Sunday, July 25, 2010

Marcellus Shale

Fracking is an activity that occurs in many parts of the country. While this gas extraction occurs within the state of PA and promotes the intention of "energy independence" the resources and most profits obtained from this gas drilling will not remain in the state; or possibly not even within the United States. See here for an overview.

While often coined to be "clean energy," fracking and gas drilling is NOT a clean energy process. The process actually creates imminent health issues, air pollution and both water quality and quantity issue. Within this New York Times link is a document whereby Weston Wilson, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employee and whistle blower, reveals EPA's potential failure to protect America's groundwater. His belief is that EPA's conclusion (i.e that the fracking process posses no threat to drinking water) is based on unsound science and appears to be improper under the The Safe Drinking Water Act. (SDWA).

The SDWA was amended in 2005. These amendments are currently known as the The "Halliburton loophole". The Amendments actually stripped the EPA of its authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing. It is an amazing article and well worth reading.While the gas drilling companies maintain that the fracking process is not a new process, and point to the fact that this has been going on for decades; the reality is that there have been many changes to this process that need to be scrutinized. The fracking fluid also contains many cancer causing chemicals including benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde.The fracking process also contributes to an increase of green house gasses in the atmosphere. Methane is a Green House Gas 22-25 times stronger than CO2. The Fracking process emits Methane contributing climate change.

New cameras are now being used to show the quantity of these vapors not visible with the naked eye. In addition, this link documents the problems associated with water quality and quantity issues, for example, naturally occurring radioactive materials that are leached in the process are brought to the surface. Water quantity withdrawals are a problem; a gas well can require up to 8,000,000 gallons of water per frack and a well can be fracked up to 18 times.

How many wells are currently permitted in PA? Both NYC and Pittsburgh City council have acknowledged the problems are real and have enacted temporary moratoriums until further threats can be assessed. The EPA is taking public comment about the scope of a new proposed study on fracking and is soliciting public comment before pressing forward with enacting any final regulations related to the the fracking process Please make your voice heard by attending the public meeting tomorrow or by contacting your congressmen or state representatives.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Power of 32: July 27, 2010 6:30-9:00 PM in Monroeville Council Chamber

Power of 32 is the biggest regional planning project ever undertaken in the United States, involving 32 counties in four states, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland. The idea behind this undertaking is that to compete in a global economy takes the strength and cooperation of a whole region, and that to make this an attractive and vibrant and healthy place to live also takes the whole region working together. This organization recently learned about Sustainable Monroeville at the Monroeville Library, and would be so pleased if some of our members could join the Power of 32 community conversation which will take place at the Monroeville Council Chambers on July 27 at 6:30 P.M. Your passion is obviously critical to enhancing quality of life in the next 25 years, and your voices should be heard! These conversations are the first step in a three phase process to develop a citizen-driven agenda for action. The Library has fact sheets, and flyers about the July 27 meeting.

If you have questions, please contact:
Sue McLaughlin, Outreach Coordinator
Power of 32

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tomer Nature Reserve in Murrysville, PA

Pia, of the Friends of Murrysville Parks, led a wonderful walk through the seventeen - acre Tomer Nature Reserve of the Westmoreland Conservancy this fine Saturday morning. Pia is a naturalist and has been facilitating an appreciation of all plants that are native to Western PA and the removal of exotic invasive species at Duff Park in Murrysville for ten years. Pia pointed out many beautiful plants that we want to keep in our wooded and prairie areas of our landscapes including Joe Pye Weed and Milkweed for butterflies and bees, Mayapple, Native Dogwood, Oak saplings, Blackberries and many more species.
Pia also pointed out and pulled out many exotic invasive plants. According to the colorful flyer Pia handed me following the hike, titled, "Help Murry the Squirrel Stomp Out Invasive Plants in Murrysville Parks," these invasives include Garlic Mustard, Bush Honeysuckle, Japanese and Giant Knotweed, Japenese Stilt Grass, Burning Bush, Barberry, Japanese Honeysuckle Vine, Multiflora Rose, and Tree of Heaven. We learned to identify almost all of these species and learned even in a nature reserve it is fine to remove these species from the reserve because they do not belong there.
Exotic invasive species choke out the native species by competing with them for basic soil nutrients, sunlight and water. Pia described how Japanese Stilt Grass uses a huge amount of water and grows so dense that native saplings are unable to germinate.
I enjoyed this hike with several others who reside in and around Murrysville and look forward to Pia's visit to Monroeville to educate us too! Thanks so much Pia, Buck the trailblazer, and the others too... Elisa Beck

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 19, 2010 Sustainable Monroeville Meeting -- Alternative Design Review

An Alternative Design Overview will be presented by Jeff Yeager of Octopus Organics and Jeff Newman of Steel City Soils, the Pittsburgh Garden Experiment, and Transition Pittsburgh. Meeting Date is Monday evening, July 19, 2010, at 7:00 PM at the Monroeville Public Library.

The 1-hour talk, will have 2 parts: evaluation techniques and permaculture principles for sub-urban applications. Learn about forest gardens, micro-climates, native-species, water and soil management. Both Jeffs will introduce ideas to hone your observation skills, add efficiency, and increase the production and health of your suburban homestead.

Feel free to bring along a locally sourced food snack to share. Questions?