Environment & Energy

Environment & Energy
11:00 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Chronic Wasting Disease Found in Wild PA Deer, Game Commission Unsure of Response

The state Game Commission is still working to determine how it will respond to an apparent outbreak of chronic wasting disease among Pennsylvania’s wild deer population.

The brain illness, fatal to deer but not harmful to humans, has been detected in the wild in Pennsylvania. It’s the first time the disease has been found in the commonwealth’s wild deer population in 15 years of testing.

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Zoo
3:12 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Thermostat Challenge Marks International Polar Bear Day

One of two polar bears at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Credit Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA News

Wednesday February 27th is International Polar Bear Day, a day aimed at raising awareness to the continuing threat to polar bear habitat and encourage action to reduce individual carbon footprints.

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Environment & Energy
10:24 am
Mon February 25, 2013

It's a Sweet Year for Maple Syrup

Last year was the worst year ever for sugar content, but this year's maple syrup is back to normal, according to Everett Sechler, owner of the Sechler Sugar Shack in Somerset County.  "We've already made a third of what we made last year.  We're hoping that we do not have an early spring because if it turns to spring, that will speed up the buds in the trees, and the sugar season will be over.  The 10-day forecast looks like it's going to remain cold except for two days, and the trees should perhaps pour the sap out those two days."

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Environment & Energy
3:20 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

DEP’s “Falcon Cam” is Back!

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is streaming a webcast of the peregrine falcon nest on its Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg.
Credit PA Dept of Environmental Protection

For those of you missing the Wisconsin recall cam, the webcam that gave thousands of people an inside look into the life of bureaucrats, the Pennsylvania DEP’s “falcon cam” might just catch your attention with nesting falcons.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today launched its annual 24-hour a day webcast of the peregrine falcon nest on its Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg.

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Environment & Energy
7:54 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Activists Lock Selves to Fence, Blocking Access to Pipeline Work in Pike County PA

A group of Pike County residents are spending President’s Day locked to a gate in the Delaware State Forest. The gate is used by pipeline workers clear cutting trees for the Tennessee Gas Pipeline northeast upgrade construction. The new Loop 323 will stretch from Milford, PA to New Jersey. Milford resident Alex Lotorto is one of the activists locked to the fence, because, he said, the impact of the pipeline will be detrimental to the area’s economy.

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Environment & Energy
2:48 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Activists Lock Selves to Fence, Blocking Access to Pipeline Work in Pike County

Milford, PA resident Alex Lotorto and Vernon, NJ resident Allison Petryk locked themselves to an access road entry gate in an effort to halt clear cutting efforts.
Credit http://notennesseepipeline.blogspot.com/

A group of Pike County residents are spending President’s Day locked to a gate through Delaware State Forest.

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Environment & Energy
2:50 pm
Sun February 17, 2013

Pedaling Forward For A New Bicycle Trail

A bicycling group in western Pennsylvania has been given permission to get plans rolling to put up to 17 miles of trails on Quemahoning Reservoir land.

The Cambria Somerset Authority gave the Laurel Highlands Off Road Bicycling Association (LHORBA) permission to build the mountain bike trails this summer, as long as the group flags the area first and then has CSA staff inspect it.

Earl Waddell, the operations manager for the Cambria-Somerset Authority, said even though the trail had been approved there was still some planning that needed to be done.

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Environment & Energy
5:42 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Model Ordinance to Streamline Solar Panels Installation Offered to PA Municipalities

A model ordinance and zoning code for solar power installation on homes and small businesses, which was one year in the making, is now available for all municipalities to consider with the hope that it will lower barriers residents and businesses face when looking to install new systems. The SunShot Rooftop Challenge initiative, funded by the US Department of Energy and coordinated by PennFuture, involved 24 local governments in Allegheny and Beaver counties including Upper Saint Clair, Pittsburgh, and Monaca.

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Environment & Energy
2:39 pm
Sat February 9, 2013

Winter Storm Batters Northeast; 500,000 Without Power

A storm that forecasters warned could be a blizzard for the history books, with a potential for up to 3 feet of snow, clobbered the New York-to-Boston corridor on Friday, grounding flights, sending office workers home early and knocking out power to half a million customers across the Northeast.

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Environment & Energy
7:53 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Emissions from Marcellus Shale Account for Small Portion of Health/Pollution Problems in PA

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/Web RAND Emissions.mp3

In 2011, air pollutants from natural gas extraction and transportation in Pennsylvania cost the state between $7 million and $32 million in healthcare, agriculture, and infrastructure costs. That’s according to a recent study from the RAND Corporation. For comparison, the state’s largest coal-fired power plant alone cost $75 million in damages.

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Environment & Energy
7:14 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Pollutants Continue to Hamper Wildlife, Fishing, Recreation in Pittsburgh's Three Rivers

Pittsburgh's three rivers remain heavily tainted with metals, harmful chemical compounds, pathogens, and silt, according to a report released last week by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Some of the most common sources of pollution are abandoned mines, as well as the "urban runoff" that results from a lack of vegetation along the riverbanks. Both of these are known to suppress aquatic life. The Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers are all experiencing problems from mine drainage and runoff. 

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Environment & Energy
8:22 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Phipps 'Living Building' Will Open to Public in February

Visitors will soon be able to mosey about in one of the greenest buildings in the world, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) at Phipps Conservatory.

Starting February 12, general admission will include access to the research and education facility situated behind Phipps' glasshouse gardens. Any Phipps visitor will be able to simply walk about and read up on the building's environmentally-friendly features.

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Environment & Energy
8:35 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Monongahela River Runs Away With Award

Even rivers get awards.

The Monongahela River, flowing through Greene, Fayette, Washington, Westmoreland and Allegheny counties, has been named Pennsylvania’s 2013 River of the Year following online voting across the state.

Terry Brady, spokesperson for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), said the Mon won because of the strong voter turnout.

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Environment & Energy
11:57 am
Sun January 27, 2013

Focus On Fracking Diverts Attention From Horizontal Drilling

Mention the recent surge in oil and natural gas production in the U.S. and one word comes to mind for a lot of people: "fracking." Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial technique that uses water, sand and potentially hazardous chemicals to break up rock deep underground to release oil and natural gas.

But there's another technology that is just as responsible for drilling booms happening across the country: horizontal drilling.

Environmental Consequences

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Environment & Energy
9:26 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Nuclear Power Plant Spawned Band of Snow over Western Pennsylvania

The National Weather Service said a nuclear power plant in Shippingport, PA was partially responsible for a narrow band of snow that fell on parts of western Pennsylvania Tuesday night.

Chief Meteorologist Rich Kane said the conditions were ripe for the incident: the cooling tower spews moisture and the air outside was frigid.

“So it’s everything you need to have like a mini lake Erie,” he said, “if we had hundreds of cooling towers right upstream from us, we would have hundreds of plumes coming up and it would almost resemble a lake effect.”

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Environment & Energy
9:12 am
Tue January 22, 2013

Pittsburgh Prepares for New E-Waste Law

What do you do with your old computers and TVs when you break down and buy the latest piece of technology to hit the shelf?

Some people might stick the outdated one in the basement or give it to a friend, but many others set the old electronics out on the curb for the garbage men to cart off the next morning. From there, the "e-waste" is thrown into the local trash dump, where it proceeds to leak toxic metals like lead, mercury, and cadmium into the earth and possibly the groundwater.

Not anymore.

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Environment & Energy
8:26 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Oil, Gas Companies Turning To Natural Gas-Diesel Fuel Blend

Technological advances in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are paving the way for companies to become both producers and consumers of natural gas. From Pennsylvania to Texas, diesel pump engines are being converted to operate on a cheaper bi-fuel mix of diesel and natural gas.

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Environment & Energy
9:03 am
Mon January 21, 2013

County takes input on North & South Park Projects

Allegheny County and the Allegheny County Parks Foundation will host two public input meetings to discuss improvement projects in North Park and South Park.

Residents are encouraged to attend the meetings to learn about the projects and to provide feedback and comments.

Christine Fulton, Executive Director of the Allegheny County Parks Foundation, said the needs for renovations in the parks is actually a good thing.

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Environment & Energy
9:00 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Value-Added Forests: The Working Woodlands Program

Pennsylvania forests have a new, surprising ally. You might even call it a sponsor. Chevrolet is footing the bill for a 22,000-acre parcel near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The forest is owned by the city’s water authority, which draws off tributaries in the forested watershed to supply its 115, 000 customers.

“We’re anticipating- to be on the safe side- somewhere from $75,000 to $100,000 annually.   If we get more than that… great,” said Steve Repach, Authority director.

Environment & Energy
9:07 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Tropical Plants Display at Phipps During Cold Months

One way to take the chill off a January in Pittsburgh is to think tropical--as in a tropical plant exhibit.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is gearing up to open its Orchid and Bonsai Show Saturday.

Georgia Wahl, orchid manager at Phipps, said the display is appealing in the wintertime because orchids come in "endless" colors, shades, and hues.

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Environment & Energy
9:50 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Allegheny County Air Rules Weakened

The ever yo-yoing Allegheny County Health Department Board changed toxic air guidelines again on Wednesday.

In a 6-0 vote with two abstentions, the board approved an amendment to shrink the “public exposure boundary,” or the area where public health risk is measured. The change shifts the boundary from the industry’s property line to the nearest habitable structure.  The board had voted in November 7-1 in favor of the tighter rules.

Ben Avon Councilman Michael Bett argued against relaxed regulations.

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Environment & Energy
8:23 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Low Vitamin D Levels Associated with Lower Birth Rates

A new study from the University of Pittsburgh finds low Vitamin D Levels early in pregnancy are associated with lower birth weights.

The study will be in the January edition of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Lead Author Alison Gernand from The Graduate School of Public Health says there has been an increased interest in looking at Vitamin D levels in pregnancy in recent years.

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Environment & Energy
5:58 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

County Board of Health Making Minor Changes to Air Quality Regulations

The Allegheny County Board of Health is accepting public comment on two proposed changes to air quality regulations. The changes are pretty minor, the first would get rid of the list of ambient air quality standards.

“That’s because whenever EPA updates these at the federal level, we have to go back and update our regulations. So just to make it easier and make sure that our regulations stay consistent with what’s happening at the federal level,” said Alaina Conner, pollution prevention and outreach coordinator at the county health department.

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Environment & Energy
6:33 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Pennsylvania’s Second Biggest Wind Farm Now Online

Right before the New Year, two new Pennsylvania wind farms became operational, including the state’s second largest. The Twin Ridges Wind Farm in southern Somerset County is a 140 megawatt facility, which can create enough electricity to power more than 45,000 homes each year.

“In total we had about 170 megawatts come online in the last week, bringing Pennsylvania’s EverPower portfolio to just over 200 megawatts and pushed us over 500 megawatts nationally,” said EverPower Wind Holdings Spokesman Dan Lagiovane.

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Environment & Energy
9:51 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Mystery Disease Affecting Smallmouth Bass in Susquehanna Prompts Calls to Put the River on Impaired

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is investigating a disease being found in smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna, Schuylkill, and Delaware Rivers.  Lesions are being found on the fish and hatchlings are dying off in significant numbers. The problem is that the culprit hasn’t been found.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission wants a portion of the Susquehanna to be placed on an impaired rivers list. But the DEP said if that were to happen, the agency would have to say why it’s impaired which means identifying certain pollutants that need to be reduced.

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