StateImpact PA

Natural Gas Industry Wastewater Pollution May Linger For Years

Jul 21, 2017
Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A new study finds the treated wastewater from Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry may pollute rivers, lakes, streams and creeks for longer than previously thought.

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.

NBC

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.

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.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

 

A newly-formed citizens’ coalition is pushing to change the way eminent domain is applied in Pennsylvania.

Sue Ogrocki / AP

 

Chesapeake Energy, which is facing a royalty owners revolt here in Pennsylvania, will have to share more details of their accounting practices with the U.S. Department of Justice. The company revealed in a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that the Justice Department has subpoenaed records on the gas driller’s accounting methods for “the acquisition and classification of oil and gas properties and related matters.”

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

  After wending their way through a convoluted, controversial five-year process, new regulations for Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale drillers are set to take effect Saturday.

Trade Group Seeks To Block New Drilling Rules

Oct 5, 2016
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

 

An oil and gas trade group is seeking to block new Marcellus Shale drilling regulations scheduled to take effect later this week. The rules have been in development since 2011 and have been the subject of significant controversy.

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

 

The ramifications of the Obama administration’s recent decision to temporarily halt construction on the Dakota Access oil pipeline are being felt throughout the country– particularly in Pennsylvania. Industry executives worry about growing public opposition to pipelines, while activists have been encouraged by the success of Native American protesters.

'Erin Brockovich Chemical' Found In PA Water Systems, Study Says

Sep 27, 2016
Scott Lamar / WITF

  More than 160 public water systems in Pennsylvania contained the carcinogenic chemical chromium 6 during recent tests at levels that were above a health limit recommended by scientists in California, according to a new analysis of data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Joe Ulrich / WITF

 Following internal audits over the past year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has recovered $1.3 million in gas royalty money from drilling in state forests.

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.

New Environmental Secretary Hopes To Resurrect Drilling Rules

Aug 4, 2016
WITF

The new head of the Department of Environmental Protection says he hopes his staff can work quickly to resurrect regulations for the conventional oil and gas industry that got tossed out during the annual state budget negotiations in Harrisburg.

Senate Approves Bill Weakening Drilling Regulations

Jul 14, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

The state Senate voted Monday to approve an amendment that would undo parts of the state’s pending oil and gas regulations.

EPA Finalizes New Methane Standards For Oil And Gas Industry

May 13, 2016
Joe Ulrich / WITF

 

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the first-ever federal standardsThursday aimed at curbing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. It’s part of the Obama administration’s broader plan to combat climate change.

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.  

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

 

An interfaith group of religious organizations held a rally at the state Capitol Monday, calling on Governor Tom Wolf to halt natural gas development. About 50 people attended the event and asked the governor for what they called a “moral-torium” on unconventional gas development and related infrastructure, such as pipelines.

“We are calling on our legislators to listen to science and protect public health,” says Rev. Dr. Leah Schade of the United in Christ Lutheran Church in Lewisburg. “This is one area where science and religion are actually in agreement.”

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

State environmental regulators are finalizing updates of new oil and gas regulations, which include more stringent rules around permitting, waste handling, water restoration, and identifying old wells.

The new rules from the state Department of Environmental Protection come at a time when Pennsylvania is already nearly a decade into the Marcellus shale boom.

“The process is what it is,” DEP Secretary John Quigley said of the multi-year effort. “It has taken as long as it’s taken. What we have to do now is move forward. It is essential that we finish this job.”

PA Climate Change Report Warns Of Hotter Summers, Destructive Storms, Floods

Aug 28, 2015
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Prepare for longer, hotter summers, more rain, more destructive storms, and bankrupt ski resorts. That’s the conclusion of a team from Penn State on what Pennsylvanians can expect from climate change.

Shale Gas Production Expected To Decline

Aug 27, 2015
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

For the first time since the shale gas revolution began, natural gas production from shale formations in the U.S. will decline next month, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The federal government predicted Wednesday that gas production in the country’s largest shale formations will decrease in September to 44.9 billion cubic feet per day. That’s a drop of 1.5 percent below a peak of 45.6 billion cubic feet per day in May.

DEP’s New Oil And Gas Rules Irk Both Environmentalists And Industry

Aug 13, 2015
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

State environmental regulators are asking for comments on the final version of new oil and gas rules. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released detailed updates to its oil and gas rules Wednesday. The proposals result from a four-year process that garnered nearly 30,000 public comments to DEP.  Still, this latest version is getting push back from both industry and environmentalists.

Unmapped, Unregulated Maze Of Rural Pipelines Poses Hidden Risks

Aug 7, 2015
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

The Wolf Administration says Pennsylvania will be getting tens of thousands of miles of new pipelines over the next couple of decades. Recently we reported on how poorly mapped some of these pipelines are.  

Many of those unmapped pipelines are also unregulated. These are rural gathering lines, or pipelines that take the gas from the wellhead to a larger transmission line, or gas processing facility.

Mystery Continues Over Radioactivity In Western PA Stream

Jul 30, 2015
Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

On the banks of Ten Mile Creek, a stream that snakes through Greene County, Ken Dufalla looked out at one of his favorite fishing spots.

“That’s probably one of the best walleye fishing there is in the evening you can find. I’ve caught muskies, walleyes, saugers,” Dufalla said.

AP Photo/Ralph Wilson

Somehow Pennsylvania lost 160,000 gas industry jobs overnight.

What happened? Did drillers flee at the specter of a new tax on production? Not quite. Although companies have been laying off workers and cutting costs– lackluster market conditions don’t explain this shift.

Courtesy of Michelle Johnsen via StateImpact PA

Local governments all over the country are trying stop the surge in oil and gas development by embracing a novel legal tactic–community-based rights ordinances. It’s a strategy that carries risks.

Pipelines: The New Battleground Over Fracking

Apr 6, 2015
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Forget the battles over the Keystone XL. Pipeline wars are now raging in Pennsylvania, where production is high and pipeline capacity is low.

Preparing For The Worst, Delco First Responders Simulate Oil Train Accident

Mar 25, 2015
Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The increasing number of rail cars carrying crude oil through Pennsylvania means a rising risk of accidents. Recent derailments caused trains to explode and incinerate areas along tracks in Illinois and West Virginia, threatening waterways.

So far, Pennsylvania has been lucky. Within the past year and a half, oil trains traveling through the state derailed in Philadelphia, Vandergrift and McKeesport, but none of them exploded.

Back in the sumer of 2013, that wasn’t the case in the Quebec village of Lac Megantic, where an oil train crash killed 47 people. Five bodies were never recovered, having been incinerated.

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