Clean Air Council Questions Marcellus Shale Emissions Inventory Plan
After delaying compilation of a Marcellus Shale emissions inventory for a year, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) requested the data necessary to compile a 2011 inventory by next December. DEP must submit a statewide inventory of emissions from all stationary sources to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by Dec. 31, 2012.
DEP notified potentially affected Marcellus Shale owners and operators of the new reporting requirements Dec. 6, 2011, and indicated that the data is due by March 1, 2012. While PA DEP reported that they notified 99 owners and operators, they counted each company up to four times for each address they sent the notification to and failed to send the reporting requirements to many large operators in the Marcellus Shale. According to state law, only those owners and operators who have been advised by DEP to submit a source report are required to do so.
The Clean Air Council submitted an inquiry Jan. 2 to DEP Secretary Michael Krancer requesting clarification on how DEP identified potentially affected owners and operators, and how they intend to meet the deadline for reporting to the EPA if the data is incomplete.
Emission inventories are fundamental building blocks used to develop air quality control strategies on a local, regional and national level. Emission inventories are also used to track accountability and assess air quality program effectiveness.
“Each stage of Marcellus Shale operations emits harmful air pollution and an emissions inventory is an essential tool to protect Pennsylvania’s air quality,” said Joseph Otis Minott, esq., executive director of the Clean Air Council. “It is unclear how PA DEP can impose monitoring and reporting requirements upon a portion of the Marcellus Shale industry at the end of 2011 and expect a complete inventory.”
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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