Money

Politics and the Marcellus Shale

It was Nov. 3, one day after the stunning midterm elections that had routed the Democrats and left the party in disarray both nationally and in Pennsylvania. The political landscape was still smoldering when Karl Rove, one of the key architects of that Republican victory, stepped to the podium in a Pittsburgh conference center and …

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Finding New Ways

It’s around noon, and the winter sun shines on Fanny Edel Falk Elementary School at the top of the hilly University of Pittsburgh campus. Through a window facing southeast from one of Falk’s language arts classrooms, it looks as if you can see forever—toward Pittsburgh’s east suburbs and beyond. Many of the students seem keenly …

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Our Water and the Marcellus Shale

The rig, a 70-foot steel spire, soared above the manmade moonscape atop the plateau that Chesapeake Energy’s contractors had hewn out of the hillside on my family farm in Wyoming County. And as my 8-year-old daughter and I trekked along the ridge above it to get a better look, I was struck with an odd …

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Masters of their Fate

Dawn was still hours away when Jim Rohr emerged from National City Corp. headquarters in downtown Cleveland on Oct. 24, 2008. The streets were empty, but familiar. His grandfather’s deli had stood just across the street. Not far from there was where his father had moved the deli, which later became a restaurant. Rohr worked …

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Found in Translation

Come on, Ima, vamanos! That was the exhortation from my 3-year-old recently when she wanted me to hurry up and get out the play dough. Like now, Mommy—before I scream… Interesting, I noticed (after gritting my teeth), that a little girl still grappling with the complexities and pitfalls of English has begun to integrate words …

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A Gas-Based Economy

It was mid-afternoon in late winter, and the public relations man for one of the larger drilling companies in Pennsylvania was driving me back along a rutted country road from a rig we had just visited. He had been extolling the virtues of the state’s vast cache of natural gas, ticking off the ways in …

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Power Play

Six years ago, Keith Schaefer was reviewing a portfolio of companies for a group of investors headed by Pittsburgh financier Sam Zacharias and Andy Russell, the former Steeler. Schaefer and his group were scrutinizing a company that used power lines for telecommunication. As he met with utility executives, the conversation veered off topic.  “I realized …

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Workers Wanted: The Marcellus Shale

It’s early, the sun is just peeking up over those western Pennsylvania hills, and it’s cold and bleak as he pulls into the brightly lit service station-cum-convenience store to fill up the pressed-steel canyon that is the fuel tank of the company-owned Cummins 3500 pickup he’s driving. There’s nothing in the world that Shawn Clark …

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Considering the Alternatives

In 1926, much of Pittsburgh was still bathed in gaslight, and in that warm, industrial glow, Jim Ferry saw a future for himself, his family, and the city. The gutsy young entrepreneur formed his own business with a $160 loan that his mother signed using her furniture as collateral. He found his first customers by …

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The Payoff Pitch

Nellie King is lying on a hospital bed, his once-sinewy muscles flaccid, his face ashen. The man who once hurled sinking fastballs past Frank Robinson and Ernie Banks is so weak from pneumonia that he can barely draw a breath. He has this terrifying sensation of his skin separating from his skeleton. His youngest daughter, Amy, …

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2nd Half Money

The past year’s dramatic recovery in stocks now in the rear-view mirror; so what lies ahead for investors? Pittsburgh Quarterly asked a group of regional experts what they expect in the second half of 2010. Specifically, we asked how they view the markets and economy and what they’re recommending in terms of sectors and strategies. Not …

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Affording Long-Term Care

For Dr. Saul Silver, buying long-term care insurance for himself was an easy choice. “My father was fully independent a year ago, but now he is driving around in a motorized cart. This is what happens when we get older. You can’t walk. You can’t take care of yourself. This is something we have to …

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We Have the Power

Turn on a light bulb. Run the dishwasher. Boot up the computer. Run a Google search. Somewhere, a turbine spins, a coal-laden barge docks near a power plant, a nuclear reactor harvests the bound-up energy of a uranium atom. Electricity generation leads to the release of harmful emissions and a relentless pursuit to extract more …

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Marcellus Shale: Doing it Right

Oct. 8, 2009, at the Kearns Well near Brush Run, Washington County: As industrial accidents go, this wasn’t a particularly bad one. A valve on a massive water tank had failed. Designed for the low hydrostatic pressures encountered in the flatlands out west, the valve had been no match for the pressures generated by the …

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Oxymoron or Opportunity?

From Pittsburgh to the hills of West Virginia, a small army of scientists is racing to tame the billions of tons of carbon vented from coal-burning power plants, working with data sets, computer models, cost analyses and other such tools that belie the drama of their high-stakes investigation. Burning coal casts off nasty pollutants, including …

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Choose Wisely

For Dee Strunk, it came down to the screened-in porch. She was touring retirement communities when she saw a charming porch in a carriage house at The Woodlands at St. Barnabus, and she knew this was it. The porch reminded her of the one she loved at her old house in McCandless. “It’s my own …

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The Story of the Marcellus Shale

For days, they had been rumbling up the rutted dirt track that led to the top of the rocky dome above the rolling fields of Washington County; a ’round-the-clock procession of big rigs carting up thousands of gallons of water. They’d drop their loads, turn around as best they could in the axle-deep mud that …

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Energy & Pittsburgh

Beginning in this issue and then picking up steam over the next three, Pittsburgh Quarterly is publishing a series examining Pittsburgh’s contributions to and potential in the realm of energy. Few regions in the world are as well prepared as greater Pittsburgh to play a key role in a variety of different energy sectors. When you …

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The Business of Retirement Living

Five years ago, a senior citizen wanting to move into a stately retirement community would typically put his name on a list and wait, sometimes for a year or two. Today he would have little trouble finding an apartment in a community that boasts such amenities as indoor pools and spas, a golf simulator and …

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Taking Stock

Over the last nine months, investors have read their morning papers, stared at CNBC, and ripped open their brokerage statements with similar results. The financial calculus known simply and profoundly as their net worth has done something of a disappearing act. The S&P 500’s early March lows of 666 represented a 57 percent drop from …

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We, robot

A decade ago, the Wall Street Journal gave Pittsburgh the moniker “Roboburgh” when compiling its list of the nation’s 13 hottest high-tech regions. The Steel City is living up to its 21st-century nickname, making new its rich history of engineering complex things. Scores of local robotics start-ups are driving economic growth by building innovative robots …

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Electrifying Knowledge

In 1995, Carnegie Mellon University’s Professor Raj Reddy organized a meeting in Shadyside of the world’s foremost digital thought leaders to discuss the feasibility of electronic libraries. The idea of very large Internet libraries had been gestating in Reddy’s mind for about 15 years, but it was not until then that desktop computers, easy Internet …

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