Marcellus Can Help Boost Pennsylvania Steel

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS re...

English: Cropped portion of image from USGS report showing extent of Marcellus Formation shale (in gray shading). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania is home to the highest-producing natural-gas shale play in the United States, and Marcellus Shale wells continue to break records. During the last six months of 2013, the commonwealth produced 1.7 trillion cubic feet of gas, or an average of 9.2 billion cubic feet per day – enough to satisfy about an eighth of the nation’s daily natural-gas demand.

The continued safe and responsible development of Marcellus Shale natural gas presents a great opportunity to create new jobs and provide economic prosperity in the commonwealth.

With this prosperity, Pennsylvania is taking center stage in helping the United States achieve energy independence and reduce our need to rely on foreign energy sources. In addition to capital investments and job creation in energy, the development of the Marcellus Shale has the potential to greatly benefit Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector, in particular the steel industry. Perhaps the single most important product used to ensure the safe development of this abundant natural resource is high-quality steel pipe.


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US Steel Curtails Operations

U.S. Steel

U.S. Steel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Production halts at U.S. Steel’s two largest mills could dent what is usually a good quarter for the Pittsburgh steelmaker and lead to higher steel prices.

On Wednesday, U.S. Steel informed customers of its Gary, Ind., mill that it was curtailing blast furnace and steelmaking operations at that plant because icy conditions on the Great Lakes are delaying shipments of iron ore from its Minnesota mines. The letter gave no word on how long those delays could last but was hopeful that shipments will improve with warming temperatures.

“It is possible that our ability to timely fill your orders will be temporarily impacted,” the company wrote, adding that it is trying to mitigate any impact of customers.

The announcement follows an incident last week at U.S. Steel’s Great Lakes mill near Detroit that forced the company to halt steel production there. Media reports indicate a large pipe damaged the roof covering one of its steelmaking furnaces.


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30 Years Of Change: A New Direction For Pittsburgh

English: Downtown Pittsburgh

English: Downtown Pittsburgh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Morphing from steel industry collapse to eds-and-meds rebirth, from a too-gray place that young people flee to one that attracts them as a “green” center of culture and recreation, from a tale of Rust Belt woe to one of urban transformation, it is indisputable that the Pittsburgh region is a far different place than it was 30 years ago.

And by most standards, it would seem to be a far better place as well.

Since 1983, when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a special section chronicling the unique and worrisome issues confronting the region during Depression-level hits to its workforce, Pittsburgh has lost people, corporations, churches, schools and, yes, even a prothonotary.

But it has rebuilt its economy; added museums, theaters and riverfront trails; replaced its sports facilities, airport and convention center; and reinvented the Pittsburgh Downtown as a place to live, while serving the thousands more who commute to it by opening a subway, busways and a highway to the north.

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‘Eds And Meds’ Still Growing In Pittsburgh Region

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pittsburgh region’s 21st-century economy has often been referred to as one where manufacturing has been displaced by the “eds and meds” sector, but there remain pockets where local residents still lean heavily on the more traditional means of employment.

In nine Allegheny County municipalities, more than twice as many residents are employed in manufacturing as is the case in the county overall, according to new census data. Many of the communities are in the Route 28/Allegheny Valley corridor, where many light manufacturing firms operate — some of them growing and thriving.

The occupational information was just one nugget in a bounty of new American Community Survey data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.  The data are based on a survey of the national population over a five-year span, from 2007-11, with the government deeming the sample size sufficient to release estimates for wide-ranging characteristics of every municipality.

While Allegheny County and the surrounding region once served as a manufacturing center for the nation, only 8.3 percent of the county’s workforce was employed in manufacturing in the modern era, the ACS data said.  That was down from 9 percent in the 2000 census and was less than the 10.8 percent for the nation as a whole.

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Former Bethlehem Steel Property To Idle



BETHLEHEM STEEL PLANT AT SPARROWS POINT – NARA – 546882 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The owner of the financially ailing Sparrows Point steel plant is idling operations there, warning 1,975 workers Thursday that they would be laid off starting next month.

The news, which casts doubt on the future of the Baltimore County facility that was once owned by Bethlehem Steel, came as RG Steel is shopping the steel mill and its other assets to potential buyers.

RG Steel informed the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations that layoffs would begin June 4 and continue through June 18. The state said the company would be laying off 1,714 hourly and 261 salaried workers, losses that would be a significant blow to the economy.

For years, the plant has faced uncertainty before last-minute deals salvaged the mill. RG Steel is the latest owner to try to sustain steel production at the once-flourishing facility.

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Cooperation and Collaboration Are Not Dirty Words In Pittsburgh

Duquesne University's view of the Pittsburgh s...

Image via Wikipedia

An excellent opinion piece was published in Sunday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, written by award-winning journalist and author Steven Beschloss, about how Pittsburgh has propelled itself forward during troubled periods in the city’s past.  The author suggests that in today’s troubled economic times, America look at the Pittsburgh model of cooperation and collaboration as a way forward.

Here is an excerpt from Mr. Beschloss’ piece:

We can rewind to the 1940s when Democratic Mayor David L. Lawrence allied with Republican financier Richard King Mellon to shape the city’s Renaissance Project, giving Pittsburgh a new lease on life at a grave moment of decline and worry. It’s worth recalling how Lawrence described that economic development effort to revive the city and bring together a complex coalition of interests: “This is a Pittsburgh project, not a Democratic or a Republican project.”…

The same cooperation and collaboration has enabled Pittsburgh to survive the collapse of the steel industry and reinvent itself as a city built on education, health care, computer science, biomedicine and engineering.

To read Steven Beschloss’ opinion piece, click here: