Environment & Energy

We explore issues of energy and the environment, along with our partners from Allegheny Front and StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Jakob Lazzaro / 90.5 WESA

It’s a hot July day and 86-year-old John Zavacky is chatting with friends in the South Side Market House’s Senior Center. In the background, an air conditioner hums while drawing the warm outside air into the cavernous main room.

Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

At the edge of a field in Washington County, a group of archaeology students picked away at a shallow pit on a recent afternoon, searching for fragments of history hundreds of years old.

Study Shows Area The Size Of Delaware Affected By Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

Jul 27, 2018
SkyTruth

“As far as we know, this is really the first time that there’s been this yearly dataset for central Appalachia,” said Andrew Pericak, a research analyst at Duke University and lead author of the new study.

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

State environmental officials have ordered three companies to plug more than 1,000 abandoned oil and gas wells.

Wells in Pennsylvania are considered abandoned when they have been inactive for more than a year. Left unattended, they can pose safety hazards or leak and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennslvania

Pennsylvania's state forests agency says it isn't finding damage to waterways amid the expansion of natural gas drilling in recent years, although it is reporting a growth of invasive plants where land is being cleared.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said Wednesday in a new report that its water chemistry analysis hasn't provided evidence that shale gas development has degraded the quality of waterways in state forests in the core gas forest districts.

However, it says the presence and quantities of invasive plants are on the rise.

Pennsylvania Town Raises Stink Over Factory Hog Farm

Jul 25, 2018
Gerry Broome / AP

When Allen Houck retired last year, he moved back to his grandparents farm, in the hills of Todd Township, Huntingdon County.

Courtesy of DSU

Hurricane season is officially underway, but its peak won’t arrive until mid to late August. The National Weather Service predicts this year’s range of storms will be about average, possibly above average, with 10 to 16 named storms and one to four major hurricanes.

Those predictions use sophisticated computer modeling, but other prognosticators look to the trees in compiling their forecasts.

Courtesy of Allegheny CleanWays

Allegheny County has 1,404 tons of illegally dumped trash, according to a new survey from Allegheny CleanWays and the county board of health.

Curious Or Concerned About An Energy Issue? Ask Us — And See What We’ve Already Answered

Jul 20, 2018

In StateImpact Pennsylvania’s answer map, reporters answer your questions about the energy industry. Here’s how to use the map:

  • Click ‘OK’ below and then click on an icon to go right to that question.
  • Double-click on areas of the map to enlarge it and see more icons.
  • Below the map, you can scroll through the pages to see each question.
  • To ask a question, scroll to the form at the bottom of this page.

 

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Standing under gathering clouds in the middle of a grassy field just outside Pittsburgh, Anaïs Peterson recalled the years she spent playing soccer here.

“That’s the goal you always want,” she said, nodding to the east.

A mile beyond that goalpost in Indiana Township lies a natural gas well pad that didn’t exist during her soccer days.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

State environmental officials have fined CNX Gas Company $250,000 for violations that took place this spring during the construction of a gathering pipeline in Indiana County.

Inspectors for the Department of Environmental Protection reported in March that water laden with sediment was not properly contained during construction and leaked into a tributary of Mudlick Run in North Mahoning Township. They also said the company installed an unauthorized pipe to direct the polluted water into the tributary.

Ohio Governor Wants New Farm Rules To Fight Lake Erie Algae

Jul 12, 2018
Haraz N. Ghanbari / AP

Ohio's governor is calling for regulations on thousands of farms as part of a new strategy to combat the fertilizer and manure that flows into streams and feeds persistent toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie.

Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order Wednesday that signals a more aggressive approach to finding a way to stop the algae from taking over huge swaths of the shallowest of the Great Lakes.

Three Pittsburgh Parks Vying To Be Added To National Register Of Historic Places

Jul 12, 2018
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Pittsburgh is chock full of historic buildings and monuments, but there’s a move to get recognition for more of its green spaces, too.

Pioneer Tunnel's New Tour To Show Coal Mine Inspection Routine

Jul 12, 2018
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection / YouTube

A new tour to show how safety inspections are done each day has been created at the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine and Steam Train tourist attraction.

Called the "Pre-Shift Experience," the walking tour goes into the mine in the morning before the regular tour with the mine train and cars begin.

The tours will be held three days a week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday — at 8 a.m. through the end of October, with the exception of Labor Day.

Becky Gregory / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A Pennsylvania man has been indicted on charges of trafficking over 3,500 protected turtles.

U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania says David Sommers poached diamondback terrapins and their eggs from coastal marshes in New Jersey.

The turtles are protected under New Jersey law and by an international treaty.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents allegedly seized over 3,400 diamondback terrapin hatchlings from Sommers' Levittown home in October.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Clean energy advocates and environmental officials say bringing solar farms to Pennsylvania needs to happen if the state wants to significantly boost how much energy it gets from the sun.

Paige Walter / Allegheny Front

Look at gardens or front yards across the Northeast U.S., and you’ve probably seen the Japanese barberry.

The small shrub — usually about 2 or 3 feet tall — has elegant arching branches, spoon-shaped leaves ranging from light yellow or green to dark red, and small red berries. It’s also very tough, and deer find it unpalatable.

Bernard Spragg / Flickr

A forester in Pennsylvania says he's discovered a massive red oak tree that may be one of the state's biggest trees.

A Year Ago Peduto Challenged Trump On Climate Change. What’s Happened Since?

Jul 4, 2018
Keith Srakocic / AP

It’s been a year since President Trump proclaimed that he was elected to serve the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris as he announced that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Allegheny County Fines U.S. Steel $1M For Clairton Coke Works Air Pollution

Jul 2, 2018
Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Allegheny County Health Department hit US Steel with a $1 million fine for chronic air pollution from the company’s Clairton Coke Works.

The fine was the largest the department has leveled against Clairton Coke Works in the past 10 years, and the second largest to any facility in that time period, said spokesman Ryan Scarpino.

What The Farm Bill Could Mean For Conservation Efforts In Pennsylvania

Jun 29, 2018
cjuneau / Flickr

The U.S. Senate passed its version the 2018 Farm Bill on Thursday, and it’s a sharp contrast to the bill that narrowly passed in the House last week. The Farm Bill is a massive, $860 billion dollar piece of legislation, and covers everything from crop insurance, to land conservation, to SNAP benefits, which provide food assistance.

Jack / Flickr

Pennsylvania conservation officials have released a plan to confront climate change on public land as flooding, wildfires and warmer bodies of water pose threats to wildlife, landscapes and recreation.

Rachel Carson Trail Near Pittsburgh Has A New Feature: A Fracking Well

Jun 25, 2018
Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

For more than 20 years, thousands of hikers have traipsed through the hills north of Pittsburgh for the Rachel Carson Challenge, a brutal sunup to sundown 35-mile march. Many don’t finish.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania's governor is asking for federal help to address costs and damage from heavy rains that caused landslides in the Pittsburgh area earlier this year.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The Hill District is now home to a green stormwater infrastructure project at the intersection of Centre and Herron avenues. The system will collect water runoff from the University of Pittsburgh athletic fields and surrounding hills that are elevated higher than the project.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania regulators have decided how they will disburse nearly $210 million that was raised last year from fees on Marcellus Shale gas wells.

Artist Reveals The Hidden Lives And Importance Of Amphibians

Jun 21, 2018
Courtesy of Ashley Cecil

Recently, Pittsburgh artist Ashley Cecil was in Frick Park, temporarily installing nine small, steel sculptures just outside the Frick Environmental Center.

Studies Show Groundwater Holding Own Against Drilling Boom

Jun 19, 2018
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennslvania

New research suggests drinking water supplies in Pennsylvania have shown resilience in the face of a drilling boom that has turned swaths of countryside into a major production zone for natural gas.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

Urban fishing returns to Pittsburgh’s East End this summer. Carnegie Lake in Highland Park has been stocked with catfish, bluegill and largemouth bass for the first time in more than 20 years.

Matt Slocum / AP

When President Donald Trump’s solar tariff took effect four months ago, it sent shockwaves through the solar energy industry.

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