Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pathstone Program Seeks Young People For Gas Related Jobs in PA: Read On For the Requirements

Photo credit: Carol Manuel
There is an organization called Pathstone, a community development and human services group that coordinates and supervises a program which helps people to get their lives back.  Right now the Scranton, PA, branch of Pathstone is looking for 20 people to train in September as welders and 12 people who want to learn to become diesel mechanics.  Funding, a $2.3 million grant, for the program came from the federal stimulus program.   I can't think of a better way to spend tax dollars than to help young people get jobs.  However, to qualify for the program, a person must live in Scranton, Dunmore, Taylor, Old Forge, or Dickson City, and be unemployed, a high school dropout, OR HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD. Perhaps these candidates have paid their debt to society and just need a break to return as contributing citizens.  However, I have to seriously question the advisability of employing them in jobs which require long hours, high stress, easy access to drugs and alcohol, and minimal supervision.  And regrettably, home owners are fearful enough about having strangers on their properties at all hours of the day and night without having to wonder if these people also have criminal records.  I hope the omission of "non-violent" was an oversight.  What crimes are acceptable?  I would like to know.

A typical interview might go something like this:

Interviewer:  All right, then, Jimmy, you live in Scranton, and you dropped out of school, right?
Applicant:  Yeah.
I:  And when did you drop out of school?
A:  In seventh grade.
I:  I see.  Okay, so are you currently employed?
A:  No.
I:  Fabulous!  You do meet the requirements.  Oh, and one more thing.  Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
A:  Yeah, several.
I:  Okay.  You do qualify for this program.

It seems to me that this is the wrong industry to go to in looking for training and employment for such individuals.  It's dangerous work and not nearly enough oversight is possible.  These are compromised kids.  Let's find something more suitable for them.  In a way, we are taking advantage of these young people because we are offering them an opportunity while at the same time placing them in harm's way in jobs that can and do lead to accidents and deaths. It is similar to the "economic draft" in the military where recruiters prey on kids from the projects and convince them that the military is a great opportunity for them.  A pay check, health care, etc.  But what really happens is that these kids are sent overseas to Iraq or Afghanistan and often end up dead or severely injured for life.  We use them as cannon fodder.

Read the whole story here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Compressor Stations: Noise That Can Change Your Life

In order to keep an even pressure on the natural gas that comes up from the bowels of the earth, and to make sure the gas reaches the pipeline efficiently, compressor stations provide the necessary means to get the gas to market.  Compressor stations are placed at intervals along pipelines (40-100 miles apart).  Will you have any say as to where these monsters will be built?  No.  Listen to the sounds.  Could they not drive you crazy?  Literally?

More on compressor stations: (link to source)

".......natural gas is highly pressurized as it travels through an interstate pipeline. To ensure that the natural gas flowing through any one pipeline remains pressurized, compression of this natural gas is required periodically along the pipe. This is accomplished by compressor stations, usually placed at 40 to 100 mile intervals along the pipeline. The natural gas enters the compressor station, where it is compressed by either a turbine, motor, or engine.

Turbine compressors gain their energy by using up a small proportion of the natural gas that they compress. The turbine itself serves to operate a centrifugal compressor, which contains a type of fan that compresses and pumps the natural gas through the pipeline. Some compressor stations are operated by using an electric motor to turn the same type of centrifugal compressor. This type of compression does not require the use of any of the natural gas from the pipe, however it does require a reliable source of electricity nearby. Reciprocating natural gas engines are also used to power some compressor stations. These engines resemble a very large automobile engine, and are powered by natural gas from the pipeline. The combustion of the gas powers pistons on the outside of the engine, which serves to compress the natural gas.

In addition to compressing natural gas, compressor stations also usually contain some type of liquid separator, much like the ones used to dehydrate natural gas during its processing. Usually, these separators consist of scrubbers and filters that capture any liquids or other undesirable particles from the natural gas in the pipeline. Although natural gas in pipelines is considered 'dry' gas, it is not uncommon for a certain amount of water and hydrocarbons to condense out of the gas stream while in transit. The liquid separators at compressor stations ensure that the natural gas in the pipeline is as pure as possible, and usually filters the gas prior to compression."

Photo credit: Duke Energy Gas Transmission Canada



Grit TV Tackles Hydrofracking Issue: "No water for gas!"

More GRITtv

Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in Pennsylvania and New York is a heated topic. Whose power? Whose water? And just how natural is natural gas anyway? On the search for cheap clean energy, natural gas drilling has been sold as a solution. But is it? Affected communities are split. GRITtv's Sarah Friedland and Isabel Braverman went to the Delaware River Basin Commission's Headquarters in West Trenton, New Jersey to hear from residents, including actor Mark Ruffalo.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Susquehanna River: Gas Industry Sucking Up Millions of Gallons Of Fresh Water

Our Dear Susquehanna

A workshop was held yesterday, July 20, in Tioga County, N.Y., to explain and receive input on a real-time water quality monitoring network that is now expanding into the Southern Tier Region of New York.  The Susquehanna River Basin Commission recently opened a new satellite office in Athens Township, PA.  The office is staffed by individuals working to monitor and enforce compliance with laws that protect water resources in the Susquehanna River Basin which includes areas of New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

The demand for water from smaller rivers and streams is steadily increasing, mostly due to the natural gas industry, so this issue of water extraction is a serious one.  Gas drilling corporations pay an application fee and then a fee of $0.20 per thousand gallons of water up to a limit of two million gallons per day. I'm not a math wizard, but I think that comes out to $400 per day.  I am assuming that any and all gas drillers who want water can take that amount daily.  Other energy production companies are allowed much more water.   For example, the nuclear power plant in Berwick, PA, is allowed to take 40 million gallons every day.  The operation doesn't use that much, but they could.

I think it is important to bear in mind that water stolen taken from our rivers and streams for the purpose of drilling and hydrofracking is water that will never be returned to us in usuable form.  It is transformed into toxic waste.  Much of it never comes to the surface again, but remains deep inside the earth still laden with toxic chemicals which can and do migrate in unpredictable ways to unpredicatable places, including precious watersheds.

Read the whole article from the Towanda Daily Review here.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

News Conference On Hydrofracking: Pete Seeger

Sing along with Pete!  It's good for the soul! Pete Seeger was in Albany, N.Y., at the state house July 20 for a press conference on a gas drilling moratorium for New York State.  This was recorded just yesterday!  Pete is still going strong at age ninety-one!  Long live Pete Seeger!

Here is a stirring speech by Mark Ruffalo at this same press conference:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

PA Well Blowout Easily Preventable, Potentially Catastrophic

[Photo from PA DEP]
DEP Secretary John Hanger announced that an independent investigation of the June 3rd blowout at a gas well in Clearfield County, PA, was preventable and that EOG Resources ignored industry standards by failing to install  proper barriers in the well and hiring uncertified operators.  In addition, EOG Resources failed to alert emergency authorities until several hours after the blowout, which hindered the state's response.  Hanger said
...this could have been a catastrophic incident. Had the gas blowing out of this well ignited, the human cost would have been tragic, and had an explosion allowed this well to discharge wastewater for days or weeks, the environmental damage would have been significant.
Read the whole story  here. (Article from Truthout by Mike Ludwig)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Truckers Need Schooling in PA

Sandra Major, PA Republican state representative (Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming counties) is hosting a safety presentation for truckers and trucking business owners today in Montrose, PA.  The influx of truck traffic from the natural gas industry is the primary concern, according to Major.  She says that more trucks are being pulled over for inspection and being found not to be in compliance with the state's Motor Carrier Law.  Representatives from the PA State Police and PennDOT will participate today.

Now who is footing the bill for this event?  The taxpayers of the state of Pennsylvania, no doubt.  Why should they provide this service to the gas drilling industry?  The industry itself should be completely familiar with the laws governing trucks in PA, or the trucks should not be out on the roads.  In fact, I don't believe that the industry will pay much attention to this seminar since there are too few inspectors and police available to monitor the hundreds of trucks on the roads these days.  If they catch a few,  great!  But even when caught, the gas companies just pay the little fines and go on their merry way.  It's a price of doing business.  You see the signs posted that prohibit truck traffic weighing more than 10 tons.  I think the trucks I see weigh 40 tons empty.  So none of them should be on these country roads in Bradford County where I go in the summer months.

I have never met Rep. Major.  And although this seems like a great idea- a meeting to provide information for truckers- it really won't accomplish anything in the long run.  It is commendable that Ms. Major is bringing this issue to the fore.  However, the citizens of PA should not have to provide remedial help for the gas industry in the first place.  This has been the MO of the industry all along.  Drill now; ask questions later.  Or do it now and apologize later.  Wouldn't we think it odd if public funds were used to educate dry cleaning businesses or chemical plants in regard to public and environmental safety?  Wouldn't that be a responsibility of the industry?  Why should the gas industry be given special treatment?

The new popular quotation of the gas industry should be, in the words of Steve Urkel (Family Matters, 90's TV sitcom), "Oh, did I do that?"   Or in today's gargon, "Oopsey!"

Read the announcement of this event here.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Driving Drunk In a Flatbed Truck Owned By Gas Company

I am getting sick of this.  Another potentially fatal accident involving an employee of a gas drilling outfit in PA.  What are people going to do to feel safe anymore?  Very early Saturday morning (6/26), Steven Mohr, Jr., age 34, of Halstead, PA, got behind the wheel of his flatbed tractor trailer owned by 5J Oilfield Services, drove into the village of Owego at a high rate of speed, and lost control of the rig, shearing off several telephone poles and a guardrail before resting the cab in a stormwater drainage ditch near a doctor's office on 5th Avenue.  THE DRIVER FLED ON FOOT.

The driver was later found at a hospital in Binghamton, NY, and was charged with fleeing the scene of a property danage accident, DUI, imprudent speed, and criminal mischief 4th degree. 

Read the article from the Owego Pennysaver and see PHOTOS here. "Pennsylvania man arrested following accident in Owego that left residents without power."

Check out this excellent blog post from The Marcellus Effect.


BP Slick Covers Dolphins and Whales

On July 4th, I will think of these fish and plants of the sea that are being destroyed.  I will mourn while the parade goes by.