Environment & Energy

Environment & Energy news from 90.5 WESA.

Red Cross: Volunteers Needed

Oct 30, 2012

The American Red Cross in western Pennsylvania is looking for volunteers to help take care of those in need locally and on the east coast due to Hurricane Sandy.

The national organization has provided about 3,200 people with shelter and mobilized more than 1,300 disaster relief workers as a result of the super storm.

In 2002, the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG) began showcasing and supporting the city's biotechnology tool, medical tool, therapeutics, diagnostics, and healthcare IT businesses. After a decade of solid growth the Greenhouse is celebrating its ten-year anniversary this week.

In ten years, the PLSG has worked with 384 companies. It has invested approximately $18.1 million in 73 portfolio companies, eight of which have exited for roughly $278 million. Additionally, about 500 jobs throughout the region, both directly and indirectly, have been created.

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Hurricane Sandy Relief has a Head Start

Oct 29, 2012

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A Pittsburgh-based charity is starting Hurricane Sandy relief efforts early.  Brother’s Brother Foundation (BBF) is partnering with Gleaning For the World (GFTW) and sending four truckloads of supplies to areas in Sandy’s path.

$1.6 Million in Grants to Trim Diesel Emissions

Oct 25, 2012

The Breathe Project and Allegheny County Health Department are providing $1.6 million to small companies to make their diesel construction vehicles more environmentally friendly.  This is the second round of grants to the Small Construction Contractors Retrofit Program which is operated by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Management Association.

Caren Glotfelty is the senior director of The Heinz Endowments’ Environment Program, which is a Breathe Project coalition sponsor.  She says retrofits can be costly.

A group of seventeen environmental groups has taken its fight for more openness in the nation’s oil and gas fields to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  In a filing led by the Environmental Integrity Project, the EPA is being asked to include gas extraction and processing in its Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting requirements.

Air Quality Action Day in Late October?

Oct 25, 2012

Pittsburghers unfortunately are used to Air Quality Action Days during the warm summer months—but in late October? The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) forecast a code orange Air Quality Action Day for fine particulate matter for today in the Liberty-Clairton area of Allegheny County.

State Loan to Make Schenley Park "Great Jewel"

Oct 24, 2012

Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park is getting a little renovation that will move stormwater through the park in a more natural way.

State Representative Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) announced the approval of a $617,540 low-interest state loan for a stormwater runoff control project in the park.

Frankel, a member of the Pittsburgh Park Conservancy Board, said the project will be completely green.

New PA Water Policy Concerns Environmentalists

Oct 23, 2012

14 Environmental groups concerned over a new policy in Pennsylvania that they say could negativly impact public health have filed suit calling on the Corbett administartion to rescind the policy.

The recent policy change puts Department of Environmental Protection Administrators in charge of reporting water contamination complaints, which environmentalists say will lead to delays in warning the public of water pollution from oil and gas development.

Specifically, DEP administrators will handle complaints related to oil and gas drilling within the state.

Deer Must Be Processed Within Management Area

Oct 18, 2012

In reaction to the state’s first confirmed case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a deer, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is putting tight controls on hunters within parts of Adams and York Counties [PDF map].

CWD was found in a deer that spent its entire life in captivity, but game officials are taking steps to monitor the wild population in the area while doing everything it can to make sure the deadly disease does not spread.

Perilous Pathways: The Danger Of Drilling Near Abandoned Wells

Oct 17, 2012

There are an estimated 200,000 aban­doned oil and gas wells in Penn­syl­va­nia but officials only know where the exact boundaries of about four percent of them.  The infor­ma­tion gap is a prob­lem, because aban­doned wells are dangerous, especially when drillers start to sink new wells into the countryside.

Years before a plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, efforts were underway to clean up Lambert’s Run. Part of that stream runs through the Flight 93 Memorial site, which is a reclaimed strip mine.

“The area had been both strip mined and deep mined and when the plane crashed in September 2001, the current mining owners and state Department of Environmental Protection  (DEP) were working to clean up some of the mine drainage that was there,” said Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of National Parks Service Western PA.

PHOTOS: Pittsburgh Zoo Continues Push to "Go Green"

Oct 10, 2012

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium houses more than 4,000 animals and hosts thousands of visitors each year. A lot of resources are needed to keep the animals fed and comfortable in their habitats, and to keep the grounds looking good – that takes a lot of energy and creates a lot of waste.

Zoo officials are trying to maintain the facility in the most environmentally-friendly way possible – a trend that’s spreading among zoos across the U.S.

Poland Hopes to Frack Shale Deposits

Sep 30, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ask Poles how they feel about fracking for natural gas and responses are mixed. They hope for big money and free flowing gas. They recognize legal, environmental and societal concerns, but ask them why fracking for homegrown gas is important and the answer is the same: energy independence.

Poles from all walks of life say if they can get to the natural gas that geologists and energy companies say is trapped deep underground, Poland would be free from reliance on its neighbors to the east — Russians.

A Test Drill in Lesniowice

Sep 30, 2012
Erika Beras/90.5 WESA

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Poland has the same kinds of natural gas shale formations we have here in Pennsylvania. Many Poles hope hydraulic fracturing technology and the resulting release of natural gas will bring the country energy independence and a financial boom, but also like here in Pennsylvania, a number of Poles have a not-in-my-backyard attitude toward the developments. 

While the natural gas industry continues to grow rapidly in Pennsylvania, the likelihood of negative effects on the landscape is also increasing. A report released by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) documented highly detailed patterns of disturbance related to the industry development.

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has released a report that makes suggestions on how southwestern Pennsylvania could resolve issues regarding the region's water supplies, like stormwater management and river navigation. At a news conference Thursday morning, a new water-related trade group was announced in order to take on those recommendations.

Parking Spaces...or Parks?

Sep 21, 2012

Don't be surprised Friday if you see some metered parking spots in Pittsburgh that  are occupied not by cars but "public spaces" in an effort to spark thoughts about urban landscape and land use. 

PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh is a one-day event aimed to get Pittsburghers thinking about the benefits of recreational parks and improving the community.  Thor Erickson, a committee member with PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh, said the designs for the spaces range from a simple extension of a business to a full-blown coffee shop, to an actual park.

The Allegheny County Board of Health has postponed a vote on guidelines that would be used by the county to decide whether or not to give a permit to companies that will emit pollution into the air.  The guidelines were drafted by a task force comprised of industry representatives, academia, healthcare officials, community members, and environmental groups.  Several supporters urged the board to pass them at their Wednesday meeting, but at the request of County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, that vote did not happen.

A regional energy company has announced plans to expand its storage capacity for nuclear waste produced from a Beaver County plant.

FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company said it plans to start construction soon on a $30 million dry storage facility. At least six above-ground bunkers will be built of steel and concrete on the grounds of the company's Beaver Valley Power Station starting this fall, with completion slated for 2014.

Oak Wilt Fungus and Emerald Ash Borer Persist

Sep 14, 2012

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/Oak Wilt Emerald Ash Wrap_Charlee Song_SOC.mp3

Local parks organizations are trying to inform homeowners about the dangers of two of the greatest threats to the region's trees.  A series of informational meetings about controls for oak wilt fungus and the emerald ash borer have been held in Allegheny County.  

Household Chemical Collection At South Park

Sep 13, 2012

Not sure what to do with those half-empty cans of paint and stain or those dusty bottles of automobile fluids in your garage?  The Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) will host a household chemicals collection event Saturday at South Park.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an average home can easily accumulate 100 pounds of hazardous waste including paints, varnishes, cleaners, pesticides, pool chemicals and car batteries.

Elk Hunting Season Coming Up

Sep 12, 2012

Each year thousands of Pennsylvanians and out-of-staters apply for a Pennsylvania elk hunting license, but only a lucky group of 65 are awarded with one.

The state’s elk population currently resides in Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton and Elk Counties in northwestern Pennsylvania.  In 1913  the Pennsylvania Game Commission reintroduced elk into the state by bringing them in from Yellowstone National Park.

Deer Disease Confirmed In Beaver County

Sep 11, 2012

Two deer have died from a disease not seen in southwestern Pennsylvania since 2007.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission on Monday confirmed epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) to be the cause of death for two deer in Beaver County. EHD is a disease contracted by deer through the bites of very small midges, and causes massive hemorrhaging.

Game Commission spokesperson Jerry Feaser says this disease usually results in death for the deer.

Shale Gas Potential Touted at Energy Conference

Sep 10, 2012

Representatives of businesses, labor unions, and all levels of government gathered at the 2012 Energy and Manufacturing Summit on Pittsburgh's South Side on Monday to praise the job-creating power of the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry.

In an effort to boost the profile of local farmers and ranchers, September is being celebrated as local food month in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Throughout the month, activities, contests, restaurant offerings, and more will highlight food that’s grown or raised in the region.

The natural gas boom in Pennsylvania is unlocking energy, but it’s also changing the landscape. A study released by the U.S. Geological Survey documented changes in land usage between 2004 and 2010. Bradford and Washington Counties were chosen for the first report, because they were identified as “exceptionally productive” areas of Marcellus Shale Development. The USGS report finds 642 sites in Bradford County and 949 in Washington County.

Looking Forward For Poland

Sep 5, 2012
Erika Beras/90.5 WESA

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Poland has seen many changes in the last 30 years – democracy has come to the country, Poles have embraced capitalism the nation has forged relationships with multi-national corporations and it has entered the European Union.

At the same time, there has been a growing focus on finding for cleaner forms of energy.

Looking Forward for Poland

Sep 5, 2012

Poland has seen many changes in the last 30 years – democracy has come to the country, Poles have embraced capitalism the nation has forged relationships with multi-national corporations and it has entered the European Union.

At the same time, there has been a growing focus on finding for cleaner forms of energy.

A Trip To The Northern Province

Sep 4, 2012
Erika Beras/90.5 WESA

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Poland has the same kind of shale gas deposits found throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. Poland’s government hopes to tap into their deposits to fulfill the country’s future energy needs but, like in the United States, it comes with a great deal of controversy.