Fracking Gag, Wildfires, Solar Future, and a Chuckling Frog

New Nooze for your Wednesday reading pleasure: Don HopeyFirst, from Don Hopey with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a look at an unprecedented legal move in response to a fracking settlement:

Pittsburgh-area shale settlement 'gag' questioned

The Hallowich family in 2010, standing on a hillside near their home to illustrate the proximity of several gas wells around their property. (Photo by Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette)

The non-disclosure agreement prohibiting Chris and Stephanie Hallowich from talking about the 2011 settlement of their high-profile Marcellus Shale damage case in Washington County, or saying anything about gas drilling and fracking, isn't unusual. It happens often in settling such cases.

But the insistence that their two minor children, then ages 7 and 10, are also bound by the "gag order" is.

Several independent legal scholars and attorneys involved in the Hallowich side of the case say they know of no other settlement agreements that gag the children of parents involved in legal settlements, and questioned whether such an agreement is enforceable... Read more. 

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Osha Gray DavidsonFrom Osha Gray Davidson, an awesome piece in Rolling Stone about fire in America:

The Great Burning: How Wildfires are Threatening the West

It was the sound of her neighbors' propane tanks exploding that convinced Nancy Myers she had run out of time. Twenty minutes earlier, the 57-year-old potter had been standing with some friends on a rock-strewn hillside above the village of Yarnell, Arizona, on a hot Sunday afternoon, watching the red coil of flames unspool in the distance, certain that everything was going to be OK – despite the "prepare to evacuate" order issued by the county sheriff's office earlier that day. "Then the storm came down the mountains," she remembers. "The wind shifted and it came straight into town. There was ash and smoke everywhere and big old flames. I went into panic mode."... Read more.

Photo by Gene Blevins/Reuters/Landov

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Ryan RandazzoA big, multi-part series by Ryan Randazzo and his colleagues at the Arizona Republic about the future of solar energy in Arizona:

See the complete series, including text, photos, and video, here.

Or, read individual parts here:

Emerging Arizona solar industry faces uncertain future

Costs of rooftop solar out of reach for many in Arizona

Federal and state subsidy debate key to Arizona's solar future

Company's solar leases draw fans, but feds open inquiry into pricing

Solar doesn't have a lock on future as major power source

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Ashley AhearnAnd finally, from Ashley Ahearn with EarthFix radio, tracking a laughing frog in the name of science:

Tracking an Alpine Frog that Chuckles and Beeps for Climate Change Research

The Cascades frog is only found in the alpine wetlands of the Pacific Northwest, though its range used to extend down to Northern California and up to British Columbia. Scientists are concerned its range will continue to shrink with climate change. (Photo by Ashley Ahearn)

Olympic National Park, Wash. — Maureen Ryan scales rocky trails at 5,000 feet elevation as nimbly as the mountain goats that wandered through camp earlier this morning.

The amphibian researcher leads her team of scientists down off a ridge line in the Seven Lakes Basin of Olympic National Park to her “lab”, you might call it. It’s a series of pothole wetlands cupped in the folds of these green, snow-studded mountains - perfect habitat for Cascades frogs (Rana cascadae).

Ryan, a researcher with the University of Washington, is an expert on alpine amphibians. She’s also part of a group of scientists from around the region, coordinated by the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative at the USGS, who are trying to understand and project how the warming climate will affect these frogs’ ability to feed, mate, and ultimately, survive... Read, hear and see more.

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