Allegheny Front

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

A Giant Cheeseburger And The Fight Against Blight

1 hour ago
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

  What’s the best way to call attention to the issue of vacant lots in a community? An arts group in Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood of East Deutschtown has one idea: Build a giant cheeseburger sculpture on one.

Fracking Billionaire Backs Trump

20 hours ago
Reid R. Frazier / Allegheny Front

 At an oil and gas conference in Pittsburgh last week, one of Donald Trump’s top energy advisers warned that a Hillary Clinton presidency would harm the drilling industry.

Fracking billionaire Harold Hamm spoke to the Shale Insight Conference, telling the audience that he was impressed with Donald Trump when the two met while working on the Mitt Romney campaign and that he thought Trump was the right choice for the oil and gas industry.

Pittsburgh Festival Turns Junk Into Art

Sep 15, 2016
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

 

This month, Pittsburgh is hosting its first Re:NEW Festival, an art and performance event that’s all about reusing materials and environmental sustainability.

For example, one of the sculptures commissioned for the festival is fashioned from old street lights. Duquesne Light donated about 30 of them along with some other decommissioned fixtures for sculptors to re-imagine. Eddie Opat helped design the piece and says it’s inspired by pre-Columbian architecture.

Inspectors Saw Corrosion On Pipeline Years Before Explosion

Sep 14, 2016
Reid Frazier / 90.5 WESA

In 2012,  Spectra Energy inspectors saw it: a patch of corrosion that had eaten away at a 30-inch pipeline in Salem Township, Pennsylvania. But company officials said Tuesday that they didn’t replace the pipe because they didn’t expect the “anomaly” they saw to grow so quickly. A subsequent investigation of the stretch of the Texas Eastern pipeline revealed that the corrosion grew five times faster than what the company expected. Spectra officials are still trying to figure out why.

Could Shell's Ethane Cracker Erase Recent Gains In Air Quality?

Sep 13, 2016
Mark Dixon

Officials around the state are optimistic about the impact of Shell’s new ethane cracker on the local economy. It will bring thousands of construction jobs to western Pennsylvania and 600 permanent ones once it’s built along the Ohio River in Beaver County. The plant will produce 1.6 million tons of plastic a year out of the region’s natural gas.

So What Exactly Is An Ethane Cracker?

Sep 8, 2016
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

  When Shell announced earlier this year it would be building an ethane cracker facility in Beaver County, it no doubt left many people wondering—what the heck is an ethane cracker?

Is It Just Me, Or Are There A Lot Of Dragonflies This Summer?

Sep 7, 2016
Vicki DeLoach / Flickr

To help us tell stories about how weather and climate change are affecting our region, The Allegheny Front has partnered with iSeeChange—an online climate and weather journal where people can post observations or questions about what’s going on around them.

This summer, I had my own question: Why am I seeing so many dragonflies in Pittsburgh? In fact, recently when I was in the middle of the city, sitting in traffic, two were mating on my car windshield. I don’t remember seeing anything like it before.

Natural Gas Emissions In PA Are Up. Here's Why

Aug 31, 2016
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Air pollution from the natural gas industry was up in 2014—driven in large part by a growing industry. According to new data released by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), emissions were up in almost every major category, though some pollutants saw higher increases than others.

Ben Peoples / Flickr

 

Park ranger Doug Bosley stands at the crest of a quiet, green hillside, looking down a stretch of railroad track that appears to have gotten lost and wandered into the woods. 

New Research Puts The Spotlight On The Humble, Understudied Moth

Aug 11, 2016
Anita Gould / Flickr

 

Chatham University ecology professor Ryan Utz says a new moon—when the night sky is at its darkest—is a great time to observe moths in the summertime. And it doesn’t take any special technology to get a look at the diversity the moth world has to offer either.

Utz and his students recently set up a four-by-eight-foot white board at the edge of a field and then simply lit it on a dark night to attract some of the 1,500 species of moths that might pay a visit.

Aftershocks Of The Gas Boom Ripple Through New York's Wine Country

Aug 4, 2016
Julie Grant / Allegheny Front

 

  Driving around Seneca Lake, evidence of industry is everywhere.

The wine industry, that is.

Why Pipeline Safety Is One Of Pennsylvania’s Next Big Energy Challenges

Jul 22, 2016
Keith Srakocic / AP

On  the morning of April 29, a natural gas transmission line exploded in a field in Salem Township in western Pennsylvania. 

New Study Links Asthma With Fracking

Jul 21, 2016
National Institutes of Health / Flickr

 

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have published a study linking unconventional gas development with asthma attacks.

“We found that patients living closer to more—or bigger—unconventional natural gas wells had higher risk for an asthma attack,” says Sara Rasmussen, the study’s lead author.

New Chemical Plant Promises Jobs, But Could Turn Back The Clock On Air Quality

Jun 23, 2016
Reid R. Frazier / Allegheny Front

On a road overlooking the Ohio River, Michael McDonald gazes out over swarms of backhoes, bulldozers and piledrivers. He points to a large patch of bare ground. “That’s where the actual cracker units will be,” he says.

New Photography Exhibit Explores Impacts Of The Fracking Boom

Jun 16, 2016
Lynn Johnson

 

The story of the fracking boom in Pennsylvania and nearby states runs as an almost continuous narrative in the region’s press. But covering the blow-by-blow of new drilling sites, protests, lawsuits and regulations is just one way to look at how fracking has changed the region.

Shell / flickr

After waiting five years, Beaver County has received the news from Shell Chemical Appalachia that a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker will be built on the site of the former Horsehead zinc smelter. The plant is expected to provide 600 permanent jobs when it opens. But what concerns has this development raised for environmentalists? We'll ask Allegheny Front reporter Reid Frazier.    

Rennett Stowe / Flickr

 

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump says the U.S. needs to take back its jobs from China, Japan and Mexico—although he hasn’t offered a plan on how to do that.

Meanwhile, labor unions and environmental groups are pushing a more specific path for creating American jobs: Fix the nation’s infrastructure. And not just highways. They’re talking about things like the electric grid, water systems and natural gas pipelines.

As Coal Fades, What Will Happen To Thousands Of Miners?

Jun 2, 2016
Ryan Loew / Allegheny Front

It’s hard to say the coal industry is in anything but a state of free fall.

PA Environmental Chief Is Out After Email Controversy

May 26, 2016
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

 

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley resigned on Friday following a controversial email he sent to environmental groups. The email contained expletives and other impassioned language, and chastised environmental groups for not doing enough to support several of the department’s recent environmental initiatives.

After 17 Years, Cicadas Are Ready To Bust Out In Pennsylvania

May 19, 2016
griecheo / Instagram

 

They’re almost here. Actually, the insects are already here.

What Your Kids Are Learning About Climate Change

May 18, 2016
NL Monteiro / Flickr

So how—and what—are kids learning about climate change? Well, a survey published in the journal Science earlier this year revealed that students might not be taking home all that much from school. In fact, most science teachers spend just an hour or two on the subject every year.

Spectra Energy Official: ‘I’m Sorry’ For Pipeline Blast

May 12, 2016
Reid Fraizer / Allegheny Front

 

More than 200 residents packed a Western Pa. church Wednesday night to hear from the company that owns a pipeline that exploded last month. The crowd, at times edgy, posed questions about the explosion and pipeline safety to four Spectra Energy officials over a period of two hours.

The officials called the blast ‘unacceptable’ and apologized for the explosion, which badly burned one man and destroyed his home.

Group Tackles Environmental Hazards At Pennsylvania Schools

May 11, 2016
Ted S. Warren / AP

When you send your kids off to school in the morning, you expect they’ll be safe. But the group Healthy Schools Pennsylvania says that environmental hazards in and around schools are often being overlooked.

Officials Investigating Pipeline Explosion In Western Pennsylvania

May 6, 2016
Kerry Jobe / AP

  Last Friday, a natural gas pipeline exploded in Westmoreland County, just east of Pittsburgh. One man was hospitalized after his house went up in flames, while other nearby homes were damaged and residents were evacuated.

This week, armed security guards blocked off the site of the explosion, as federal pipeline investigators worked with the owner of the pipeline and state officials to determine the cause of the blast.

The underground pipeline, which is owned by Spectra Energy, carries natural gas from the Gulf Coast to the northeastern U.S. It was built in 1981.

Democratic Senate Candidates Spar Over Fracking

Apr 7, 2016
Matt Slocum / AP

 

The Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate is heating up, and sparks are flying on a topic that’s always hot in Pennsylvania—fracking.

At a debate this week, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman and former congressman and Navy Vice Admiral Joe Sestak both tried to brand their opponent, Katie McGinty, as a friend of fracking.

They targeted McGinty’s record as former secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection under Governor Ed Rendell. She left the department in 2008, just as the fracking boom was getting started.

When The Fracking Boom Goes Bust

Mar 30, 2016
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

    

At Jerry Lee’s Emporium in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, there was a sign on the front door, handwritten in marker: “Store closing for good.”

Jerry Lee Edwards opened the store in 2014. He came from southern West Virginia to sell clothes to workers in Pennsylvania’s booming natural gas industry. 

Oil Trains Carry Bigger Risks For People Of Color

Mar 13, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

A rash of oil train derailments, spills and explosions in recent years has put a spotlight on the silent risks of transporting fossil fuels. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians live within the likely evacuation zone of a potential oil train accident. But according to a new study from the group PennEnvironment, people of color and low-income communities are shouldering a larger share of the risk.

Better Than A Sell-By Date, Your Phone Could Soon Tell You How Fresh Your Food Is

Mar 3, 2016
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

Pittsburgh’s Lauren Wallace is willing to go the extra mile to make sure she’s getting the freshest milk possible at the grocery store. She regularly inspects the sell-by dates on the cartons and even digs to the back of the cooler to get the best ones. And when the milk in her fridge hangs around beyond the expiration date, she doesn’t even give the milk a chance to make a case that it’s still viable.

“I automatically dump it,” Wallace said. “I wouldn’t even taste it.”

Wallace isn’t alone.

Radioactive Scrap Metal Found In Beaver County Poses No Risk

Feb 26, 2016
Jon Dawson / Flickr

A Beaver County scrap metal facility has been temporarily shut down while the state investigates how radioactive materials there were put through a metal shredder.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection began its investigation of PSC Metals late Tuesday. Officials were alerted after metal that had been processed at the Beaver Falls facility and then shipped to three facilities in Ohio tripped a radioactivity monitor at one of the sites in Ohio.

Your Environment Update For Feb. 24, 2016

Feb 25, 2016
Katie Steiger-Meister / UFWS

An Industrial Chemical Finds its Way into Great Lakes Trout

An industrial chemical is showing up in low levels in trout from the Great Lakes. It’s called perfluoro-1-butane sulfonamide (FBSA) and can be traced back to detergents and waterproofing products first used in 2003.

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