Amy Sisk

Energy Reporter for StateImpact Pennsylvania

Credit Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Amy Sisk covers energy for WESA and StateImpact Pennsylvania, a public media collaboration focused on energy.

She moved to Pennsylvania in 2017 from another energy-rich state, North Dakota, where she often reported from coal mines, wind farms and the oil patch. While there, she worked for NPR member station Prairie Public Broadcasting and the Inside Energy public media collaboration. She spent eight months following the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy, her work frequently airing on NPR and other outlets. Amy loves traveling to rural communities -- she visited 217 small towns on the Dakota prairie -- and also covers rural issues here in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

By including more pipelines in Pennsylvania’s one-call law and creating a more robust enforcement system, state officials hope to cut down on incidents where residents or excavators accidentally hit pipelines and cables when digging underground.

Those incidents happen 6,000 times per year in Pennsylvania. Before they dig, residents and contractors are required to dial 8-1-1 and ask for utility companies with lines or cables in their area to come out and mark the locations.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

When the power goes out, calls to local utility companies come flooding in from people like Joan Petrillo, manager of Martindale’s Natural Market in Springfield near Philadelphia.

Amy Sisk / WESA

New research from the University of Pittsburgh provides a tool for examining pollutants in farmed salmon.

Carla Ng, an assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, worked with Swiss researchers to look at the quality of water where salmon swim and the food they eat.

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.

Amy Sisk / WESA

Paulette Buchignani remembers making the trek from Mt. Washington to South Park all the time growing up in the 1950s.

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.

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.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Fans of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood can now complete a 15-stop tour of the places that inspired the television show.

Amy Sisk / WESA

 

A few hundred people formed a messy circle in an East Liberty intersection, sweating in the 90-degree sun for more than two hours to listen to activists like Nicky Jo Dawson.

“We haven’t even begun,” she told the crowd Sunday.

The gathering is one of many since the death of Antwon Rose, the black teen who was shot and killed June 19 by an East Pittsburgh police officer.

Amy Sisk / 90.5 WESA

As religious services let out Sunday, churchgoers and members of the clergy gathered in East Liberty to answer a call for people of all faiths to rally around justice for Antwon Rose.

The 17-year-old was shot and killed June 19 by East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld.

Rosfeld was charged Wednesday with criminal homicide.

Amy Sisk / 90.5 WESA

The local branch of the NAACP held a town hall in Rankin Friday evening to call for consistent policies across the 120 municipal police departments in the Pittsburgh area, following last week's fatal shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose by a police officer.

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.

Amy Sisk / WESA

For Connie Ferris, acting as DJ at Benner’s Meadow Run campground is part of the allure of camping.

 

The music, along with shared meals and campfires amid a string of RVs parked here for the summer, helps make the place feel like a community.

 

Ferris spends half the week at the Fayette County campground. In the evenings, she connects her phone to a portable speaker and takes song requests.

 

Matt Slocum / AP

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

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The solar industry is one of the newest players to enter Pennsylvania’s energy landscape. During its infancy, making a career in it was a bit of a gamble, but Hal Saville decided to give it a go.

“It was something that I had to convince my family was the right thing to do because I had a pretty cushy job and could have retired from doing that, and the industry was somewhat slow to get on its feet and really gain momentum,” he says.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

More than 2 million people work in energy efficiency across the United States. It makes up the largest sector of the nation’s clean energy workforce.

Virginia McGrath has held one of these jobs for three years. She’s an energy auditor for Pittsburgh’s Conservation Consultants Incorporated.

“I think the energy efficiency field has made a transition,” she says. “Instead of saving energy and saving money, we’re talking about making a home safer and more comfortable. I think that resonates with people more.”

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

When something goes wrong in the natural gas fields like a spill or an explosion — somebody has to clean up the mess.

Mike Chicka gets these calls. The work, he says, can be pretty challenging.

“We’ve had times where we’ve had to build roads in the side of mountains,” he says. “We’ve brought in 30-, 40-foot pipes to be able to put through culverts to be able to divert the flow of streams and rivers, and bring in thousands of tons of stone to be able to build a road proper to get to the spill.”

Courtesy of Kathleen Knight

Researchers have a new plan to tackle the emerald ash borer in the Allegheny National Forest.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Steel mills and coal mines once powered the economy of the Laurel Highlands. Amid the collapse of those industries, some Cambria County residents are looking to build jobs around clean energy to help revitalize the region.

Matt Rourke / AP

Republican Scott Wagner will face off against Gov. Tom Wolf this fall for the top office in Harrisburg.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania will use the $118 million it received in a settlement with Volkswagen to fund grants and rebates for cleaner vehicles and engines.

The money comes to the state after the German automaker programmed diesel vehicles to cheat emissions tests and reached a $14.7-billion settlement with the federal government. Most is going toward buying back vehicles and compensating owners, but some is going into a trust that divvies up the money to states.

In Pennsylvania, funds will go toward buying new engines or retrofitting old ones.

Sarah Kovash / WESA

The view has shifted the past few years during Ken Holmes’ daily walks along the Ohio River, and on Tuesday, it changed yet again.

Until 2016, emissions from two smokestacks often billowed above Neville Island near Pittsburgh. When the Shenango Coke Works shut down, its stacks still dominated the landscape. But just before noon on Tuesday, they disappeared forever.

A series of planned dynamite blasts sent the stacks, plus a coal bunker, crumbling to the ground.

Allyson Ruggieri / 90.5 WESA

Environmental advocates in Pennsylvania want to see a faster switch to electric buses to help eliminate emissions that can worsen asthma and cause other health problems.

More than 23,000 diesel-powered transit and school buses exist throughout the state.

In the past, environmental groups have pushed to clean up diesel buses by taking steps like retrofitting the vehicles with filters to reduce pollution.

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.

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.

Courtesy Photo

Several Fayette County students are in Washington D.C. this week to showcase projects they have been working on in their school’s “Fab Lab.”

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.

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