Allegheny Front

Allegheny Front is a radio program covering environmental issues in Western Pennsylvania.

Brian Peshek

On the Sunday before buck hunting season started in late November, Randy Santucci, chair of a group called the Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, got up early to show me some of his favorite hunting sites.

Santucci is a big guy, in his 50s, and owns a machine shop in Robinson Township near the Pittsburgh airport. Today, he’s wearing a camo shirt, a ball cap and what looks like a week’s worth of scruff on his face.

Handling The Rising Tide Of Climate Change In Our Region

Jan 12, 2017
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

In a farewell address this week, President Obama reiterated his administration’s commitment to acting on climate change—and his thoughts on the gravity of issue.

“Without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change. They’ll be busy dealing with its effects,” he said.

Coal Country Picked Trump. Now, It Wants Him To Keep His Promises

Jan 1, 2017

From West Virginia to Wyoming, coal country overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump and his message that he will bring coal jobs back. Now, those same voters are eyeing his incoming administration closely, careful to see if he will keep his promises to revive the coal industry and get miners back to work.

This Pittsburgh Group Is Pioneering The 'Uber Of Food Recovery'

Dec 22, 2016
412 Food Rescue

Chances are,  all that leftover food from your office party or wedding might end up in a dumpster—and eventually the landfill. Unless a hero swoops in.

Because it’s the 21st century, that hero is a new app. It’s called Food Rescue Hero, and 412 Food Rescue—a nonprofit in Pittsburgh—has been working with local developers over the past 18 months to get it off the ground.

Three New Developments To Watch Along The Ohio River

Dec 19, 2016
Allegheny Front

1. Shell's Ethane Cracker

Shell faced questions this week at local and state hearings over the new petrochemical plant it plans to build northwest of Pittsburgh. Local officials asked the company about air and water pollution from the plant—as well as how noise, light and traffic will impact the surrounding communities.

Could The Former Shenango Coke Works Site Become A Solar Farm?

Dec 17, 2016
Google Earth

Last year, when Leah Andrascik heard the Shenango Coke Works was closing, she thought it was a joke. Then, when she realized the news sent in an email by a fellow activist was true, she was relieved.

Andrascik lives just across the Ohio River from Neville Island, just north of Pittsburgh, where the coke plant was a constant source of concern for many residents. “When it was still in operation, there was a lot of dark smoke that would come out of the battery,” Andrascik says.

Are We Heading For A Hydropower Boom On The Three Rivers?

Dec 16, 2016
Nicholas A. Tonelli / Flickr

Behind a chain link fence, Paul Jacob watches water spill over a dam on Neville Island—a 1,200-acre stretch of land in the Ohio River near Pittsburgh that’s a hive of industrial lots and chemical plants. 

Oil And Gas Development Could Pose A Risk To Struggling PA Bats

Dec 15, 2016
US Fish and Wildlife Service

 

A coalition of nine oil and gas companies is asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a 50-year permit that would allow the killing or disturbing of five bat species in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The permit, which is covered under the Endangered Species Act, is called an incidental take permit because the impacts are incidental to carrying out a legal activity, like constructing pipelines.

What To Expect From PennFuture In The Trump Era

Dec 8, 2016
Lou Blouin / Allegheny Front

For the past few weeks, we’ve been tracking how the environmental movement is responding to Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the U.S. presidential election. This week, we talked with Larry Schweiger, head of PennFuture, one of Pennsylvania’s leading environmental advocacy organizations. And he says he’s approaching the incoming Trump administration with a mix of apprehension and optimism.

DEP Says Greene County Stream Poses 'No Radiation Concern'

Dec 7, 2016
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Testing at a Greene County stream once suspected of contamination shows it has “no radiation concern,” the Department of Environmental Protection announced Thursday.

For Smart, Social Crows, Pennsylvania Is A Warm Winter Oasis

Dec 6, 2016
Tim Spouge / Flickr

 

The large flocks of crows in our region now are primarily migrants from more northerly locations that are here to spend the winter. The number of roosting crows tends to build up steadily through November and December. These large winter roosts were historically in rural areas. But over time, as crows adapted to people, they moved their winter roosts into urban areas. Here they benefit from the warmth of the city. They are attracted to well-lit areas, which may enhance their ability to detect approaching predators. Their roosts can number in the hundreds of thousands of birds.

The Effect Of The Ohio River’s Legacy Pollution

Dec 1, 2016
David Kidd / Flickr

Legacy pollution continues to be a big problem in the Ohio River. Things like PCBs and dioxin, which may have been discharged into the river decades ago, can still make the water unsafe for living things—including us. For example, there are advisories limiting how many fish you can eat from the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers because these toxins build up in fish. This week, we caught up with Judy Petersen, executive director of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, to tell us more about how legacy pollution—and new pollution—affects our lives.

Group Of Doctors Says It's Time To Hit 'Pause' On Fracking

Nov 23, 2016
Alex Brandon / AP

In 2013, Walter Tsou, a Philadelphia doctor, began to worry about the impact drilling has on the health of people near natural gas wells. He authored a resolution for the Pennsylvania Medical Society—which represents about a quarter of the state’s doctors—calling for a moratorium on new hydraulic fracturing operations. It didn’t go over very well.

It's Not Just Lake Erie. The Ohio River Has A Major Algae Problem, Too.

Nov 18, 2016
Jeff Reutter/ Ohio Sea Grant / Flickr

Ethan Wells has lived along the Ohio River for almost all of his 32 years. One day last August near his home in Sistersville, an hour south of Wheeling, West Virginia, he noticed blue-green algae growing along the riverbank. And each time he looked, there was more of it.

“I grew up on a farm around ponds and on the river so I knew what it was,” Wells says. “It started to cover the river—like a neon slime across the top. And it was kind of eerie in a way to have the river alive like that.”

Brian Siewiorek / WESA

The Confluence – where the news comes together is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist, and host, Kevin Gavin. They’ll go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region. 

This week we'll look at some of the environmental issues impacting the region including the detection of methane leaks under the streets. Also, municipal leaders from across the country are in Pittsburgh for the National League of Cities conference. Our guests will fill us in on the topics the conference is addressing. We'll also discuss U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton's tenure now that he has announced his resignation.  

Tracking Diesel Pollution In Downtown Pittsburgh

Nov 17, 2016
wildcellist / Flickr

 

Trucks, buses and even river barges can create lots of diesel pollution. But a new study finds that just how much of that pollution you might be exposed to depends a lot on where you are and the time of day.

Why Trump Probably Can't Bring Back Coal (Or Kill Renewables, Either)

Nov 14, 2016
Steve Helber / AP

Donald Trump's shocking victory in the 2016 presidential election will have reverberations on many aspects of American life. But many say one of the most serious is what it will mean for energy and environmental issues.

Why You Can Ditch That Non-Stick Skillet For Cast Iron

Nov 8, 2016
Mark Bonica / Flickr

Skillets and pans with non-stick coatings, like Teflon, have had a prime place in American kitchens for decades—and for good reason. They make it a cinch to flip pancakes and slide omelettes onto our plates. But some consumers have worries about the safety of the chemicals used to make non-stick coatings.

Why Reimagining The Ohio River Could Be Critical To The Region's Future

Nov 4, 2016
Jeremy stump / Flickr

Standing in downtown Pittsburgh, you can see where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the headwaters of the Ohio River. 

 

Nov. 1, 2016: Pittsburgh, PA—The Allegheny Front presents Headwaters, a new multi-part series on the future of our region's water resources. The series, which launched on October 22 on The Allegheny Front will be broadcast each week through mid-December, and segments will be included in 90.5 WESA newscasts each week as well.

Ohio River Communities Are Still Coping With Teflon's Toxic Legacy

Nov 3, 2016
Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Fore more than half a century, the chemical company DuPont provided jobs for thousands of people along the Ohio River. One chemical they produced is PFOA, commonly known as C8. It was a remarkably useful compound—used in “Teflon” non-stick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics and even some food wrappers.

Why Some Birds May Be Planning An Extended Stay This Fall

Oct 27, 2016
Thomas James Caldwell / Flickr

 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says 2016’s trend of record-breaking temperatures has continued into the fall. And that unseasonably warm weather may be changing the timing for birds heading out of our region for their fall migrations.

A Bold New Vision For Restoring America's Most Polluted River

Oct 20, 2016
Shannon Tompkins / Flickr

In many ways, the Ohio River is an unsung resource for the region it serves. The Ohio’s near-thousand-mile course flows through Pennsylvania and five other states before emptying into the Mississippi. It’s a source of drinking water for more than 5 million people. But its long legacy as a “working river” has also made it the most polluted in the country. Today, many cities and towns along the Ohio are rethinking their relationship to the river—and seeing how a large-scale restoration effort could be critical to the region’s future. But just how do we get there?

Peak Colors Are Coming To Southwestern PA This Week

Oct 19, 2016
Allegheny Front

The Allegheny Front has partnered with the online climate and weather almanac iSeeChange to help collect observations from people all across the country about what’s going on outside. And people have been noticing some strange things about the leaves on the trees where they live. Observers in Wisconsin and Michigan noticed leaves turning brown during the summer. And in Kansas, someone reported elm trees changing color in September.

VIDEO: Exploring The Collapse Of Coal

Oct 14, 2016
Allegheny Front

Less than a decade ago, the coal industry was at its peak. Today, American coal is in crisis. Production is down. Bankruptcies have swept across the industry. But how exactly did things get so bad, so fast? What will now happen to America’s coal towns? And who will be left to clean up hundreds of old coal mines? The Allegheny Front teamed up with the public media initiative Inside Energy to explore what the collapse of coal looks like for communities across the country.

WATCH: The Collapse Of Coal

The Billionaire Who's Fighting To Stop Runaway Climate Change

Oct 13, 2016
Fortune Live Media / Flickr

  

When the history of the climate change era is written, Tom Steyer will likely get more than a footnote. He might even get a whole chapter. But in many ways, being one of today’s most powerful advocates in the fight against climate change is an unlikely fate for a guy who—not long ago—was a big-time hedge fund manager. Since stepping down in 2013 from his own multi-billion dollar investment firm, he’s been busy re-purposing his wealth. His new project: NextGen Climate, a political organization that is—among other things—spending millions of dollars to help candidates who back urgent action on climate issues.

This Machine Will Change The Way You Think About Plastic

Oct 12, 2016
Perpetual Plastic Project

Plastic pollution is all around us—from grocery bags blowing down the street to the islands of plastic floating in the oceans. But Bart Bleijerveld, an industrial designer from the Netherlands, sees plastic a little differently. He says it’s a really useful—even beautiful—material. We’re just using it the wrong way.

“It is designed to last for a really, really long time, while everybody’s using it as a disposable,” Bleijerveld says.

Struggling Honeybees Get Some Help From Big Data

Oct 6, 2016
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

 

As prolific pollinators, honeybees are to thank for about one out of every three bites of food you eat. But bees are in big trouble: They’re getting hit hard by pestspesticides, diseases and habitat loss. To help keep tabs on what’s going on with bees, scientists at Grand Valley State University are using new technology to track the health of hives.

What Pennsylvania Must Do To Hit Its Carbon Reduction Goals By 2030

Oct 2, 2016
Zach Frailey / Uprooted

When the Obama administration announced its Clean Power Plan (CPP) back in 2015, it left it to individual states to figure out exactly how they would achieve the mandated cuts in greenhouse gases.

It’s clear some states will have an easier time than others.

For example, Pennsylvania’s target calls for a 33 percent reduction in carbon dioxide from 2005 levels. But the state may in fact already be halfway to meeting that goal.

The Science Of Making Rain

Oct 1, 2016
Charlie Riedel / AP

  For as long as humans have been around, we’ve been at the mercy of the weather. And as long as that’s been the case, we’ve wanted a way out—a way to control the weather to suit our needs. In the distant past, we used sacrifices and rain dances. Today, we turn to science.

This is where cloud seeding comes in. It’s humanity’s attempt to do what has always seemed impossible: To harness the clouds and make them rain.

Let’s begin in Fargo, North Dakota, at the headquarters of Weather Modification Incorporated, WMI. It’s the largest cloud seeding company in the world.

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