Environment & Energy

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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Environment
8:00 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

Pittsburgh Department of Public Works Offers Christmas Tree Dropoff

Pittsburgh residents can drop off their old Christmas trees at four locations across the city as part of the Department of Public Works' annual holiday recycling program.

Pittsburgh Recycling Supervisor Sean Wigle said that he expects thousands of trees to be dropped off at the Public Works stations in the East End, Hazelwood, the West End, and the Strip District.

He said that the evergreens will be composted or mulched by a contractor. A percentage of the material will be used in Pittsburgh's parks and other city property.

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Environment
8:00 am
Thu December 29, 2011

New Report: Rent Rates Soaring In Active Drilling Areas

Most of the attention about the drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania has focused on job creation or the suspected negative impact on water from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) or on air quality from released natural gas, as well as the stress on roads from trucks hauling water to and from well pads.

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Environment
5:02 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Stormwater Utilities Might Become More Popular

On days when the region sees heavy rain, many creeks and streams jump their banks and a slew of sewage systems overflow, pumping raw waste into the region's rivers. The federal government is trying to eliminate those overflows and has entered into consent decrees with many of the region's sewage utilities.

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Environment
8:00 am
Tue December 27, 2011

Shale Gas Industry Hoping for Statewide Regulations in 2012

The leader of the Marcellus Shale Coalition said that the past year was a mixed bag for Pennsylvania's shale gas industry, and she expects more of the same next year.

Coalition President Kathryn Klaber said that the industry added 200,000 new jobs in Pennsylvania in 2011, and expanded shale gas infrastructure across the state. However, she said that she's disappointed that the legislature didn't pass a set of statewide laws to regulate industry practices.

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Environment
8:00 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Christmas Bird Count Underway

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is inviting wildlife enthusiasts to help in the Audubon Society's 112th Annual Christmas Bird Count. Last year, 62,624 people counted more than 60 million birds throughout the United States, Canada, and Latin America.

Game Commission spokesman Jerry Feaser said that information gathered during the event is very helpful.

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Environment
5:16 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Proposed Pipeline Would Ship Marcellus Gas Out of State

A Texas-based company is moving forward with plans to build a pipeline to transmit natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania to distributors along the eastern seaboard.

The Williams Company of Houston has filed a pre-application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review its preliminary plans to construct the 258-mile pipeline from West Virginia through southern Pennsylvania, including Somerset and Bedford Counties.

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Environment
5:44 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

A New Report Shows Pennsylvania’s Energy Savings Law Working to Save Consumers Money

The PennFuture Center for Enterprise and the Environment commissioned a study detailing the impacts of Act 129 on the state's families and businesses. The report, conducted by Optimal Energy, found that the law succeeded in its goal of cutting energy demand [PDF].

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Environment
5:39 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Duquesne University Switches to Pennsylvania Wind Power

For several years now, Duquesne University has used a cogeneration plant driven by waste heat from its heating and cooling facility to cover 80 percent of its electricity needs. The remaining 20 percent was supplemented through wind power. About one third of that wind power was generated in Pennsylvania, the rest was from out of state.

Starting this month, the university has switched to getting all of that wind energy from sources within Pennsylvania. That energy plan, said university officials, makes the campus unique.

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Environment
5:47 pm
Fri December 16, 2011

How Green is Your Christmas Tree? An Answer to the Real vs. Plastic Debate

Is it more environmentally friendly to have an artificial tree, or to cut a real one down? The debate is rehashed year after year — in the media, in the industry, and in who knows how many living rooms. But more often that not, the debate ends, the season passes, and the average consumer is still left in the dark. This year we looked for some answers.

Charlene Lepant said that every year she has one of each: an artificial tree and a real one.

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Environment
11:12 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Green Holiday Gift Ideas

If you're shopping for the eco-conscious on your holiday list, your first instinct might be to go online. But in larger cities like Pittsburgh, several shops are offering a growing number of products considered to be "green."

"These necklaces are recycled liquor bottles. There's wine bottles, you can see Absolut bottles on some of them," said Rebecca Morris. "She basically takes and cuts out different interesting shapes, hearts or teardrop shapes, and puts them onto a chain."

Morris likes to stock recycled goods as much as possible her boutique, WildCard in Lawrenceville.

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Environment
6:33 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Turnpike to Become More Electric-Vehicle Friendly

By the end of next year, the Pennsylvania Turnpike service plazas east of Harrisburg will have working electric vehicle charging stations, with all 17 of the turnpike's plazas expected to offer charging stations by the end of 2013.

Kevin Sunday, a spokesman for the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), said that there will be two types of chargers.

"Each turnpike service plaza will get two Level III charging stations that can charge a battery in as little as 20 minutes, and one Level II charging station that can charge in up to four hours," Sunday said.

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