Business

Labor Management

Against a backdrop of high national unemployment and concern about U.S. dependence on foreign energy, Richard Trumka, former president of the United Mine Workers and current president of the AFL-CIO, and Nicholas DeIuliis, president of Consol Energy, met in the second of a series of labor-management discussions sponsored by the Community College of Allegheny County. …

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A Natural-Gas Ponzi Scheme?

It was, on the surface, a devastating indictment: a report in The New York Times, the nation’s leading newspaper, alleging that the natural gas industry—an eclectic and fiercely competitive collection of players that included in its ranks everyone from cowboy drillers to staid overseas nationals like StatOil Hydro—may have joined together in a secret cabal …

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Middle East Connection

For 18 years, the Columbia, Md.-based engineering and construction firm Allen & Shariff grew quickly in the mid-Atlantic area, opening its Pittsburgh office in 2000, and looking to expand internationally. It had enough success with projects in the United Arab Emirates that it opened an international office in 2008. But it couldn’t break into another …

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A Toxic Topic

There is no doubt about it. The Marcellus Shale is radioactive, in every sense of the word. In the literal sense of the word, geologists and drillers have long known that each shale deposit has its own radioactive signature. In fact, they have often measured that radiation—from uranium, thorium, radium 226 and radium 228—and used …

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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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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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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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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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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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Six CEOs

Enron’s spectacular collapse in 2001, followed by WorldCom’s demise after Bernie Ebbers enjoyed more than $400 million in loans approved by his board of directors, led to the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX). SOX was intended to change the behavior and accountability of publicly traded companies, CEOs, boards of directors and public …

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The China Syndrome

Annie Wang was 9 when her parents vanished behind the Bamboo Curtain. It was the start of China’s “Cultural Revolution,” a terrible time for anyone in that country with money or status. Communist Party Chairman Mao Tse-tung urged citizens to engage in “class struggle” and the overthrow of “capitalist roaders,” encouraging the political persecutions, betrayal, torture, …

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How to Profit from the Coming Singularity

Singularity” is a term that futurists have borrowed from mathematics to describe an event so profound that nothing is the same afterwards. Noah’s flood would be an example. There are four singularities on the horizon, and each offers many opportunities to make money. The internet swallows the world In “Mirror Worlds: Or the Day Software …

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Policy Abroad Needs Work

At first quietly, a group of us has been working to build a world-class institute at the University of Pittsburgh that analyzes emerging security problems and opportunities. Working closely with the U.S. military and key policy experts, the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies investigates rapidly emerging and evolving threats. One of the issues …

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Google Knows How to Flirt

You hate to wait through an advertisement on television. But you enjoy the look and feel of an ad in your favorite magazine. You hate pop-ups on the Internet. Yet you like finding what you need on Google. Our likes, dislikes and habits in this changing world are becoming critically important to companies that want …

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Backstage with Springsteen

It was Christmas 1978, and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were playing at Pittsburgh’s Stanley Theater. A mutual friend asked my wife to relay a message to sax player “Big Man” Clarence Clemons and ask him to call her. We had a notion of who Bruce was but had never heard of Clarence. …

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