Meditation and mindfulness

Last year, we hosted Tsultrim Datso on our show. She is a Buddhist contemplative who works in the local community on a number of initiatives, all of which focus on mindfulness and many of which are for personal and community sustainability. Tsutrim and the Open Meditation Society at Penn State invite you to some mindfulness and meditation events.
Introduction to Meditation, Nov. 9 at 5-6 pm and Dec 7 at 5:30-6:30 pm , Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, Room 212, University Park campus. Offered by the Open Meditation (OM) Society, www.clubs.psu.edu/up/om, 919-928-2604.

Day-long Meditation Retreat at the Civil Engineering Lodge in Stone Valley
November 19, 2011

Meditation can be a valuable practice for personal growth and transformation, stress relief, life enhancement, and social evolution. This day-long retreat is offered by the Penn State Open Meditation Society in order to support individuals who are interested in integrating mindfulness into their daily lives. Practicing meditation together allows us to share our experiences, learn from each other, and benefit from one another’s efforts.

This day-long retreat will include periods of sitting meditation, walking meditation, and mindful movement activities including yoga. We will be having community meals for lunch and dinner. The retreat is also designed for individuals who are interested in learning more about what meditation is and how to practice and will include instruction and guidance.

The retreat will be held at Penn State’s Civil Engineering Lodge in scenic Stone Valley. Cost: $35 for community members, $20 for students and seniors. However, scholarships are available and no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

For more information and for registration, please visit our website at:
http://www.clubs.psu.edu/up/om/. Or call Tsultrim at (919) 928-2604 or Norrine at (814) 360-1236.

Want to learn some skills?

Sustainability requires resilience. Today, lots of us simply never learned or have forgotten some of the basic and necessary skills of our ancestors.

How do you cook lower on the foodchain? Want to learn to sew or do basic carpentry? Want to know how to keep bees? Spring Creek Homesteading is doing just this. Katherine Watt has set up a great series of workshops for people in the Centre Region to skill themselves and one another. Learn more about skilling workshops at this link.

Here is a calendar of upcoming events.

PennEnvironment Citizen's Training

From David Masur at PennEnvironment:

WHAT: State College Marcellus Shale Citizen Organizer Training
WHERE: Penn State, Chambers Building, Room 112, Allen Rd, State College, PA
WHEN: Saturday, November 5, 1:30-5 p.m.

After a few years of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, we've seen accidents and blowouts poison local streams and drinking water supplies; our state forests leased out as a cash cow with no regard for their natural beauty we all enjoy; and air emissions from gas wells exacerbate the smog pollution problems we already face here in Pennsylvania. Every month it becomes clearer that Marcellus Shale gas drilling is potentially the largest environmental disaster to ever hit Pennsylvania. Throughout it all, gas-drilling companies and their allies in Harrisburg have fought efforts to put public health and the environment first.

The training is part of a statewide project we've launched to train 1,000 Pennsylvanians to help protect their communities from gas drilling. Whether you're new to activism or been on the frontlines of the Marcellus Shale, this training will help you take the fight to the next level. You'll learn from our staff and other organizers in the area how to effectively engage with decision makers on these issues, generate massive coverage in the media, and how to hold your elected officials accountable for their failure to tackle the Marcellus Shale gas drilling issue. Register here.


Who's responsible for climate change?

A few days ago we posted some video of Dr. Don Brown talking about the eight ethical dimensions of climate change. To go farther into that, we are posting a talk by Peter Singer, the world's most famous living philosopher.


Morality is not Abstract for Climate Change

Former guest, Don Brown, explains the eight moral dimensions he and others have found in the climate change discussion.

Pennsylvania Conservation. Alaskan Wilderness.

This Friday at 4 pm we will be hosting Jennifer Shuey, the Executive Director of ClearWater Conservancy. They are a Centre County based land trust and natural resource conservation organization "promoting conservation and restoration of natural resources in central Pennsylvania through land conservation, water resource protection, and environmental outreach to the community." They work on a number of conservation initiatives from stream clean-ups to purchasing and maintaining conservation easements for recreation and preservation and lots of public outreach initiatives. She will be joined by photographer Sam Holderman (see below) about their initiatives this Friday from 4-5 pm on the Lion.

This weekend, they are putting an event as part of their Adventures in Conservation series.

Wildlife photographer Buck Wilde will show and narrate his photographs in "Voices from the Last Wilderness: A Spiritual Odyssey Among Wolf, Raven, Salmon, and Bear," Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at the State Theatre, 130 West College Avenue, State College.

Join Buck in Alaska as grizzly bears and white wolves pursue wild salmon from estuaries to headwaters and witness the vitality of these unspoiled ecosystems. The home stretch of a two-year migration at sea lies upstream. But the salmon have one last gauntlet to run, between the legs of a gathering of hungry grizzly bears and white wolves. Not all of the salmon will make it home. The bears need high-grade sushi to survive hibernation, and the wolves are amazingly proficient at catching the salmon when trapped in shallows and bottlenecks, even more so than the grizzly bears.

Sam Holderman (a.k.a. Buck Wilde) is a Centre County native and Penn State alumnus. His passion for the natural world began here along central Pennsylvania's rocky ridge tops and mountain streams. He's been leading world-acclaimed filmmakers, photographers and nature enthusiasts into Alaska's unspoiled wilderness to capture amazing footage of nature's spectacles for more than 20 years. BBC naturalist David Attenborough refers to Buck Wilde as the Bear Whisperer! See more about Buck Wilde's adventures here.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under and can be purchased in person at the State Theatre Box Office.
On Friday afternoon from 4-5 pm, listen in to The Lion 90.7 fm and feel free to call (814) 865-9577 to ask questions or comment. You can also send us questions by commenting below or emailing us at: sustainabilitynowradio@gmail.com. Join the Sustainability Now Facebook group page where you can interact with other listeners and leave questions.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Mike and I have asked just about every guest this question: "What does sustainability mean to you?" But we've never asked you. Here's your opportunity to tell us.

If you need some prompting, here are three uses related to development, agriculture, and the work of environmental author Derrick Jensen.
"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." United Nations Brundtland Commission, Our Common Future

"Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals--environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity." University of California - Davis, "What is Sustainable Agriculture?"

"The word “sustainable”… would apply to some action that can be done more or less forever, which means an action (or a way of life) that at the worst does not harm one’s land-base, and more realistically improves one’s land-base on the land-base’s own terms.” Derrick Jensen, Dreams
Now you tell us in as long or short a statement as you'd like. Maybe you have strong notions or are totally confused. We want to know. In a comment below or an email to sustainabilitynowradio@gmail.com, answer the question: "What does sustainability mean to you?"


$4.4 million in funding for "alternative" fuels

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has granted $4.4 million for "alternative" fuels. They've granted $15,600 for a solar electric charging station project in Dauphin County, $100,000 for biodiesel, $700,000 for electric cars, and about $3.6 million for natural gas related projects. Read their press release here.

The electric infrastructure grant of about $240,000 will go to Pittsburgh Regional Clean Cities for the Energy Corridor 376 project to establish 45 electric vehicle charging stations along Interstate 376 and surrounding areas. The pollution savings from electric vehicles are impressive. Also, "350 Green LLC will receive $450,000 for the development of the state’s electric vehicle infrastructure. This project will include the construction of approximately 20 Level III fast-charging stations and 72 charging stations."

DEP reports "Berks County Intermediate Unit will receive $100,000 to support the continued use of B20 biodiesel in its fleet."

On the natural gas front, several projects will receive grants. They include switching or augmenting several diesel fleets to natural gas fleets and aiding the construction of compressed natural gas stations.

“These projects are terrific for the state’s economy and the environment,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “We have an available, abundant, domestic, economical and clean-burning source of energy under our feet, and these projects put those resources to good use.”

In the world of sustainability, is this what you've envisioned for switching to alternative and sustainable fuels? What would you award money to for alternative energy sources and more sustainable use?


The Final Report: Citizen's Take Marcellus Development Seriously

The Citizen's Marcellus Shale Commission (CMSC) released their final report today. The commission, headed by 16 people from different social and economic sectors and representing diverse interests including the League of Women's Voters, Clean Water Action, the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, and others, held 5 hearings across the state in August and September. Unlike the governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, the Citizen's version was never accused of being an industry front group.

Most briefly stated, Pennsylvanians believe that Marcellus development is being done wrong and it needs to be done better. From water contamination to truck traffic, wildlife encroachment to health and medical concerns from air pollution, and corporate profiteering and a lack of government oversight, Pennsylvania citizens told the commission that they expect better.

The commission compiled, reviewed, and analyzed comments from 400 citizens and came up with many recommendations. These include standards like setting up a severance tax on the industry, placing a moratorium on new drilling in unleased state forest land and no drilling in state parks, and "perform a comprehensive cumulative impact analysis of existing and likely proposed industrial development."

Many regulations need to be broadened, deepened, and toughened. Some include increasing the distance that wells can be from schools to 3,000 feet from occupied structures and 5,000 from schools, child care programs, and hospitals. Others extend to waste water treatment, one going so far as to recommend eliminating the use of "toxic chemicals in all hydraulic fracturing operations." That's a tall order but one that will no doubt please many citizens concerned with the compound threats to public health and environmental integrity. Broadly speaking, the report recommends adoption of "best practice" measures across the board to minimize pollution and maximize retention of gas and water.

Three recommendations stuck out to me in particular. The first protects local home rule, including enacting "local ordinances on zoning...should not be abridged." Given some recent dust-ups in Warren, Mount Pleasant, Rush Township, and State College on issues of home rule, zoning, regulation, or community bills of rights, this comes at an interesting time. [Full disclosure: Peter Buckland of Sustainability Now is involved with promoting the State College Community Bill of Rights.]

The second and third are linked. Second, "Make industry pay its fair share...Ensure proper bonding and clean-up requirements are in place for all well sties and facilities, with an escrow fund established for unintended consequences to public health and the environment." Second, they recommend a "health registry and data base to track illnesses in drilling communities, use pre-existing data gathered in other states where appropriate. Adequate funding must be supplied to the PA Department of Health to cover the costs of creating a health registry." Put semantic battles about "unintended consequences" aside for just a moment and consider what this means. This would change something about environmental and public enforcement that has lacked in Pennsylvania for some time.

It seems something like this:
Excraction industries have harmed public health and the environment before.
Extraction industries have not paid their fair share for that harm.
Harming industries should pay for their damage.
The Marcellus natural gas industries, like other extractive industries, will harm public health and the environment.
Before they get going any further, they should be paying for those public health and environmental harms directly and through investment.
The report actually places the financial burden on the gas industry. It's not quite the precautionary principle, but it is a step toward the actual protection of people and their places instead of corporate profits and the lobbyists walking the halls in Harrisburg or manning the governor's commission.

This blog has only scratched the surface. I definitely recommend reading the general and specific recommendations by going to this link.

My question is, Will citizens take this to their supervisors, commissioners, legislators, and the governor for better action? Will you?


Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission releasing report

Last month, we hosted Carol Rubley, the co-chair of the Citizen's Marcellus Shale Commission on our show. "The Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission was formed by eight leading civic and environmental organizations to give Pennsylvania citizens a place to speak out and recommend action on Marcellus gas drilling. The groups nominated citizens to serve on the Commission. The Commission held five hearings (in Western Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Williamsport, Towanda and Harrisburg) during August and September, receiving testimony from Pennsylvanians and national experts. About 100 Pennsylvanians submitted written comments to the Commission online."

Unlike Governor Corbett's commission, the citizen's panel was designed from the get go include input from citizen's organizations and public health and was established to create parity for social, environmental, and economic concerns. As former co-commissioner Rubley told us, there is a lot to be concerned about.

The Citizen's Commission will release a final report and recommendations at 11:30 on Monday October 24th in the Capitol Rotunda. The report will be released at a Capitol press conference in Harrisburg. Members of the Commission will also discuss the report and take questions during a statewide media conference call.

SPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS: Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Clean Water Action, Keystone Progress, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, Penn Environment, Sierra Club, Pennsylvania Chapter, and the CLEAR Coalition.


Bringing Sustainability to Life

Some people think sustainability and sustainable development are ill-defined pie in the sky. On the right, you have people like Phillip Stott, a biogeography professor from University of London, writing, "[S]ustainability is thrown into the argument to block development and growth, to conjure up a return to an imagined, usually rural, Utopia. But, theoretically, sustainability flies in the face of reality." It's Arcadia. It's Eden.

On the left people deeply steeped in sustainability talk like David Orr question the growth-oriented economy and, more or less, the trajectory of western civilization. In "Four Challenges to Sustainability" he wrote, "Genuine sustainability, in other words, will come not from superficial changes but from a deeper process akin to humankind growing up to a fuller stature. The question, then, is not whether we will change, but whether the transition is done with more or less grace and whether the destination is desirable or not."

What are you sustaining? For whose advantage? You can sustain status quo at lots of people's expense. Maybe your squashing people's creativity and potential with an eco-fascist mindset. Friday's guests, I'm sure, disagree.

Eric Sauder and Spud Marshall started New Leaf Initiative (pic at right) "brings sustainability to life." From central Pennsylvania to Haiti, they guide their collaborations by integrating the four sustainability concepts from Natural Step . They aren't going the eco-fascist route, setting up a "Green" jack-booted gestapo to enforce regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions and polluting extractive technologies. Through their incubator and consultancy, they work with people on the ground and in the street to help create happier, healthier, and more inventive people, cleaner and safer economies of scale, and thriving environments. From art to buildings to education, people work with them our best to life.

Listen to our October 14th show with them here.


Water is Rising

Penn State's Center for the Performing Arts will be showing Water is Rising on November 8th. Water is Rising brings together thirty-six artist from the smallest countries in the world - Kiribati, Tokelau and Tuvalu (population 1000, 1,500 and 12,000 respectively). With elevations of only 2-3 meters above sea level, life on coral atolls requires a deep respect for the forces of nature. Their survival depends on communal values and cooperation; music and dance are a key to developing and expressing these values.

The synchrony and joy of group performance speaks to their collective solidarity, empathy, self confidence and self-awareness of these Pacific Islanders. Gracious gestures describe the abundance of their ocean; forceful movement shows the vitality of a seafaring life; and poems speak of a heroic past. As they tour the U.S. for the first time, these artists will share stories of atoll life amid climate change and rising sea waters.

Their world is threatened by climate change. As ice caps and glaciers melt and oceans rise because from more and warmer water, nations like Tuvalu and Maldives and their cultures in their homelands will probably disappear.

Following the film, a panel will discuss the film's meaning and ramifications. The panelists include Anne Clements from PSU School of Music, Jamison Colburn from Environmental Law and Policy, and former Sustainability Now guest Don Brown of the Rock Ethics Institute and blogger at Climate Ethics.

Company fined for dumping HCl in Oklahoma. How safe are Pennsylvania's waters?

On our last show, Dave Yoxtheimer from Penn State's Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research talked about some of the hazardous materials used in hydraulic fracturing operations. One of those is hydrochloric acid. According to the Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs, an employee of Integrated Production Services, LLC has pleaded guilty to improper handling of 500-700 gallons of the acid.

Here's DOJ's release:
WASHINGTON – Integrated Production Services, LLC, (IPS), a Houston-based natural gas and oil drilling contractor, pleaded guilty today to a negligent violation of the Clean Water Act in federal court in Muskogee, Okla., announced Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Mark Green, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

In entering the plea, which is subject to approval by the court, IPS has agreed to pay a $140,000 criminal fine and to make a community service payment of $22,000 to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for ecological studies and remediation of Boggy Creek, located in eastern Oklahoma. IPS will serve a two-year period of probation, during which it will be required to implement and perform an environmental compliance program at a cost of $38,000, to train IPS employees regarding proper hazardous waste handling and spill response procedures.

In May 2007, IPS was performing drilling operations at the Pettigrew natural gas well site in Atoka County, Okla. The company’s operations included hydraulic fracturing, which entails the use of drills and hydrochloric acid to penetrate through bedrock and substrata in order to access natural gas reserves. On May 24, 2007, a tank at the site leaked hydrochloric acid onto the bermed surface of the well, which also was flooded due to recent heavy rainfall. Rather than taking the necessary steps to properly remove the rainwater from the site, Gabriel Henson, an IPS supervisor, drove a company pickup truck through the earthen berm, causing the discharge of the rainwater and an estimated 400-700 gallons of hydrochloric acid into Dry Creek, a tributary of Boggy Creek.

On July 20, 2011, Henson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act. Henson is awaiting sentencing. He faces up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. “As hydraulic fracturing occurs with increasing frequency across the country, companies and individuals involved in those operations must adhere to the laws that protect human health and the environment and level the playing field for responsible businesses,” said Assistant Attorney General Moreno. “We recognize the critical importance of developing domestic sources of energy responsibly, and will continue to vigorously prosecute illegal conduct.”

“This was a case of a corporate employee making a careless decision that caused the release of dangerous hydrochloric acid into our waters,” said U.S. Attorney Green. “Whether to expedite oil production or to save corporate expense, these types of actions cannot be justified nor can they be tolerated. This office will pursue all legal remedies necessary to prevent and/or punish such actions.”

“Hydrochloric acid is a highly corrosive substance. Its release into a tributary of Boggy Creek was a serious threat to the environment,” said Ivan Vikin, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) criminal enforcement program in Oklahoma.

“Today’s guilty plea demonstrates that companies will be held responsible for environmental crimes.” This case was investigated by the U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division and the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office of Inspector General. The case is a joint prosecution between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division.
Just a few weeks ago I was at an EPA public comment hearing on new regulations for natural gas operations (tweeted here on September 27th, 2011). Outraged Pennsylvanians at that hearing wondered who in the government was sticking up for them. It appears as though someone is working in Oklahoma.

But do you ever wonder how many spills like this happen and aren't caught? I am reminded of Jeff Tietz's Rolling Stone article (pdf) on the pork industry a couple of years ago in which he alleged that Smithfield Foods' chairman Joseph Luter III said that the 74 EPA citations under the Clean Water Act were paltry in comparison to the likely 2.5 million violations he estimated they'd actually committed.

The oil and gas industry is not the same as the pork industry. But much of the public suspects that there is woefully little oversight. According to Mary Carol-Frier who compiled DEP numbers with Pennsylvania Land Trust Association report numbers (pdf) , between January of 2008 and June of 2010 in Pennsylvania, the oil and gas industry were cited by DEP for 161 violations for discharge of industrial waste including into streams, 524 discharges of pollutional materials into waters of Commonwealth, 1,149 Oil and Gas Act-specific violations, including improper pits, impoundments, well waste treatment, well casements and cementing and plugging. It is troubling to imagine that the oil and gas industry could be cited for as relatively few violations as the pork industry might have been.

Pennsylvania has the second most surface water in the fifty states after Alaska and a booming gas industry. Many people aren't sure who's protecting them. One woman at the EPA hearing pointed her finger at the board and said, "How do you sleep at night? You're supposed to be protecting us." Three compressor stations roar around her property and fill the air with a smell she can hardly believe. "It's like living in a third world country."

As Dave Yoxtheimer said on our show, there are some good actors and some who aren't. There are the fly-by-night guys and those who are good neighbors who work with families, municipalities and the state. Can we get all of them to be the best neighbors they can be?


Dairy Farm Protests in Butler County

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Butler County residents are protesting drilling operations at a dairy farm (pic at right from Marcellus Protest).

They report:

"There's no way this drilling can contaminate our milk," Larry Wendereusz, general manager of the dairy operating facility, said in an phone interview Friday. "Our milk is tested for everything ... we run all kinds of tests."

Members of the advocacy group Marcellus Outreach Butler believe otherwise. They chanted slogans and complained that the planned underground hydraulic drilling will put crops, livestock and milk at risk for contamination. The group gathered in front of the drilling rig that sits next to the Marburger property along Mars-Evans City Road.

"They're not being a good neighbor," Alex Stehman of Saxonburg said about the farm. She said she no longer buys Marburger milk in an attempt to send a message to the farm's owners. "Organic farmers are more responsible."

On last week's show we touched this issue briefly. There are some farmers leasing their land while many organic farmers allege their operations are threatened by gas operations' because of possible groundwater contamination, air pollution, methane migration into wells, and other issues. But gas companies and some farmers argue these worries are unfounded and possibly hysterical.

In 2010, 28 cows were quarantined after exposure to fracking fluid. This year a Chesapeake Energy well blew out in Leroy Township sent thousands of gallons of frack water into a nearby stream for at least 12 hours. Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has said that the stream was not compromised and fined Chesapeake over $1 million. DEP said:
“It is important to me and to this administration that natural gas drillers are stewards of the environment, take very seriously their responsibilities to comply with our regulations, and that their actions do not risk public health and safety or the environment,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “The water well contamination fine is the largest single penalty DEP has ever assessed against an oil and gas operator, and the Avella tank fire penalty is the highest we could assess under the Oil and Gas Act. Our message to drillers and to the public is clear.”
have some warrant given some recent history. But what are the chances that cow's milk could be contaminated with gas drilling pollutants? Does anyone even have this data?


Slowing Down the Marcellus Information Orbiter


These two words have changed Pennsylvania. For most people paying attention to news in the Mid-Atlantic these days they evoke a host of other words and images. Natural gas. Water. Energy security. Bridge fuel. Pollution. Fracking and hydraulic fracturing. Flammable faucets. Gasland. Jobs. Truck traffic. Industry. Environment.

Tracking it all can be like riding an Orbiter ride (pictured at right). Up becomes down, moving keeps you in one place, and when you try to focus on something your vision is too blurred because it's all shifted.

I still remember the first time I heard about the Marcellus Shale formation and natural gas. Four years ago a friend of mine came over for dinner. He told me that his brothers were involved in new natural gas drilling. A bunch of companies were leasing farmland across Pennsylvania farmers and other large landowners seemed eager to make money from gas, he said. The process to get the gas required injecting water into wells at high pressure was environmentally sound. It all seemed pretty incredible and he was really excited.

Pennsylvania would see more financially stable farmers and rural landowners. Increased energy security would from clean-burning natural gas. It could help free us from the coal- and oil-dependent industries, from transportation that accelerates climate change, and bring us to a less carbon-intense economy. Maybe it would even provide a bridge to renewable energy.

At the center of this story in Pennsylvania were Penn State University and Range Resources. In December 2007, Range reported successfully horizontally drilling, hydraulically fracturing, and extracting natural gas from the the Marcellus Shale bed ~5,000 - 7,000 feet below the surface (watch this animation/ map at right). The five wells they reported on were in southwestern Pennsylvania. One month later, Penn State professor of geology Terry Engelder calculated the Marcellus Shale formation Range had successfully “fracked” held between 168 trillion and 516 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, gas that existing technology made accessible. The rest is history.

Today, the Marcellus Shale play is the biggest new economic game in Pennsylvania. Former governor Ed Rendell called it "the golden goose." Just a few years ago there were a handful of Marcellus wells. As of May 2011, there were over 4,500. All of this gas development has brought incredible changes to the state.

Each well is a roughly $4 million-dollar affair to drill and frack and employs a small fleet of people to set up. It brings some economic benefits to the hosting municipalities and, for some landowners, large sums of money. Hotel, restaurant, and bar owners in Williamsport and other towns have made a fortune. Rental property owners have made serious money renting houses, apartments, and townhouses. And of course there is all that gas people use to heat their homes, burn for their stoves, and industry and transportation uses for fuel. Former Governor Tom Ridge stated the position clearly on The Colbert Report: “Pennsylvania is sitting on top of something that I think could lead a renaissance in America with regard to energy.” It hasn't been called the Saudi Arabia of natural gas for no reason.

Yet this is not just a win. Pennsylvania is still the only state in the nation without an impact fee or severance tax on the industry despite overwhelming public opinion calling for one. Governor Corbett has proposed an impact fee but it has been received skeptically by Republican and Democratic legislators, environmental groups, and county officials.

Well blowouts and truck crashes have spilled tens of thousands of gallons of toxic "produced water" into streams, fields, and onto lawns. Methane has migrated into well water causing hundreds if not thousands of families to require water be provided for them in external water tanks often called “water buffaloes.” People are reporting new ailments. Open air pits of produced water and compressor stations release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) known to cause and exasperate lung conditions. The land impacts from well pads disrupt habitat. At an EPA air quality hearing last week, several people testified to that their lives have been ruined by the gas industry and that they are treated like occupants of a “third world nation.”

On one side the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry-sponsored group tends to paint the picture as rosy and a big win. On the other environmentalists and community health advocates say that Marcellus development is a disaster of unprecedented proportions unfolding across the state. As you know, we've been quite critical of Marcellus development on Sustainability Now (archive here). But what’s real and what’s spin? What’s scientifically valid and what’s not? Who’s pulling strings and who should be? How the game changer going to change even more with a possible rush into the Utica Shale?

Between public outrcy, job creation, environmental and public health fears, corporate influence, the blogosphere, and who knows how many stories that the Marcellus information spin is a rapidly accelerating Orbiter ride. It's disorienting. We hope our guest today will help us slow down the spin.

Dave Yoxtheimer is a geologist the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research (MCOR). Yoxtheimer is a certified geologist who has worked on water projects across Pennsylvania for several years and today works on several MCOR projects, specifically those that deal with environmental impacts.His work has included developing better practices for water withdrawal, recycling, disposal, and treatment.

MCOR has been set up to provide education and research initiative on unconventional gas plays like the Marcellus formation. They are set up to “serve state agencies, elected and appointed officials, communities, landowners, industry, environmental groups and other stakeholders.” Their seminar series on Marcellus Shale have featured former DEP Secretary John Hanger, the prospect of developing the Utica Shale, a larger and deeper shale play in North America, and produced water treatment.

We will be asking Yoxtheimer about the current and future state of Pennsylvania’s human and non-human residents and Marcellus and Utica Shale.

The show airs today at 4 pm on The Lion 90.7. You can stream the show online. As always, feel free to call (814) 865-9577 to comment and ask a question. This week we will also have our email open so that you can send questions to sustainabilitynowradio@gmail.com
Update: You can listen to the show at this link.


Tapping ourselves out

The Bucknell University Environmental Center is hosting a screening of "Tapped," a 2009 documentary film directed by Stephanie Soechtig on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. The film will show at the Campus Theatre on 413 Market St., Lewisburg
Tickets are $2 and the show is open to the public.

Consider the following:
Giant masses of plastic particles swirling in the ocean.
Human health impairment in towns where PET plastics are manufactured.
Chemicals leaching from plastic packaging into drinking water.

What do these things have in common? They are some of the surprising and far-reaching impacts of the bottled water industry exposed in Stephanie Soechtig's debut feature film, Tapped. Per year, Americans pay a huge premium to consume over 8 billion gallons of bottled water, yet few consider where each bottle comes from and where it ends up. The film also probes topics like the petroleum used to make plastics and transport bottled products long distances, excessive groundwater withdrawals by bottling plants, and the general lack of regulatory oversight over the bottled water industry. Who profits and who loses out when society prioritizes convenience over sustainability? Watch this documentary and find out what's really in your bottle.

You are invited to stay for a post-screening discussion and Q & A session about bottled water and its impacts here in Pennsylvania. The discussion will be moderated by Cathy Curran Myers, Director of the BUEC and former Deputy Secretary for Water Management at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Sustainability Now's Peter Buckland will be a panelist discussing his recent experiences advocating for reduced bottled water use on the Penn State University Park campus.

Please note the BUEC's "Green Screens" sustainability series continues Nov. 8 Manufactured Landscapes and Nov. 29 Consuming Kids.

This event is co-sponsored by the Bucknell Environmental Club, the Bucknell Environmental Studies Program, and the Bucknell Department of Geography. "Tapped" is presented in partnership with the Bucknell Film/Media Studies Film Series (http://www.bucknell.edu/x71259.xml). For more information, visit www.campustheatre.org or email Wendy Chou (wc013@bucknell.edu).