energy

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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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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Westinghouse CEO: Aris Candris

Aris Candris is not what you might expect. He skis black diamonds and enjoys snorkeling, scuba and free diving. On any given Sunday, he’ll jump on his bike and ride the hills of western Pennsylvania with no particular plan in mind. A perfect evening must include a great cigar. He and his wife value the …

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Stocks & Pedestal, Winter 2008

Just after saying it has no plans to cut here, US Airways has reneged again. Pittsburgh built the airline a $1 billion airport and has supported US Airways despite high fares and poor on-time performance, spurning low-cost carriers interested in this market. The result? Astounding cuts and the loss of hub status as one new …

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Destination of Choice?

Seemingly overnight, China has become the destination of choice for American companies looking to expand their operations overseas. In 2004, China surpassed the United States for the first time as the top worldwide destination for foreign direct investment. For 2005, that should equate to about $58 billion. In the western Pennsylvania region alone, there are …

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