The Allegheny Front

Environment
4:59 pm
Sun April 6, 2014

Climate Change Not So Sweet For Maple Syrup

Third generation syruper Jason Blocher works in the sugar house at Milroy Farms, Salisbury, Pa.
Credit Julie Grant / The Allegheny Front

Maple trees could be in trouble in the Northeast U.S. in the coming decades. Federal climate models have predicted the region will lose most of its maples by next century. But producers don't seem worried: maple syrup prices are high, and with technology, the sap is flowing just fine.

Jason Blocher’s livelihood each year largely depends on the weather in February and March. He’s the third generation in his family to run Milroy Maple Farms in Somerset County, on Pennsylvania’s southern border, just a few miles from Maryland.

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Environment & Energy
3:24 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Did Congress Kill Wind Energy Jobs in PA?

Wind farms like this one near Patton, Pa. were aided by the federal wind production tax credit, which expired in December.
Credit Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

Bradley Molinick started work at Gamesa’s wind turbine blade manufacturing plant in Ebensburg, Pa. in 2006, before the plant was even finished.

“I was offered a job right out of the interview. I started January 30, 2006.”

Almost eight years to the day that he started, he was called into a conference room for a 7 a.m. meeting. It was supposed to be a teleconference with top managers from the company. But last minute came word. Those managers had come to town for the meeting.

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Environment
9:45 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Snowy Owl Boom: Population of Arctic Birds Soars

Credit Audubon Society of Massachusetts

It’s been a big year for snowy owls. People have reported seeing thousands of the magnificent Arctic birds, from Erie, Pennsylvania, to Washington, D.C., all the way to the island of Bermuda.

Researchers say there are more owls this season than anyone has seen in 50 years. They call a population boom like this an irruption. The question for many people has been, why is it happening?

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Environment & Energy
10:32 am
Fri January 17, 2014

PA Chemical Tank Laws Tougher Than West Virginia

Chemical storage tanks on Neville Island, west of Pittsburgh.
Credit Julie Grant / The Allegheny Front

The chemical leak at Freedom Industries that left 300,000 people without water in West Virginia brings up questions in other states, like Pennsylvania, about the possibility of other water contamination catastrophes. There have been spills into Pennsylvania waterways before, and regulators say those incidents have led to more strict laws here. Regulators say a spill is less likely here than in West Virginia, but clean water advocates aren't so sure.

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Environment & Energy
9:20 pm
Sun November 10, 2013

How One Woman Took on Shell to Save Her Louisiana Town

Margie Richard with a photo of her sister Naomi, who died at the age of 43 from a rare bacterial infection. Richard suspected emissions from Shell had something to do with making her sister sick.
Credit Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

In June 2012, Pennsylvania officials flew to Louisiana to visit a couple of petrochemical plants owned by Shell, a company they were about to give big economic incentives to build a plant in Beaver County, Pa.

But they didn’t visit Margie Richard, who once lived in Norco, but now lives outside New Orleans.

If they had, they would have gotten another story about Shell’s operations here, a story about toxic emissions, industrial accidents, and how a very determined school teacher brought one of the largest companies in the world to the negotiating table.

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Environment
9:32 am
Sun September 29, 2013

New Life Comes to the Carrie Blast Furnaces

Trees, and soon art installations, are popping up at the former industrial site.
Credit Lauren Knapp / The Allegheny Front

The site of the Carrie Blast Furnaces is immense. Set alongside the Monongahela River, the two steel furnaces, tower at nearly 100 feet—totally eclipsing the site’s two football-field sized warehouses. Since its closing nearly 35 years ago, much of the machinery was stripped and sold for scrap, leaving a rusty skeleton. But it’s also become a welcoming habitat for wildlife.

You can find Ron Baraff, the Carrie Furnaces resident expert, on site most days, leading tours and leading the charge for its reinvention.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:55 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Pedaling The GAP Trail By Rickshaw

Travel the Great Allegheny Passage by pedicab
Credit Green Gears Pedicabs

The Great Allegheny Passage runs 150 miles between Pittsburgh and Cumberland Maryland. This year the Allegheny Trail Alliance celebrates its near completion.

Jennifer Szweda Jordan, host of the Allegheny Front takes a short trip, by rickshaw, in the Pittsburgh section of the trail with Green Gears Pedicabs.

Solar Energy
4:01 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Shale To Solar: Farmers Use Gas Money to Build Solar Arrays

Duane Miller in front of the solar array he installed to reduce his energy bills.
Credit Margaret J. Krauss / The Allegheny Front

Dwayne Bauknight and Duane Miller share a first name. They live 1.9 miles apart on the same road and have almost nothing in common — except for a row of gleaming new solar panels on their farms.

Dwayne Bauknight drives onto his Washington County property in a golf cart. He pulls a U-turn to park between two rows of 15-foot tall solar panels and shows how they work.

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