Environment & Energy

Environment
3:04 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Wind Jobs at Stake if Federal Tax Credit not Extended

Wind power represents one of the fastest growing manufacturing sectors in the U.S., and now employs more than 75,000 people nationwide. But a federal tax incentive that benefits the wind industry is set to expire, leading advocates to urge its extension.

Read more
Environment
1:23 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

EPA Blames Fracking for Wyoming Groundwater Contamination

For the first time, federal environmental regulators have made a direct link between the controversial drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination.

The EPA released on Thursday its draft investigation results on water pollution in the Wyoming town of Pavilion.

Read more
Environment
9:03 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

State Energy Department wants data on Natural Gas Drilling Emissions

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced that companies involved in Marcellus natural gas drilling in the state must submit data on their facilities' air emissions for 2011. The agency is asking 99 operators to respond. These are companies involved in natural gas development, production, transmission, and processing.

"We use this information as a metric, as a look ahead, as a monitor," said DEP Secretary Mike Krancer. "It's sort of the same reason you go to a doctor. You take an EKG, and if everything isn't OK, you need to address that."

Read more
Environment
5:56 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

A Sunny Day For PennFuture

The environmental activist group PennFuture received a $315,697 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help promote and advance the use of solar energy in Western Pennsylvania.

PennFuture Vice President Heather Sage said that the application process was rigorous and only 22 grants were given nationwide.

Read more
Environment
6:26 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

Report: State Gives $2.9 Billion in Subsidies to Energy Industry Annually

The environmental watchdog group PennFuture is reporting that Pennsylvania gives the oil, gas, and coal industry around $2.9 billion in subsidies every year. Most of those subsidies come in the form of tax exemptions, tax credits, and grants. Christina Simeone heads PennFuture's Center for Enterprise and the Environment, and said that figure is probably low, because many line items do not disclose a monetary value. She says that lawmakers talk about letting the free market determine industry winners and losers, but state policy says otherwise.

Read more
Environment
12:19 am
Fri December 2, 2011

Salts From Drilling, a Drinking Water Danger, Still Showing Up in Rivers

Standing on a catwalk over a pool of water near the banks of the Ohio River, Frank Blaskovich points at a series of pipes draining into the far end of the pool.

"There, that's the river water coming in," says Blaskovich, water treatment manager for Wheeling, West Virginia.

His job is to take water from the Ohio River and make it into safe drinking water for his city of 30,000. But since 2008, the Ohio has been too salty, so he's had to dilute it with groundwater from backup wells. Blaskovich doesn't like doing this, because each added step costs money.

Read more
Environment
7:49 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

“Tulips Will Be Just Fine”

If you're worried because you've seen cherry trees blooming in downtown Pittsburgh, magnolia buds about to burst, and tulip leaves coming up in the garden, put your mind at rest.

Mike Masiuk, director of the Penn State Extension in Allegheny County, said that there's a cherry tree cultivar that blooms in both fall and spring, and it's not unusual to see tulip foliage or magnolia blooms in a mild fall. He said that the growth that looks premature and vulnerable will make it through the winter and perform as expected in the spring.

Read more
Environment
6:11 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

Breathe Project and Heinz Endowments Announce Funding for Diesel Retrofits

The Heinz Endowments is adding $920,000 to the Clean Diesel Construction Equipment Retrofit Fund. That matches the amount already in the fund that was started by the Allegheny County Health Department. The money will go to small businesses that have older diesel equipment that needs to be retrofitted, as per city ordinance.

New city regulations require contractors to use low-emissions construction equipment on projects that total $2.5 million or more. That had some fearing that small contractors would be pushed out of the process because of the cost associated with retrofits.

Read more
Environment
3:00 pm
Sat November 26, 2011

Environmental Group Holds Shale Workshops

The environmental group PennEnvironment is holding a series of statewide workshops on the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry, three of which will be held in the Pittsburgh area.

PennEnvironment Clean Water Advocate Erika Staaf said the events are meant to get people "up to speed" on the industry and teach them skills for dealing with energy companies, lawmakers, and media.

Read more
Environment
8:00 am
Fri November 25, 2011

Study of Westmoreland County Kids Examines How Environment Shapes Lives

The National Children's Study (NCS) will track hundreds of thousands of kids throughout the U.S. from before birth until they turn 21. It's the largest long-term examination of children's health ever conducted in the U.S. In Pennsylvania, Westmoreland County is where the tracking will happen, and researchers are currently enrolling eligible families.

The purpose is to determine how environmental factors influence health, development, and overall quality of life; in particular, why some problems have skyrocketed in recent years.

Read more
Environment
6:00 pm
Thu November 24, 2011

New Vertical Wind Turbine Powering Phipps

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has installed a renewable power source, further helping the effort of the Living Building Challenge, and achieving a new zero-energy goal. The Gale 10 vertical axis wind turbine, made by Tangarie, is expected to harness more than 10,000 kWh annually from the wind.

Read more
Environment
4:54 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Thousands Call For Local Regulation On Drilling

When Pennsylvania lawmakers return from their Thanksgiving recess, they'll face thousands of names on petitions urging them not to strip municipalities of their rights to regulate drilling.

In separate actions, the House and Senate approved HB 1950 and SB 1100 respectively, which limit local regulation. That led Ron Slabe of Westmoreland County to start an online petition drive urging members of the House and Senate to reconsider their positions.

Read more
Environment
8:15 pm
Wed November 16, 2011

New Report Finds Consumers Would Save Billions through Expanded Renewable Energy Use

It's a common perception that making a large-scale switch to renewable energy would mean a less reliable power supply and higher costs for the consumer. A new report says just the opposite is true, and projects a net savings of $83 billion over the next 40 years.

Future Costs

Read more
Environment
6:26 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Legislation Introduced to Hold Drilling Companies Responsible for Water Contamination

Pittsburgh Councilman Doug Shields has accepted that natural gas drilling will likely go on in Pennsylvania, but he is introducing legislation to hold companies responsible for any water contamination they might cause.

Shields said that drilling pollutants can be troublesome when mixed with other chemicals in the region's rivers.

Read more
Environment
8:13 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Fukushima Accident Not Harmful to Pennsylvanians, Report Says

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has released its Fukushima Nuclear Accident Report, explaining the agency's response and findings after the March nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. The nuclear crisis followed the devastating tsunami and earthquake that struck Japan.

Read more
Environment
6:13 pm
Thu November 3, 2011

Conference Focuses on Building Sustainable Communities

About 120 municipal leaders, non-profits and conservationists gathered in downtown Pittsburgh for a forum on creating sustainable communities. While that is a broad term, the conference focused mainly on green infrastructure, healthy communities, and low-cost land management practices.

Read more
Environment
11:30 am
Sat October 29, 2011

Women Take Charge of Their Woods

Nancy Baker stands in the pantry of her farmhouse in Bradford County. It's layered in family history, from the floorboards up. "All the woodwork trim in this old part of the house is American Chestnut. My mother had it painted white, it looks very nice, but I like the chestnut," says Baker.

Like some Pennsylvania forest owners, Baker inherited the family home and the acres of forest land that came with it. But unlike many women woodland owners, she isn't intimidated by it: she's a retired forest ecologist.

Read more
Environment
4:11 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

Conservation Groups Urge Supercommittee to Avoid Cuts to Environmental Programs

The National Wildlife Federation released a report outlining ways for Congress to reduce the federal deficit while also protecting programs they say are critical to public health and the environment. The Conservation Works report outlines how the U.S. would be affecting by cuts to conservation programs. In Pennsylvania, one of the areas that would take a hit is outdoor recreation.

Read more
Environment
7:09 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Region's Air Quality is the Focus of Ambitious New Undertaking

More than 40 organizations and a growing number of individuals are taking on the challenge of improving Pittsburgh's air quality as part of the so-called Breathe Project. That's a multi-million dollar effort that includes scientific research, public awareness campaigns and calls to action.

Read more
Environment
10:00 am
Fri October 21, 2011

County Wants Safe, Environmentally Friendly Recreational Fires

As the temperatures begin to drop, residents of Allegheny County start to take advantage of their outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, and chimineas.

County Health Department Spokesman Guillermo Cole said that's a great idea, but people should know the restrictions.

"Our [county] regulations generally allow the use of such outdoor burning units because it's considered recreational burning, but we do have some requirements that do apply to their use," Cole said. "For example, you should only use dry, clean wood in wood burners and not use any garbage or debris."

Read more
Environment
2:57 pm
Tue October 18, 2011

Endangered Bat Found Dead Under Turbine

A dead bat discovered under a turbine in the North Allegheny Windpower Project has put a freeze on their nighttime operation. The 35-turbine farm in Portage, Washington, and Cresson townships in Cambria County is the second location where endangered Indiana bats have been found dead under turbines. Two bats were found at a wind farm in the Midwest.

Read more
Environment
2:15 pm
Sat October 15, 2011

A Third Of The Way Through Its Timeline, Alternative Energy Portfolio Delivers Results

In 2004, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell was in the second year of his administration. The Democrat wanted to jump-start the state's alternate energy landscape, which at that point, was nonexistent. He sent out that mandate to his department heads and to the State House and Senate.

"We relied almost exclusively on – in the beginning of the last decade – on two things. Nuclear power and coal-fired power plants. Not even gas," said John Hanger who served as Rendell's Secretary of Environmental Protection from 2009 to 2010.

Read more
Environment
8:56 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

Referendum On Drilling Ban Will Proceed

The township manager of a Washington County community says officials will not appeal Common Pleas Judge Paul Pozonsky's decision to allow an anti-drilling referendum to be placed on the November ballot.

The Peters Township Marcellus Shale Awareness group collected 2,500 signatures to place the question on the ballot to allow voters to decide whether to amend the township's home rule charter to ban gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing. But township officials tried to block the referendum.

Read more
Environment
4:37 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Anti-Drillling Campaign Focuses On State Parks

Concerned about the end of a moratorium on gas leasing in state parks, the environmental group PennFuture announced its "Don't drill through the heart of Pennsylvania" campaign Thursday, aimed at preventing Marcellus Shale drilling in the parks. In February Governor Tom Corbett overturned former Governor Ed Rendell's executive order against leasing more park land to drillers.

Read more
Environment
8:59 am
Mon September 26, 2011

Whitewater Rafting Hinges On Valve Test

Crews will soon begin another series of tests on the Quemahoning Reservoir's release valve following a just-completed $59,000 repair project. The valve's performance could determine the future of a rafting and kayaking corridor on the Stoneycreek River from the base of the dam past Benson to Johnstown in Cambria County. Project supporters are hoping for a greater flow and more scheduled releases of the water from the reservoir to enhance the whitewater experience and attract more visitors.

Read more

Pages