StateImpact Pennsylvania

DEP Extends Comment Period For Shell's Ethane Pipeline

Feb 16, 2018
Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will extend the public comment period for Shell’s 97-mile Falcon pipeline, which will carry ethane to the company’s $6 billion petrochemical plant in Western Pennsylvania.

The DEP will also hold public hearings in each of the three counties the pipeline route traverses: Washington, Allegheny, and Beaver counties. Instead of the comment period closing on Feb. 20, it will be extended to April 17, the DEP said in a news release.

Corgi HomePlan / Flickr

As Pennsylvania moves into the latter part of winter, 13,500 households that started the season without a safe source of heat still don’t have one.

Data released Wednesday by Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission shows there are fewer homes without a utility heating service this winter compared to last year. But when money’s tight, many families still turn to heating sources that pose fire risks.

Pittsburgh Suburbs Decide As Fracking Comes Near: Welcome It, Or Resist?

Feb 13, 2018
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Michael Thomas didn’t think the Marcellus shale industry, with its multi-acre well pads and large drilling operations, would come to the Pittsburgh suburb of Plum.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A solar panel that arrives in the United States from overseas now comes with a higher price tag.

President Donald Trump last week imposed a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels. The move comes at the request of U.S. solar manufacturers, who seek a level playing field amid competition from places like China, where the government subsidizes solar manufacturing.

A proposed coal mine is moving forward in southwestern Pennsylvania after its operator reached a settlement with an environmental group.

The Mountain Watershed Association raised concerns that LCT Energy’s Rustic Ridge mining operation could contaminate the Indian Creek Watershed. The parties reached a settlement this week after the watershed group had appealed the mine’s permits to the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board.

Climate State / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s solar industry will feel the effects of the Trump administration’s move to place a tariff on foreign-built solar panels, but it won’t stop solar installations in the state, according to industry experts.

American solar manufacturers had requested a tariff because they found it difficult to compete with imported panels, particularly ones built in China and subsidized by the Chinese government.

Susan Walsh / AP

As the federal government nears a shutdown, frustration is mounting among federal employees tasked with overseeing the Mid-Atlantic region’s environment and energy-related programs.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that it has enough money to stay open for a week in the event of a shutdown.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

State environmental officials have fined a natural gas company $1.7 million for problems at well sites in Greene and Clearfield counties.

Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

While the United States burned less coal in 2017 than it had in three decades, an uptick in global demand for Appalachia’s metallurgical coal -- used in the steel making process -- helped boost production this past year, according to a new analysis by an economic research firm.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Activity in Pennsylvania’s gas fields slowed in recent years amid low prices, but operators ramped up drilling in 2017, and they’re expecting to drill even more in the new year.

Tim Lambert / WITF

CNX Gas Co. has agreed to pay two fines to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for drilling violations that took place in 2015 and 2016 in Greene County.

The penalties, totaling $433,500, stem from incidents at four well sites that affected waterways and vegetation, according to the DEP.

The company failed to properly control and dispose of flowback and drilling fluids, and it did not take adequate steps to prevent erosion and sedimentation, among other violations, the department said in a news release.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The priorities set by a new presidential administration dominated energy news in 2017. President Donald Trump and his cabinet set an agenda to “unleash” America’s energy potential, removing the barriers they perceive to be holding back domestic energy production -- often to the dismay of the environmental community.

US Steel Agrees To Allow Fracking At Edgar Thompson Works Steel Mill

Dec 27, 2017

Pennsylvania’s oldest working steel mill could soon have a new type of industrial activity on-site: fracking.

US Steel has signed a lease with New Mexico-based Merrion Oil and Gas, to develop a Marcellus shale gas well on the grounds of the Edgar Thomson works, originally built in 1875 by Andrew Carnegie.

The well site will be on the eastern edge of the property, in North Versailles Township, according to a drilling permit application Merrion submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The world’s largest steelmaker has agreed to pay nearly $2 million because of air pollution violations at a Westmoreland County coke plant.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The company behind a new coal mine in Somerset County intends to open another in the area, and some residents worry the new operation could hurt their water quality.

The Keyser underground mine would produce metallurgical coal, which is used to make steel. Wilson Creek Energy, a subsidiary of Corsa Coal Corp., is seeking permits from the Department of Environmental Protection to begin operations.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

As lawmakers hash out differences between the tax bills in front of Congress, they must decide whether to keep a proposed tax break for oil and gas investors -- and just how big the reduction should be.

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.

Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Environmental officials in Pennsylvania have long focused on cleaning up the most hazardous old mines, but they plan to start addressing other abandoned mining sites that pose fewer public health dangers.

Buoyed By Trump, Some Miners Are Sticking With Coal

Nov 30, 2017
Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

At a gymnasium in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, Trenton Phillips is looking for a job as a coal miner.

Phillips already works at a company that fixes belt lines at coal mines. 

Judge Throws Out Developer's 'SLAPP Suit' Against Environmental Group

Aug 23, 2017
Jon Hurdle / StateImpact PA

A Chester County judge has dismissed a suit by a property developer that sought to stop an environmental group criticizing the company’s plans for redeveloping a contaminated industrial site.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Opponents of the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline have raised tens of thousands of dollars for a new encampment in Lancaster County, but most of the money is from one source–  British cosmetics firm, Lush.

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.

Coal Town Wary Of Clinton And Trump Campaign Promises

Sep 13, 2016
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Every year the King Coal parade winds through the center of Carmichaels. Hundreds of people line up to see the fire engines, classic cars, floats, and marching bands.

It’s fair to say the presidential race has people pretty fired up –and worried– in this small town in Greene County, about an hour’s drive south of Pittsburgh. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has promised to bring back coal, with few details on how he will accomplish it. Meanwhile, Democrat Hillary Clinton has said she’d put miners out of work, but is pushing a big plan to reinvest in coal communities.

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.