Environment & Energy

Environment
2:03 pm
Sun February 12, 2012

PUC Assures Extension Of Energy Savings Law

Pennsylvania's Public Utility Commission (PUC) has convinced environmental advocates that the state's energy savings programs will not be left for dead come next summer. PennFuture has withdrawn its petition to the commission asking to begin the process of extending the energy savings law known as Act 129, which is set to expire in May of 2013.

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Environment
9:32 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

Study Focuses on Marcellus Shale Environmental Violations

A report by the PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center shows that, over the past four years, gas operators accumulated 3,355 violations of environmental laws. [PDF] The study was compiled using information from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Erika Staaf, clean water advocate with PennEnvironment, claims more than 70 percent of the violations were possibly a direct threat to the environment.

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Environment
9:51 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Pennsylvania Legislators Have Passed An Impact Fee. Here’s What Happens Next.

Pennsylvania's House has passed a Mar­cel­lus Shale impact fee on a 101–90 vote. Now that the leg­is­la­tion is on its way to Gov­er­nor Corbett's desk, what hap­pens next? Here are some key mile­stones to look for.

Read the rest of this story at StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Environment
3:33 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Shale Fee Deal Could be on the Books Today

The governor's budget address usually sets the legislative agenda for the year, but today, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's speech may be overshadowed by news of a Marcellus Shale fee structure.

The House and Senate are primed for final votes on the issue that has hung over the Capitol since 2009. The measure would place a fee on every Marcellus Shale well, overhaul Pennsylvania's natural gas regulations, and restricts local governments' ability to zone and regulate drilling.

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Environment
8:44 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

Environmental Group Attacks Impact Fee

PennFuture is blasting a proposed impact fee that could be approved by the state Senate as early as tonight.

House Bill 1950 was agreed to by Republican legislative leaders and Governor Tom Corbett, without input from Democrats. It would require Pennsylvania's natural gas industry to pay an estimated $190 million in the first year. The impact fee would then rise and fall with the price of natural gas and inflation. Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati says the total fee amount would increase as more wells are drilled.

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Environment
8:00 am
Mon February 6, 2012

Senator Wozniak: “Emissions Test A Waste of Consumers’ Money”

A Democratic state lawmaker wants the federal government to reconsider the requirement for vehicle emissions inspections in Pennsylvania. State Senator John Wozniak (D-Cambria, Somerset Counties) is sponsoring a resolution calling on Congress to reevaluate the enhanced emissions inspection program.

"Today's cars are cleaner and annual emission testing isn't as effective," Wozniak said. "Virtually all cars pass the test and it's time to reevaluate whether it's just a waste of money for consumers."

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Environment
8:05 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

Dozens Of Grants Go To Remedy Stormwater Runoff, Acid Mine Drainage

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced that it will invest $13 million in 73 watershed protection projects.

57 projects will be funded through the state's Growing Greener program, while an additional 16 will be supported by the federal government through a Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Grant and the Clean Water Act.

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Environment
8:00 am
Mon January 30, 2012

White-Nose Syndrome Devastates Pennsylvania Bat Population

The little brown bat could be wiped out in the northeastern United States within the next decade by white-nose syndrome according to new projections.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that since 2006, when white-nose syndrome was initially discovered, as many as 6.7 million bats have died from that disease.

Bats control pests on farms and in forests and serve as important pollinators.

Spokeswoman Ann Froschauer says some bat species are affected more than others, but typically the fungal disease is 80 to 85 percent fatal.

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Environment
12:30 pm
Sat January 28, 2012

Where Did All the Gas Go?

The federal government gave the Marcellus shale a big thumbs down this week. It dramatically downgraded its estimate of technically recoverable natural gas in the formation, from 410 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) (enough to heat and power the U.S. for 20 years) to 141 Tcf (about a 7 year national supply).

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Environment
5:25 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Green WorkPlace Challenge Gauges Progress

After four months of a Sustainable Pittsburgh challenge posed to local businesses to "green" their buildings and practices, the organization announced the aggregate energy savings on Friday.

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Environment
4:45 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Power Plant Closures Slated for Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland – Environmental Rules Being Blamed

First Energy Corp.'s generation subsidiaries will retire six coal-fired power plants by September 1, 2012. The reason, said spokesperson Mark Durbin, is new environmental requirements.

"By no means is it a reflection on the fine work that's been done by our employees at those plants, but it's related to what the financial impact will be for these new environmental rules," he said.

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Environment
7:25 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Environmental Group Critical of President Obama’s Natural Gas Push

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on continued development of natural gas in the country, but he said it must be done in a way that protects the environment. This message didn't sit too well with PennEnvironment, a statewide environmental advocacy group. Clean Water Advocate Erika Staaf said natural gas isn't a clean energy, noting that the track record in Pennsylvania has been clear.

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Environment
8:00 pm
Mon January 23, 2012

Bill Would Mandate Green Building Practices in Pennsylvania

A bill being considered in Harrisburg on Tuesday would require that the design, construction, or renovation of any state-owned or state-leased building comply with specific energy standards. The so-called "Green Building" bill was introduced by State Representative Kate Harper (R-Montgomery).

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Environment
8:00 am
Mon January 23, 2012

IKEA To Install Solar Panels At Suburban Pittsburgh Store

Robinson Township's IKEA is helping Pittsburgh become more "green." The company announced it will be installing solar panels at an additional 20 of its 44 U.S. stores, including the one in Robinson Township.

IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth said the money saved from the energy bill might not necessarily go back into the community, but the installation could create some short-term jobs and will have environmental benefits.

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Environment
8:00 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Public Invited to Tree Meetings

Have a tree in your neighborhood that you love? How about one you can't stand? Pittsburgh residents interested in discussing the city's trees now have the opportunity to share their opinion at one of four meetings.

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Environment
10:24 pm
Thu January 19, 2012

Natural Gas From Shale Could Worsen Climate Change

Instead of being an answer to climate change, shale gas might actually be a major generator of greenhouse emissions.

According to a new study done by three Cornell University researchers, the problem with shale gas is the amount of methane it releases into the atmosphere.

But there is still debate over the impact of a ton of methane compared to a ton of carbon dioxide. Methane has a half-life of 10 years, while carbon dioxide has a half-life of decades. So shale gas supporters say any methane released in the atmosphere will disappear faster than carbon dioxide.

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Environment
9:36 pm
Thu January 19, 2012

Changing Priorities: Science Funding Slashed Under Corbett Administration

Members of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbet administration routinely insist their Marcellus Shale drilling policy is based on science.

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Environment
5:09 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

EPA Charts Greenhouse Emissions from Big Operations

In 2008 Congress tasked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with creating a first-of-its-kind, national, comprehensive greenhouse gas reporting system. On Thursday, the agency released the facility level greenhouse gas data to the public.

Gina McCarthy with the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation said the data is a boon to those who want to chart and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

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Environment
9:09 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Local Power Plant May Undergo Clean Changes

The Homer City power plant in Indiana County might lose its reputation for being one of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in America with a proposed installation of pollution controls.

Doug McFarlan, Vice President of Public Affairs for Edison Mission Energy (EME), which owns and operates the plant, unveiled the plan at a four-hour open house in Homer City.

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Environment
9:19 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Water Well Rules Proposed for Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania lawmaker says that more than 20,000 private water wells are drilled every year in Pennsylvania, but a lack of regulations means that there's nothing to ensure water quality for homeowners. Water quality has been a focus in the ongoing Marcellus shale drilling debate.

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Environment
8:41 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

Western Pennsylvania Home to “River of the Year”

The Stonycreek River, running from Cambria into Somerset County, is Pennsylvania's 2012 River of the Year. The river's corridor, located in the Laurel Highlands, is home to the Forbes Trail, the Flight 93 National Memorial, Greenhouse Park, and Whitewater Park.

The Stonycreek was chosen by online voters from among four nominees, including the Kiskiminetas, the Middle Monongahela, and Upper Juniata Rivers. Last year's winner was eastern Pennsylvania's Delaware River.

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Environment
6:15 pm
Fri January 6, 2012

PennFuture Wants Pennsylvania to Release Analysis of Energy Savings Program

Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) is asking the Pennsylvania Department of General Services (DGS) to release the findings of a review done on the Guaranteed Energy Savings Act (GESA).

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Environment
8:00 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Powdermill Grabs $730K Grant

The Carnegie Museum's Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystems and Powdermill Nature Reserve has been awarded a $730,000 dollar grant by the Richard King Mellon Foundation. The grant will be used to expand the Center and the Laurel Highlands based Reserve, which just celebrated 50 years of research in 2011.

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Environment
8:00 am
Thu January 5, 2012

Board of Health Urged to Punish Shenango for Clean Air Violations

At the Allegheny County Board of Health meeting on Wednesday, one Bellevue resident told the board to be strict in its punishment of Shenango, Inc., a coke battery which was recently cited and fined many times for air pollution.

Nonprofit consultant William Bartlett said that Bellevue's Northgate School District has an asthma rate of nearly 37 percent, much higher than the state average, and he said that Shenango is to blame for much of the air pollution that led to the high asthma rate.

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Environment
9:00 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Environmental Groups Suing Pittsburgh-Based Company over Alleged River Pollution

PennEnvironment and the Sierra Club have filed suit against PPG Industries over what they say are ongoing violations of the federal Clean Water Act. Erika Staaf is a clean water advocate for PennEnvironment. She said that the lawsuit singles out the Ford City waste site, which is about 50 miles northeast of Pittsburgh in Armstrong County. The site covers nearly 150 acres and includes 77 acres of waste slurry lagoons. Staaf said that the slurry in those lagoons contain high levels of metals.

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