Energy

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.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

For the first time, scientists have discovered the source of a vanishingly tiny particle called a neutrino that came from outside the Milky Way, with the help of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

The center's powerful computers helped trace the particle's origin to the collapse of a supermassive black hole nearly 4 billion light years away.

About 100 trillion neutrinos pass through your body every second. They're invisible to the eye, but when they react with water molecules at a high speed, they eminate a bluish light.

Kiichiro Sato / AP

President Donald Trump rescinded his invitation to the Philadelphia Eagles this week after reports suggested only about 10 players of the 90-member, Super Bowl-winning squad were planning to attend. The President tied the decision to past criticism of players who protested police brutality and harsh treatment of African Americans by kneeling during the "National Anthem."

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.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Stakeholders heralded transparency, sustainable development and potential plans for rapid city growth at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center this week as part of the 4th annual P4 Conference. The event came as city leaders continue to balk at sharing their Amazon HQ2 proposal.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Dry leaf marijuana will soon be available for a growing list of Pennsylvania patients, including those addicted to opioids. State Health Secretary Dr.

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.

Keith Srakocic / AP


Congressional campaigns across Pennsylvania remain in flux since the state's high court issued a new congressional map last week. If the map survives a pending GOP lawsuit, it would take effect for the May primary.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Environmental advocacy group PennEnvironment believes Pittsburgh should be doing more to encourage greater use of electric vehicles. A newly released policy guide calls on the city to introduce additional charging stations on streets and in parking structures.

The group predicts that 9,000 electric vehicles will be on Pittsburgh's roads by 2030, kickstarting the need for EV-friendly policies.

FracTracker Alliance

Gov. Tom Wolf drew support from both environmentalists and energy insiders when he promised to ease the state's permit application backlog and better enforce regulations by hiring 35 more Department of Environmental Protection inspectors.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Rebounding prices for natural gas and a growth in new wells exploring Pennsylvania's vast Marcellus Shale reservoir are fueling a recovery in fee revenue for state programs and county and municipal governments.

The Independent Fiscal Office projected Wednesday that impact fee collections for 2017 will be just above $219 million, $46 million more than 2016's low point of $173 million.

Dake Kang / AP

Coal companies in the United States boosted production of the fuel in 2017 to reverse a two-year decline.

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.

Cliff Owen / AP

 

It’s been less than a week since U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Upper St. Clair) announced he’s resigning from Congress, and the field for a special election to fill his seat is already highly contested. Murphy was forced to resign amid revelations of an extramarital affair in which the anti-abortion lawmaker allegedly urged his mistress to get an abortion.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Law enforcement agencies aren't interested in putting protesters behind bars, according to panel speakers at the two-day Shale Insight energy conference Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact PA

In March 2016, workers for one of the nation’s largest natural gas pipeline companies cut down a large swath of maple trees in Susquehanna County–a rural patch of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Renewables In The Trump Era: Doomed Or Too Big To Fail?

Aug 24, 2017
John Stamets / Flickr

Donald Trump is a big fan of fossil fuels. Renewables not so much.

Kristi Jan Hoover / 90.5 WESA

The Trump administration says a Pennsylvania-based coal company has won a contract to supply coal used for heating to Ukraine's state-owned power company.

The deal announced Monday calls for Xcoal Energy and Resources to ship 700,000 tons of thermal coal to the Ukraine to heat homes and businesses. Xcoal is based in Latrobe, Westmoreland County.

The first shipment is expected to leave the Port of Baltimore next month at a cost of $113 per metric ton.

National Energy Technology Laboratory

Researchers at the National Energy Technology Laboratory south of Pittsburgh are discovering valuable rare earth elements in coal waste.

Kamil Kaczor / Flickr

Officials announced Tuesday that PWSA is back in compliance with federal standards for lead levels in drinking water. The next day, City Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow the authority to replace the private side of residential lead service lines when it replaces the public side.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Speaking Friday at the National Energy Technology Laboratory near Pittsburgh, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry emphasized the link between energy innovation and national security and talked about what he sees as coal’s strong future.

Calling his position as energy secretary “the coolest job” he’s ever had, Perry thanked the standing room-only crowd of scientists and researchers for their work in advancing energy technology, specifically when it comes to coal.

Trump Touts A New PA Mine, But Is Coal Actually Rebounding?

Jun 8, 2017
Reid R. Frazier / Allegheny Front

Matt Owens stands at the bottom of a freshly dug hole, about the size of a football field, cut 120 feet deep into a hillside in Somerset County. The pit will soon become the entrance to the Acosta Deep mine.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

President Donald Trump may not think the Paris Climate Accord is beneficial for the U.S., but Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto says the city is still committed to it.

Joe Ulrich / WITF

Exelon has announced it will prematurely close the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in September 2019—15 years before its license expires.

The plant’s been unable to compete. Like coal companies, the nuclear power industry faces slowing demand for electricity, along with a glut of cheaper natural gas and renewables. Around the country, five nuclear plants have retired in the past five years, and another five are scheduled to close within a decade.

Fractracker Alliance / StateImpact PA

Pennsylvania’s shale gas drillers continued to break records for production in 2016, tapping about 5.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Although the increase in production was not as high as in previous years, it still represents an upward trend, while the number of new well permits are declining, according to data published this week by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Pennsylvania still ranks second behind Texas in total volume of natural gas production.

Three Mile Island Accident Changed His Entire Life

Mar 11, 2017
John Zeedick / AP

It's been 38 years now, but the long legacy of the March 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant lingers to this day.

The crisis touched off a public panic in central Pennsylvania, ultimately leading to mass evacuations. This, as mixed messages and outright misinformation from both the power company and public officials masked the truth and eroded trust when it most mattered.

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.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The sounds of buzzing chainsaws echoed through the hills around Raystown Lake on Thursday afternoon as contractors for Sunoco Logistics cleared trees to make way for the new Mariner East 2 project.

The 8,300-acre lake in Huntingdon County is a popular spot for swimming, boating, hiking and mountain biking. It draws about 1.5 million visitors annually.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

 

Two of Pennsylvania’s leading environmental groups are forming a new strategic alliance in response to what they call an “unprecedented anti-environmental political climate at the federal and state levels.”

PennFuture and the Conservation Voters of PA will combine policy, advocacy, and legal resources to mobilize voters around environmental issues and hold lawmakers accountable.

Joe Ulrich / WITF

 

Jobs in Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry declined 32 percent in the second quarter of 2016, compared to the same time period last year, new state data show.

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