Environment & Energy

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

Kim Paynter / WHYY

As state lawmakers prepare for budget negotiations, Governor Tom Wolf is once again trotting out a natural gas severance tax proposal in hopes of slipping it into the final deal. 

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny Cemetery stretches 300-acres in Lawrenceville, bordered by Butler Street, Stanton Avenue and Mossfield Street. Between the rows of headstones and mausoleums that line the burial ground, many people run into some four-legged visitors.

PJM Will Study ‘Fuel Security’ Of Electric Grid As Natural Gas Use Rises

May 1, 2018
Bob Bird / AP

As low natural gas prices force more coal and nuclear plants to retire, the grid operator for 65 million customers in the mid-Atlantic region says it will look at whether it’s becoming more susceptible to outages forced by extreme weather or cyber-attack.

Study: Songbird That Needs Clean Streams Threatened By Fracking

Apr 26, 2018
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren / flickr

The Louisiana waterthrush is one of the first migratory songbirds to appear in our region in the spring.

Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

More than 20 residents and environmental advocates called for tough limits on water pollution from a coal-fired power plant northeast of Pittsburgh on Wednesday evening.

Jon Hurdle / StateImpact Pennsylvania

More than 100 spills have occurred during the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline, and now, another troublesome spot has emerged in Delaware County outside Philadelphia.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Gasoline prices in Pennsylvania will likely hit the $3-per-gallon mark this week, their highest level since 2014.

Rising gas prices are partly the result of high demand, said Jim Garrity, a spokesperson for AAA East Central, which includes Pennsylvania and nearby states. The demand for gas right now nationwide is greater than any other April on record.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A near-century-old outdoor recreation club will now refrain from going outside because it is too dangerous out in the wilderness, according to officials at Penn State University.

The Penn State Outing Club, originally founded in 1920, announced last week that the university will no longer allow the club to organize outdoor, student-led trips starting next semester. The hiking, camping and other outdoors-focused activities the student-led club has long engaged in are too risky, the university's offices of Student Affairs and Risk Management determined.

The Lure Of The Saw-Whet Owl

Apr 19, 2018

The Northern saw-whet owl is the symbolic face of conservation in Pennsylvania. The Wild Resource Conservation Program uses a saw-whet owl as its emblem, and the Commonwealth featured a saw-whet owl on its first specialty state license plate in 1993.

Jon Hurdle / StateImpact Pennsylvania

More than a month after the Mariner East 1 pipeline was shut down over safety concerns, representatives for Sunoco say they’ve found no problems, and that they’re looking forward to getting the natural gas liquids pipeline running again.

But state officials say they’re not making any decisions to put the Mariner East 1 back in service yet.

Problems with the pipeline began late last year when a rash of sinkholes began opening up nearby. In early March, the state Public Utility Commission ordered that it be shut down.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Losing millions of dollars a year at its power plants, Ohio-based FirstEnergy has asked the Trump administration for help. 

Amy Sisk / WESA

Researchers have a new way of tracking the song sparrows, dark-eyed juncos and other birds that fly about the Laurel Highlands.

Fish, Birds And Mussels Get Their Own Business Plan In Pennsylvania

Apr 12, 2018

A new conservation strategy is underway in Western Pennsylvania. The Western Pennsylvania Business Plan for Restoration of Healthy Forests and Freshwater Habitat prioritizes funding for projects that focus on key species in important ecosystems to ultimately restore healthy forests and freshwater habitat in the region. The plan was developed with numerous conservation groups headed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Keith Srakocic / AP

A Houston-based pipeline operator says it's taking steps to move refined fuels in two directions on a portion of its Pennsylvania pipeline while it asks state regulators to allow it to reverse the flow from west to east.

Tim Lambert / WITF

Pennsylvania landowners for years have tried and failed to get the Legislature to protect royalties they receive from natural gas companies, but mineral owners in West Virginia just scored a victory.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Six months after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, 200,000 residents still lack electricity, the mayor of the island’s capital city told a crowded Carnegie Mellon University ballroom Wednesday night.

Carmen Yulín Cruz, who received a master’s degree from CMU in the 1980s, came back to the campus to speak at “Energy Week” alongside Pittsburgh’s mayor.

She said the situation in Puerto Rico is still dire for many.

Wayne Parry / AP

Across Pennsylvania, four in 10 registered voters say they have personally experienced problems related to climate change, according to a recent poll from StateImpact Pennsylvania and Franklin & Marshall College.

FirstEnergy Solutions Files For Bankruptcy

Apr 3, 2018
Keith Srakocic / AP

The power generation subsidiary of Ohio-based FirstEnergy, which owns two Beaver County power plants and several others in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the company said over the weekend.

Catalina Jaramillo / WHYY

An environmental group is criticizing Pennsylvania for its high numbers of Clean Water Act violations.

Utility Plans To Close Nuclear Plants In Ohio, Pennsylvania

Mar 29, 2018
Ron Schwane / AP

FirstEnergy Corp. said it will shut down three nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania within the next three years, making it the latest U.S. utility to announce closings as the nuclear industry struggles to compete with electricity plants that burn plentiful and inexpensive natural gas.

The Health Risks Of Fracking From A To Z

Mar 29, 2018
Alex Brandon / AP

Over the last 4 years, the Concerned Health Professionals of New York and Physicians for Social Responsibility have compiled a list of studies and reports which outline what they call “the risks and harms of fracking” to public health.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A new report reveals that industrial facilities in Pennsylvania are among the top polluters of United States rivers, including a chemical company just 16 miles outside of Pittsburgh.

Ohio River Town Reacts To EPA Settlement To Reduce Manganese In The Air

Mar 27, 2018
EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently signed a consent decree with the Pittsburgh-based S.H. Bell Company to reduce manganese pollution from the company. 

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Of the more than 10 million cars registered in Pennsylvania, only 4,364 are electric -- less than .001 percent.

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Some Clearfield County residents have fought for years to block a proposed injection well to store wastewater from the state’s natural gas fields, but the project has secured a permit from Pennsylvania environmental officials.

Amy Sisk / WESA

Millions of Pennsylvania drivers make an annual trip to their local auto shop to test their vehicle’s emissions. Two decades after this ritual began, some are questioning its necessity.

Groups Oppose Another Coal Mining Permit In Greene County State Park

Mar 22, 2018
Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Environmental groups have once again appealed a state permit allowing Consol to mine beneath a stream inside a state park in Greene County, saying that the plan could cause “significant damage” to the waterway.

Can This Bird Survive Climate Change? The Answer Could Be In Its DNA

Mar 15, 2018
Mary Corporan Dunn / Flickr

new study in the journal Science finds there are genetic differences in yellow warblers that live in different parts of the U.S. and Canada, and some of those populations seem to be more genetically vulnerable to climate change than others.

Rachael Bay is the lead author of the study, at the University of California-Davis and the Bird Genoscape Project.

Climate State / Flickr

Solar energy advocates want to dramatically increase the amount of electricity generated from solar panels in the state.

At Greene County Coal Mine, Dwindling Production Means 370 Lost Jobs

Mar 8, 2018
Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Austin Turner was headed back home to West Virginia on a recent afternoon from his job at the 4 West Mine in Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania. It was going to be one of his last shifts there, as the mine would be shutting down soon.

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