StateImpact PA

Environment & Energy
3:51 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

DEP Gives Gas Industry Group $150,000 Grant To Study Drilling

In this Monday, June 25, 2012, file photo, a crew works on a drilling rig at a well site for shale based natural gas in Zelienople, Pa.
Credit AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The state Department of Environmental Protection has awarded a $150,000 non-competitive grant to an industry-backed nonprofit organization. The money was allocated in last year’s state budget specifically for “independent research regarding natural gas drilling.”

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Environment & Energy
2:43 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Studies Show Naturally Occurring Methane In Northeast PA Water

A pair of studies released today by the U.S Geological Survey found low-to-moderate concentrations of naturally occurring methane in private water wells in Wayne and Pike Counties– a region of the state without Marcellus Shale drilling.

Those two counties fall under the jurisdiction of the Delaware River Basin Commission, which currently has a moratorium on fracking.

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Environment
9:54 am
Mon October 13, 2014

Bill Would Eliminate Buffer Requirement For Pennsylvania’s Cleanest Streams

Loyalsock Creek in Sullivan County.
Credit Scott Lamar / WITF

Yet another battle of the economy versus the environment is taking place in Harrisburg. This time, conservationists say Pennsylvania’s cleanest streams are at stake.

A bill (HB1565) working its way through the state legislature would eliminate a requirement for 150-foot buffer zones between new developments and specially protected watersheds.

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Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Sun August 31, 2014

New Study Shows Gas Workers Could Be Exposed to Dangerous Levels of Benzene

A new study out this month reveals unconventional oil and natural gas workers could be exposed to dangerous levels of benzene, putting them at a higher risk for blood cancers like leukemia.

Benzene is a known carcinogen that is present in fracking flowback water. It’s also found in gasoline, cigarette smoke and in chemical manufacturing. As a known carcinogen, benzene exposures in the workplace are limited by federal regulations under OSHA. But some oil and gas production activities are exempt from those standards.

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Environment & Energy
10:12 am
Tue August 26, 2014

State Regulators Take a Closer Listen to Gas Compressor Stations

One of eight compressor units at Seneca Resources' Hagerman station in the Loyalsock Forest. State regulators are trying to get a better handle on how the constant noise from the facilities affects people and wildlife.
Credit Joe Ulrich / WITF

Most of the noise created by natural gas development is temporary. After drilling and fracking, the workers and equipment are gone. A gas well in production is pretty quiet; it’s basically just a bunch of pipes in the ground.

But compressor stations can stay noisy for years– even decades. The facilities are necessary to process and transport gas through pipelines. When it comes to noise regulations, they’re governed by a patchwork of local, state, and federal rules.

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Environment & Energy
10:48 pm
Sun June 22, 2014

Survey: Public Distrusts Gas Industry And Anti-Fracking Film, 'Gasland'

Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox.
Credit Linh Do via Flickr

A new study shows the public views both the natural gas industry and the anti-fracking film, "Gasland," as among the least trustworthy sources of information when it comes to hydraulic fracturing.

According to a paper published last month in Energy Research and Social Science, people are more likely to trust information from university professors, environmental groups, newspapers, and landowner groups.

Regulatory agencies ranked fifth in trustworthiness among the eight possible choices. They were followed by cooperative extensions and the natural gas industry.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:00 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

'Unclear' Circumstances on the Ground During Chevron Blaze

After talking to the DEP, no one could give a clear answer as to why they acquiesced to Chevron when blocked at the entrance.
Credit Katie Colaneri / StateImpact PA

It recently came to light that Department of Environmental Protection investigators were blocked by Chevron employees in the days after a natural gas well explosion in Greene County. The explosion, which killed one Chevron employee, set off a fire which blazed for five days in February.  

StateImpact reporter Katie Colaneri recently broke the story and said Chevron would not allow the DEP to park or drive onto access roads toward the well for nearly two days. Colaneri says the rules are pretty straightforward concerning incidents such as the well explosion.

The DEP has authority over companies like Chevron during environmentally dangerous conditions, but Colaneri says the overall situation is still very unclear. 

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Environment & Energy
7:53 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Three Mile Island: Measuring The Impact 35 Years Later

In the history of U.S. commercial nuclear power plant operating, Three Mile Island was the most serious accident.
Credit Flickr user Ted Van Pelt

Friday marks the 35th anniversary of the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history. On March 28, 1979, one of the reactors at the The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Dauphin County partially melted down.

Back then, no one knew exactly what was going to happen. The incident was unprecedented.

Former Governor Dick Thornburgh was at the center of the crisis. He marked the anniversary at an event Thursday at Penn State’s Harrisburg campus in Middletown–not far from the plant.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:17 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Specialists Called in to Subdue Chevron Blaze

Credit Katie Colaneri / StateImpact PA

According to the Department of Environmental Protection, Greene County residents can expect the Chevron shale gas well fire to burn into the weekend, but face no immediate danger.

StateImpact Pennsylvania reporter Katie Colaneri is following developments in this story and says a Texas well control company that specializes in shale gas fires has arrived at the scene, but the size of the flames has halted progress. 

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Environment & Energy
5:40 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

What Happened to DCNR’s $6 Million Marcellus Monitoring Report?

A truck moves heavy equipment through the Tiadaghton State Forest in Lycoming County.
Credit Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

After spending more than three years and $6 million to monitor how gas drilling is affecting public forests, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has yet to release the information, and environmental groups are beginning to raise questions.

In late 2010, the Rendell administration launched the program– touting it as one of the most aggressive monitoring initiatives by a public agency in the nation.

More than three years later, under the Corbett administration, DCNR has so far refused to share its findings with the public.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:02 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Residents Demand Transparency Following Train Derailments

Credit Robert Tucker / flickr

As crews continue clearing derailed train cars, including crude oil tankers, from a bridge over the Schuykill River in Philadelphia, the incident has amplified regional concerns about safety.

With shipments of crude oil continuing to roll through populous areas in Pennsylvania, environmental groups and lawmakers are calling for more information.

From Philly, StateImpact Pennsylvania's Katie Colaneri explains that lawmakers and residents want these large corporations to be more transparent, and give detailed accounts of the kinds of chemicals passing by their homes. 

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Environment & Energy
8:02 am
Tue November 26, 2013

To Clear the Air, Some in Susquehanna County Leave the Fracking Debate Behind

Neighbors Victoria Switzer and Ron Teel point to a natural gas compressor station on Teel's property in Dimock, Susquehanna County.
Credit Katie Colaneri / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Two years ago, Victoria Switzer and her neighbors had stopped speaking.

Switzer was one of the residents of Dimock who claimed natural gas drilling had ruined their water supplies. The small village in Susquehanna County became synonymous with flaming taps and jugs of muddy brown drinking water.

But the media blitz angered her neighbors, the Teels, who said it ignored the economic benefits of drilling.

The reporters, the activists and the industry haven’t gone away, but things have started to change.

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Environment & Energy
3:48 am
Mon October 28, 2013

After PA Couple Discovers Plan to Drill on Unleased Land, Energy Company Cancels Permit

Trucks are a frequent sight on Town House Road in Little Meadows, Susquehanna County, Pa. where Joyce and Steve Libal run Mountain Meadows Orchard.
Credit Katie Colaneri / StateImpact Pennsylvania

It all started with beans.

Joyce and Steve Libal run a small orchard on their 63-acres in Little Meadows, Susquehanna County where they sell fruit and organic vegetables.

One day in early September, a friend came by to purchase ten pounds of green bush beans.

“In this area, with all the drilling going on, the conversations usually end up talking about the gas industry,” Steve Libal says. “And he just brought up that he had seen, he’s a borough councilman and they received a packet of information about a well pad behind our house.”

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Environment & Energy
3:30 am
Tue September 10, 2013

Pennsylvania’s Climate Change Future: Read The Missing Report

A pair of legally-mandated reports outlining how climate change will affect Pennsylvania are currently a year overdue.

The state’s Climate Change Act required the publication of both reports in 2009, followed by an update every three years.

Both documents were due last year, but they’re still under review, and the state Department of Environmental Protection won’t say when they will be released.

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Marcellus Shale
2:26 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Democratic Frontrunner for Governor Proposes Severance Tax On Shale Gas

Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz announced Wednesday that as governor, she would impose a 5 percent severance tax on Marcellus Shale production.

Schwartz told reporters on a conference call that her plan for what she called a “reasonable, fair, moderate tax” would generate $612 million this year and nearly triple to $2 billion in about 10 years. She said she wants to use the money to invest in education and transportation infrastructure.

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Environment & Energy
1:06 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Feds Seek Public Input On Plan to Decommission Three Mile Island

Thirty-five years after the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history, plans for the eventual decommissioning of the Three Mile Island plant are still causing a stir.

In a sparsely attended yet contentious public meeting Wednesday night in Hershey, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission discussed plans for the eventual decommissioning of the plant.

About a dozen people turned out to talk about the plans, which call for dismantling the mothballed Unit 2 along with the operational Unit 1 when its license expires in 2034.

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Environment & Energy
10:34 am
Thu August 29, 2013

How Could OSHA’s New Silica Rules Impact The Natural Gas Industry?

Federal labor officials are proposing new rules to help prevent an old hazard of the trade: diseases caused by breathing in silica dust. Silicosis has long been a plight of workers in construction and manufacturing, but concerns have shifted in recent years to those who toil in the growing natural gas industry.

Sand is an important ingredient in most fracking fluid recipes. It’s mixed with chemicals and water and blasted deep underground where the tiny grains help keep cracks in the shale rock open for all that natural gas to come through.

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Government & Politics
7:03 am
Thu August 15, 2013

Corbett, Krancer Fail To Disclose Vacation Homes

Governor Corbett has failed to list an out-of-state vacation home he bought last year on his annual financial disclosure form.

The governor and his wife, First Lady Susan Corbett spent $265,000 last year on a condo at a beachfront resort community in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Public records show the deed and mortgage documents were filed December 5, 2012, but the governor did not list it in his annual Code of Conduct statement of financial interest.

Environment & Energy
9:37 am
Tue June 4, 2013

Drilling Opponents Pack DCNR Meeting On Loyalsock State Forest

Everyone who spoke at the meeting voiced opposition to a proposal to expand natural gas drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest.
Credit Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

After facing months of public pressure over the possibility of expanding natural gas drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) held a public meeting on the issue.

Nearly 250 people turned out Monday to Lycoming College in Williamsport. The meeting ran an hour over its scheduled time slot, due to the number of people who wanted to comment.

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Environment & Energy
10:15 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Lovers of PA’s Loyalsock Forest Fight to Limit Drilling There

"We have to be the voice of the birds," said Paul Zeph, of the Pennsylvania Audubon Society.
Credit Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY/Newsworks

Deep in the Loyalsock State Forest, where no cell phone signal reaches, the sounds of rushing waterfalls and forest birds are suddenly interrupted by the sound of a helicopter.

Paul Zeph of the Pennsylvania Audubon Society says the noise could be related to gas drilling. Drillers will often drop seismic testing equipment into remote areas that are difficult to reach by roads. And that leads Zeph to cite one of the many worries that naturalists and outdoors lovers have with plans to expand drilling in the Loyalsock.

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Environment & Energy
10:24 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Poll Shows Support for a Drilling Moratorium in Pennsylvania

A drill rig in Susquehanna County.
Credit StateImpact Pennsylvania

A new poll out Tuesday shows strong support for a moratorium on natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, despite showing general support for gas extraction.

The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan, in conjunction with the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, surveyed both Pennsylvania and Michigan residents on fracking. The survey shows general support for gas extraction in Pennsylvania. Forty-nine percent of respondents approve, and 40 percent oppose.

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Environment
2:19 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

EPA Supports DEP Findings, Will Not List Susquehanna River As Impaired Waterway

For years, both anglers and scientists have witnessed death and disease in the Susquehanna River’s smallmouth bass population.

The issue has gained national attention, yet two state agencies have clashed over how to handle the problem.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission disagreed over whether a 100-mile stretch of river’s main stem should be officially labeled as “impaired.”

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