Monday, May 23, 2011

Advertising a Bad Idea

I realized that trying to allow Google to post ads on this blog, so I could make a few cents a month, was a bad idea when I saw ads for making money on Marcellus Shale gas.

The result of a Google image search for "bad idea." Google may be evil, but  it's got a great image search!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Our Most Endangered River

According to a new report by America's Rivers, the Susquehanna River is the most endangered river in the United States. They clarify that this doesn't mean it's the most polluted river, but that they consider it to be at a turning point due to the issue of hydraulic fracturing -- "fracking" or "fracing" -- which threatens to poison the water supplies of millions of people in the Commonwealth.

Rivers aren't dumping grounds for everything we wish was "someplace else", though we do use them that way. They are the living heart of our landscape.

Reposted below.

Natural Gas Development Putting Clean Water at Risk for Millions of People

Location: New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland
One of the longest rivers in America, the Susquehanna River provides over half of the freshwater to the Chesapeake Bay and drinking water to millions of people. Communities and businesses depend on the river for drinking water, commerce, hydropower generation, and recreational boating. Now this resource is at risk of contamination.

The Threat

The Susquehanna River and its tributaries flow over the Marcellus Shale region, a rock formation underlying much of New York and Pennsylvania, containing reserves of natural gas. The rush to develop natural gas has come without consideration of the impacts to clean water, rivers, and the health of these communities.

The threat of contamination is high. As part of the hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” process to extract natural gas, massive amounts of water are withdrawn from rivers and streams. The water is then mixed with sand and toxic chemicals and pumped underground to fracture the shale under extreme pressure. A portion of that highly toxic, highly saline, and potentially radioactive wastewater will return to the surface, and requires specialized treatment, but at this time, only a limited number of wastewater treatment facilities have the capacity to handle it.

Already, spills from trucks hauling wastewater, leaks from lined fluid holding pits, and cracked well casings have contaminated private water wells. The potential for future environmental and public health catastrophes along the Susquehanna will only increase, considering the number of new wells projected and the amount of toxic wastewater produced.

What Must Be Done

While Pennsylvania and New York have been working to improve clean water safeguards for natural gas development, they fall short of adequately protecting the water supply for millions of Americans. It is the responsibility of these states, along with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), to analyze all of the potential cumulative impacts that could result from natural gas extraction, and ensure proper regulations are in place and capable of being enforced before development is allowed to continue.

Pennsylvania, New York, and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission need to announce a complete moratorium on water withdrawals and hydraulic fracturing until there are comprehensive regulations in place for natural gas development or they will put public health and drinking water at risk.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Monsanto's Assault on Agriculture

h/t bnet

This information is so important that I'm re-posting it in full. Does anyone know what percentage of Lancaster farmers use Monsanto seed, and how much Roundup (glyphosate) is used here? I suspect quite a lot.

Back in January, a noted plant scientist who spent much of his career at Purdue University sent a letter to the USDA informing the agency that he’d discovered a mysterious new disease-causing organism in Monsanto’s (MON) genetically engineered Roundup Ready corn and soybeans. Now, that scientist — Don Huber — has written a follow-up letter to the USDA and appears in a videotaped interview where he presents an even scarier picture of the damage he claims Monsanto’s herbicide chemical glyphosate (the main ingredient in Roundup) is doing to both plants and the animals who eat them.

In the 20-minute interview, which was conducted by Food Democracy Now’s Dave Murphy, Huber makes a strong case for his own credibility, appearing as a droll, erudite Midwestern scientist with deep connections to corn and soybean growers and livestock farmers. Although Huber’s findings have not yet been verified by outside scientists or published in a peer reviewed journal, the severity of his claims is such that the USDA ought to give them immediate attention.

It’s not the genes, it’s the herbicide

Huber’s issue is not with genetic engineering per se, but with the huge amounts of glyphosate (185 million pounds in 2007) in herbicide now used on America’s farms. Use of glyphosate has soared thanks to widespread use of Monsanto’s soy and corn seeds, which are genetically modified to survive its effects.

The problem with glyphosate, Huber says, is that it effectively “gives a plant AIDS,” weakening its defenses and making it more susceptible to pathogens, such as the one his team discovered. The scientists have taken to calling the bug “the electron microscope (EM) organism,” since it can only be seen with an electron microscope.

A big part of the problem, Huber says, lies with the way glyphosate prevents plants from absorbing vital nutrients, particularly the mineral manganese. In the Food Democracy interview, Huber says some studies have shown that Roundup Ready soybeans and corn have up to 50% less manganese than conventional varieties. Huber claims that the double whammy of weakened defenses and the new EM organism have contributed to “unexplained epidemics” of disease on farms — sudden death syndrome of soybean crops and Goss’ wilt on corn.

The problem in pictures

Here are photos he included with his follow-up letter, which was also sent to EU and UK officials at their request, showing dead or dying Roundup Ready corn and RR soybeans planted side by side with their thriving non-GE brethren:

Huber says the same thing has happened in animals. He’s heard from cattle farmers who are struggling because they’re experiencing a 15% infertility rate and 35% rate of spontaneous abortions among their herds. When the farmers switch to non-GE soy and corn for feed, the problems decline dramatically. Huber has talked to other animal vets who’ve experienced high death rates and have found that their GE-fed animals are severely deficient in manganese.

And whenever Huber has worked with vets to analyze tissue samples from GE-fed animals that were inexplicably sick or had fertility problems, the tests always come back positive for the EM organism.

It’s anecdotal, not data — but it’s still scary

Of course, all this is merely anecdotal. Whether it can be scientifically proven that farm animals are suffering because they’re eating Roundup Ready soy and corn is another story. But since GE food crops are such a fundamentally new part of agriculture (first planted in 1996) and Huber’s account — if accurate — spells disaster for American agriculture, it’s worth finding out what’s going on before allowing more of Monsanto’s RR crops onto the market.

But that’s not what the USDA did. A week and a half after Huber had his letter hand delivered to secretary Tom Vilsack, the agency gave the greenlight for Roundup Ready alfalfa. Huber was deeply disappointed:
I would have hoped that there would have been a delay and the resources allocated to answer the questions, to verify that we’re not going to further increase the severity of this organism…. Can we afford to just open the floodgates wide open before we have the answers. What’s the urgency?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Climate Change Deniers Same as "Birthers"

h/t USA Today,, and the National Academies

Too good not to use.
From the USA Today editorial:
Taken together, these developments ought to leave the deniers in the same position as the "birthers," who continue to challenge President Obama's American citizenship — a vocal minority that refuses to accept overwhelming evidence.

From the study:
WASHINGTON — Warning that the risk of dangerous climate change impacts is growing with every ton of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, a National Research Council committee today reiterated the pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare to adapt to its impacts. The nation's options for responding to the risks posed by climate change are analyzed in a new report and the final volume in America's Climate Choices, a series of studies requested by Congress. The committee that authored the report included not only renowned scientists and engineers but also economists, business leaders, an ex-governor, a former congressman, and other policy experts.

Rainy Days in May

I'd like to propose a a new metric by which to measure extreme rain events: the number of times the sewer backs up into my basement in any given month. Usually this number equals 0. This month, May 2011, this number equals 2 (so far).

Last night, with up to 2" of rain falling in an hour and a half in Lancaster City, the sewer main that runs through my basement backed up -- again -- and filled it with about 8" of brackish water.

Figure 1. Note the firehose-like quality of the water gushing into my basement.

And here I thought I was clever building heavy duty shelves after the last sewer overflow. I know the water hit the 8" mark because my lowest shelf weighed in at exactly 7.5". 8" of water can really float some stuff, let me tell you....

Hopefully, this time, there will be no actual sewage. Crossing my fingers as the water recedes.

UPDATE: Someone just brought to my attention a column by Jack Brubaker ("The Scribbler") headlined "Lancaster built on a wolf-infested swamp?", in which the Scribbler says that yes, in fact, downtown Lancaster City was once a wolf-infested swamp. Explains a lot, doesn't it? They drained the swamp and cut down all the trees in order to expand the city way back in 1745. Quoting from the column:

"But central Lancaster remained filled with a considerable amount of water. Substantial streams ran down Queen and Water streets. Springs proliferated; some of them are still flowing."

Yeah, through my basement!

I humbly suggest that filling in wetlands (what they used to call "land reclamation", as if the wetland snuck in in the dark of the night) is a really bad idea. Flooding basements with sewage is the least of it. This bad idea points to the root cause of our troubles with water these days: we think we can control it, when ultimately it has much more to say about the nature of our existence than we have to say about its. This is why filling in wetlands is "land reclamation," why modern human settlements are built like shields rather than sponges, why we cover up streams and springs rather than accepting them as an ineluctable feature of the landscape, and why we mix our effluent (human [shit], non-human animal [shit] and industrial [toxic waste]) with water, rather than recycling it, as the rest of nature does.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

More Drilling?

As our illustrious President continues to call for more drilling, including the streamlining of drilling permits in Alaska and areas of the Gulf that had been under a temporary drilling moratorium, the obvious question (other than "wtf?!") to us Lancastrians is "what does this mean for us?"

I am, of course, not implying that nothing matters outside our rather arbitrary political boundaries. But, you know -- what's it mean locally?

Well, first, it means we can't count on any President, whether they've got an '-R' or a '-D' after their names, to have a responsible energy policy. The best they can do is rehash old ways of hoovering up our limited resources and depositing them into the hands of a tiny elite. Oh well.

It means oil & gas prices will continue to go up, since no amount of domestic drilling will put even the tiniest downward pressure on prices. This also means food prices will go up, since the price of food is intimately linked to the price of oil.


For those who are paying attention, energy and food inflation makes up over half of total price inflation these days.

Since Lancaster is not a net producer of oil (even counting all those gallons of used fryer oil you're putting in your diesel-powered VW -- you know who you are!), this means we will continue to be at the mercy of the oil-producing world... that is, so long as we rely on a far-away political elite to decide our destiny. Time for us to choose our own fate. Continue to play the zero sum geo-political oil game, or Transition consciously to a better way? A local way?

So far as energy goes, we have two options vis-à-vis our crippling oil addiction: (1) we can conserve, conserve, conserve; and (2) we can transition to harnessing local energy supplies.

I'd be interested in your ideas on how we can achieve each. This is what Transition is all about!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vindicating Climate Science... again

The first rule of vindicating climate science is you do not talk about vindicating climate science

A ClimateProgress repost. Mostly I just love any reference to Fight Club.
UK Government:  “It is a primary concern to the Government that the evidence base for policies is robust. Where this evidence base is questioned, it is right that allegations are properly assessed and scrutinised. After two independent reviews, and two reviews by the Science and Technology Committee, we find no evidence to question the scientific basis of human influence on the climate….
“Evidence from multiple disciplines and sources strongly indicates that climate change, driven by human activities, poses real risks for our future. This evidence is comprehensively captured in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and in more recent analyses including from the US National Research Council of the National Academies. It is also clear from an almost continuous body of publications in the academic literature that the evidence for human induced climate change continues to grow….”
You won’t find much U.S. media coverage of the official UK “Government Response” to “The Reviews into the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit’s E-mails” by the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons.
I think that is because:
  1. It re-re-re-re-vindicates climate scientists, and since the media glossed over the first three vindications, why start now?
  2. It didn’t involve a wedding.
... read the rest...

Weekly Roundup

Weekly roundup of all the articles that have been littering my web browser (Firefox 4, of course) the past week or so....

City Schools to Host Local Produce Markets

Good job, Harry! Our very own Harry Edwards, city resident and organic farmer in the New Holland area, first to step up.

Raspberries, cantaloupes, arugula, artichokes and peppers are coming to the parking lots of city schools this summer.
Farmers will be selling fresh produce in neighborhoods that don't have easy access to it, in a push to promote healthy eating here.
Lancaster city, Lancaster General Health and Lighten Up Lancaster have joined forces on the project.
The project was sparked last year when Washington Elementary School, on South Ann Street, asked a farmer to sell produce to students' families. Neighborhood residents started showing up to buy the fruits and vegetables.
Local health officials saw a need, saying parts of the city are "food deserts," areas devoid of supermarkets and affordable, fresh foods.
Renewables Can Outstrip Demand

While the cost to do this may be $12.3 trillion over 20 years, the cost of not doing anything is tremendously higher. One estimate of the cost to "adapt" (read: "suffer") is over $1.2 quadrillion. Spend now, spend less.

Wind and solar power are among six renewable energy options that have the potential to outstrip total world energy needs and may grow as much as 20-fold over the next four decades, a draft United Nations report said.
Geothermal, biomass, solar, wind, hydropower and electricity from the ocean’s waves and tides could more than meet the global energy needs for power, heating and transport based on 2008 demand, according to the study by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.
In practice, less than 2.5 percent of that potential will be used, the panel said, basing the finding on four scenarios out of 164 examined in the UN’s biggest assessment of alternative energy. A shift to low-carbon energy will require a global investment of as much as $12.3 trillion by 2030, it said.
Wherefore the Cost of Power?

US electricity prices are low by world standards. One reason? We reward people for wasting energy. Elsewhere, the price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) increases the more you use. Here it drops. Other nations also tax energy more, and then use the money to implement smart policies, such as increasing efficiency and fostering renewable energy supply. Here? We subsidize the dirtiest fuels at six times the rate of clean energy.

We often talk about electric rates as if the only thing that goes into determining them is the power source.  In some sense, this is right:  If a utility’s power costs go up, and nothing else changes, the price they charge consumers will likely eventually go up.
But, this understanding doesn’t fully appreciate the role of rate design in determining what the rate will be.  When utilities – and utility regulators – design an electricity rate, they make numerous decisions that impact the price that consumers will ultimately pay, regardless of power source.  Ignoring these other decisions can lead to lazy thinking about rate impacts, which can ultimately lead to poor decision making.

The Transition US Daily

A new online paper sponsored by Transition US.

China to Exploit Shale Gas

Ouch. There goes the water supply of over a billion people? I find it pretty interesting that they're estimating 30 years' worth of shale gas in the US alone, as if that somehow means we don't need to think about energy policy for that period of time. 30 years is not that long. And in the meanwhile, of course, we'll have trashed our water supplies, our forests, and the atmosphere. And note the paragraph about exporting US shale gas. Energy independence what?

Global reserves of shale gas.
YUANBA, China, April 20 (Reuters) - China has spent tens of billions of dollars buying into energy resources from Africa to Latin America to slake the unquenched thirst for fuel from its growing industry and burgeoning cities.
But China may have more energy riches under its own soil than policy makers in the world's second-largest economy ever dared imagine.
Just over a year ago, Beijing awakened to a technology revolution that has unlocked massive reserves of gas trapped within shale rock formations in the United States.
Once deemed too costly to extract, shale gas has turned around U.S. dependence on foreign gas imports. Just a few years ago, the United States was building scores of expensive facilities to import liquefied natural gas (LNG), looking at booming long-term demand forecasts and wondering which countries would supply the huge volume of imports it needed.
Instead, the United States is turning import facilities into export terminals, because its shale gas reserves are estimated to be big enough to meet domestic demand for 30 years. This is an American dream that China wants to emulate.
"America's shale gas production alone has exceeded that of total Chinese gas output. That gives us a lot of confidence," said Zhang Dawei, deputy director of the Strategic Research Centre for Oil and Gas in the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR).
China's confidence has been bolstered by a new report of its estimated reserves of shale gas, which shows them to be, by far, the largest in the world.
The U.S. Energy Information Agency in a report last month estimates China holds 36.1 trillion cubic metres (1,275 trillion cubic feet) of technically recoverable shale gas reserves -- significantly higher than the 24.4 tcm (862 trillion cubic feet) in the United States, which has the second-most.
Industry estimates in China peg shale gas resources slightly lower -- but still huge -- at 26 trillion cubic metres (tcm), although they have yet to give their own forecasts of how much of that is recoverable.
Maryland to Sue Chesapeake Energy for PA Fracking Blowout

On April 19, a natural gas hydrofracturing well owned by Chesapeake Energy in Bradford County, PA suffered a blowout.  It spewed “thousands and thousands of gallons of frack fluid over containment walls, through fields, personal property and farms, even where cattle continue to graze.” Brad Johnson has the story of the aftermath.
The spill drained into the Susquehanna River watershed, which feeds Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Maryland’s Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler now “plans to sue the company for violating federal anti-pollution laws” including the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA), as a press release issued yesterday explains:
On April 19, thousands of gallons of fracking fluids were released from a well owned and operated by Chesapeake Energy into Towanda Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, which supplies 45% of the fresh water in the Chesapeake Bay. In his letter, Attorney General Gansler notified the company that at the close of the required 90-day notice period, the State intends to file a citizen suit and seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under RCRA for solid or hazardous waste contamination of soils and ground waters, and the surface waters and sediments of Towanda Creek and the Susquehanna River. The State also intends to seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under the CWA for violation of the CWA’s prohibition on unpermitted pollution to waters of the United States.
“Companies cannot expose citizens to dangerous chemicals that pose serious health risks to the environment and to public health,” said Gansler in the press release. “We are using all resources available to hold Chesapeake Energy accountable for its actions.”
Wake Up! The Days of Abundant Resources and Falling Prices Are Over Forever
So says Jeremy Grantham, self-described "die-hard contrarian" and hedge fund manager

Summary of the Summary
The world is using up its natural resources at an alarming rate, and this has caused a permanent shift in their value.  We all need to adjust our behavior to this new environment. It would help if we did it quickly.
  • Until about 1800, our species had no safety margin and lived, like other animals, up to the limit of the food supply, ebbing and fl owing in population.
  • From about 1800 on the use of hydrocarbons allowed for an explosion in energy use, in food supply, and, through the creation of surpluses, a dramatic increase in wealth and scientifi c progress.
  • Since 1800, the population has surged from 800 million to 7 billion, on its way to an estimated 8 billion, at minimum.
  • The rise in population, the ten-fold increase in wealth in developed countries, and the current explosive growth in developing countries have eaten rapidly into our fi nite resources of hydrocarbons and metals, fertilizer, available land, and water.
  • Now, despite a massive increase in fertilizer use, the growth in crop yields per acre has declined from 3.5% in the 1960s to 1.2% today. There is little productive new land to bring on and, as people get richer, they eat more grain-intensive meat. Because the population continues to grow at over 1%, there is little safety margin.
  • The problems of compounding growth in the face of fi nite resources are not easily understood by optimistic, short-term-oriented, and relatively innumerate humans (especially the political variety).
  • The fact is that no compound growth is sustainable. If we maintain our desperate focus on growth, we will run out of everything and crash. We must substitute qualitative growth for quantitative growth.
  • But Mrs. Market is helping, and right now she is sending us the Mother of all price signals. The prices of all important commodities except oil declined for 100 years until 2002, by an average of 70%. From 2002 until now, this entire decline was erased by a bigger price surge than occurred during World War II.
  • Statistically, most commodities are now so far away from their former downward trend that it makes it very probable that the old trend has changed – that there is in fact a Paradigm Shift – perhaps the most important economic event since the Industrial Revolution.
  • Climate change is associated with weather instability, but the last year was exceptionally bad. Near term it will surely get less bad.
[JR:  Well, it may get less bad, but not "surely." This year is pretty extreme already and 2012 could be as bad or worse than 2010, according to Hansen here.]
  • Excellent long-term investment opportunities in resources and resource efficiency are compromised by the high chance of an improvement in weather next year and by the possibility that China may stumble.
  • From now on, price pressure and shortages of resources will be a permanent feature of our lives. This will increasingly slow down the growth rate of the developed and developing world and put a severe burden on poor countries.
We all need to develop serious resource plans, particularly energy policies. There is little time to waste.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Birthday Climate Update

Does it mean anything that my first climate update is on my birthday? Probably not. 29 today! That means, like I told my mom earlier, this is my last year before I'm officially old. May as well make the best of it ;-)

h/t for most of this.

Triage: US Army Corps of Engineers Floods 130,000ac of Farmland, Saves Small Town

These sort of decisions will be made increasingly more frequently.
The Army Corps exploded the Birds Point levee near Wyatt, Mo., after nightfall Monday, potentially sacrificing 130,000 acres of rich farmland and about 100 homes in Missouri to spare the town of Cairo, Ill., with its 2,800 residents, located at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
But even as the Corps carried out its bid to save the city, floodwaters were rising downriver, including in Memphis, Tenn. And the breach in the Birds Point levee wasn’t expected to ease those flooding concerns.
Army Corps of Engineers Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh, who made the decision to blast, said it was a heart-wrenching but necessary move.
The fact that the Army Corps is intentionally causing 1/3 of billion dollars in damage is stark evidence of just how serious this flood is. The Birds Point levee has been demolished only once before, during the 1937 flood.

Defending the Atmosphere

Starting on May 4, young people in the United States and several other countries will file petitions and lawsuits in an effort to force public officials into protecting us all from climate change.

The international legal intervention – the sponsors call it guerrilla law – is believed to be the first of its kind. It is being organized by Our Children’s Trust in Eugene, Oregon. It’s part of a broader campaign that will include “iMatter” marches by young people around the world May 7-14, the brainchild of 16-year-old Alec Loorz of California.

Behind these demonstrations and legal actions is a principle that goes back to Roman law: the “public trust doctrine”. The doctrine holds that government officials are “trustees of the commons” with a fiduciary responsibility to protect critical natural resources on behalf of present and future generations. Attorneys working on the campaign will ask the courts to rule that the atmosphere is one of those critical resources.

More concretely, the lawsuits will ask that public officials be required to create plans to return atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million, the level scientists such as NASA’s Jim Hansen say is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate impacts.

The court action is meant to empower young people who have the most to lose from climate change but are too young to vote. Loorz explains it this way:
Young people will be affected most by decisions that are made today and yet we can’t vote and we don’t have money to compete with lobbyists. We do, however, have the moral authority and the legal right to insist that our future be protected.
Global Sea Level to Rise At Least 3.05.2 feet by 2100

That's enough to make refugees out of several million people on the East Coast alone (Boston, NYC, Philly, Miami, etc.). I'd also consider that a minimum, not a maximum.
A major new multi-country scientific assessment of the Arctic has concluded that on our current greenhouse gas emissions path, we face 3 to 5 feet of sea level rise — far greater than the 2007 IPCC warned of.  This is fully consistent with several recent studies (see “Sea levels may rise 3 times faster than IPCC estimated, could hit 6 feet by 2100“).
Growing Dust Bowl in Midwest Worse Than in 1930s

For those who think the impacts of climate change are in the future, you are sorely mistaken. Quoting from a recent (and terrible) New York Times piece:
While tornadoes and floods have ravaged the South and the Midwest, the remote western edge of the Oklahoma Panhandle is quietly enduring a weather calamity of its own: its longest drought on record, even worse than the Dust Bowl, when incessant winds scooped up the soil into billowing black clouds and rolled it through this town like bowling balls.

With a drought continuing to punish much of the Great Plains, this one stands out. Boise (rhymes with voice) City has gone 222 consecutive days through Tuesday with less than a quarter-inch of rainfall in any single day, said Gary McManus, a state climatologist. That is the longest such dry spell here since note-keeping began in 1908.
This is just the beginning, sad to say.

The Dust Bowl itself maintained a severity of around -3, though it briefly spiked to -6. (source)

Corbett's Pet Frackers

Thanks for this go to PennLive, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Clean Water Action Pennsylvania.

According to a recent report by Clean Water Action Pennsylvania and an analysis of violations from the Department of Environmental Protection, eight of the drilling companies with representatives on the Pennsylvania governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission were cited with environmental violations last year. The companies represented on the governor’s commission accounted for 42 percent of all drilling violations last year — 514 out of a total 1,227.

Those companies also donated more than $790,000 to Corbett's campaign.

When you cross-reference the list for violators and campaign-contributors, you find that every one that meets those two criteria is on the Governor's Pet Frackers Commission -- I mean, the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission.

One member of the Commission, Acting Secretary of Community and Economic Development C. Alan Walker, has a track record of environmental problems at mines operated by three of his companies in Clearfield and Centre counties.

Mr. Walker was the first cabinet member Mr. Corbett selected. In the governor's budget plan, he also was given the unusual authority to place permit applications on the fast track when job creation is involved.

The DEP's then-secretary David E. Hess had this to say about Mr. Walker back in 2002, in reference to an injunction forcing him to pay for environmental cleanup from his mines:

"We have to take strong action against some folks who just don't get it when it comes to fulfilling their environmental obligations. And that's exactly what happened this week to a mine operator who told us he wasn't going to spend a dime treating over 173 million gallons of polluted mine water," Mr. Hess wrote. "It's unfortunate with all the discussion nationally about corporate irresponsibility that we have a homegrown environmental example right here in Pennsylvania."

I think possibly Governor Corbett just doesn't get it.