Environment & Energy

Environment & Energy
4:17 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Workers Rally for Southwest PA Coal Jobs

Boilermakers, utilities workers and politicians rallied Friday in an effort to save southwestern Pennsylvania coal jobs.

Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA-18) took to the megaphone outside of Boilermakers Local 154 Hall in Pittsburgh to take a stand against the Environmental Protection Agency and its latest regulations that contribute to the closing of two Pittsburgh power plants.

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Environment
3:57 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

New Law Allows Municipalities to Create Stormwater Authorities

One day before flash flooding inundated southwestern Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation permitting municipalities to create stormwater authorities.

According to the environmental group PennFuture, runoff that is not managed properly can cause flooding and carry pollutants — heavy metals, sediment and nutrients — into waterways, but municipalities now have the option to create authorities to address these issues.

George Jugovic, chair of PennFuture’s law staff, said this is a big issue that people don’t usually consider.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:17 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

White Nose Syndrome Threatens Bat Populations in Pennsylvania

Little brown bat with white-nose syndrome.
Credit Marvin Moriarty / United States Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikipedia

Not even Batman can save his fellow bat friends from a deadly disease that has been threatening the bat population across Pennsylvania.  White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a disease caused by a fungus that, when introduced into underground workings such as caves and mines, begins to eat away at live skins cells of hibernating bats. 

This originally European fungus is cold loving, meaning it prefers very cold, damp underground environments, precisely where non-migratory bats tend to flock for hibernation. When bats hibernate, however, their immune systems completely shut down creating what Endangered Mammal Specialist Greg Turner calls “the perfect storm.”

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Environment & Energy
7:22 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Unions Call For Local Jobs to be Part of Green Energy Future

The theme of taking action today to combat climate change tomorrow ran rampant through Tuesday’s BlueGreen Alliance roundtable on president Obama’s recently released climate change plan. 

While the event spent very little time talking about the specifics of the president’s plan, it did offer several opinions on making sure climate control efforts also benefit the local economy.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:55 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Sustainable Jobs For Pennsylvania in the 21st Century

From Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs: What's Pennsylvania's industry future?
David Bennett Flickr

Before exploring the issue of creating green jobs in the 21st century economy, Essential Pittsburgh took the time to air some answers to environmental questions from listeners.

In response to a question on why the energy conversation won't embrace the possibility of more drastic advances in alternative energy such as nuclear fusion, James Clad, a consultant and distinguished research fellow at the National Defense University acknowledged that the energy conversation had been turned into a one note discussion on fossil fuels. 

"The energy world is defined by oil and gas and everything else is just an add on." said Clad

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:24 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

United Nations Report Examines "Climate Extremes" Over Past Decade

Sea ice, shown here in Nunavut, in northern Canada, reflects more sunshine than in the past, while and open ocean absorbs more, accelerating melting.
Credit Wikipedia Commons

Extreme weather, greenhouse gases, carbon monoxide and glacial melting; all these buzzwords have increasingly entered the public vernacular in the past 20 years. 

Following a UN report by the World Meteorological Organization, scientists expect that the topic of global warming and climate change will continue to be a hot issue.  The report, “The Global Climate 2001-2010: A Decade of Extremes,” cites that the past decade has seen an abundance of greenhouse gas emissions that has caused increased temperatures on both hemispheres, all oceans and an accompanying rapid decline in arctic sea ice and glaciers. 

Director of Science at the Carnegie Science Center, John Radzilowicz, has been following the topic of global climate change and was not necessarily surprised by the UN report.  He was optimistic, however, that the report was gaining attention and combined a multitude of data pointing to the extremes in weather conditions throughout the world.

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Environment
3:30 am
Fri July 5, 2013

DEP Awards Mine Grants to PA Universities

The state is providing $1.65 million in grants to support mine mapping projects.

The Pennsylvania of Department of Environmental Protection has awarded the Mine Map Grants to seven institutions, including six Pennsylvania universities.

Amanda Witman, spokeswoman for the DEP, said the grant recipients will add mapping information to the already active Mine Map Atlas, an interactive compilation of mine maps across Pennsylvania.

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Environment
3:30 am
Thu July 4, 2013

Population of Bald Eagles in PA Grows

While Pennsylvanians celebrate the Fourth of July this week, they might also want to celebrate the growing population of America’s national symbol — the bald eagle.

According to the Game Commission, there are currently 252 bald eagle nests in the state, 46 more than last year.

“I think it says a lot about the state’s efforts not only to see the number of bald eagles increase as it has, but also to see that population spread out into new areas and follow those watercourses they traditionally inhabited,” said commission spokesman Travis Lau.

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Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Researchers: Solar/Wind Power More Beneficial in Eastern U.S.

California has more solar panels soaking up the sun and creating electricity than any other state, but researchers say those panels would be better off in places like cloudy Pittsburgh.

Carnegie Mellon University researchers said the same is true in western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia when it comes to wind farms.

Kyle Siler-Evans, co-author of the recently published research paper, said the goal of solar and wind power is to mitigate climate damages and improve health and air quality, but the plants are going out west where they are not needed as much.

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Water Quality
6:13 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Health Department and Alcosan Advise on River Water Quality

When it rains in Pittsburgh, chances are raw sewage will be discharged into its rivers because so many pipes receive not only sewage, but also storm water, and the system can't handle the volume.  

When this happens, the Allegheny County Health Department issues combined sewer overflow (CSO) flag alerts between May 15 and September 30.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:10 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

The Geopolitics of Energy With James Clad

Global energy changes may be slow moving but they're happening
Credit Indigo / Flickr

The connection between reliable sources of energy, global prosperity and security has profoundly impacted international relations since before the industrial revolution.

According to James Clad, consultant and distinguished research fellow at the National Defense University, "energy is inextricably part of a contemporary society."

As dependent as we are on oil in the United States, it's commonly known that a shift away from petroleum-based energy could dramatically impact our economy and way of life. Clad says petroleum based economies are very mobile and agile, private vehicles let us go from point A to point B without relying on large expensive infrastructure.  Which is why economies like ours find it hard to completely do away the use of hydrocarbons.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:02 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Public Opinion on Energy Issues

Canada is now the number one supplier of energy to the United States. Canadian researcher Nik Nanos, chairman of Nanos Research Group, says while we've relied on oil from the Middle East in the past, with shale gas and new discoveries of oil in North America, there's a new narrative for energy policy and Western PA is a big part of the picture.

A recent poll from Nanos revealed 3 out of 4 Americans feel there should be a continental energy strategy.

Pittsburgh, he says is part of an energy triangle that includes Houston and Calvary, Canada. As part of the triangle Pittsburgh and the rest of the U.S. must have a good relationship their neighbors to the north, and rethink energy in more broad terms than electric bills and gas prices.

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Water Quality
3:37 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

$23 Million Available for Growing Greener Grants

Pennsylvania’s Act 13 Marcellus Shale impact fees from the state’s 6,000 wells so far amount to $400 million: $204 million for 2011 and $198 million for 2012 (because the price of natural gas declined). 

A fixed amount goes to agencies that oversee the industry, and the rest goes to local entities. 

Counties where drilling takes place get 60 percent of the remainder, while 40 percent goes into the Marcellus Legacy Fund, which is accessible to all.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:50 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Fracking Reporter Tom Wilber Screens Gasland II

Credit http://tomwilber.blogspot.com/

Journalist Tom Wilber has been reporting on hydraulic fracturing since 2008. He’s been our guest in the past to discuss the issue and help us sort fact from fiction when documentaries on the topic come out. He recently attended a screening of Gasland II, in his hometown of Binghamton, New York.

Essential Pittsburgh
8:01 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Gasland Director Previews Part II

Credit www.naturalgas.org

Filmmaker Josh Fox joins us to talk about his HBO documentary "Gasland II," a followup to 2010's "Gasland." Fox says his latest film demonstrates how the stakes have been raised in the controversial method of natural gas and oil extraction in the last three years.

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Environment & Energy
2:57 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

New 'Cool Roofs' Initiative Seeks to Increase Energy Efficiency with Reflective Paint

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announces the launch of the city's Cool Roofs program.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Cool Roofs program has officially launched in Pittsburgh. Through the servePGH initiative, the roofs of 10 city-owned buildings will be coated with reflective paint.

“In the coming months, volunteers will help paint approximately 50,000 square feet of city-owned roofs with a special, eco-friendly white coating,” said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

The reflective surface will help reduce carbon emissions and decrease energy costs for the buildings, and eventually that energy savings could extend to wider areas.

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Environment
4:08 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Groups Challenge ALCOSAN on Transparency Over Wet Weather Plan

Community members and environmental groups gather in Downtown Pittsburgh to call for more transparency from ALCOSAN as they study incorporating green components in its wet weather plan.
Credit Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

The Clean Rivers Campaign announced Monday it is filing a legal challenge to ALCOSAN’s denial of an open records request.

In May, the group requested any and all documents related to the scope of the work being done on ALCOSAN’s study of green infrastructure. That request was denied by ALCOSAN.

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Environment & Energy
1:56 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Pennsylvania DEP Launches Online Map Atlas of Underground Mines

Of the 1 million homes in Pennsylvania that sit above underground mines, one in 2,000 insured buildings are damaged by mine subsidence, costing an average of $50,000 per structure.

That’s according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which has launched an underground Mine Map Atlas, an online mapping system that allows the public to view underground mines across the state.

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Environment
11:33 am
Tue June 4, 2013

Firewood Quarantine in Effect to Stop Spread of Insects, Disease to Trees

The emerald ash borer beetle is now in 34 Pennsylvania counties.
Credit usda.gov / Creative Commons

Thanks to the presence of disease and tree-killing insects such as the emerald ash borer, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is reminding residents of the firewood quarantine in place.

People are asked to not move firewood more than 50 miles from its origin, and wood products cannot be moved out of Bucks County at all because of thousand cankers disease.

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Environment & Energy
9:37 am
Tue June 4, 2013

Drilling Opponents Pack DCNR Meeting On Loyalsock State Forest

Everyone who spoke at the meeting voiced opposition to a proposal to expand natural gas drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest.
Credit Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

After facing months of public pressure over the possibility of expanding natural gas drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) held a public meeting on the issue.

Nearly 250 people turned out Monday to Lycoming College in Williamsport. The meeting ran an hour over its scheduled time slot, due to the number of people who wanted to comment.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:33 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

How Do You Gather Community Consensus on Fracking?

To frack or not to frack on Allegheny College land
Credit Doug Butchy / Flickr

Allegheny College, located 90 minutes north of Pittsburgh, has been nationally recognized for its sustainable initiatives. But could the green campus get a black eye if it leases land for hydraulic fracking? Right now it's the campus is considering whether or not to open portions of the college's land to the option of shale gas drilling.

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Combined Sewer Overflow
8:12 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Ratepayers Seek Information from ALCOSAN

To comply with federal law, the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority submitted a plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in January to reduce sewage overflows into creeks and rivers at a cost of $2.8 billion. 

At the same time, ALCOSAN requested an 18-month extension to do a study of incorporating "green" infrastructure components proposed at public meetings. Now the people who advocated those changes say they are being shut out of the process.

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Air Quality
11:34 am
Tue May 28, 2013

EPA School Flag Program Monitors Pittsburgh Region’s Air Quality

Credit airnow.gov

The Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) and the federal Environmental Protection Agency are partnering on the so-called School Flag Program, which debuted last week at the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park.

“The School Flag Program was developed by the EPA, and it’s an engaging, hands-on way for students to inform their entire school and community about the region’s air quality and then to take necessary steps to minimize their exposure to high levels of air pollution,” said Karrie Kressler, of GASP.

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Weather
2:24 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Local Farmers Protect Their Plants from Late Spring Frost

April showers may bring May flowers, but what are we going to do with this frost?

With temperatures forecast to dip below the record low of 35 degrees, a frost advisory has been issued for Southwestern Pennsylvania starting at 3 a.m.

Local farmers are trying to protect their plants, strawberries in particular, from the chilling temperatures.

Ross Trax from Trax Farm in Bethel Park said it’s still early for strawberries, but the farm is trying to protect the blossoms.

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Environment
1:22 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Allegheny County Health Department Issues Combined Sewer Overflow Alert

The Allegheny County Health Department issued its second combined sewer overflow (CSO) alert of the season Thursday.

The advisories notify swimmers, boaters and other river-goers if the water has been contaminated by raw sewage after heavy rainfall clogs waste treatment facilities. The length of the advisories depends on the time it takes for the sewer systems to return to normal levels.

The CSO alerts do not prohibit recreational river activity, but advise the public to reduce water contact, especially those with weak immune systems or open cuts and sores.

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