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Gov. Corbett Still Refuses To Answer Sandusky Questions!

 

In a speech before the world’s press, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said, “We must keep in mind that when it comes to the safety of children, there can be no margin for error, no hesitation to act.” It was the same authoritative tone he took when chastising Joe Paterno for not doing more to stop Jerry Sandusky.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

It is Tom Corbett himself who is most guilty of hesitating. Hesitating to appropriately staff the Sandusky investigation, and hesitating for years to make an arrest — both of which jeopardized the safety of children. That hesitation, and the stonewalling that Corbett has now employed, has created an intense firestorm around the Governor.

 

Given the unprecedented nature of the Penn State scandal, this issue is not going away. In fact, if Corbett doesn’t come forward with answers, it promises to be the Number One issue in his 2014 re-election campaign.

 

*****

 

Last week, the Governor responded to Freindly Fire’s Open Letter, which had requested specifics on key issues.  But rather than answering any questions, the Corbett response raised even more red flags.

 

The Corbett response stated, “Grand juries take time. Evidence in decades old molestations must be reassembled. A moral certainty of conviction must be reached… Where does Mr. Freind think that decade’s worth of evidence came from? It had to be gathered, reluctant witness-by-reluctant witness, with accompanying corroborating evidence.”

 

Absolutely correct — and precisely Freindly Fire’s point. Corbett is admitting that this high-profile case required a tremendous amount of work. So why were so few investigating it?

 

Here’s the bottom line.  The Sandusky investigation took three years, was reportedly staffed by a single investigator at the outset, and later spearheaded by two narcotics agents, neither of whom had any experience in child molestation cases. Compare to this to the army of investigators Corbett used in the Bonusgate political corruption probe, including, sources say, agents from child predator units.

 

Given those facts, it seems logical that there can be only one of two explanations:

 

1) Politics

It doesn’t take a genius to know that sullying the reputation of the state’s largest university and taking down its legendary football coach would be a monumental challenge to any candidate running for governor. This would have been particularly true in Corbett’s case, given that his opponent, Dan Onorato, was a Penn State alumnus.

And the might of Penn State’s massive alumni network was just illustrated, where 76,000 alumni donated much of the $208 million the university raised this year.

So was the understaffed investigation dragged out in such a fashion that the arrests were not made until after the 2010 gubernatorial election?

 

2) Priorities

 

Or was the Sandusky case mishandled because Tom Corbett did not prioritize catching child predators?

 

If politics played no role, then Tom Corbett clearly prioritized corrupt politicians, who we will always have, over taking a serial child rapist off the street.  One can only wonder how many more victims Sandusky molested while he was under investigation.

 

There are a number of quotes, some by Corbett himself, that are quite telling.

 

Randy Feathers, the head of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Office in State College who eventually headed the investigation, stated, “During the Bonusgate investigation, we had a shortage of investigators in Harrisburg.” (Altoona Mirror, June 24, 2012)

 

Corbett was obviously proud of the fact that he pulled no one from Bonusgate, stating, “We used a completely different unit from Bonusgate… (the agents working the Sandusky case) were pure narcotic investigators from up in that region.” (Corbett press conferences, July 12, 2012, and July 14, 2012).

And Corbett admitted worrying that Sandusky could still be victimizing boys during the lengthy investigation, stating, “It was a calculated risk.” (CBS Philadelphia/KYW New Radio, June 26, 2012)

So Corbett knew of the risk, and yet decided that investigating a child-victimizing monster was worthy of only two investigators.

 

What’s even more telling is the fact that, upon Corbett becoming governor, he immediately ordered state police resources to the case.  Why wasn’t that done before?  So again, the question has to be asked whether Corbett, as Attorney General, ever requested additional assistance from then-Governor Ed Rendell, himself a highly respected former prosecutor. It’s not a trick question, and only requires a Yes or No answer.

 

And did Corbett ask the Feds for assistance, especially if additional state police resources were denied by Rendell and no one could be pulled from Bonusgate?

 

If the answers are in the negative, as they appear to be, what were Corbett’s motives in choosing to stay with such a bare-boned investigative staff?

 

*****

No one has suggested that Sandusky should have been arrested before evidence was gathered. Common sense dictated that at least two or three solid cases be assembled before an arrest was made, and numerous prosecutors with no ax to grind have stated that strategy would have been a viable one.

But, as has been stated in the media, Corbett waited to have at least 10 cases before making an arrest, which just boggles the mind.

Once several victims were identified and an arrest was made, with the spotlight on Sandusky, more witnesses would come forward. More importantly, Sandusky would have been closely watched and children would have been safe. But that didn’t happen.

Instead, a predator was given three more years to victimize his prey.

No wonder the Governor doesn’t want to answer questions.

So the stonewalling continues.  There are still no answers as to why Bonusgate investigators were not ordered to work the Sandusky case, and why, sources say, Attorney General agents, including those in child predator units, were pulled from other cases to assist with that corruption probe.

*****

Governor Corbett also failed to answer the Open Letter’s other questions, including why he did not consider it a conflict of interest to serve on the Penn State Board of Trustees while simultaneously investigating it, and why he approved the $3 million taxpayer grant to Sandusky’s charity, The Second Mile, when he could have simply done nothing or vetoed it without raising one eyebrow.

The latter is particularly compelling since $640,000 in campaign contributions were made from Second Mile board members and affiliates to Corbett’s Attorney General and gubernatorial races.

*****

The Open Letter received an astounding response from across the political spectrum. It was Facebooked and Tweeted thousands of times, published in media outlets and websites across the nation, and was the hottest topic on talk radio, with Freindly Fire discussing it from coast to coast. Most telling is that 99.9 percent of that dialogue had one common theme: why was there so much hesitation to act by Attorney General Corbett?

 

Rather than invoking “space aliens,” as he did in his response, Governor Corbett would be better served by coming clean with the only thing that matters: the truth.

 

There is no such thing as “fair and balanced.” There is only truth and accuracy.  It is time for Tom Corbett to tell the whole truth — accurately — regarding the very troubling Jerry Sandusky investigation.

 

The best place to start? Answer the questions. And the truth shall set you free.

 

Read the column in the Delaware County Daily Times:

 http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/07/25/opinion/doc500ee47ae1559699997615.txt

Gov. Corbett Response to Freind

 http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/07/18/opinion/doc5006905ca4fe6470627721.txt

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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July 25, 2012 at 7:56 am Comment (1)

Welcome to the Party, Jo Ann Nardelli

Sorry for the delay in picking this up.

Gay marriage stance turns Nardelli over to Republican side

One of Blair County’s prominent Democrats, Jo Ann Nardelli, said Wednesday she has switched her voter registration to Republican because she can no longer support Democratic initiatives like same sex marriage.

“As the Democratic Party has taken the stand for same-sex marriage, then I must make a stand on my faith that marriage is between a man and a woman. God’s principles for life never change. His guidelines, given in Scripture, produce fruitful lives when you follow them,” Nardelli said while making the announcement of her party switch in the Blair County Courthouse.

She said she was a member of the Democratic party for 40 years.

Congratulations to Jo Ann Nardelli for finally waking up to the fact that there is no place left for people like her in the Democrat Party! The Democrat Party that Ms. Nardelli, my grandparents, and my parents belonged to is long gone. The traditional constituencies like blue-collar workers and Catholics are nothing more than political props to be used by Democrats at election time. People who still consider themselves conservative Democrats owe it to themselves to stop enabling a party that does nothing but oppose the things they stand for–unless those people now support things like gay marriage, abortion on demand, unchecked illegal immigration, and skyrocketing taxes.

So let me officially welcome Jo Ann Nardelli to the Republican Party. You’ll find that you have a lot more in common with your fellow R’s than you thought.

May 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm Comments (2)

Convert Oil Refineries To Process PA’s Marcellus Shale Natural Gas

 

Delta Airlines Buying Conoco Refinery Doesn’t Solve The Problem

 

Psst: Don’t tell anybody, but the worst-kept secret in  Pennsylvania is that the natural gas industry — the only economic salvation our dying state had— is leaving in droves, replaced by job loss, budget holes and despair.

 

Like most tragedies, this one was preventable. Only common sense and foresight were required. But those traits were pumped dry long ago, so instead of experiencing a booming economy rooted in the rebirth of American manufacturing, Pennsylvania is now witness to yet another long exodus of our best and brightest.  And the Commonwealth’s march toward permanent mediocrity is accelerating.

 

Natural Gas Industry Exiting PA

 

As with most things, our elected officials couldn’t see the forest for the trees, and now that the gas industry is packing up their mobile rigs and making for greener pastures, (or, more accurately, black pastures, as in Black Gold), the recently passed gas “impact” tax will be as impactful as Mitt Romney’s Position-du-jour.

 

Why is the gas industry leaving? Simple. They are losing money hand over fist, as natural gas is sitting at a ten-year low due to lack of demand.  So let’s get this straight.  We ignore cheap, abundant and clean natural gas while continually getting hosed at the pump from record-setting oil prices. And as a direct result of soaring gasoline prices, inflation is rising unchecked and true economic growth is vaporizing before our eyes.

 

Only in America — literally.

 

No other country on the planet would permit this kind of self-destruction, willfully sending hard-earned money to overseas adversaries while doing everything in its power to bite the (domestic) hand that feeds it. And that paralyzing incompetence comes from being fat, dumb and lazy while aggressive competitors do whatever is necessary to gain an advantage.

 

Because of this choice, the U.S. remains dependent on others for its energy needs.  In addition to the obvious national security concerns (we wouldn’t be expending blood and treasure in the Middle East if we drilled domestically), we are willfully engaged in the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind, as hundreds of billions go to China and Middle Eastern oil barons because we refuse to harness our limitless natural resources.

 

The way out of the recession — permanently — is to keep American petro dollars here.  And by the way, “here” doesn’t mean Canada, since it too is a foreign nation. So Republicans need to stop their grandstanding about the Keystone XL pipeline, which, if approved, would only re-direct American money to our Canuck friends.  By definition, that neither achieves energy independence nor creates large-scale American jobs. But never let the facts stand in the way of a good political gimmick.

 

America will never compete with Chinese labor costs, but the untold story is that we don’t have to.  We beat them by having the world’s cheapest energy costs, and that, along with reworked trade policies, would level the manufacturing playing field and get America making things again.

 

Just look at Proctor and Gamble’s manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania.  An energy bill in the tens of millions was virtually eliminated after the discovery of natural gas under the plant.  Saving that much money leads to company expansion, additional jobs, more service industries, and a larger tax base. 

 

But instead of embracing that kind of success, our leaders have punted the ball. Why haven’t all state buildings and vehicles been mandated to operate on natural gas? Why haven’t tax incentives been offered to private sector companies willing to invest in natural gas refueling stations? Why haven’t efforts been made to rescind job-killing and innovation-stifling regulations? Why weren’t the success stories of companies like Proctor and Gamble told and sold by our top political leaders? 

 

No vision, and no gameplan. And now it’s getting late in the fourth quarter.

 

Converting the refineries

 

But there is an opportunity that could provide the same type of boom on a much greater scale: convert the Sunoco and ConocoPhillips refineries in Philadelphia to process natural gas rather than the much more expensive crude oil.

 

(Note: While a Delta Airline’s subsidiary just bought the Conoco refinery to make its own jet fuel, we’ll see whether that high-altitude idea flies, since airlines have a hard enough time staying in the air financially.  An airline getting into the fuel business has the right idea, as lower fuel prices will make their bottom line take-off.  But given the industry’s track record, that type of diversification could send Delta into a tailspin, possibly ending in a crash-and-burn scenario. And that would occur for much the same reason that the oil companies themselves are divesting themselves of their refining operations — wild fluctuations in the price of oil and mindboggling regulations make it inherently unprofitable.)

 

However, if Delta really wanted to lower costs over the long-haul, it might consider retooling its refinery to convert abundant natural gas from 100 miles away to jet fuel —rather than relying on oil shipments in a volatile market from across the world.

 

Sure, converting a refinery to process natural gas rather than oil takes a significant investment, but it is one that would pay huge dividends given that America’s insatiable appetite for energy (and in Delta’s case, jet fuel) will only increase.  And that’s a good thing, because increased energy demand means companies are thriving, jobs are being created, people are traveling and the economy would be truly gaining strength (unlike the disingenuous “recovery” claims now made by government and the media).

 

How to do it? After the refinery conversion (and elimination of many energy-sector regulations that drive up costs), immense amounts of “dry” natural gas, primarily from northeastern Pennsylvania, would be piped down to the refinery, utilizing the right-of-way alongside the Northeast Extension of the Turnpike.

 

The dry natural gas would then be converted to gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel — at a consumer price point that may well be under $2 per gallon.  Fuel that inexpensive becomes an instant win-win: the rebirth of manufacturing, big job gains, fewer foreclosures, and the satisfaction of knowing that national security is bolstered every time you hit the pump.

 

In addition to Philadelphia’s refineries being in an ideal location for disbursement of those refined products, there is yet another opportunity for economic growth.  To meet what would surely be increased domestic and overseas demand, a pipeline could be constructed down the Delaware River, terminating offshore so that tankers could safely take on their loads out at sea.

 

(A liquefied natural gas tanker explosion, whether accidental or deliberate, would be akin to a small nuclear weapon. While extremely unlikely, that possibility would nonetheless present huge political challenges in allowing large LNG tankers in the Delaware River.)

 

Refine Our Way Of Thinking

 

Despite their good intentions trying to save the refineries, some politicians have missed the boat by only pushing the idea of exporting natural gas from Philadelphia.  That won’t create jobs, as we would merely be shipping the gas to be refined elsewhere.  How ironic that would be, watching Pennsylvania export its lifeblood in the shadow of three refineries, any and all of which could keep all of the economic benefits here, and none of which will likely be profitable refining oil as currently outfitted.

 

Failure to convert the refineries may well kill off the gas industry altogether, making us ever more dependent on foreigners for our vital energy needs while prices continue to soar.

 

But if we rekindle that slumbering can-do American spirit and put America first for a change, the possibilities would be limitless, and we would no longer be bent over a barrel.

 

And what a gas that would be.

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

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May 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm Comments (0)

No Secret Ballot For GOP Endorsement Is Same As Union Card Check

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), commonly known as “Card Check,” is the misnamed legislation promoted by Organized Labor to stop the hemorrhaging within union ranks.  (From a high near 40 percent after World War II, union representation in the private sector has plummeted to just 7 percent today). It would make organizing a union infinitely easier by eliminating the current secret ballot vote used to determine whether employees wish to unionize.

Common sense tells us that whenever a secret ballot is not employed, many people will not vote their conscience.  Instead, they fall victim to intimidation and arm-twisting, and end up casting a ballot in favor of the person whom they are strongly encouraged —AKA “told” — to support.  The result is a rigged, Banana Republic election, anything but “Free Choice.”

The Republican Party, on both the state and national level, has vigorously opposed Card Check, not only because it is grossly unfair to companies, but much more important, because it would cavalierly discard that most fundamental American bedrock value: free and fair elections.  It is a right that has been held sacred in this nation, and has allowed the people to chart their own course and make their own decisions, free of outside influence and intimidation.

Given this, it seems extremely hypocritical that the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania — while opposing Card Check — jettisons free and fair voting for its own members by refusing to allow secret ballot votes on important issues, such as Party endorsements.

And now, on the eve of the meeting in which the Committee will vote whether to endorse a candidate for the U.S. Senate (or not endorse at all), that issue has become a firestorm that is only growing in intensity.

The big question centers on whether the Party will endorse millionaire Steve Welch, a favorite among several GOP leaders, including Republican Governor Tom Corbett. The problem many have with Welch is that he voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary and supported former Congressman Joe Sestak, a stalwart liberal consistently to the Left of Obama. Welch claims he left the GOP out of frustration that it wasn’t conservative enough, leaving more than a few Republicans perplexed.

(In an email to PoliticsPA this week, Sestak wrote of his meeting with Welch: “He expressed support of me and what I stood for. He seemed nice and, separately, supportive of the Democratic Party and its efforts.”)

So would the Party really risk massive damage to itself by endorsing an Obama-voter, and make the sin mortal by doing so without a secret ballot?

They can’t be that dumb.

But this being Pennsylvania’s Republican Party, all bets are off.

Should they endorse Welch, it will be a double whammy, throwing the entire Party into a quagmire from which it would be difficult to escape.

State Committee would cement the perception that its endorsements are behind-the-scenes deals by inside powerbrokers hell-bent on executing individual agendas — the rank-and-file Party faithful be damned.  More damaging, it would play out — in full public view — exactly how ruthlessly efficient Card Check tactics are, making unions blush with envy.

How could Party leaders possibly explain with a straight face that the process was fair, and that no political pressure and intimidation took place — when Governor Corbett and certain State Committee leaders were openly pushing Welch?  Would it really be plausible to believe that the message “do it for the Party, and do it for your Governor — or else your political career stops here” wouldn’t be made loud and clear?

Even more telling, how could the Party explain Committee members’ change of heart in endorsing Welch after only one of five State Committee regional caucus straw polls voted for Welch as their candidate of choice? In other words, of the five regional “pre-election” votes that took place — voted on by the very same people who are now being asked to change their vote and endorse Welch — only one made Welch a winner. Significantly, Welch’s own Southeast Caucus refused to hold a straw poll, and Corbett was not even able to deliver his hometown Southwest Caucus for Welch.

 

This is by no means an indictment of Steve Welch. It has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with the Republican Party. Clearly, in this particular situation, the wisest course of action would be to ignore the Governor’s misguided endorsement and refuse to endorse any candidate.

 

In allowing grassroots Republicans across Pennsylvania to make their choice, free of Party endorsements, a civil war inside the GOP would be averted, and the best candidate — the people’s choice — would emerge to take on incumbent Bob Casey.  And if Welch wins a non-endorsement primary, his victory would not be tainted with the perception that he “bought” his way to the nomination.  Regardless of the outcome, no one can argue with the results if rank-and-file Republican voters make that decision.

Besides gaining immense credibility with many Republicans should it not endorse a candidate, State Committee could score a huge coup by then amending its bylaws to allow for that which is uniquely American: secret ballot elections.

Otherwise, it will become known as Republican State Committee, Local 666.

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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January 27, 2012 at 8:26 am Comments (0)

Republican Success Under the Radar

I’ve never really paid too much attention to County Commissioner races.

Apparently I should start. (h/t GrassrootsPA)

Here’s what the now-ubiquitous red/blue map looked like at 7:00 am on November 8.

Aaaaaand here’s what it looked like 13 hours later.

So a few things jump out at me.
1. Yeah, I know we lost Montco, and that sucks, but a thoroughly dysfunctional county committee will do that to you. It’s not like we didn’t see this coming.
2. We’ve FINALLY cracked the nut out west. Lawrence, Mercer, Westmoreland, and Murtha Cambria Counties are in Republican hands for the first time in ages, and it’s due to painstaking work by the grassroots. It can be done.
3. What the hell is going on in Cameron County? Knock it off.
4. A tie? Really? Only in Pennsylvania.

So it might not have been the best night, but it was still pretty damn good.
Clouds, silver linings, and all that.

November 17, 2011 at 10:35 pm Comments (7)

What they don’t want you to know about drilling in the Marcellus…

…it creates jobs.

Nearly 48,000 people have been hired in the last year by industries related to drilling in the Marcellus Shale, and 71 percent of those people were Pennsylvania residents. Nine thousand of them were hired in the first three months of 2011.

The average salary was higher than the statewide average.

And the rate of hiring is accelerating.

While there has been much talk of the economic impact of the Marcellus, most of it has been anecdotal, until the Department of Labor and Industry quietly published its most up-to-date hard numbers about two weeks ago.

Just for fun, before you click on the link, imagine what all the anti-Marcellus zealots are saying to refute this. Here’s what I came up with:

–All those jobs are just low-paying support jobs
–The money doesn’t make up for the environmental damage
–TAX THE DRILLERS! TAX THEM TAX THEM TAX THEM!
–The numbers in the report were made up by the Corbett administration
All those jobs are going to out-of-staters Oops. Sorry. That one’s no good anymore.
–TAX THE DRILLERS! IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN! DEAR GOD WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!?!?

OK. Now go to the comments section, which is apparently for Bolsheviks only, and see how many you got right. I was four for five the last time I checked. What you’ll see here is cognitive dissonance in action. The Marcellus-haters want the gas industry to fail. They want to see poor rural Pennsylvanians stay poor and rural. They want double-digit unemployment provided they’re not among the unemployed. The problem is that it isn’t happening. In response, the haters have begun moving the goalposts. The jobs may be here, but they’re not good enough. The gas companies may be paying taxes, but they’re not paying enough. We may not see environmental damage now, but trust me it’s there. Repeat ad nauseam.

Usually this is the part where I’d conclude by shaking my head and saying that they “just don’t understand”, but I think they do understand. I’ve been working in the environmental field for almost 15 years, and I’ve seen these groups in action over and over. There is a significant contingent of people who are anti-industry and anti-development. All their talk about taxes, jobs, and the environment is just a cover. The fact of the matter is that they don’t want to see productive enterprises thrive because it empowers the individual and disempowers them. If you have a good job and bright future, you don’t need a grievance group to do anything for you. The professionally aggrieved become irrelevant, and it drives them insane.

If you don’t believe me, ask yourself what exact conditions would have to exist before these groups would be satisfied. What would it take to shut them up? You could levy all the taxes and write all the regulations you want, but they’d still call for more. No amount of evidence will make them change their minds (see above). The only thing they’ll accept is an outright ban. They got a temporary one in New York State, and I predict that when that ban expires they’ll call for an extension saying that there hasn’t been “enough” study of the consequences of drilling. They want it shut down permanently, and nothing else will suffice.

At one time in history, Pennsylvania was the most productive place on earth. At that same time in history, Pennsylvania was great, and when I say great, I mean great-among-the-nations great. That is not a coincidence. We have the chance to be great again, and we owe it to ourselves to make sure that a bunch of power-hungry junior autocrats don’t stand in the way.

May 30, 2011 at 6:21 pm Comments (0)

POM Wonderful, Pa

Never heard of it?

It’s home of the world famous Horseshoe Curve.

You mean Altoona?

Yeah, but it’s changing it’s name.

That’s because the city has sold its name to make some money — and to help independent filmmaker Morgan Spurlock make a point. City Council on Wednesday approved a deal to change Altoona’s name to “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” for 60 days. Spurlock will pay the city an unspecified amount that will benefit its police department.

The film skewers the proliferation of advertising in American life. POM Wonderful is a juice company that paid to be the movie’s title sponsor.

April 14, 2011 at 10:07 pm Comments (0)

A Case of Gas

The New York Times put out another hit piece on Marcellus Shale drilling. No, I will not link to it. GrassrootsPA has it if you really need your daily dose of left-wing enviro-pr0n. There is also a response by former DEP secretary and Marcellus-hater John Hanger in which he simultaneously calls out the NYT for shoddy reporting, half-truths, and sensationalism while adeptly covering his ass. Again: no link, GrassrootsPA, pr0n. You get my drift.

So we have plenty of innuendo regarding drilling in the Marcellus Shale, but where are the facts? Is there any significant danger to human health or the environment posed by drilling? Is shale gas as plentiful as is reported? Will it really bring jobs and economic growth to PA and for how long? Those are all good questions which deserve factual answers, not the politically motivated schlock offered up by the Times.

The Pennsylvania Coalition for Responsible Government is a fairly new grassroots organization headed up by Greg Wrightstone. Greg is the Director of Geology for a Pittsburgh-based natural gas drilling firm and is a petroleum geologist by trade. He knows what he’s talking about, and his view is that the anti-Marcellus crowd (he calls them “zealots” which is kinder than I would be) has it wrong.

He’s put out the first of several white papers giving the facts on the Marcellus shale. Here’s an excerpt:

Estimates for the recoverable reserves from the Marcellus Shale are that it will produce ~489 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF). Recent corporate press releases reported extraordinary per well recoveries in southwest PA and northern WV and may suggest that these previous estimates are likely conservative. To put the size of the resource in perspective, some facts are presented:

1. The United States consumes some 22 TCF per year – the Marcellus may provide more than 20 years of consumption for the entire country
2. The largest conventional natural gas field in North America is the Hugoton Field of Kansas with “only” 81 TCF, about 1/6 the size of the Marcellus
3. More than 450,000 wells have been drilled in the Appalachian Basin over the last 150 years and they have produced “only” 47 TCF, less than 10% of the projected production from the Marcellus

[…]

Approximately 75% of the projected fairway of Marcellus production is located in Pennsylvania, meaning that a possible 13.5 million acres of the Commonwealth are located in the highly productive “core area”. Using moderate assumptions of reserve size and $5.00/MCF, the full development of the Marcellus may yield more than $600 billion in direct royalty payments to the parties that own the oil and gas rights including citizens, communities and the Commonwealth. An additional $54 billion in lease signing bonuses are likely to be seen in addition to the royalties paid.

For the individual landowner, it is projected that a typical Marcellus well will yield royalties in excess of $4 million per well drilled, or approximately $45,000 per acre.

$45,000 per acre. 75% of it is under Pennsylvania. $600 billion-with-a-“b” to citizens and the states. Even if they’re projections are high by a factor of two, it’s still breathtaking. It truly is the biggest thing to hit Pennsylvania since steel.

Read the whole thing. It’s pretty detailed, but facts are like that. More to follow.

February 27, 2011 at 8:23 pm Comments (0)

Phil: Early Spring!

I’m sure I’m the only one, but I was hoping for six more weeks of winter.

Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring

The country’s most famous groundhog predicted an early spring Wednesday but wasn’t willing to go out on a limb to forecast whether his state’s Pittsburgh Steelers will win the Super Bowl.

Punxsutawney Phil emerged just after dawn on Groundhog Day to make his 125th annual weather forecast in front of a smaller-than-usual crowd in rural Pennsylvania who braved muddy, icy conditions to hear his handlers reveal that he had not seen his shadow.

Including Wednesday’s forecast, Phil has seen his shadow 98 times and hasn’t seen it just 16 times since 1887, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle, which runs the event. There are no records for the remaining years, though the group has never failed to issue a forecast.

Personally I’m not sure what the best Phil Conners “Groundhog Day” quote is.

‎”When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter. “

or…

This is pitiful. A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat. What a hype. Groundhog Day used to mean something in this town. They used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it. You’re hypocrites, all of you!

February 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm Comments (0)

Marcellus Shale: Not An NBA Player, But Key To PA’s Future

First in an ongoing series examining all aspects of developing the Marcellus Shale.

Stories keep rolling in about the booming economy in a faraway land.  Tales of jobs, new construction on every corner, more jobs, hotels booked for a year, office space — long vacant — now renting for the highest prices ever fetched, and even more jobs.  Yet despite years of growth, the influx of foreign capital hasn’t subsided, but in fact, continues to exponentially increase. Combined, all these things have created a climate so healthy that taxes haven’t risen in eight years.

As with Doubting Thomas, something this good must be seen to be believed.

So as my trip was being arranged, I was asked the duration of my flight to China, and how long I’d be away.  As to the second question, the same day.  I can’t answer the first, because it’s based on a false assumption.  I was, most definitely, not going to China.

Although solid growth and low taxes are now virtually nonexistent in this country, I had a mere three hour drive to behold the only thing that can bring Pennsylvania — and maybe the nation — back from the edge of the abyss.

Time to get up front and personal.  Time to meet Marcellus Shale.

*****

Pop quiz.

Which of the following is true:

A)    Bon jour, monsieur. I present to you Marcellus Shale, ze best French wine this side of ze Seine River;

B)    Meet Marcellus Shale, the new Philadelphia 76er who might help the NBA team win more than 10 games;

C)    Welcome to the Marcellus Shale, one of the largest natural gas fields in the world, and centered in Pennsylvania, where 60 percent of the state sits atop the reserves, whose liquid gold is conservatively valued in the hundreds of billions.

Unfortunately for vinophiles and the impotent Sixers, the answer is C. 

But unbelievably, there was almost an asterisk.  If lame duck Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and his protégé, failed gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato, had their way, the Marcellus Shale industry would have died before ever getting off the ground.  Those politicians wanted to impose a severance (extraction) tax on natural gas, as high as ten percent.  Rendell’s rationale?

Oil companies needed to pay their fair share.

Thankfully, Governor-elect Tom Corbett, with a No-New-Tax promise being the cornerstone of his campaign, trounced Onorato. In doing so, he slammed the door shut on the catastrophic failure that will forever be known as the Rendell Legacy, and opened a portal to opportunity not seen in Pennsylvania for generations.

*****

Corbett and Onorato were like night and day on a number of issues, but none more important than how to proceed with the Marcellus Shale. A severance tax, especially the one proposed by Rendell/Onorato, would have undeniably been the death knell of what is a mobile industry.

While Pennsylvania is blessed with a sizable portion of the highly-profitable Shale, our competitors are not far behind: West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, New York and up into Maine and Canada.  And Michigan, with the second highest unemployment rate in the nation, is making lucrative offers to the industry to extract Shale gas from beneath the Great Lakes.

In his attempt to make Pennsylvania competitive again — dare we say viable —, Corbett innately understood two things that were lost on Rendell.  First, if you want less of something, tax it.  Second, you can’t tax your way out of a recession and into prosperity.

But what about the “fair share” that the industry allegedly doesn’t pay?  Pure election year theatre, orchestrated in a shameless attempt to close the $5 billion budget deficit created by the reckless former Governor.

The real story?

The natural gas companies in Pennsylvania, just like all other corporations, are saddled with the second highest corporate net income tax (CNI) in the nation (10 percent), along with an onerous capital stock and franchise tax and the country’s most hostile legal system.  And this horrid picture doesn’t even include the world’s second-highest national corporate income tax rate (40 percent).

Put another way, the proposed severance tax…

Read The rest and post a comment at Philly Mag’s Philly Post:

 http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2010/12/02/marcellus-shale-is-not-an-nba-player/

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind, whose column appears nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a guest commentator on Philadelphia-area talk radio shows, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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December 2, 2010 at 2:29 pm Comments (0)

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