I’ve been sitting on this assignment for just over a year, but am happy to finally post it. I worked nearly a full day in Wellsboro, Pa., for a WSJ story about safety records for natural gas drilling companies in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania. The gist of the story was that as larger energy companies take control of wells and drillings sites from the smaller companies that originally held leases, safety increased as a result of more oversight and stricter working protocols. I previously worked on a fracking project in the Bakken Shale region in North Dakota, and after my day around Wellsboro I was astonished at the differences between the two regions.
Perhaps the most visible discrepancy is that the “boom” period in Pennsylvania has slowed — there simply is not as much of a visible presence of fracking as in North Dakota, which I would describe as a sprawling wasteland of towering rigs, flaring wells, and dusty, unbreathable air. That’s not to say the issue still isn’t controversial in PA for locals, politically, economically, and environmentally.
During my day in Wellsboro, I spent a great deal of time with a local county commissioner, Erick Coolidge, who is also a dairy farmer who has a natural gas well on his property. Mr. Coolidge went well above and beyond what I would ever expect of a source for a story, generously offering his time and energy to serve as my guide and driver for several hours, and coming through with a last-minute, almost impossible request to get me onto a Shell rig. I had the pleasure of running into Mr. Coolidge again just a couple months at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, and was glad to see he was doing well.
Dairy farmer and Tioga County Commissioner Erick Coolidge stands on the site of the Coolidge family farm off of State Road 287 in Delmar Township on Thursday, March 28, 2013, near Wellsboro, Pa. The century farm has five generations of history. Coolidge also leased land for a natural gas well built by East Resources Inc., later transferred to Shell. Jeff Lautenberger for the Wall Street Journal
Madam Della, a self-described psychic witch, stands in her seance room in the new Spooky Spirits shop in Gettysburg on Saturday, March 29, 2014. The new room can accommodate up to 20 people for psychic readings, compared to the former location which Della described as a “closet.” Jeff Lautenberger — For the Evening Sun
Had a last-minute, on-deadline portrait shoot for The Wall Street Journal to illustrate GM’s massive and growing recall of vehicles due to safety concerns. Toby Beck of Allentown, Pa., is one of just one millions of car owners affected by the recall. A steady rain all day threw a wrench into my plans and made finding a suitable outdoors location difficult. Many thanks to Paul Noon of the Kutztown Car Wash for letting me transform one of his carwash bays into a car-size studio, and Toby’s cooperation on making it all work out.
Kutztown University student Toby Beck drives a 2006 Chevy Cobalt SS, which is included under General Motors’ recent ignition switch recall. Beck, photographed in in Kutztown, Pa., on Friday, March 28, 2014, received an April service date for a repair. Jeff Lautenberger for The Wall Street Journal
As I write this in late March, with a dusting of snow still on the ground and a frigid breeze howling through the thin, drafty walls of my Pennsylvania apartment, I am seriously ready for spring. But first, here’s a quick look back at the winter that just won’t end.
During Peak Polar Vortex 2014, This Guy had the brilliant idea of going even closer to the arctic. I spent a few days in the Twin Cities visiting my future Best Man and friend-since-forever, Matt Ripley. I don’t think it got above 10 degrees the entire time I was up there, and lows were in the negative teens. Perfect weather for some backyard pond hockey (I can finally cross that off my bucket list), waterfall ice-climbing, and a once-in-a-lifetime expedition across frozen Lake Superior to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The latter involved a pre-dawn wakeup call, four hour drive, two-mile hike over the frozen lake/snowdrifts, spelunking and lots of bumped heads on icicles poking from cave ceilings. The caves were an epic playground, and the whole trip left me in complete awe of how beautiful frozen nature can be.
Minnehaha Falls – Minneapolis, Minnesota. February, 2014.
Natalia Backus, 6, of Greensburg, Pa., nuzzles up to schnauzer Windy at the Celtic Classic Dog Show; Handlers wait with their Pembroke Welsh Corgis outside a show ring. Jeff Lautenberger — For the Daily Record/Sunday News
The slug for the shoot was DRUGHUNTER.
The man with a literal bullseye in his sights is Dr. Peter Lebowitz, who spends much of his time scouting potential drugs for Johnson & Johnson to acquire. Inside a massive pharmaceutical facility on the outskirts of Philadelphia, we walked past countless labs with cutting-edge research and development on the next generation of drugs that will be used to fight cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, among other diseases.
After suiting up in white lab coats and safety glasses, I was fortunate to be allowed some shooting time in a lab. The science is way over my head and more than I could ever understand, but I’d like to thank Dr. Lebowitz not only for his time but for his dedication and passion for treatment and cures.
Read more here.
Peter Lebowitz, Johnson & Johnson’s cancer research-and-development chief, talks with associate scientist Connie Zhang in a biology lab at the Janssen research lab in Spring House, Pa. Jeff Lautenberger for The Wall Street Journal
More than 99 percent of the time, there is absolutely nothing redeeming about a ribbon cutting ceremony. I don’t shoot ‘em. Decent papers don’t run ‘em. End of story. That said, I decided to break a few rules today with the culmination of one of the biggest local news stories of the last year. Dynamic overhead angle + splashes of color + cute kids everywhere = Sure, I’ll shoot your ribbon cutting. You’re welcome.
Hanover Mayor Ben Adams and son Nicholas, 6, cut a ceremonial ribbon as children and families watch during the long-awaited grand reopening of the second floor children’s library at Guthrie Memorial on Saturday, March 8, 2014. More than 500 people passed through the library within the first hour of its opening and participated in story time, games and crafts. Jeff Lautenberger — The Evening Sun
This is right up there among the silliest things I’ve even seen done in a school. As part of a Red Cross fundraiser, students at a Hanover school could purchase strips of duct tape to literally tape their principal to the wall. Surprisingly, it was actually the principal’s idea.
Principal Jay Czap winces while trying to separate himself from the wall after being pinned to it with duct tape by students and staff at Clearview Elementary on Friday, March 7, 2014. Jeff Lautenberger — The Evening Sun