Environment

Are Pipelines To Blame For Decline In Ancient Salamanders?

Feb 9, 2018
Dave Herasimtschuk / Freshwaters Illustrated

As the natural gas industry matures in our region, construction of big transmission pipelines like the Constitution and the Rover continue make headlines. But there are also thousands of miles of smaller pipelines being built in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to connect drilling well pads to the energy distribution system. These lines have far less oversight and could be having big impacts on smaller streams, and the wildlife that lives there.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Jayne Miller, the Former head of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, is joining the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy this week.

Miller will become only the second President and CEO in the history of the Pittsburgh nonprofit. She will succeed conservancy founder Meg Cheever, who will retire in March. Miller headed The Minneapolis Park System for seven years. For five of those years, it was ranked the No. 1 park system in the nation.

Neville Green

On a winter day on Neville Island, Dorothy Antonelli sits at the dining room table of her home, flipping through printed pictures. 

FracTracker Alliance

Gov. Tom Wolf drew support from both environmentalists and energy insiders when he promised to ease the state's permit application backlog and better enforce regulations by hiring 35 more Department of Environmental Protection inspectors.

Industry Gets A Pass On Accidental Bird Deaths

Jan 25, 2018
Dennis Schroeder / National Renewable Energy Labratory

This year, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act turns 100. It protects more than 1,000 species of birds from a host of threats, including disruption of nesting sites and illegal trade. 

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A $1.1 billion pipeline designed to bring Marcellus Shale natural gas from northeastern Pennsylvania to New Jersey has received federal approval, although the project lacks important permits in New Jersey.

PennEast Pipeline Company spokeswoman Patricia Kornick said Monday that she anticipates construction on the roughly 120-mile pipeline will begin this year and take about seven months. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave approval to the PennEast pipeline Friday over the protests of environmental groups, who say it would irreversibly damage the landscape.

Inside The EPA's Regulatory Rollback Machine

Jan 19, 2018
Evan Vucci / AP

The Trump administration has rolled back 60 environmental policies at last count. But what does this rollback mean and how it is affecting the work of the agency charged with protecting America’s environment and public health? ProPublica reporter Talia Buford dug into the story of one EPA rule that took the agency a decade to craft and the Trump administration just months to undo.

America's Freshwater Is Getting Saltier, And That's Not Good

Jan 11, 2018
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A new study finds that the freshwater we rely on for drinking water and industry is getting saltier. 

Pennsylvania Shuts Down Construction On Sunoco Gas Pipeline

Jan 3, 2018
Matt Slocum / AP

Pennsylvania environmental officials ordered Sunoco on Wednesday to halt construction of a natural gas pipeline across the southern part of the state, citing a series of spills and leaks of drilling fluid and other "egregious and willful violations" of state law that have plagued the $2.5 billion project.

Glitter Spreads More Than Holiday Cheer

Dec 22, 2017
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

Recently at Little House, Big Art, a crafting studio in Pittsburgh’s Spring Hill neighborhood, 8-year-old Imogen Nowak looks for just the right beads. She’s making a necklace, and while she’s not using any glitter today, it’s a favorite. “I add glitter to things that I’m making or things that I love,” she says. “It adds a little sparkle to life.”

In Their Quest For World Domination, Invasive Plants Can Adapt To New Climates

Dec 22, 2017
USDA Forest Service

Invasive  species tend to do well in new places, and they can push out native species. There’s an assumption that they do better in the same kind of environment as the country they came from.

Turns Out Birds Like To Eat Local, Too

Dec 21, 2017
Mark Duncan / AP

Native plants are better for birds than non-native plants.

That’s the main finding of a study on chickadees and the caterpillars they eat.

 

Desiree Narango is the lead author. She’s a research fellow at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and a PhD candidate at the University of Delaware.

“From the chickadee’s perspective, it’s as if a non-native plant isn’t even there at all because they almost never forage in them,” she says.

PA, States Sue EPA For Missing Ozone Deadline

Dec 7, 2017
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is one of more than a dozen states suing the EPA for failing to enforce on an important air pollution regulation.

'I Can't Just Step Away From My Grant': Scientists Grapple With EPA Head's Call To End Funding

Nov 30, 2017
Tim Evanson / Flickr

In October, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, ordered scientists who receive EPA grants to either end those grants or resign from EPA scientific advisory boards. But what about industry-backed scientists? He said they can stay.

Susan Walsh / AP

Democrats and some Republicans from the Philadelphia region are worried that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is trying to gut his agency from within.

The EPA has worked overtime to undo many Obama-era environmental regulations, while also scrubbing its website of any mention of “climate change.”

That’s triggered several red flags for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who said he and other Democrats warned the GOP not to tap Pruitt to lead the agency.

Author Uses Pittsburgh As Model For Sustainable Future

Nov 16, 2017
Jon Dawson

Pittsburgh is leading the way to a more sustainable future. That’s the argument Patricia DeMarco makes in her new book, "Pathways to Our Sustainable Future: A Global Perspective from Pittsburgh." DeMarco uses the city’s grassroots environmental successes and commitment to sustainable building and energy use to get at themes of transformation. This week, Kara Holsopple spoke with her about the book and why she chose Pittsburgh as the backdrop.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

U.S. Steel might soon be paying a fine for several violations of both county and federal environmental protections at its plant in Braddock.

When President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, he said he represented "Pittsburgh, not Paris."

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto disagreed. He traveled to Germany this week as part of an unofficial delegation of more than 100 Americans, American officials and business owners who say they are still committed to climate talks taking place in Bonn. One element of Pittsburgh's climate strategy has been encouraging innovation in a technology known as microgrids.

Building Infrastructure In The Age Of Climate Change

Nov 2, 2017
Charlie Neilbergall / AP

As Congress pays out more than 36 billion dollars in disaster relief, the General Accounting Office recommends that the federal government find ways to minimize the economic impacts of climate change.

Future In Limbo For Coal Ash Site

Oct 26, 2017
Google

A Greene County coal ash landfill won’t be receiving any more coal waste until December, at the earliest. Environmental groups hope the landfill may have seen its last shipment of the waste.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The fuel efficiency of new cars has improved by 10 percent in the last five years, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, but advocates at PennEnvironment fear the federal standard that required car manufacturers to make those changes could be in danger.

Pennsylvania Power Grid Operator Slams Trump Plan To Aid Coal, Nuclear

Oct 24, 2017
Evan Vucci / AP

The nation's biggest electric grid operator said a Trump administration plan to change the way electricity is priced to reward coal and nuclear power is both unworkable and potentially against the law.

PJM, which operates the grid covering 65 million people from Illinois to Washington, D.C., submitted formal comments on the plan late Monday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In a conference call with reporters, PJM's president and CEO, Andy Ott, said the plan by Energy Secretary Rick Perry is not "workable."

Climate Reality Project Head In Pittsburgh To Train Future Climate Leaders

Oct 19, 2017
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

This week in Pittsburgh, about 1300 people are in training to become climate leaders in their communities. That means convincing other people to make changes to their lives. But how? Ken Berlin is the president and CEO of The Climate Reality Project, which works to build public support for addressing climate change. He says it’s about communicating four key messages. The Allegheny Front’s Kara Holsopple asked him about them:

Revoking The Clean Power Plan Could Have A Big Impact In Pennsylvania

Oct 10, 2017
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday the EPA will formally propose to revoke the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s regulation for carbon dioxide from the electricity sector.

Charlie Nielbergall / AP

It’s no secret that the Trump administration is often at odds with scientists. His recent agency nominations continue to reflect that. Sam Clovis is Trump’s pick for Chief Scientist at the U.S.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

In an effort to reduce Pittsburgh's environmental impact and improve air quality, the city is launching a set of goals to achieve by 2030.

Outlined in the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan are the following goals:

Spicer Says Rolling Back Regulations Helping The Economy

Sep 29, 2017
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told a natural gas industry conference in Pittsburgh that oil and gas drillers had a “huge friend in the Oval Office”. That huge friend is President Donald Trump, whose administration has targeted dozens of regulations that effect oil and gas drilling, a push which Spicer said was helping grow the economy.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Maryland is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to act on a petition requiring power plants in five upwind states to reduce pollution, the state's attorney general and an official in Gov. Larry Hogan's administration said Wednesday.

Please Don't Buy Japanese Barberry. Forests Will Thank You

Sep 22, 2017
Paige Walter / Allegheny Front

With reporting by Paige Walter

It would be an understatement to say that Ryan Utz is not a fan of Japanese barberry.

Utz is a professor at Chatham University’s Falk School of Sustainability, and as we walk through some damp, forested land on the property of their Eden Hall campus, north of Pittsburgh, he can hardly contain himself.

Learning About Pollution Can Be Fun ... When You Get To Pick A Giant Nose

Aug 10, 2017
Rachel Filippini

Our region’s dirty air is a big problem. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with it, right?

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