Energy

Kristi Jan Hoover / 90.5 WESA

The Trump administration says a Pennsylvania-based coal company has won a contract to supply coal used for heating to Ukraine's state-owned power company.

The deal announced Monday calls for Xcoal Energy and Resources to ship 700,000 tons of thermal coal to the Ukraine to heat homes and businesses. Xcoal is based in Latrobe, Westmoreland County.

The first shipment is expected to leave the Port of Baltimore next month at a cost of $113 per metric ton.

National Energy Technology Laboratory

Researchers at the National Energy Technology Laboratory south of Pittsburgh are discovering valuable rare earth elements in coal waste.

Kamil Kaczor / Flickr

Officials announced Tuesday that PWSA is back in compliance with federal standards for lead levels in drinking water. The next day, City Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow the authority to replace the private side of residential lead service lines when it replaces the public side.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Speaking Friday at the National Energy Technology Laboratory near Pittsburgh, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry emphasized the link between energy innovation and national security and talked about what he sees as coal’s strong future.

Calling his position as energy secretary “the coolest job” he’s ever had, Perry thanked the standing room-only crowd of scientists and researchers for their work in advancing energy technology, specifically when it comes to coal.

Trump Touts A New PA Mine, But Is Coal Actually Rebounding?

Jun 8, 2017
Reid R. Frazier / Allegheny Front

Matt Owens stands at the bottom of a freshly dug hole, about the size of a football field, cut 120 feet deep into a hillside in Somerset County. The pit will soon become the entrance to the Acosta Deep mine.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

President Donald Trump may not think the Paris Climate Accord is beneficial for the U.S., but Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto says the city is still committed to it.

Joe Ulrich / WITF

Exelon has announced it will prematurely close the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in September 2019—15 years before its license expires.

The plant’s been unable to compete. Like coal companies, the nuclear power industry faces slowing demand for electricity, along with a glut of cheaper natural gas and renewables. Around the country, five nuclear plants have retired in the past five years, and another five are scheduled to close within a decade.

Fractracker Alliance / StateImpact PA

Pennsylvania’s shale gas drillers continued to break records for production in 2016, tapping about 5.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Although the increase in production was not as high as in previous years, it still represents an upward trend, while the number of new well permits are declining, according to data published this week by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Pennsylvania still ranks second behind Texas in total volume of natural gas production.

Three Mile Island Accident Changed His Entire Life

Mar 11, 2017
John Zeedick / AP

It's been 38 years now, but the long legacy of the March 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant lingers to this day.

The crisis touched off a public panic in central Pennsylvania, ultimately leading to mass evacuations. This, as mixed messages and outright misinformation from both the power company and public officials masked the truth and eroded trust when it most mattered.

Philadelphia Gas Works Seeks Rate Hike To Boost Revenue Amid Climate Change

Mar 1, 2017
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Philadelphia Gas Works is asking state regulators for permission to raise its rates and generate $70 million more in revenue because of climate change.

Warmer winters and more energy efficient appliances mean customers are using less natural gas, so the city-owned utility is making less money. The company says it’s seen an 11 percent decline in sales volume since 2009 — the last time it sought a rate hike from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Meanwhile, the cost of doing business has gone up and natural gas prices have gone down, said spokesman Barry O’Sullivan.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The sounds of buzzing chainsaws echoed through the hills around Raystown Lake on Thursday afternoon as contractors for Sunoco Logistics cleared trees to make way for the new Mariner East 2 project.

The 8,300-acre lake in Huntingdon County is a popular spot for swimming, boating, hiking and mountain biking. It draws about 1.5 million visitors annually.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

 

Two of Pennsylvania’s leading environmental groups are forming a new strategic alliance in response to what they call an “unprecedented anti-environmental political climate at the federal and state levels.”

PennFuture and the Conservation Voters of PA will combine policy, advocacy, and legal resources to mobilize voters around environmental issues and hold lawmakers accountable.

Joe Ulrich / WITF

 

Jobs in Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry declined 32 percent in the second quarter of 2016, compared to the same time period last year, new state data show.

Pittsburgh Air Is Still Bad, But It Is Getting Better

Dec 27, 2016
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Air quality in western Pennsylvania improved in 2016, according to three regional monitors tracked by the Allegheny County Health Department.

“It was a good year in ozone,” said Jayme Graham, the department's air quality manager.

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.

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. 

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

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.

States Suing Over Climate Change Plan Get Their Day In Court

Sep 29, 2016
Dennis Hendricks / Flickr

  

Climate change barely got a mention in Monday’s presidential debate, but it was a big week in the history of the nation’s climate policy.

On Tuesday, a panel of ten judges on a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. heard arguments on the Clean Power Plan — the cornerstone of President Obama’s effort to curb climate change.

Fracking Billionaire Backs Trump

Sep 27, 2016
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.

A panel of judges Tuesday is hearing a case that could change the future of the power industry.

The D.C. Circuit is hearing an appeal of the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration rule that would restrict carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants.

Evan Vucci / AP

 

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went before a group of shale gas industry professionals gathered in Pittsburgh Thursday and promised that energy industry workers are going to “love Donald Trump,” if elected.

Bradford County Ramps Up Campaign For Gas Royalties Bill

Sep 16, 2016
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

 

About 700 people attended a meeting in Bradford County Wednesday night where state and local officials urged them to contact legislative leaders in Harrisburg about a bill aimed at ensuring gas companies pay fair royalties.

Pro-Drilling County Targets Gas Trade Group

Sep 8, 2016
Ian Sterling / StateImpact Pennsylvania

 

When the Marcellus Shale gas boom was taking off, Bradford County welcomed it with open arms. With more than 1,000 active wells, this region in north-central Pennsylvania became one of the most heavily drilled places in the state.

But the enthusiasm turned to anger, and many people now allege they’re being cheated out of royalty money by drilling companies.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

*UPDATED: This story was updated at 9:40 a.m. to reflect the DEP's response. 

A couple dozen children and parents gathered in Irvine Park in downtown Beaver Tuesday morning, to play with a giant parachute, toss beach balls, play tag and hula hoop.

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. 

State Revives Energy Efficiency Loans For Homeowners

May 17, 2016
Susan Philliips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has revived a program that helps homeowners secure low interest loans to make energy efficiency improvements. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

President Barack Obama’s major climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan, is currently in legal limbo as federal courts decide its fate.  

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

Anyone attached to their phone knows how frustrating a dead battery can be. But if you need a quick charge, look no further than your shoe.

Pittsburgh-based tech startup Sole Power has created a shoe insert with a battery pack that can charge small electronics such as flashlights, radios and cell phones. Sole Power was founded by Carnegie Mellon University graduate Matthew Stanton, who said it all started with a simple idea for a class project.

Social Price Tag For Pollution Is Steep, But Dropping

Feb 17, 2016
Matt Niemi / Flickr

Consumers often hear about the economic costs of environmental regulations on the energy industry, but there’s a flip side to that issue — the social price residents collectively pay for burning fossil fuels to produce electricity.

But is there a way to place a dollar amount on the hidden costs of pollution? Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University think so.

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