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Bob shares his thoughts on landscaping, energy and the environment

Bottom of the LNG Chain – Independence from Meaningful Taxes

One of the major U.S. hubs for LNG processing, storage and pipeline transportation is located at the center of Marcellus Shale country in western Pennsylvania near Houston, Washington County, Pennsylvania. The hub began with the construction of MarkWest’s cryogenic gas plant, which also includes a large railroad loadout yard for the shipment of propane and…

AIR POLLUTION: Welling Compressor Station in Washington County, PA

Today’s Pennsylvania Bulletin includes an “Intent to Issue an Operating Permit under the Air Pollution Control Act” for the Welling Compressor Station at 165 Carlisle Road, Claysville, PA 15323. The Welling is one of the largest compressor stations in our county, one of over 40 compressor stations and gas processing plants that have ‘sprung-up like…

2nd Cracker Plant in Ohio River Valley?

Judging from a newspaper story in today’s Wheeling, West Virginia newspaper, the PTTGCA ethane cracker plant is still a strong possibility for a shovel-ready site in Dilles Bottom, Ohio, since financial commitments are still being honored. With the forecast 2022 completion of Shell’s new cracker plant, upriver in Monaca, Pennsylvania, there would likely be a…

Washington County Comprehensive Plan

Washington County, Pennsylvania wants to hear from county residents on their new Comprehensive Plan, last adopted in 2005. The updated plan is being developed with an advisory committee and stakeholder/public input. The final plan will be adopted in Fall 2022. Take the short Public Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WashingtonCoCompPlan Webpage: https://planning-commission-comprehensive-plan-2021-washcodps.hub.arcgis.com/ Public Open House tomorrow evening: 5:30pm–7:30 pm…

Coal, not Gas, as the ‘Bridge Fuel?’

News out of Germany yesterday points to how many nations have been hamstrung by their reliance on natural gas, as supplies tighten and prices whipsaw. Since renewables aren’t quite where they need to be yet, the current crisis, with heating season a scant 12 weeks away, has nations returning to ‘King Coal’ as a so-called…

LNG Export Outage Helping US Prices

The June 8, 2022 explosion and fire at the FREEPORT LNG export terminal in Quintana, Texas, dropped the Henry Hub commodity price for natural gas, from $9.34 two days before the incident to $7.26 a week later, a huge 23% price drop. Conversely, LNG prices in Europe and Britain rose nearly that much, spiking with…

Unleashing the American LNG ‘Trojan Horse’

While the CEO of the largest US shale gas producer keeps talking about “unleashing” Marcellus Shale natural gas, and more specifically, it’s condensed liquid form, LNG, we’re suddenly snapped back to its radioactive realities. Reporter JUSTIN NOBEL spelled it out in his June 9, 2022 story, As U.S. LNG Expands in Europe, a Hidden Threat…

‘Protect Our Parks’ in Allegheny County, PA

Allegheny County Council held a public hearing June 9, 2022 on legislation to prevent the leasing of additional county parks for gas production activities, following the non-surface oil and gas lease signed in 2014 for Deer Lakes Park, to allow hydraulic fracturing under the park. While 8 votes are needed to pass this new legislation…

Pennsylvania Must Act

Today’s PA Environment Digest Blog contained important testimony from the Pennsylvania Senate Hearing held last Thursday and seen in its entirety in this video. Brian S. Schwartz, MD, MS laid it out with crystal clarity in his June 2, 2022 testimony: “We’ve studied asthma exacerbations. We find out when people with asthma went to the…

Presidential Boost for Solar Energy

It looked like the 2 months long, tariff investigation by the US Commerce Department on solar components from China, could last another 3 months, further kneecapping U.S. solar panel installations, right when they’re needed to fulfill demand and increase renewable energy in the United States. “The investigation essentially halted the flow of solar panels that…

Fracking Public Health and Policy in Pennsylvania

Yesterday, Pennsylvania Senators Katie Muth and Jim Brewster hosted a public hearing in Monroeville, PA: “Pennsylvania’s Shale Gas Boom: How Policy Decisions Failed to Protect Public Health and What We Can Do to Correct It.” Watch the 2 hour and 44 minute hearing video here: Direct Link: https://www.senatormuth.com/pa-senate-democratic-caucus-pennsylvanias-shale-gas-boom-how-policy-decisions-failed-to-protect-public-health-and-what-we-can-do-to-correct-it/ FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/senatormuth/videos/974399176561028 As reported in the PITTSBURGH…

Pittsburgh Meets Nurdles Following Train Derailment

It was only a matter of time before plastic nurdles began polluting Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers, but we didn’t think it would happen prior to the grand opening of Shell’s Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex in Monaca, Beaver County, PA, where they will make trillions of nurdles from fracked gas every year. PETROLEUM DISTILLATES WITH A ‘DASH OF…

Memorial Day Ceremony 2022 – National Cemetery of the Alleghenies

The 2022 Memorial Day Ceremony at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies began at 11:00 AM on Sunday May 29, 2022 and lasted one hour. There was a large crowd in attendance, under mostly sunny skies, with a light breeze. Below is a video of the keynote address by Marine 1st Sgt Scott Legg. Watch…

Diaries from World War One

Leading up to Memorial Day, I wanted to share several personal memoirs of men who served with the 15th Field Artillery Regiment in France during WWI in 1918. The coat of arms of the 15th FA Regiment above the shield contains a French 75mm Howitzer with the Indianhead of the 2nd ID patch incised in the wheel….

Oil and Gas Industry’s “Disaster Capitalism”

Have you fallen victim to the oil and gas industry’s disinformation campaign? Have a listen to this new Podcast, or read the transcript, to find out for yourself: New Research: Big Fossil’s Disaster Capitalist Response to Russia-Ukraine“In the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the gas industry is now fully embracing it’s new role. Right…

NYC Solar Energy Growth is Impressive

It was impressive to read a recent Clean Energy Update from conEdison and realize how many solar energy systems have been installed in New York City and Westchester County. Customers have already installed more than 44,000 solar systems, with solar capacity increasing nearly 7-fold over the past eight years! New York City is the most…

PIT Airport Doubling-Down on Fracked Gas

Reporter Anya Litvak’s May 21, 2022 story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, ‘Airport authority brokers new deals with CNX to incentivize drilling and, possibly, make fuel from natural gas‘ revealed old and new information about the business dealings of the Allegheny County Airport Authority (ACAA) with CNX Resources, headquartered in the Southpointe Business Park in Canonsburg,…

Solar for Schools

It was somewhat of a shock, and definitely a disappointment, when I learned that our new $95 million high school didn’t include any plans for solar energy. One of the Peters Township high school students shared her disappointment with me as well, saying her high school environmental group hadn’t made any headway promoting renewable energy…

Pennsylvania’s Impact Fee is ‘Chump Change’

If you take a look at how much Texas nets from its severance tax on oil and gas production, you realize how badly Pennsylvanians are getting screwed with mere ‘chump change’ impact fees. There have been multiple efforts over the years, the latest by Pa Governor Tom Wolf, that have failed to institute a fair…

2021 RGGI Annual Report

Pennsylvania is on track to fully participate in ‘Reggie’ if GOP lawsuits, or the November 8, 2022 gubernatorial election, doesn’t derail the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. “This regulation has the support of businesses and residents, and will save lives and millions of dollars by cutting air pollution. Climate change caused…

Frackin’ & Crackin’ Plastic This Summer

The story ‘Preparing for Petrochemicals‘ by Rick Mullin appeared on Chemical & Engineering News (c&en) on May 9th. The author took a balanced approach to what this massive Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex (aka ‘cracker plant’) will mean to Beaver County and the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania tri-state region. I’ve been closely following the development of this cracker plant…

Time to Rethink Solar Energy

On top of spiraling prices at the pump for gasoline and diesel fuel, this recent headline grabbed everyone’s attention: Pennsylvania electric generation costs increasing up to 45% on June 1st “According to the commission, higher wholesale market prices for electricity are being caused mostly by shifts in supply and demand for natural gas.” Brian C….

Widowmakers in Peterswood Park

Apparently, Peters Township doesn’t have enough money budgeted to remove hazardous ‘widowmaker’ trees from their Bebout Road community park in Venetia, Pa since some of these dead trees have been standing for a few years, despite citizens’ repeated safety concerns to Peters Township Council. The problem with delaying their removal that long, is that upper…

Rainy Day Still Produces Solar Energy

How wet was it Friday in western Pennsylvania? Just ask Dr. Oz… it was too wet for ducks!!! Yet even on a rain-soaked Pennsylvania day like that, our solar panels were still producing solar energy. Maybe not the 50 kWh they would on a bumper-to-bumper sunny day, but still far more than most people would…

BEWARE of Poison Hemlock

Poison Hemlock has already sprouted this Spring (This blog was originally posted last year, but it’s worth repeating!) You may remember the story about Socrates drinking a cup of Poison Hemlock. Yup, same deadly stuff! Just coming into contact with it can cause you problems. More details about POISON HEMLOCK – Conium maculatum: Brought to…

Netflix Docu-series Revisits Three Mile Island

We watched Part One last night, and thought it was well done. As they point out, this event happened just 12-days after THE CHINA SYNDROME was released in movie theaters. What timing! Checking the PJM Interconnect webpage this morning we see NUCLEAR energy is providing most of our multi-state region with the largest part of…

‘The Power of Big Oil: Part 3 – Delay’

In addition to a tornado warning —that had us eating supper in our basement at 6:00PM Tuesday evening— the third segment of this PBS Frontline documentary aired later that same evening. I recognized a couple powerful allies in the oil & gas air pollution and methane awareness arena: Tony Ingraffea and ‘Texas Sharon’ Wilson, seen…

Solar and EV Update

SOLAR ENERGY PRODUCTION: During the month of April, with our share of clouds and precipitation just south of Pittsburgh, PA, our rooftop solar panel system (8.97 kW) produced 894.5 kWh of energy. SOLAR PRODUCTION EXCEEDED USAGE:During the same month, our home electricity usage and electric car charging (for 940 miles of driving) totaled 826.5 kWh,…

Dusting by Oil and Gas Drillers

(Reprinted with permission from the May 2, 2022 PA Environment Digest Blog by David E. Hess, former Secretary, PA Department of Environmental Protection) From 2016 to 2021, DEP approved 752 plans for the permanent disposal of drill cuttings at oil and gas well drilling sites through the decades-old practice of “dusting”– forcefully blowing drill cuttings…

All Hail Marcellus Shale

Robert Donnan ©2009 Enter the darkness, in the ground,Frack it, attack it, damn that sound!Gas to be drilled, big money found,Spewing secret chemicals all around.  Steal the water, from the fish,Pump it, pipe it, spot the dish.Secret formula? Aw tish-tish,Resolve it later, don’t we wish!  Will it all, to your kids’ grandkid,Don’t drink the water, sue pro…

Risks and Harms of Fracking and Oil and Gas Infrastructure

On April 28, the Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Concerned Health Professionals of New York released their Eighth Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking and Associated Gas and Oil Infrastructure. The Compendium is a collection of some 2,000 abstracts of and links to medical, scientific and investigative…

Pa. Act 14 Notifications and Local Communities

Last night in Jefferson Hills Borough, Pennsylvania, Lisa Graves-Marcucci, Pennsylvania Coordinator of Community Outreach for the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), gave an informational presentation to the borough’s Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) regarding Act 14 notifications. These important Act 14 notifications, sent by certified or registered mail, regarding applications for upcoming gas well sites and other…

The Power of Big Oil

In Part Two of the FRONTLINE series titled “Doubt” we see the finagling that went on by oil company executives, special interests, lobbyists and elected officials, to delay climate change action, and extending through several presidential administrations. VIDEO: The Power of Big Oil – Part Two: Doubt (52 minutes)

The ‘Un-Natural Gas’ Radioactive Waste Stream

A well-written and researched story by Justin Nobel was published yesterday on DeSmog: ‘This Needs to Be Fixed’: Nuclear Expert Calls Radioactivity Levels Found Outside Ohio Oilfield Waste Facility ‘Excessive’. Justin’s MUST READ story is about a facility in Martins Ferry, Ohio, that processes radioactive waste from oil and gas production from the Marcellus Shale…

‘Time to Wake Up’ Farewell

I’m old enough to remember when saffron-robed Buddhist priests immolated themselves during the Vietnam War years of mass destruction and political corruption. On Earth Day, there was a repeat of that sort of supreme sacrifice by Colorado photojournalist Wynn Alan Bruce, a practicing Buddhist and climate activist. He self-immolated on the steps of the U.S….

Big Oil

Two things recently caught my attention, the first being a 3-part series airing on PBS stations. The Power of Big Oil (Part One: Denial) “FRONTLINE examines the fossil fuel industry’s history of casting doubt and delaying action on climate change. Part One of this three-part series charts the fossil fuel industry’s early research on climate…

Spring Glory on Easter Sunday

We were lucky to catch the Spring Flower Show at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens during its final days last week. The photos I took using an iPhone 13 Mini have been assembled into a short, high resolution video posted here for your enjoyment: MORE: Bobscaping videos on YouTube

Pennsylvania’s Shale Gas Boom – How Policy Decisions Failed

The Environmental Health Project has just released its White Paper, “Pennsylvania’s Shale Gas Boom: How Policy Decisions Failed to Protect Public Health and What We Can Do to Correct It“ The Environmental Health Project recently presented its white paper at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Watch a 33-minute recording of the event here….

“DIVERSIFIED ENERGY: Business Model Built to Fail Appalachia”

Yesterday’s Zoom presentation by that same title was quite alarming, especially for those of us living in Pennsylvania, where Diversified Energy now owns over 22,000 oil and gas wells. Diversified actually owns more wells in the United States than Exxon, or any other oil and gas producer, for that matter! Below is an excellent one…

Pennsylvania has a Methane Problem

(UPDATED: FULL REPORT AND APPENDICES LINKED BELOW) In the big push by GOP candidates in the US Senate and Pennsylvania gubernatorial races for an accelerated amount of drilling and fracking in our Keystone state, these candidates are ignoring an existing problem with fugitive methane emissions from existing and abandoned wells. Tomorrow, Tuesday April 12th at…

Birds Eye View of Pennsylvania Gas Production

You really need this sort of birds eye view to fully realize the widespread oil and gas development that’s taken place in western Pennsylvania since 2004, when the first Marcellus Shale gas well was drilled in Westland, Mount Pleasant Township, Pennsylvania, followed by more early development around Hickory, Washington County, PA. TRI-STATE AREAWidespread shale gas…

Marcellus Shale Land Grab

There’s been some squawking lately about the prospect of some proposed, large scale solar farms, eating up too much farm land in Pennsylvania. One article made reference to one-percent of the farm land in Lawrence County, Pa as being a large amount for a solar farm. To that, I would reply, what about all the…

Crabgrass Control Now

L.O.L. SIGN IN FRONT OF GARDEN CENTER: “Grouchy hippies smoke crabgrass.” BACK TO REALITY: It’s that time of year to control crabgrass on home lawns, by applying a “pre-emergent” — meaning a product that has to be on the lawn BEFORE crabgrass germinates. I’m not at all concerned about it here, since our home lawn…

HVAC Update with Heat Pump

Now that more of our home electricity requirements are provided by solar energy, it was time to upgrade our HVAC system to a heat pump, instead of just replacing the old central air conditioning unit. A far more efficient gas furnace was also installed for heat backup, when temperatures drop below freezing. Here are the…

Stunning Spring Beauty

While the thermometer says winter, don’t tell these flowering cherry trees in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, that it’s not Spring! Thinking Spring!Bob

Rethinking Biosolids as Fertilizer

Even though I’ve been a big fan of Milorganite for lawns and shrub beds over the years, news stories over the past 10 months have given me pause. On the plus side, are its characteristics as a non-burning and slow-release organic fertilizer, as well as a level of iron (Fe) that helps establish turfgrass seedlings,…

Energy Security

While the Department of Defense and others ‘in the know’ call for greater security from renewables, it’s the oil and gas industry trying to spin it the opposite way. “The world is changing, and we at the Department of Defense can’t afford to stand still. We need to compete for the energy technologies that will…

Dangerous Deer Tick Virus

DTV has been detected in a total of 15 Pennsylvania counties Last year was the first time I found a deer tick embedded in my skin. Talk about raising your awareness level! Fortunately, I found it early on, and tested negative for Lyme disease. But now we learn of a far more dangerous threat from…

Lime Time

Seeing that our local hardware store had gotten their Spring shipment of lime was a great reminder of how important liming can be for local lawns and gardens. Soil chemistry is measured with something called “pH” — which indicates its level of acidity or alkalinity. Plants in western Pennsylvania tend to grow best in a…

Oil Company Riches at Your Expense

While the average person on the street is getting gouged by high prices for gasoline, petrol if you will, the top oil companies are raking in massive profits. According to one article: This year, pretax profits for ConocoPhillips, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Hess Corporation, and Devon Energy are expected to increase by 42.7, 38.5, 28.6, 56.9 and…

Goodbye Gas Stations!

One of the beauties of driving an electric vehicle (EV) is driving past gas stations without stopping, and filling up with electricity at home! Since I just got my Energy Efficiency report from MyChevy on our 2019 Bolt, I thought it would be a good time to do a comparison on driving costs. Here’s that…

Snow Days

With the potential for heavy snow from winter storm ‘IZZY’ in some parts of Pennsylvania tonight, I’m reminded of the winter of 1992-1993, when we provided snow removal service for 23 residential clients. What a winter! Photo: Snow-covered Weeping Beech It’s not the depth of snow that ever worried me as much as the moisture content,…

SHELL Cracker Plant

The huge Pennsylvania Petrochemicals plant in Monaca, Pennsylvania (Beaver County) is due to begin production of plastic nurdles this year. This December 8, 2021 webinar video features several speakers who describe what this plastic production plant will mean to the local area, with the final speaker from Texas sharing firsthand experiences with petrochemical plants, and…

Clarion call for renewables NOW

The invasion of Ukraine, a dastardly war which has caused 2 million Ukrainians to leave their homeland, and brings heart wrenching news of residential areas –even a maternity hospital yesterday– being bombed and shelled by Russia, is a clarion call to break our addiction to fossil fuels. Yet pitifully and predictably, it’s provided a new…

Spectacular Orchid Show

My photos of colorful and spectacular orchids at the 2022 Phipps Orchid Show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Enjoy! Bob

Home Solar Energy Update

Solar energy provided 44% of our home electricity AND car charging needs during the month of November 2021. TESLA APP SCREEN SHOTS – SOLAR PANEL PRODUCTION FROM 8.97kW SYSTEM(left) 5.67kW solar system on Front roof (right) 3.3kW solar system on Back roof Home solar energy production in November 2021 = 396.8 kWh Home electricity usage and…

All Charged Up

Winter cold will reduce an EV’s maximum charge level, on a lithium-ion battery, by as much as 15-percent. Screen shots above: BOLT FULL CHARGE LEVELS(left) Warmer December 22, 2021 232 miles vs. (right) Colder January 12, 2022 199 miles Lessons Learned driving an electric vehicle (EV) Cold weather in western Pennsylvania can result in a…

Solar Energy from Greenhouses

Considering all the greenhouses that have to use shade cloth to reduce the intensity of sunshine, semi-transparent solar modules would be a win-win! “Researchers at the University of Jaén in Spain have looked at the potential of agrivoltaics for greenhouses in areas with high crop cultivation in greenhouses. They have developed a dual model that they claim enables a proper project…

Sunny Outlook for Solar

At the end of an article about the increased use of coal yesterday, I noticed a comment from a familiar and anonymous name… a troll who has continually spewed lies and misinformation in multiple newspapers over the years, making feeble attempts to support fossil fuels by dissing renewables. As the saying goes, “That dog won’t…

Ditching Gasoline for Rechargeables

I got tired of messing around with gasoline, petrol as they call it outside the U.S., so it was time to convert our lawn and garden landscaping equipment to rechargeable units. It began with the snowthrower and has proceeded nicely from there! What I mean by “messing around with gasoline” Storing gasoline-powered snowthrowers over summer…

Renewable Energy News

Breaking news on solar energy, wind power, geothermal, tidal energy and other sources of renewable energy. CleanTechnica – “CleanTechnica is the world’s #1 source for cleantech news and analysis. It entertains and informs approximately 6 million monthly global readers along with hundreds of thousands of social media followers. It is followed by some of the biggest names in the…

Whack That Bradford Pear

A recent story in the New York Times created a new hubbub over Callery Pears, specifically the popular ornamental Bradford Pear. The Bradford Pear was one of the trees we avoided planting in home landscapes, primarily due to its weak branching structure — those ‘V-shaped’ crotches — that were infamous for splitting-out in ice or…

Barberries Barred in Pennsylvania

Yesterday we got word the PA Dept. of Agriculture added Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) to their list of noxious weeds, meaning plants that can’t be legally sold or cultivated in Pennsylvania. The ban officially took effect on October 8, 2021 and will be phased-in at nurseries over 2 years. We remember one of the ornamental varieties…

Fear This Insect Pennsylvania!

A new threat to Pennsylvania is the SPOTTED LANTERNFLY (Lycorma delicatula) which is a one-inch-long, red, black and white planthopper that’s native to Southeast Asia and was first identified in Berks County, PA in 2014. What’s at stake with Spotted Lanternfly (SLF)? Your Maple trees and “Pennsylvania’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry and the quality of…

Green to Halloween

Fall weather has both extended the life of potted flowers on our deck and muted a colorful fall foliage season. Yin and yang. As darkening days remind us that winter is just around the corner, it’s lovely to still see colorful and full-grown potted flowers adorning the perimeter of our deck. We’re already two weeks…

First Frost

After years of observing the weather in our Pittsburgh area, October 10th became the average date for our first frost, marking the end of the growing season for frost-sensitive plants. It also marks the date to bring houseplants indoors. Recently, when I mentioned this date to Stephen Cropper, Chief Meteorologist for WPXI, he shared the…

Wildfire Worries for Ancient Trees

Photos of fire workers wrapping the ‘largest living tree on Earth’ in silver fire retardant foil got me thinking, and worrying, about the awe-inspiring trees we saw during our visit to the ‘Avenue of the Giants‘ in Humboldt Redwoods State Park in northern California, six years ago this month. The old-growth coast redwood forest is…

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