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Apr 19, 2023, 9:49:35 PM4/19/23
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From: Bob Donnan <donnanl...@yahoo.com>
Date: Wed, Apr 19, 2023, 9:19 AM
Subject: O-Hi-O
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America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2023
2nd place goes to the Ohio River!

#1 on the list this year is among the seven natural wonders of the world, and one of the greatest natural treasures in the nation: the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. For the Ohio, Clark Fork, and Lehigh rivers, pollution threatens the safety and quality of life of local communities. The train derailment that took place in East Palestine, Ohio underscores both the vulnerability of the Ohio River and the value the river serves for the over 5 million people that rely on it for drinking water. [43-minute YouTube video]

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Ten rivers, ten solutions.
These are America's Most Endangered Rivers® of 2023:

1. Colorado River, Grand Canyon (Arizona):  THREAT: Climate change, outdated water management 
2. Ohio River (Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois):  THREAT: Pollution, climate change   
3. Pearl River (Mississippi):  THREAT: Dredging and dam construction 
4. Snake River (Idaho, Oregon, Washington):  THREAT: Four federal dams 
5. Clark Fork River (Montana):  THREAT: Pulp mill pollution 
6. Eel River (California):  THREAT: Dams 
7. Lehigh River (Pennsylvania):  THREAT: Poorly planned development 
8. Chilkat and Klehini rivers (Alaska):  THREAT: Mining 
9. Rio Gallinas (New Mexico):  THREAT: Climate change, outdated forest and watershed management
10. Okefenokee Swamp (Georgia, Florida):  THREAT: Mining

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Ohio River Basin Alliance Responds to Listing of Ohio River as America's 2nd Most Endangered River in The Nation

The Ohio River starts at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers in Pittsburgh.  The western third of the Commonwealth contributes water to the Ohio River. The Lehigh River in Pennsylvania was also included on this year’s Most Endangered Rivers list. In response to the listing, the Ohio River Basin Alliance released this statement (2-page PDF)

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New report warns about human health risks from PVC pipes used in drinking water systems

Because of its relatively low cost, PVC – polyvinyl chloride – has become a popular option for communities replacing old drinking water pipes and, in particular, the old lead pipes and service lines that carry their own public health risks.

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PVC was cited as the preferred material for water infrastructure projects in a 2021 survey of more than 200 contractors, engineer and municipal officials by the Accountability Information Management, a marketing research company. Respondents said they anticipate using PVC pipes in nearly 65% of all water projects. [56-page PDF Report]

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Awash in Toxic Wastewater from Fracking for Natural Gas, Pennsylvania Faces a Disposal Reckoning

The water that comes from gas wells in the Marcellus can contain a long list of substances you’ve probably barely heard of along with poisons like arsenic and naturally occurring radioactive material like radium 226 and 228. It is far saltier than the ocean. That alone makes it deadly to most plants and freshwater life. Some experts and activists fear that an industry producing a trillion gallons a year of wastewater nationwide—2.6 billion gallons of that were churned out in Pennsylvania last year—is heading for a disposal reckoning. 

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Drillers in Pennsylvania, second only to Texas in natural gas production, have taken some pressure off by reusing most of their wastewater to drill new wells. But they still took almost 234 million gallons of wastewater last year to injection disposal wells. Another 90 million gallons of liquid waste was in “surface impoundment,” most of it waiting to be reused, according to industry reports to the DEP. 

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Pennsylvania has only 12 active injection disposal wells for wastewater that drillers can’t recycle.  

Ohio had 228 in 2021.

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Concerned Residents, Advocates Call on DEP For the Opportunity to Comment on Proposed Roulette Oil & Gas Waste Injection Well in Potter County

The agency is currently reviewing an application submitted by Roulette Oil and Gas to convert the Clara 20 well, an active conventional gas well into a Class ll-D injection well in Clara Township. Nearing the end of the process, a decision to approve or deny the request could be made soon, according to the DEP permitting geologist who is reviewing the application. 

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If approved, this Class ll-D injection well permit may be the first in the Commonwealth to be authorized in PA through a streamlined process with very limited public scrutiny.

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With a New Pennsylvania Governor, Lawmakers Push to Move Drilling Sites From Communities

Democratic legislators in Pennsylvania are once again attempting to secure a 2,500-foot protective buffer zone, or setback, for residents who live near prospective natural gas sites. After years of industry pushback on other proposed setback increases, the bill’s fate is uncertain. On April 3, Rep. Danielle Friel Otten (D-155) introduced HB 170, a bill that would restrict natural gas operators from siting new fracking wells fewer than 2,500 feet from an existing building or water well. This evidence has informed similar setback rules in states such as California and Colorado.

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The bill acts upon a recommendation of a June 2020 grand jury report published by the office of Josh Shapiro — then the state’s attorney general, now governor — which found that regulators had failed to protect residents of the commonwealth from the dangers of fracking. The report made eight recommendations, including setbacks, along with a list of other regulatory reforms, such as ending the practice of allowing oil and gas operators to conceal info on the fracking chemicals they use and prohibiting Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) staff from working in the oil and gas industry after leaving a public service role.

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Gas and oil wells in Ohio are leaking. Who’s responsible for fixing them?

More than 270,000 oil and natural gas wells dot the landscape of Ohio. They’ve accumulated over centuries and they’ve been a big economic boon for the state since the first one was drilled in 1860. Eastern Ohio is especially attractive for oil and gas drilling because of an energy-producing geological formation there. Known as “Clinton sand,” overlapping layers of shale and sandstone produce trillions of cubic feet of gas.

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The region boasts 80,000 Clinton wells built to harvest that energy. About half are still active today, but many are in a state of disrepair. They’re rusty, covered in flaky paint, and some leak for years on end with no fix in sight. Rachel Wagoner, a journalist with Farm and Dairy Magazine, spent more than six months investigating this issue for her piece “Failure by design: Leaky gas and oil wells slip through the cracks.”

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She found that some companies don’t fix leaky wells – or take a long time to do so – despite rules put in place by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

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EPA agrees to reconsider oil and gas emission 'loopholes'

(Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to strengthen pollution regulations for certain oil and gas facilities and equipment after environmental groups complained the standards hadn’t been updated in more than a decade. The groups said low-income communities and communities of color are most likely to be harmed by hazardous air pollutants like benzene emitted by the facilities, and that 57 million people live within 30 miles of the facilities across the U.S.

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In a consent decree approved on Monday by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper in Washington, D.C., the EPA agreed to review and update its emissions rules to more fully regulate hazardous air pollutants from oil and gas storage, production and transmission facilities. Under the settlement, the government agreed to propose and finalize new rules in 2024 and 2025, but did not commit to make specific changes. 

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The oil and gas industry is emitting way more of this potent, planet-warming gas than the EPA has estimated, study shows

Planet-warming methane pollution from the US oil and gas industry was 70% higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s own estimates between 2010 and 2019, scientists reported Monday. The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests the federal government’s current system for detecting methane leaks from fossil fuel pipes, wells and compressors is inadequate. 

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Several recent studies have shown similar results, and scientists now say the EPA needs to leverage new technology to get a fuller picture of how much of this potent greenhouse gas is escaping into the atmosphere and hold companies accountable for the leaks. Existing EPA regulations require oil and gas companies to do quarterly inspections using hand-held infrared cameras and sensors to look for leaks coming from wells and equipment, and much of the rest is accounted for with engineering models. The problem is this technique tends to miss a lot of leaked methane, experts said.

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Service company Liberty Energy has announced the formation of Liberty Power Innovations which will specialize in compressed natural gas

Denver-based Liberty Energy has recently stood up a new business called Liberty Power Innovations (LPI) to bolster its ability to offer lower-emissions hydraulic fracturing operations.

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LPI will provide compressed natural gas (CNG) and related processing and logistics services to Liberty's natural gas-powered fleets and remote power generation units, as well as to other companies in the oil and gas sector. “The oil field is undergoing a generational technology shift in fuel use from diesel to clean-burning natural gas, with Liberty at the forefront of this change,” the company said in an announcement this month.

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Leading Up to the 13th Anniversary of Deepwater Horizon Disaster, Oceana Calls on President Biden to Prevent New Offshore Drilling

The report finds that President Biden can still prevent new oil and gas leases in 2024 and beyond through his decision on the Five-Year Plan, and he can also exceed his goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind development by 2030.

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The report also finds that offshore drilling remains dirty and dangerous, with significant safety shortcomings that will not prevent another disaster like the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. [13-page PDF Report]

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New KAUST tandem solar cell breaks efficiency world record

Most commercial solar cells have traditionally been made with silicon as the active ingredient, and this has gotten the tech into widespread use. But unfortunately, these solar cells are starting to bump up against the physical limits of silicon’s efficiency, so there isn’t much more room left for improvement without radically changing the recipe.

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Enter perovskite. This crystalline material has quickly shot up the ranks from under 4% efficiency in 2009 to over 25% by 2021 to rival silicon, and it’s not done yet. When the two materials are forced to work together, they achieve even better results, with efficiencies recently reaching well over 30%. And now, a new record has been set. Engineers at the KAUST Solar Center have developed a silicon/perovskite tandem solar cell with an efficiency of 33.2%, under regular one-Sun illumination, which is the highest efficiency of any kind of two-junction solar cell.

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Wednesday PA Environment & Energy NewsClips - 4.19.23

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FDA approves single booster dose of bivalent COVID vaccine for people aged 65 and older or those with immunocompromise

April 19, 2023 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved an additional single dose of the bivalent COVID vaccines for individuals above the age of 65 and those with immunocompromise at least four months after their initial dose. The bivalent vaccine targets omicron and its variants as well as the original virus.

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New COVID vaccine guidance explained: Are you due for a shot?


April 18, 2023 | By Joseph Choi | The Hill — The FDA’s new guidance broadly authorizes single additional doses of the updated vaccine, but groups who have been at a higher risk throughout the pandemic are exempt from the new rule — to a certain extent:

·         People over the age of 65 who have already gotten a bivalent booster can get a second dose at least four months after the first one.

·         Certain immunocompromised individuals can receive one or more additional doses beginning at least two months after getting a bivalent booster, at the “discretion” of their healthcare provider.

·         Young children are still eligible for multiple-dose vaccine schedules: A two-dose series of Moderna’s bivalent vaccine for children between six months and five years. A three-dose series of Pfizer’s bivalent vaccine for children between six months and four years.

·         Five-year-olds have the option of two doses of Moderna’s or one dose of Pfizer’s bivalent vaccines.

·         Children between six months and five years of age, who finished a primary series of the old vaccines, can get the bivalent vaccine. The FDA said the number of doses will depend on “vaccination history,” though further explanation was not provided.

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