I choose a Clean World

What do YOU choose?

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We often hear that renewable energy is “not there yet” as a viable source. The oil & gas industry touts their “job creation numbers” as a reason for boosting the economy.

But is this really true?  Do we shove wind and solar to the back of the closet?

Not only did the renewable energy sector create over 110,000 US jobs in 2012, there are thousands of renewable energy projects going on in the United States and across the globe.

A recently released report by the Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) found:

  • Public transportation drove clean job growth nationwide, clocking in at over 43,000 jobs over the course of the year. Power generation, most of which came from solar, wind, and geothermal, came in second with more than 30,000 jobs.
  • Solar power was a strong and steady job creator throughout the year, and especially in the fourth quarter, providing over 19,000 jobs between the manufacturing and power generation sectors.
  • Investment in energy efficiency hit a record high of $5.6 billion in 2012, according to E2′s analysis of government data, thanks to the announcement of as many as 9,000 new jobs.

Europe, Asia and even OPEC countries are getting themselves off the fossil fuel habit, and moving ahead with solar and wind.  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has over $5-billion invested in renewable projects. One of the UAE’s motivating factor is the diminishing supply of fossil fuels, by converting to renewable sources for their country there will be more fossil fuels to export to short-sighted countries.


From Renewable Energy world.com: Breakdown: Penetration of Renewable Energy in Selected Markets, the US is producing as much in total renewables in 2011 as we did in 1983.  We barely reached the 14% mark in 30 years.  Compare that to other countries which are utilizing well over 50% renewables for an energy source.

The US ranks 9th out of 10 countries surveyed.

renewable chart

Worldwide comparison, the US lags behind developing countries, European Union (as a whole) and China.

renewable graph

We use to be NUMBER 1 in technology and innovation, with the rest of the world clamoring at our door.  Why aren’t we number 1 with renewables?

Clearly, countries can, when they choose to do so, generate a very high percentage — if not 100 percent — of their electricity with renewables. The challenge has never been technical. The problem is the lack of political will to make the choice and consistently implement policies that work.

We can be NUMBER 1 in renewables, it is do-able, but we have to make that choice.   What do you choose?

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frackWe’ve all heard the refrain of “fracking doesn’t contaminate water”.  We’ve heard it from the Natural Gas Industry, from their front groups, from politicians, from the government environmental departments and their supporters.

This is true, because fracking is just one small part of the entire process of natural gas drilling.    The “frack” is the moment of explosion where the shale is shattered, and in that moment of explosion there is no contamination.

Contamination may occur at other points of the entire process of natural gas drilling.

It may be from failed well casings.  Mark Boling, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Southwestern Energy Co, Stated he has examined several incidents in Colorado and Pennsylvania where gas drilling appears to have caused gas to get into drinking water.  “Every one we identified was caused by a failure of the integrity of the well, and almost always it was the cement job.”

March 2013 Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology said “Environmental contamination can result from a multitude of activities that are part of the oil and gas exploration and production process.”

“While the study found no direct link between water contamination and fracking itself, it did cite surface spills of fracturing chemicals as a risk to groundwater. It also found blowouts underground during fracking operations have been under-reported.” Per Reading Beyond the Headlines: Fracking and Water Contamination | February 17, 2012 | By Mose Buchele | StateImpact.npr.org

Many reports of groundwater contamination occur in conventional oil and gas operations (e.g. failure of well-bore casing and cementing) and are not unique to hydraulic fracturing. Surface spills of fracturing fluids appear to pose greater risks to groundwater than hydraulic fracturing itself.   Blowouts – uncontrolled fluid releases during construction and operation – are a rare occurrence, but subsurface blowouts appear to be under-reported.

The Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS), through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), has obtained determination letters from the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  Each and everyone of them states very clearly:

DEP Determination


DCS has over 30 of these letters available for you to read, and from their website, it sounds like they will have even more available soon.  Dates on the letters range from as far back as 2009 to May of this year.   The determination letters are from Orwell, Tuscarora, Alba Boro, Monroe, Wilmont, Terry, Granville, Asylum, Leroy, Smithfield, Troy, West Burlington, and Windham.

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Energy Independence – Are We Doing It Right?

wilkLISTEN!! (Seriously, listen) … to Plowing Forward SATURDAY MAY 11 at 3PM on WILK News Radio 103.1 with Suzanne Kelly and Dr. Doug Ayers

Our topic:

Energy Independence – Are We Doing It Right? Guests include Dr. Thomas Jiunta, Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition and a representative from Energy in Depth – Northeast Marcellus Initiative.

Listen ONLINE Plowing Forward at the WILK web site at www.wilknewsradio.com

wilkliveClick on the LISTEN LIVE button, upper right corner of the screen.

Call in with your Questions and Comments: 1-800-437-0098  or  570-883-0098



Last night in Kingston, PA, audience members, both familiar and unfamiliar with the issue of gas drilling were gasping at the the games and manipulation of the industry as revealed by Triple Divide.

Many heads were shaking as it all seemed unbelievable th886_275at this is happening in America.

Josh Pribanic, co-producer of Triple Divide, answered questions after the film which further expanded on some of the film’s topics.

Many people were left with one undeniable message – Without Water There is No Life.

If you were unable to attend, Triple Divide will be showing in many location across Pennsylvania in the coming months.



You can watch the Triple Divide on-line for a $13.00 donation.  CLICK HERE.


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TD3-DEPAs promised, Triple Divide reveals how water contamination is being covered up by the industry and the state by rewriting the history of Pennsylvania’s water quality by dismissing predrill testing.

Actor Mark Ruffalo co-narrates this 18-month cradle-to-grave investigation by Public Herald, an investigative news nonprofit co-founded by journalists Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman.

Triple Divide features never before seen interviews with industry giants and advocates, exclusive reports with impacted landowners, uncovered state documents, and expert testimonies.

Join the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition’s presentation of Triple Divide on Thursday, May 9 at 7pm at Temple B’nai B’rith, 408 Wyoming Ave Kingston, PA.

A Q&A with Co-Producer, Joshua Pribanic  will follow the film

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Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) Part 1

By Norm Tomchak, Dallas PA | Guest Blogger

Having been asked to chair the Sustainable Energy Committee of The Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, I had one of my Aha moments.

If I’m going to talk about wind power…why not make a working prototype of a wind generator, and see how much power it can generate?  Solar is still on my list of actual prototype systems to get up-and-running….Wind generation, however,  really lends itself to the garage/back-yard experimenter right now because of it’s reasonable initial cost to get a system demonstrator working.

So what type to build?  Off to You-Tube I went.  This type of turbine caught my attention, so I pretty much designed mine around it.


Since this unit will be a prototype, and all I’m looking for is proof-of-concept, it is constructed of easily available materials:

  • 1/2” plywood
  • furring strips
  • Muslin cloth
  • ”Varethane” floor sea
  • 1/4 x 20 hardware
  • assorted hardware

All wood in the project is treated with two coats of “Varethane” floor seal.


vawt2The first step is to cut out two disks of plywood.  They are both 20 ½ “ diameter, one being the bottom plate of the turbine, and the other the top plate.

The vertical vanes of the turbine are 34 ⅛” long, and have the profile of an airfoil.  This looks like typical model airplane construction with ribs and stringers, and indeed I used to build a lot of model airplanes when I was young, so this gave me the idea to build the vanes strong, yet light.  I covered them with fabric like earlier aircraft were, shrunk it twice with water, and applied several coats of “Varethane” water soluble floor seal.

Vane profile:


The construction of the ribs:

vawt4A wood furring strip forms the trailing edge of the airfoil, and a ¾” dowel forms the leading edge.  Two holes were bored in the ribs so that ¼ x 20 threaded rod stock could be strung through the end ribs to act as a clamp holding the parts together while the glue dried. ( Gorilla glue…good stuff).

Intervening ribs are installed, and the stiffener, leading edge dowel, and the trailing edge are glued up.  Remove the threaded stock.


Finishing a Vane:

Cover the vane with Muslin.  Use glue and pins to keep it in place until it dries, spray with water to shrink the muslin tightly over the vane.  Wait for it to dry and spray again with water to shrink it two times.


Varethane is applied, and sanded lightly between coats.  It takes about four coats to get good results.



When all four vanes are finished, they are “sandwiched” between the upper and lower disks, and form the moveable part of the generator called the Rotor.


We build a framework on a piece of plywood to hold the whole thing together, which we will call the Stator.

The vertical ribs of the stator are mounted at the same angle as the vanes to direct the wind toward the vanes at the optimum angle.  One of the advantages of the VAWT, is it doesn’t care which direction the wind is coming from….even if it is variable.



I didn’t have a good precise set of upper and lower bearings for the unit yet, so I just assembled the whole thing with bushings for it to spin upon.  It is designed to come apart as often as you wish to make changes to the system.

Just for fun, I put it all together, and set an electric fan next to it, to “run-in” the bushings with a little oil.  Worked pretty good, however the friction of the bearings in a wind turbine is the biggest cause of lack of output.

I decided to splurge a little, and buy some new ball-bearing sets.

I hope to get rotation in breezes less than 15 MPH.

So far the unit looks like this:


When the new bearings arrived, I installed them on the unit to see how they would respond to the wind.

To monitor the unit, I used a bicycle computer system (available at most big-box stores for about 20 bucks). A small magnet on the rotor passes a pickup coil every revolution, and keeps a record of:

  • Maximum speed in MPH, (the computer can be set for the 20” diameter rotor)
  • Average speed
  • Total time of operation
  • Current rotor speed

The bottom bearing on the rotor is a “Lazy Susan” type arrangement which I found on the internet, and has a rating of 500 pounds !

So far the max rotation speed is 5 MPH, which is right on the money.  The unit has been operating for over one hour, and the average speed is .8 MPH.

During the first test run, the wind was not a good steady 20 mph, but all looks well.

The unit is still in tweaking stage, so please check back for more updates.

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House Resolution Recognizes Continued Pursuit Of Clean Drinking Water

The week of May 5-11, 2013, will be recognized as “Drinking Water Week” in Pennsylvania, following passage Wednesday of House Resolution 271, authored by Rep. Ron Miller (R- York), Majority Chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

“We often take for granted what comes out when we open a tap or faucet to get a glass of water,” Rep. Miller said. “This is a gentle reminder of the need to conserve this precious commodity, and appreciate employees of the estimated 2,200 community drinking water systems throughout Pennsylvania who work hard to maintain the safe, clean water we drink.”

Rep. Miller’s legislation also ties in with House Bill 343, his legislation which would create water well construction standards for Pennsylvania, one of two states that do not currently have such regulations in place.

“Approximately one million private wells supply drinking water to more than three million Pennsylvanians, and about 20,000 new wells are drilled every year,” Rep. Miller reminded. “My legislation addresses everyone’s right to and expectation of clean water, as well as the health risks associated with an unsafe water supply.

“With 90 percent of the earth as water, and only 1 percent of that being fit for human consumption, protecting the integrity of our water supply is vital.”