Environment & Energy

We explore issues of energy and the environment, along with our partners from Allegheny Front and StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact PA

In March 2016, workers for one of the nation’s largest natural gas pipeline companies cut down a large swath of maple trees in Susquehanna County–a rural patch of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

As Zaheen Hussain walked through the garden at the Millvale Community Library, he pointed to a small instrument mounted on the library's outer wall.

House Panel Rebrands Marcellus 'Impact Fee,' Now Calling It 'Severance Tax'

Sep 11, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

What’s in a name?

A lot, apparently, when it comes to Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry.

Wilfredo Lee / AP

An estimated 6.2 million Florida residents are without power Monday due to powerful winds and flooding related to Hurricane Irma. In response to the devastation, Pittsburgh-based organizations are sending troops to Florida to help with restoration.

Jeff Kubina / Flickr

Clean energy jobs continue to grow in Pennsylvania, according to a new report from energy non-profits Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance and Environmental Entrepreneurs. Their 2017 data shows Pennsylvania is home to 70,000 clean energy jobs, a 6 percent rise from last year.

Allegheny County leads the state with more than 8,000 clean energy jobs, in sectors like wind, solar and hydropower. Pittsburgh's metro area has 14,000 clean energy jobs.

How A Health Crisis Created A Town Full Of Environmentalists

Sep 7, 2017
National Archives

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Toms River, Dan Fagin uses history, personal narrative, health data and investigative journalism to tell the story of a small town’s decades-long struggle with chemical pollution. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania environmental regulators and the state's most active gas driller have reached a settlement on claims the Texas-based company failed to repair a natural gas well that contaminated groundwater and a stream.

The Department of Environmental Protection had initially pursued a record $8.9 million fine against Range Resources over the methane contamination in Lycoming County.

Katie Colaneri / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Climate-damaging methane emissions, as well as volatile organic compounds from Pennsylvania’s shale gas industry are on the rise, while other harmful air pollutants have decreased, according to new data released Thursday by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Steve Johnson / flickr

Residents of Pittsburgh's northern neighborhoods and Reserve Township can again use water from their faucets. The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority announced Thursday evening that the precautionary flush and boil advisory instituted Monday had been lifted.

The advisory has not been lifted in Millvale, however, where additional tests are required to verify that the water is safe.

2 Dead And 4 Injured At Pittsburgh-Area Coal Plant Accident

Aug 30, 2017
Keith Srakocic / AP

Two workers died and four others were injured in an accident at a Pittsburgh-area coal-fired power plant late Tuesday.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact PA

A group of Roman Catholic nuns has filed a lawsuit against the federal agency that approved construction of a major interstate natural gas pipeline, planned to run through the nuns’ property in Lancaster County.

The suit, filed by sisters from the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, targets the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline and alleges the project violates their religious freedom, which is protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Shell Chemical Appalachia has reached a settlement agreement with two environmental groups that had challenged the air permit for its new petrochemical plant being built near Pittsburgh.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The state Department of Environmental Protection is working to speed up the training of several new water inspectors, in an effort to bring water safety measures across the state up to snuff.

The move comes after the federal Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter saying the commonwealth is failing to enforce water safety standards, and urging DEP officials to seek emergency funding to fix the situation.

The DEP recently hired two staff members, and officials said they’re expediting training on four more.

Renewables In The Trump Era: Doomed Or Too Big To Fail?

Aug 24, 2017
John Stamets / Flickr

Donald Trump is a big fan of fossil fuels. Renewables not so much.

Judge Throws Out Developer's 'SLAPP Suit' Against Environmental Group

Aug 23, 2017
Jon Hurdle / StateImpact PA

A Chester County judge has dismissed a suit by a property developer that sought to stop an environmental group criticizing the company’s plans for redeveloping a contaminated industrial site.

Tim Regan / Flickr

State officials are warning people not to eat fish caught in a stretch of a western Pennsylvania river after tests found extremely high levels of a potentially dangerous chemical.

Environmental protection officials issued the blanket warning Monday for all fish caught in the Shenango River in Mercer and Lawrence counties after previously advising people to stay away from certain species.

Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center via Facebook

A Pennsylvania wildlife center says a 30-year-old bald eagle that was being treated for lead poisoning has died less than two weeks after two other eagles died of the same cause.

The Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Saegertown announced the bird's death on Facebook on Sunday.

The bird was captured Aug. 13 after it allowed people to get unusually close. Blood tests confirmed lead poisoning.

Dam Removal Helps American Shad Return After Disappearing For Centuries

Aug 18, 2017
New Jersey Fish and Wildlife

For the first time in centuries, the American shad entered the Musconetcong River during its spring spawning migration upriver this year. The Musky, as it’s known to locals, is a tributary of the Delaware in Northwestern New Jersey. The Hughesville Dam, standing 18 feet tall and 150 feet wide, had blocked its way.

Teens Earn And Learn While Educating Their Neighbors About Lead Exposure

Aug 17, 2017
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

It’s a hot, sunny day in August, and high school students Mckayla Dixon, Anesa Reed, and Keith Jamison are working their summer jobs. The three teenagers are pounding the pavement, walking up and down hills, with clipboards in hand, hoping to talk with residents in Pittsburgh’s Lincoln-Lemington neighborhood about their exposure to lead.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pennsylvania wildlife officials say a bald eagle that is suffering from lead poisoning is in guarded condition.

The bird was letting people get close to it on a wildlife trail near Apollo over the weekend. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports it was taken to a wildlife center in Saegertown, where blood tests confirmed it had lead poisoning.

Peter Kaminski / flickr

It’s time to stop using blue Giant Eagle grocery bags to hold recyclables.

Learning About Pollution Can Be Fun ... When You Get To Pick A Giant Nose

Aug 10, 2017
Rachel Filippini

Our region’s dirty air is a big problem. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with it, right?

Cabot Oil Files $5M Suit Against PA Resident, Lawyers

Aug 9, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP, file

A gas driller that was targeted with allegations that it polluted residential water wells in Pennsylvania has filed a $5 million lawsuit against a Pennsylvania resident and his lawyers, asserting they tried to extort the company through a frivolous lawsuit.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. said Dimock resident Ray Kemble and his lawyers sought to harass and extort the Houston-based driller, attract media attention and "poison" the community by recycling "stale, settled claims" against the company.

A Mon River Water Filtration System In West Virginia Is Among The Nation's Best

Aug 8, 2017
Michael Virtanen / AP

A raft of garbage covers a swath of the Monongahela River in northern West Virginia, a dozen miles upstream from the drinking water intake for 100,000 people.

Old tires, damaged toys, algae, oil drums, sticks and other refuse have crowded against the dam for so long that weeds sprout from them. Stuck against the spillway, the trash spans a football field's length from one bank to the other and spreads almost 30 yards upstream.

Senate Jams Shale Tax, Industry Permits Into Unhappy Package

Aug 7, 2017
Keith Srakocic / AP

For years, environmental advocates have sought a tax on Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale natural gas production while business associations have sought speedier state approval of permits for the activities of polluting industries.

Now, legislation approved by the Republican-controlled state Senate gave both provisions an unexpected and unwelcome passenger: each other.

Matt Rourke / AP, file

A gas driller says the water in a northeastern Pennsylvania village does not pose a threat to "human health and the environment."

Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. released a statement Thursday after learning that government scientists are collecting water samples from about 25 homes in Dimock, where some residents continue to blame the driller for contaminating their drinking water.

Government scientists collected water samples this week from about 25 homes in Dimock, a tiny crossroads about 150 miles north of Philadelphia.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The day after Pennsylvania, 14 other states and the District of Columbia sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its plan to delay implementation of new clean air standards, the EPA reversed course and says it will implement it on time.

Courtesy of Polly Shaw / Arcadia Publishing

The Lake Arthur Regatta is this weekend.

Pennsylvania Among States Suing EPA

Aug 2, 2017
Emma Lee / WHYY

At a news conference on the banks of the Schuylkill River, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Tuesday they're joining 14 other states — including Delaware — in suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its decision to delay the implementation of new, tougher standards for ozone in the air.

Kristi Jan Hoover / 90.5 WESA

The Trump administration says a Pennsylvania-based coal company has won a contract to supply coal used for heating to Ukraine's state-owned power company.

The deal announced Monday calls for Xcoal Energy and Resources to ship 700,000 tons of thermal coal to the Ukraine to heat homes and businesses. Xcoal is based in Latrobe, Westmoreland County.

The first shipment is expected to leave the Port of Baltimore next month at a cost of $113 per metric ton.

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