Amy Sisk

Energy Reporter for StateImpact Pennsylvania

Credit Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Amy Sisk covers energy for WESA and StateImpact Pennsylvania, a public media collaboration focused on energy.

She moved to Pennsylvania in 2017 from another energy-rich state, North Dakota, where she often reported from coal mines, wind farms and the oil patch. While there, she worked for NPR member station Prairie Public Broadcasting and the Inside Energy public media collaboration. She spent eight months following the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy, her work frequently airing on NPR and other outlets. Amy loves traveling to rural communities -- she visited 217 small towns on the Dakota prairie -- and also covers rural issues here in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Matt Slocum / AP

When President Donald Trump’s solar tariff took effect four months ago, it sent shockwaves through the solar energy industry.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The solar industry is one of the newest players to enter Pennsylvania’s energy landscape. During its infancy, making a career in it was a bit of a gamble, but Hal Saville decided to give it a go.

“It was something that I had to convince my family was the right thing to do because I had a pretty cushy job and could have retired from doing that, and the industry was somewhat slow to get on its feet and really gain momentum,” he says.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

More than 2 million people work in energy efficiency across the United States. It makes up the largest sector of the nation’s clean energy workforce.

Virginia McGrath has held one of these jobs for three years. She’s an energy auditor for Pittsburgh’s Conservation Consultants Incorporated.

“I think the energy efficiency field has made a transition,” she says. “Instead of saving energy and saving money, we’re talking about making a home safer and more comfortable. I think that resonates with people more.”

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

When something goes wrong in the natural gas fields like a spill or an explosion — somebody has to clean up the mess.

Mike Chicka gets these calls. The work, he says, can be pretty challenging.

“We’ve had times where we’ve had to build roads in the side of mountains,” he says. “We’ve brought in 30-, 40-foot pipes to be able to put through culverts to be able to divert the flow of streams and rivers, and bring in thousands of tons of stone to be able to build a road proper to get to the spill.”

Courtesy of Kathleen Knight

Researchers have a new plan to tackle the emerald ash borer in the Allegheny National Forest.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Steel mills and coal mines once powered the economy of the Laurel Highlands. Amid the collapse of those industries, some Cambria County residents are looking to build jobs around clean energy to help revitalize the region.

Matt Rourke / AP

Republican Scott Wagner will face off against Gov. Tom Wolf this fall for the top office in Harrisburg.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania will use the $118 million it received in a settlement with Volkswagen to fund grants and rebates for cleaner vehicles and engines.

The money comes to the state after the German automaker programmed diesel vehicles to cheat emissions tests and reached a $14.7-billion settlement with the federal government. Most is going toward buying back vehicles and compensating owners, but some is going into a trust that divvies up the money to states.

In Pennsylvania, funds will go toward buying new engines or retrofitting old ones.

Sarah Kovash / WESA

The view has shifted the past few years during Ken Holmes’ daily walks along the Ohio River, and on Tuesday, it changed yet again.

Until 2016, emissions from two smokestacks often billowed above Neville Island near Pittsburgh. When the Shenango Coke Works shut down, its stacks still dominated the landscape. But just before noon on Tuesday, they disappeared forever.

A series of planned dynamite blasts sent the stacks, plus a coal bunker, crumbling to the ground.

Allyson Ruggieri / 90.5 WESA

Environmental advocates in Pennsylvania want to see a faster switch to electric buses to help eliminate emissions that can worsen asthma and cause other health problems.

More than 23,000 diesel-powered transit and school buses exist throughout the state.

In the past, environmental groups have pushed to clean up diesel buses by taking steps like retrofitting the vehicles with filters to reduce pollution.

Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

More than 20 residents and environmental advocates called for tough limits on water pollution from a coal-fired power plant northeast of Pittsburgh on Wednesday evening.

Jon Hurdle / StateImpact Pennsylvania

More than 100 spills have occurred during the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline, and now, another troublesome spot has emerged in Delaware County outside Philadelphia.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Gasoline prices in Pennsylvania will likely hit the $3-per-gallon mark this week, their highest level since 2014.

Rising gas prices are partly the result of high demand, said Jim Garrity, a spokesperson for AAA East Central, which includes Pennsylvania and nearby states. The demand for gas right now nationwide is greater than any other April on record.

Amy Sisk / WESA

Researchers have a new way of tracking the song sparrows, dark-eyed juncos and other birds that fly about the Laurel Highlands.

Courtesy Photo

Several Fayette County students are in Washington D.C. this week to showcase projects they have been working on in their school’s “Fab Lab.”

Tim Lambert / WITF

Pennsylvania landowners for years have tried and failed to get the Legislature to protect royalties they receive from natural gas companies, but mineral owners in West Virginia just scored a victory.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Six months after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, 200,000 residents still lack electricity, the mayor of the island’s capital city told a crowded Carnegie Mellon University ballroom Wednesday night.

Carmen Yulín Cruz, who received a master’s degree from CMU in the 1980s, came back to the campus to speak at “Energy Week” alongside Pittsburgh’s mayor.

She said the situation in Puerto Rico is still dire for many.

Wayne Parry / AP

Across Pennsylvania, four in 10 registered voters say they have personally experienced problems related to climate change, according to a recent poll from StateImpact Pennsylvania and Franklin & Marshall College.

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Some Clearfield County residents have fought for years to block a proposed injection well to store wastewater from the state’s natural gas fields, but the project has secured a permit from Pennsylvania environmental officials.

Amy Sisk / WESA

Millions of Pennsylvania drivers make an annual trip to their local auto shop to test their vehicle’s emissions. Two decades after this ritual began, some are questioning its necessity.

Allegheny County Elections Division

Short answer = highly unlikely.

 

Democrat Conor Lamb declared victory early Wednesday morning in the special election to represent Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, but Republican Rick Saccone hasn't conceded and the race is technically still too close to call.

 

So can Saccone make up Lamb's current 627-vote advantage?

 

Here’s the breakdown.

Climate State / Flickr

Solar energy advocates want to dramatically increase the amount of electricity generated from solar panels in the state.

Amy Sisk / WESA

Prosecutors in Pennsylvania have charged dozens of people for human trafficking since a tougher law took effect in 2014.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

When natural gas companies approached Charlie Clark and Jim Barrett about the minerals under their farms, the northern Pennsylvania landowners in neighboring counties both decided to let them drill.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

I stumbled across a Washington Post story this morning that describes how Russia’s Internet Research Agency tried to manipulate the debate over energy-related issues in the United States via social media.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

As Pennsylvania’s gas boom helps propel the United States away from coal-fired power, one energy researcher says the impact on climate change will be a wash.

Amy Sisk / 90.5 WESA

Negotiators for Pittsburgh's teachers union and school district wrapped up a marathon bargaining session late Friday night without a deal in place, but with no imminent plans for a strike.

Nina Esposito-Visgitis, president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, said the two sides made progress Friday. They will meet again this week for another negotiating session.

Corgi HomePlan / Flickr

As Pennsylvania moves into the latter part of winter, 13,500 households that started the season without a safe source of heat still don’t have one.

Data released Wednesday by Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission shows there are fewer homes without a utility heating service this winter compared to last year. But when money’s tight, many families still turn to heating sources that pose fire risks.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A solar panel that arrives in the United States from overseas now comes with a higher price tag.

President Donald Trump last week imposed a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels. The move comes at the request of U.S. solar manufacturers, who seek a level playing field amid competition from places like China, where the government subsidizes solar manufacturing.

A proposed coal mine is moving forward in southwestern Pennsylvania after its operator reached a settlement with an environmental group.

The Mountain Watershed Association raised concerns that LCT Energy’s Rustic Ridge mining operation could contaminate the Indian Creek Watershed. The parties reached a settlement this week after the watershed group had appealed the mine’s permits to the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board.

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