA World Cup Champions.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bachmann Fundraising Trend Shows Strength

A previous post declared Bachmann's second quarter surprisingly weak as her total was $4.2 million. Upon further review, Bachmann raised $2 million in the last 15 days of June after she officially declared her candidacy. That rate were it maintained would amount to $12 million over a full quarter.

If Bachmann can raise $12 million per quarter, she will be financially competitive with Romney who raised $18 million during the second quarter.

The Obama campaign liked the last 15 days of June and hopes it portends Bachmann fundraising success lies ahead.

NYT Public Editor May Woodshed NYT Gas Reporter

Do not take this to the proverbial bank, but I am hearing from good sources that the Public Editor of the NYT may have a column in tomorrow's Sunday New York Times that critiques and possibly woodsheds the NYT gas reporter for his June 26th series of false articles. 

The Public Editor is the internal ombudsman to the public for the NYT.  Given the deliberately false presentations of the important natural gas issue written by the NYT gas reporter, even a woodsheding of him by the Public Editor does not begin to remedy the disservice he has provided to the truth and his readers.

Of course, one can hope that a public rebuke by the Public Editor will end the career of the NYT reporter.  In the military a letter of censure placed in a file of an officer would typically do exactly that. 

If the Public Editor moves forward tomorrow with the equivalent of a letter of censure, it will be interesting to see whether the top management of the NYT circles the wagons around their rogue reporter or excises the cancer he represents.  Stay tuned.

Another Day Another Oil Spill: 900 Gallons Into the Missouri River

The Associated Press reports that 900 gallons of crude oil has spilled from a tank in North Dakota into the Missouri River.  The cause was flood waters that compromised the tank that was located in a flood plain.

The Yellowstone River and the Missouri River oil spills are just examples of the substantial impacts from oil to our nation's waters every single day. 

When judging any energy source and its environmental impacts and performance, it is imperative to understand the impacts and performance of all energy options or fuels.

Appropriate decisions about gas drilling cannot be made without understanding the impacts of alternatives to gas like oil.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bachmann Fundraising Surprisingly Weak

Representative Bachmann raised for her presidential campaign in the second quarter $4.2 million, with $2 million of the total transferred from her flush congressional fund. That is a weak performance, indicating that GOP's big donors are not yet on the Bachmann bandwagon.

To compete with Romney, Bachmann cannot trail Romney by a ratio of $4.50 to $1.00, as she did in the second quarter when Romney raised $18 million.

The President's campaign is among those wishing Bachmann better success in the third quarter.

Marcellus Shale Commission To Hold Secret Votes: Please Rethink ASAP!

Governor Corbett's Marcellus Shale Commission meets friday July 15th to vote on reportedly as many as 90 policy proposals and intends to hold secret votes on each proposal.  According to published reports, spokesman Chad Saylor states the Commission will vote in public but will not reveal the content of the policy proposals upon which votes are being cast.  Saylor further stated that proposals that do not receive a majority will not ever be disclosed to the public.

This secret process designed to keep the public in the dark about content of proposals and whom voted for what will be an absolute disaster for public confidence and credibility.

Already a spokesman for the leadership of the Republican Senate majority has declared the work of the Commission to be "irrelevant."  Sticking to a secretive-in-public process will isolate more the Commission and expose it and its work to ridicule.

That would be a shame, because the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Secretary Krancer have moved forward at the Commission a policy package that can further reduce the environmental impact of gas drilling.

The Commission should rethink asap and have each proposal disclosed and a public vote by Commission members on each one. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

NY Environmental Commissioner Blasts NYT

In a letter published in today's NYT, NY Commissioner Joe Martens says, "I am deeply troubled by your coverage of my agency's new proposed recommendations for high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State...Your coverage has created more heat than light on hydraulic fracturing at a crucial moment in the rule making process."

An then these biting words, "The New York Times has a responsibility to present accurate and balanced coverage of such a controversial matter, and it failed miserably."

Well said. But Commissioner Martens better get used to but never accept irresponsible NYT gas coverage. It is not going away and is just part of the very hot seat that he fills.

7 Billion People

This October the human population is projected to reach 7 billion people.  India accounts for 20% of births, the most of any nation, making it more likely that the 7 billionth person will be Indian than any other nationality.

Many things are the fuel for sustainability policies but nothing more than rising world population.  Water, energy, and climate pressures rise with rising population.

Bachmann Rising...Romney Falling

An ARG poll of Iowa puts Representative Bachmann in the lead for the first time.  Bachmann 21 per cent, with Romney now second at 18.

Pawlenty, the other Minnesota candidate and once thought by many pundits to be Romney's opponent, continues to have second-tier polling numbers.

Bachmann this friday announces her fundraising numbers.  Watch to see how close to $18 million (Romney's haul) she gets. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Must See Video--Colbert Report Anti-Frack Attack

You are in trouble if you are the subject of late night comedy shows. Late night comedy powerfully interprets and shapes our world.

Those who seek to stop shale gas will love Stephen Colbert's piece on fracking. Others probably will have their sense of humor challenged.

Video of water on fire has become the single most important image in energy policy. More powerful than oil-covered pelicans or even a mushroom cloud.

This video demonstrates many things, including the need to resolve gas migration issues and the communication challenges to achieving an informed discussion of gas drilling and energy options.

The Colbert Anti-Frack Attack Video is must see no matter what you think about gas drilling. Go to or

Pa Business Icon Going Solar For Sales and Power: Big Insight to A Big Trend

Founded In 1940 and a $9 billion per year revenue company with 18,300 employees in 40 countries, Air Products shouted yesterday that it is part of the global solar industry by flipping the switch on a 2 megawatt solar system at its PA located headquarters made from panels produced by 2 of Air Products' solar customers.

Best known for making hydrogen gas and other specialty gases, Air Products manufactures SunSource Solutions (solar materials) for Astronergy and ENN Solar which produced the thin-film panels installed at its corporate headquarters. The 2 megawatt system can supply about half of all the electricity consumed at the campus and is the largest silicon thin-film project in America.

The global solar industry is about $80 billion per year opportunity, with major Pennsylvania employers like Air Products and PPG making sales to it. More than 6,000 Pennsylvanians are directly employed in the many parts of the solar industry.

Pennsylvania can be a solar powerhouse, but will it be?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cuomo & Bloomberg Fight Over Closing A Nuclear Plant: A Tale of Costs And Risks

Governor Cuomo is blazing an interesting energy trail that includes starting shale production and closing a nuclear plant.

Citing risks of running Indian Point nuclear plant and its two reactors that are 35 miles from the heart of New York City,Governor Cuomo campaigned on a platform to close the 2,000 megawatt plant. The licenses are scheduled for renewal in 2013 and 2015.

Mayor Bloomberg does not support closing the plants, citing the costs of closure that include a 10% or more increase in electricity prices and dirtier air, according to a study done by Charles River Associates for Mayor Bloomberg.

Indian Point provides close to 25% of the power in New York City and Westchester.

As Marcia Brystryn of the New York League of Conservation Voters states, "Whatever the alternatives are put in place to generate that power that we'll lose, the air will inevitably be dirtier."

The Indian Point and  Georgia Vogtle plants (see prior post) reveal the completely different consumer impacts created by building a new nuclear plant versus closing an existing nuclear plant.  The economics of each decision are radically different.

In the real world of energy choices, there are no perfect options. Every choice has a cost and benefit and every decision impacts other decisions. 

Say no to Indian Point and Vogtle in Georgia, and that means saying yes to natural gas power plants to a greater extent.

Nuclear Rate Shock Deja Vu in Georgia??

In an extraordinary hearing in Georgia last week, public utility regulators were considering whether or not to protect the captured, monopoly electricity consumers of Southern Company from possible, even probable large cost overruns to build two nuclear reactors.

Of course in the competitive electricity generation markets of Pennsylvania or any other competitive market for goods and services, generally if an owner of a plant has a cost overrun, the owner pays for it.  There are no captured, monopoly food or clothes customers for example to make pay.

But that is not the rule in fully regulated electric generation service territories such as those in Georgia.  There the mistakes of power plant owners become the higher bills of consumers, unless regulators say "NO."

The two reactors at the Vogtle plant site are projected to cost about $12 billion so a 10% overrun amounts to a cool $1.2 billion. 

A representative of Georgia Power, the utility subsidiary of Southern, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying the company "very likely would not have proceeded" with the nuclear plant if it had been told it could be held financially responsible for cost overruns in part or in whole.

Meanwhile Georgia Power residential customers are already paying $3.73 per month for the nuclear plants, even though they won't be finished for about 5 years or perhaps ever.  The federal government has also extended substantial loan guarantees to this nuclear construction program.

New nuclear plants will not be built in the USA, unless federal and state government remove all risk from the owners of new plants, as the Vogtle plant is proving yet again.

Despite  massive government and compulsory consumer support, the costs of new nuclear power plants are now  haunting both utility managers and consumers once more.  History may be repeating in Georgia.

Chesapeake Energy Invests $1 Billion to Boost Gas Demand

Chesapeake Energy announced that it will spend $1 billion over the next 10 years to boost gas demand.  The investments will be substantially in the transportation sector.

Using more gas and less coal and less oil will reduce toxic pollution in the air, reduce carbon emissions, reduce soot.  Using more gas should also reduce smog, but the industry must make sure that its nitrogen oxide emissions from gas production do not become a source of smog themselves.

Using more gas is also essential for the United States to stop importing about 12 million barrels of oil per day.

Swiss Energy Minister Discusses Nuclear and What Takes Its Place

Last night I attended a dinner at the Swiss Embassy where the Swiss official who runs the equivalent of our departments of energy, environment, transportation, and communications (all of them) said the Swiss decision to phase out its 5 nuclear reactors by 2034 was a result of Fukushima and costs of new construction.

Fukushima convinced Switzerland that the risks of operation are too high, especially in a small country, and the costs of new nuclear plants were too much as well.

Switzerland gets 38% of its electricity from its 5 nuclear reactors and 60% from hydro.  By comparison, the US gets about 20% of its electricity from nuclear but has 104 nuclear reactors.

The Swiss plan to replace nuclear power with increased energy efficiency, more hydro, and combined heat and power projects, biomass, wind, and solar.  They also are taking more time to end nuclear power than Germany.

The transition from nuclear won't be easy and seemed to trouble a number of the American dinner guests.  But the Swiss have a long history of going their own way.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Key Gas Migration Facts Reported in July 11 Scranton Times Article

Here are the key facts reported in the must-read Scranton Times Sunday article (see prior post for link to full article):

1. 10 confirmed cases by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection of gas migrating from gas wells to private water wells. 

2. 7 of 10 confirmed cases were in Bradford County, with the other 3 cases in nearby Wyoming, Susquehanna, and Lycoming counties.  The gas migration cases are regionally concentrated.

3. Each gas migration case typically impacted more than one private water well.

4. 7 gas migration cases for every 1,000 wells drilled in 2010.

5. Pennsylvania DEP issued 90 cementing and casing violations on 64 gas wells in 2010.

6. Pennsylvania DEP issued 47 cementing and casing violations in first 5 months of 2011.

The article does not have information about stopping the gas migrating and getting methane from gas drilling out of private water wells.  In the case of the Susquehanna county gas migration case (Dimock), as of January 2011, methane had been removed from 14 of the 19 gas wells impacted by drilling.

The new Pennsylvania gas drilling standards rule that was proposed in 2009 became final February 5, 2011.  The content of rules matter.  The enforcement of rules matter. 

And the quality of the work done by each company everytime that drilling is done matters most of all.  The gas industry as a whole must come to grips with this issue and not reflexively, defensively and sweepingly deny it.  Importantly some companies are coming to grips with it. 

Finally a couple observations about the journalism displayed in this piece compared to that of the infamous NYT reporter.

The Scranton Times article quotes leading experts on the record within the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and outside of the agency.  The experts are accurately described, unlike the presentation to the public of Ms. Rogers in the June 26th NYT story (see postings regarding the story for detail on this point).  The experts quoted by the Scranton Times are not widely debunked, fringe figures like Mr. Berman who the NYT reporter elevated to near genius level.

Unlike the NYT, the Scranton Times's did not rely heavily on anonymous sources, outdated information, or quotations made by people at some other time, at some other place or for some other purpose. Laura Legere actually interviewed for this story each of the people quoted in the story.  How quaint! 

Finally this piece focuses on a real issue in a serious manner without deliberately injecting sensationalistic, false narratives or frames such as Ponzi scheme, Enron, or radiation poisoning drinking water.  The Scranton Times shames the New York Times.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Must Read: Migrating Gas Story in Scranton Times

Gas migration is a real issue and problem.

If you want to learn more, please read an important, good piece of journalism  by Laura Legere of the Scranton Times Tribune in the Sunday July 10th paper.  See

This article has leading experts quoted on the record; the data in it seem solid. I would love to hear others reaction to it.  I find it to be a real contribution to dealing with a real issue.

There has been focus on non-issues such as the false claims that drilling has poisoned water with radiation or drilling fluids are returning from depth and contaminating water wells.  False. Wrong.

But gas migration caused by drilling has contaminated some water wells.  This article improves public understanding of the gas migration issue.  Please read it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bachmann Rising...Romney Stalling

Congresswoman Bachmann's momentum continued for another week, with her moving into a strong second in New Hampshire, a must win state for Governor Romney.  Public Policy Polling ( 

Romney's once strong lead in New Hampshire before Congresswoman Bachmann's entry is now down to 7 per cent.  Romney has 25% support to Bachmann's 18%.

Bachmann leads in Oregon, Montana, New Mexico and is tied with Romney in Iowa.

Romney also posted weak fundraising numbers for the second quarter of 2011, when he raised $18 million.  While that amount led the Republican field, Romney's total was well below the $50 million many had expected and calls into question whether Romney will in fact have a clinching money advantage in the nomination struggle.  It would seem that he won't.

All this adds up to Bachmann Rising and Romney Stalling.

Obama Beats Easily Santorum In Pennsylvania

Senator Santorum has disastrous polling numbers in Pennsylvania, with just 31% approval and 54% disapproval numbers.  Ouch!

President Obama's Pennsyvlania numbers are 46% approval and 48% disapproval.

In a head to head, the President leads Senator Santourm 50% to 40% in Pennsylvania.

All data from Public Policy Polling at

Stock Prices Then & Now: 1999-2009 versus March 2009 To Today

According to the Wall Street Journal, stocks as measured by the Standard & Poor's Index delivered a negative annualize return of minus 0.86% for the decade from 1999 to 2009.

Stocks since March 2009, when they hit bottom, have nearly doubled again as measured by the Standard & Poor's Index.

High unemployment and high stock prices: what explains them?

Companies have shed workers, with private payrolls 6.7 million lower than in December 2007.  Productivity of the remaining workers is much higher, in part due to capital investment.  Labor costs are down, productivity is up, consumer demand was stabilized, with US GDP in 2010 as big as in 2007.  That adds up to high corporate profits and a near doubling in stock prices.

The economy of the last 2 years has been great for stock investors after a horrendous decade.  But the economy is hurting, crippling millions of Americans who cannot find work or who are underemployed. 

How Many Private Sector Jobs Have Been Created Since 2009 Low?

Private jobs are up 2.1 million since the low in 2009.  But another 6.7 million will be needed to just get back to the total of private sector jobs that existed prior to the start of the December 2007 recession.

Nearly all job loss took place between December 2007 and December 2009, with peak job loss in January 2009.

By January 2010, job loss had stopped.  Private sector job creation of approximately 2 million jobs took place from January 2010 to June 2011.

The private sector accounts for 70% of all jobs in America.

America Lays Off Thousands of Teachers

The June jobs report reveals that goverment employment fell for the 8th straight month with another 39,000 jobs cut.  The federal government eliminated another 14,000 jobs, while state and local governments decreased their total jobs by another 25,000 positions. 

Teachers account for 75% of the 25,000 state and local government jobs lost in June.

How is that going to make America stronger, better, more prosperous?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Drilling in Parks Is Bad For Everyone

The letter from the Sierra Club to the National Park Service asking the federal government to use a provision of the Land and Water Conservation Act to stop drilling on public lands that received federal dollars for conservation is the leading edge of a hurricane if drilling takes place in state parks where it has never been done.

Legal or not, drilling in state parks is a bad idea. Parks are special places and every Pennsylvanian feels protective of them. Anybody who threatens to harm a state park will be about as popular as Typhoid Mary.

Gas drilling in state parks is also unnecessary, because millions of acres of private lands have been leased, with owners eager for drilling to take place. Moreover, one-third of the state forests, or about 700,000 acres have been leased for drilling, with a moratorium on further leasing by executive order still in place.

Drilling in the state forests has been taking place for decades and the lease required by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is strong and protective. But drilling in parks has never been done.

The gas industry should avoid state parks and focus on private lands where their investment is wanted.

Investment Now Equal In Renewable And Fossil Power Plants

According to the report released by the United Nations Environment Program, global investment in renewable energy power plants was $211 billion in 2010 compared to $219 billion in gas, coal, oil power plants.

That is an amazing statistic and underlines the explosive growth in renewable energy around the world. The world will soon be investing more in renewable energy because solar investment is skyrocketing as costs of solar plummet.

Excluding hydro, renewable energy provides 5 per cent of the world's electricity.

Renewable Energy Investment Surges Again In 2010 Despite Low Gas Prices

The tough economic conditions of 2010 did not stop renewable energy investment jumping globally and in the USA, according to the United Nations. Nor did low gas prices in North America and some other parts of the world.

Renewable investment was up 32 per cent globally and up 56 per cent in America.

Renewable energy investment in America grew faster than in China where it grew 28 per cent, but total investment was greater in China. China invested $49.8 billion to $29.6 billion in America.

China, Germany, USA, Italy, Brazil, Canada, Spain, France, India, Czech Republic, in that order, were the top 10 nations for investment. Investment grew in 8 of them but fell in Brazil and Spain.

Solar investment led the surge by rising 91 per cent and reaching $60 billion, according to the UN report. In 2010 total global investment stood at $211 billion.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Lawyers' Salaries Plummet

I can hear the cheering in some quarters, and hardcore lawyer haters would say everyone is cheering.

But shed a tear or two for graduates of law schools in 2010. New lawyers in private practice had salaries plummet 20 per cent. The decline reflected that larger firms did not hire many new lawyers in 2010. The jobs in private practice were increasingly in smaller firms with lower starting salaries.

Starting salaries in private practice were on average $63,000.

Private practice salary declines were steepest, with the median salary for all new attorneys--private, government, public interest--declining 13 percent.

In another sign of distress in the law market, 20 percent of graduates with jobs (the lucky ones)had temporary positions.

Come on. Shed a tear for your fellow human beings.

Bald Eagles Boom in PA

The Philadelephia Game Commission (and Sandy Bauers great blog at has great news about Pennsylvania's Bald Eagle population.

Pennsylvania now has at least 203 Bald Eagle nests in 50 counties.

Carl Roe, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said:  "Today more Pennsylvanians have a greater opportunity of seeing a bald eagle in the wild than since before the Civil War."

I have seen one in the vicinity of the Susquehanna River. It is quite a sight. Priceless.

PA Ranks 1 and 2 In Highest State Tuition List

The United States Department of Education published its list of college tuition prices and the rankings are awful news for Pennsylvania.

Penn State University at University Park Campus has the highest state tuition rate ($14,416) in the country.
And we got the "silver medal" too.

The University of Pittsburgh ranked number two.

Four Penn State satellite campuses ranked 6th in the nation.  See .

These rankings were for 2009-2010 academic year and do not include substantial tuition hikes that have already been announced, with more on the way, as a result of the state budget that cut state support by 18% or 19%.

Is Energy Independence Impossible For America?

Energy independence is a dangerous delusion or even a lie some experts insist. America consumes nearly 25 per cent of global energy but has just 3 per cent of world oil reserves. We import close to 70 per cent of the oil we consume. How can we be energy independent?

Simply put, America is energy independent, with the important exception of oil. We now have seas of American natural gas, plenty of coal, more than enough wind, solar, hydro potential energy to supply America. But not enough oil.

Reducing oil consumption by 70 per cent would end our dependence on foreign oil and make us energy independent once again. Let us remember America was energy independent for our entire history until about 1960.

Today oil provides 90 per cent of our transportation fuel with American ethanol, biodiesel, and natural gas the remainder.

And today substitutes for oil--natural gas vehicles, electricity vehicles, biofuels--are more viable than ever in our history. Oil at $100 per barrel or more makes a lot of substitutes economic, putting aside the huge national security costs to all Americans that will never be fully priced into the price of oil.

But the immense national security costs that amount to trillions of dollars must be included and not put aside.

In addition to the oil substitutes, America has two more big resources that must be deployed to end  foreign oil dependence and make us energy independent.

First is American oil. We can produce 6 to 8 billion barrels per day or about 30 to 35 per cent of our current oil consumption.

The second immense resource is energy efficiency. At $4 or higher gasoline prices many efficiency measures to reduce oil consumption become economic and even imperative.

One hundred plus dollar oil changes everything. Oil substitutes are economic, more US oil production is economic, and energy efficiency is a bargain. For example high mileage vehicles--more than 40 mpg--now command a premium in the used car market.

The USA is now energy independent except for oil. Oil substitutes, American oil production, and high mileage vehicles and other energy efficiency can cut US oil consumption by 70 per cent within 20 years and make the USA energy independent once more.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

26,000 Gallons of Gasoline in Groundwater & $1.5 Billion Jury Award

For the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection dealing with problems caused by our use of oil is an all-the-time task.

Tankers collide, spilling oil onto the ground and into streams. Gasoline fumes caused by operational problems at a gas station invade homes. Abandoned underground storage stanks leak into groundwater. On and on the problems go.

For 37 days from January to February 2006, 26,000 gallons of gasoline leaked from a gas station undetected leaked into groundwater in a rural Maryland community near Baltimore. This single leak contaminated drinking water to over 200 families. On friday July 1st, a jury awarded 160 plaintiffs $1.5 billion in compensatory and punitive damanges.

Oil causes problems every day and all the time. It is much dirtier than natural gas and causes more damage when it gets places it does not belong.

The incredible focus on Marcellus gas drilling is positive and justified, but it can also be distorting when the result is a failure to understand the greater environmental and health impacts from other fuels like oil and coal.  We must choose between coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear as energy efficiency and renewable energy is increased. More coal and oil and less natural gas means considerably more pollution over the next 20 years.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

PA Drilling Wastewater Surges In Ohio

What happens to drilling wastewater in Pennsylvania?  That question is on the tips of many Pennsylvanians.  A great deal--70% or more--of it is recycled and reused, with CNX stating that drilling wastewater can be treated partially and recycled for as long as 5 years before ultimate disposal.

But what happens when drilling wastewater cannot be recycled? 

First, it is not being dumped untreated for total dissolved solids in Pennsyvlvania's streams.  Instead it could go to a treatment plant operated by Eureka in Williamsport that turns everyday drilling wastewater into distilled water so that it can be safely returned to the environment.

Another option is disposal in specially constructed deep underground wells.  And a lot of those wells are in Ohio.

According to an informative story in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the amount of Pennsylvania's drilling wastewater disposed in Ohio's underground disposal wells surged 25%  in the first 3 months of 2011.  See

Ohio has 174 permitted deep underground disposal wells, with 4 more in development.  By comparison Pennsylvania has only 6 active underground disposal wells located in Somerset, Beaver, Erie, and Clearfield counties.

14.8 million gallons of waste was sent to the Ohio disposal wells in the last 6 months of 2010.

And what does it cost?  The Tribune Review reports that Ohio facilities have raised the fee from $1 per barrel to $4, with trucking costs adding another $2 to $3 per barrel.

PA Education Budget Facts: Private Schools Win & Public Schools Lose

The Pennsylvania state budget had one winner in the education spending category.  The budget for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program increased 25% for donations made to private schools or by $15 million.

But the cuts were deep and devastating for public schools.

Penn State University experienced an 18% state funding budget cut.  Temple University was also hit with a large cut and has already announced a 10% tuition increase.

Schools in the State System of Higher Education--Slippery Rock University, Shippensburg University, West Chester University and others--suffered a 19% budget cut.

The damage was not restricted to higher education.  $900 million was cut from K-12 public education.
Massive layoffs are resulting, with Philadelphia alone laying off 3,000.

How large education cuts will create jobs now or create jobs in the future is a mystery.

Meanwhile the General Assembly did balk--for now--at the proposal to spend $1 billion to finance a new, massive school voucher program.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4th & Energy Independence: A Personal Reflection

 As a 12 year old boy, I got off a plane in 1970 at JFK airport in New York from Dublin, Ireland and began a new life in America, a national home that has given me and hundreds of millions of others independence and opportunity.  Our national independence is the rock, the foundation on which the greatest experiment in human liberty continues each day, but it is easily taken for granted.

On this July 4th, America's independence has never been more threatened since perhaps the War of 1812.  The threat this time is not British troops burning the White House. It is more insidious, serious and growing. 

Our addiction to foreign oil imperils America's national security, economy, environment, health,.independence.

Just as prior generations of Americans met threats to our independence, we can protect America and kick the oil habit by moving aggressively to biodiesel, natural gas vehicles, electric cars.  These fuels can replace foreign oil and make America Energy Independent.

We must set as national and state goals cutting our oil consumption by 70% by 2020.  To do this we must raise fuel efficiency standards for new gasoline vehicles and accelerate the deployment of the available cleaner and cheaper alternatives to oil.  Pennsylvania is uniquely positioned to show the way because of its large electricity, natural gas, biodiesel, and manufacturing capacities.

Ninety per cent of our transportation fuel is oil and we import close to 70% of it.  Hence the goal of cutting by 70% by 2020 our oil consumption.

Today, America does not move without oil and foreign oil.  We are not independent of the Persian Gulf, Russia, the world oil markets. 

We have fought two wars in IRAQ since 1991 and now are supporting the NATO intervention in Libya. All of these interventions were forced or colored by concerns about world oil supplies and prices.

And when world tensions rise or Chinese and Indian demand strains oil supplies, oil reaches $120 per barrel or more.  Then our economy buckles. 

The American economy cannot afford $120 per barrel oil or $4 gasoline, because at that price median income families spend 10% of their total income to just fuel the family vehicles.

And when we are buying oil and sending dollars overseas for it, we are not buying shoes, books, restaurant meals and so on. Consumer demand for other products falls and jobs in our communities vanish.

To round it off, oil is much dirtier for our environment and more damaging to our health than emerging transportation alternative fuels like biodiesel, natural gas, and electricity.

In sum, oil to which we are addicted is much more expensive and dirtier and more foreign than the alternatives.  Like any addiction, our oil addiction is not rational and dangerous.

While America's Independence is at risk from foreign oil, now we have the means--biodiesel, natural gas, electricity, energy efficiency--to end that threat. 

Let's this July 4th Declare Energy Independence and Protect America's Independence.  That would make for the Happiest July 4th and many more in the future.

Oil Fouling Yellowstone River Is Another Day In "Oilland"

As I have, millions of Americans have watched trout in one of America's most beautiful, famous rivers--the Yellowstone River.

Today clean up continues from a spill of 42,000 gallons of oil that entered the river from a ruptured pipeline.  The oil has impacted landowners who are complaining about the stench of oil at their properties.

Everyday throughout America there are oil spills and oil leaks, most relatively small.  Not infrequently there are major oil accidents. 

Events like the Yellowstone spill or two oil tankers dumping large amounts of oil into the Delaware River in separate accidents, the enormous spill in Prince William Sound in Alaska, and the monster BP Oil blow out.

The impacts to water and our air from producing, transporting, and combusting oil dwarf the impacts from natural gas.

Yet, the on-going discussion about gas drilling infrequently gets to the real issue that less gas means more coal and oil production and combustion over the next 20 years.  And more gas means less coal and oil use.

People who view Gasland (especially uncritically) without learning about Oilland, Coalland or Nukeland cannot make good decisions about environmental impacts of how we make and use energy.

Real world energy choices are far from perfect.  Real energy choices are about reducing or increasing negative impacts. 

Strongly regulating natural gas and using it to replace as much coal and oil as possible is not perfect but it is better than not using gas and consuming more coal and oil.  Just look at the Yellowstone River.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

82% of Japanese Want To End Nuclear Power: Will that End Japanese Nuclear Power?

Japan, the world's third largest economy, has a population that wants overwhelmingly to end nuclear power and join Germany, the world's 4th largest economy with no nuclear plants.

The Japanese public wants the reactors phased out, recognizing that nuclear power provides about a third of their electricity.

So will these public opinion numbers translate into an end to nuclear power in Japan?  They would in nearly any European nation, probably would in the USA, but I am no expert on Japanese government and its democracy.

I would say, however, that the 82% number favoring an end to nuclear power, high as it is, will not decline and perhaps increase a bit as the full impact, details of the Fukushima disaster are revealed.

And what would take the place of nuclear power in Japan?  Almost certainly a combination of LNG supplied gas, more renewable energy, and even more energy efficiency in a country that is already highly energy efficient.

Key Home Fact: Average Price of Home Back to 2004 Level

Concern about inflation remain misplaced when the value of the key asset for consumers has deflated to 2004 levels.

Floyd Norris had a good article in yesterday's NYT business page pointing out that home prices are down 33%, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index.

Looking at the regional price declines reveals how broad the price drop is and how close this nation came to a depression on September 15th 2008 with the Lehmann bankruptcy.

Homes in Detroit are at 1993 levels;
Las Vegas at 1999 prices;
Phoenix, Atlanta, Minneapolis at 2000 levels;
San Francisco, Chicago, Denver at 2001 prices;
Dallas, Tampa, Miami, Boston at 2002 marks;
San Diego, Charlotte, Los Angeles at 2003;
and New York, Washington, Seattle, Portland at 2004.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bachmann Rising...Now In New Mexico...Pawlenty Sinking

Representative Bachmann's roll continues with a new poll by Public Policy Polling putting her first in New Mexico, leading the supposed Republican front runner Governor Romney.  Bachmann leads Romney 21 to 18.  The poll included Palin but not Perry.  Palin drew 11%.

With Palin and former New Mexico Governor Johnson (yes he is running now) out of the race, Bachmann moved to a 27 to 23 lead over Romney.

Tim Pawlenty trails badly with 7%.  Pawlenty's anemic poll numbers are matched by his poor fundraising, managing to raise just $4 million in the first quarter of 2011.

Bachmann now leads in Oregon, Montana, and New Mexico, is tied in Iowa, but trails in New Hampshire.  Today no candidate is better positioned to win the Republican nomination than Bachmann.

Bachmann's first real challenge will come when and if Palin or Perry get in the race.  The New Mexico poll shows that she is fully competitive with just Palin in the race but Bachmann will be damaged if both Perry and Palin run. 

Representative Bachmann, however, trails President Obama 51-36 in New Mexico, a swing state.

Friday, July 1, 2011

PA FY 2011 Surplus Is $785 Million

The fiscal year 2011 ended June 30 and the surplus for 2011 ended at $785 million. 

That's right. Governor Corbett inherited a $785 million surplus for his first full fiscal year budget that started today, July 1, 2011.

Must Read: Article Blows Apart NYT June 26th Story

You must read this article at  It blows apart the NYT June 26th story.

The previous post has more discussion.

UPDATED/MUST READ Scandal: NYT Gas Reporter Is the Next Judith Miller

The truth is catching up to the NYT gas reporter. Read this devastating article that begins to reveal the next Judith Miller scandal at the NYT:

In it you will find out key information unrevealed by the NYT reporter about the only two named sources in the June 26th NYT gas story and much more.  The other 8 sources were anonymous.

As to Ms. Rogers, a principal on the record source, the NYT reporter described her as a highly credible financial expert. A nice picture of her accompanied the article. The NYT Reporter called her a "Commissioner" of the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas, serving on the "advisory committee." 

The Dallas Federal Reserve corrected the record, saying that Ms. Rogers is an unpaid volunteer on the small business and agriculture advisory council. 

The NYT Reporter did not disclose the truth to his readers.  Instead of being a financial expert, Ms. Rogers owns a farm and produces cheese. At that farm, she has been in a years-long battle with Chesapeake Energy.  Ms. Rogers also serves on the steering committee of the anti-fracking organization called the Oil and Gas Accountability Project.  None of that is in the June 26th article.

Instead the NYT Reporter presented her as an official in the Federal Reserve with an objective, investor protection concern.

The information about the Mr. Berman in the linked article is potentially even more damaging to the NYT Reporter, even edging into potential criminal stock manipulation.  See for yourself.

Another 8 sources were anonymous.  The article sheds some light on these anonymous sources. 

Judith Miller's false reporting relied on anonymous sources and the infamous source code named "Curveball."  Curveball was presented by the NYT as a source with Inside Information of the Saddam Hussein regime's weapons of mass destruction plans.  He was a favorite source of Vice President Cheney. 

I hate to say it, but I found Miller's reporting convincing at the time.

It was a heap of lies. The biggest lie of all were the explosive tales told by Curveball.

Curveball was deliberately providing false information to the US government in a fabulously successful effort to get the USA to stampede to war.  The NYT enabled this false information, putting it on the front page, often on a Sunday for maximum impact (sound familiar?).  By doing so, the NYT significantly enabled the disatrous IRAQ war.

Now the NYT June 26th gas story and the February 27th story follow that infamous path.  The NYT gas reporter is the next Judith Miller.

Key Fact: 85% of NY Marcellus Reserve Opened for Drilling

When you ask the bottom line question, how much of the New York Marcellus gas resource will be closed and how much will be opened by Governor Cuomo's announced policy, the answer is:

15% of the gas is off limits and 85% will be open to production.

Substantial protections will be in place for areas open to drilling. 

They include setback requirements that range from 500 to 2,000 feet.  No drilling in 100 year flood plains.  Waste handling requirements.  Waste water disposal requirements.  Water withdrawal processes.

Updated Governor Cuomo & Fracking

Off his triumphs of passing gay marriage and a fiscally responsible state budget, Governor Cuomo may be the most popular Governor in America.  His approval ratings are above 60%.

He now tackles gas drilling.  Governor Cuomo and his DEC Commissioner Joe Martens issued a carefully crafted policy and worded press release. 

The press release led with the news that drilling would be banned within all primary aquifers and on state-owned land.

The release then said, "Drilling permitted on other private land with rigorous and effective protections."

According to the release, "high-volume fracturing would be prohibited in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, including a buffer zone."  Unlike any public drinking water system in Pennsylvania, New York City does NOT filter its water and so concerns about the NYC drinking water source are considerably magnified.

Bottom line seems to be shale drilling will be allowed on private lands outside of the New York City and Syracuse watersheds.

This policy is essentially what I expected.

And I can assure you this result reflects both policy and politics, the politics of New York and America.

Unlike Governor Christy, Governor Cuomo will run and win re-election to his governorship.

But like Christy, Governor Cuomo will run for President in 2016.  The American people favor by more than 2 to 1 responsible development of domestic natural gas resources Andrew Cuomo is like his dad in some respects and not like him in others.

Gov. Christy & Fracking

The New Jersey Legislature has thrown a hand grenade to Governor Christy: a bill banning hydraulic fracturing. 

The fact that this bill passed and that it now puts Governor Christy in a tight spot shows how much success Josh Fox, the NYT Reporter, and some others have had in planting deep misinformation in certain parts of the country.

Who is cheering for Governor Christy to sign this bill? No doubt the coal lobby which has seen low-priced gas created by the shale boom cause owners of old coal plants to retire them in large numbers.

What will Christy do?

My prediction is that he will veto the bill.  And that will be another indication that he will not seek re-election.

Christy is now unpopular in New Jersey, with the Bloomberg poll this week finding 43% approve and 53% disapprove.  His numbers will worsen.

Christy is leaving New Jersey, angling to run for President in 2016 and perhaps as Vice President in 2012.  He is making sure he moves rightward to prepare for that run.

In this age, one can run for President with just one term or less in office: Governor Romney, President Obama, and possibly Former Governor Palin. 

Governor Christy will veto the hydraulic fracturing ban, not seek re-election, and run for President.

Small Wind Booms

Sales of small wind systems are now 10,000 per year.  In a decade they have increased from 2,000 per year.

Small wind for these purposes is less than 50 kw.

Driving recently through rural Maryland I encountered the small wind boom as a cluster of these systems were operating on a stretch of farms. One system went up and the neighbors apparently decided to keep up.