Environment

Courtesy of Idia'Dega

If you’re trying to save the planet from home, you’re more likely to look at your thermostat than your wardrobe. But Tereneh Idia says the latter counts, too.

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.

House OKs Bill To Relax Rules For Shallow Gas, Oil Drilling

Jun 6, 2018
Joe Ulrich / WITF

A Republican bill to relax regulations on the shallow oil and gas drilling that has gone on in Pennsylvania for more than a century passed the state House Tuesday despite firm opposition from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

The GOP-majority chamber voted 111-84 for a proposal that covers permits, rules for wells, spills and enforcement for drilling that does not include the much deeper wells tapping into the Marcellus Shale formation.

Study Finds Health Threats From Oil And Gas Wastewater Spread On Roads

Jun 1, 2018
Courtesy of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Spreading oil and gas wastewater has been a common and cheap way for municipalities to suppress dust on unpaved roads in parts of Pennsylvania for years.

Andrew Harnik / AP

In this week’s episode of the Trump on Earth podcast, we explore a new rule that would throw out vast amounts of scientific research in the name of transparency.

Burning The Forest To Protect One Of Its Most Threatened Visitors

May 15, 2018
Reid Frazier / 90.5 WESA

On a ridge at the top of the Allegheny Mountains, Gage Meyer, a supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, walked around a forest with a metal tank filled with a mix of diesel and gasoline.

“It’s not too potent but it does the job,” he said. “It’ll happen fast, especially on a day like today.”

It was sunny and dry on this spring morning. Meyer pulled out a lighter and lit a pile of leaves, damp with a mix of diesel and gasoline. Then he sprayed fuel in a straight line away from the fire from a metal can with a nozzle on it. The forest floor shot up in flames.

Amy Sisk / 90.5 WESA

A group of parents from the Fox Chapel School District is concerned about how their children’s health will be affected by hydraulic fracturing in the area. 

Pennsylvania Funds Clean Air With VW Settlement

May 10, 2018
Michael Sohn / AP

Pennsylvania's governor said Thursday the state will use a $118 million settlement with Volkswagen over the company's cheating on emissions tests to cut air pollution in the state.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf told The Associated Press that he is setting up Driving PA Forward , a program to distribute grants and rebates that aim to boost air quality.

The goal is to replace older diesel engines with new technologies, and cut nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 27,700 tons.

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.

Scott Heppell / AP

The Trump administration has been in office for a little over a year, and it’s done a lot to change the federal government’s stance on environmental issues from announcing the US’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, to opening up thousands of miles of U.S. coastline to offshore drilling. So what’s the impact of all these changes?

Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Two local groups dedicated to cleaning up Pittsburgh are hosting a film festival that explores environmental issues around the country.

Environmental Group: Methane Pollution Higher Than PA Thinks

Feb 23, 2018
Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

An environmental group says that Pennsylvania’s gas drilling industry is releasing much more methane into the atmosphere than the state is reporting.

Are Pipelines To Blame For Decline In Ancient Salamanders?

Feb 9, 2018
Dave Herasimtschuk / Freshwaters Illustrated

As the natural gas industry matures in our region, construction of big transmission pipelines like the Constitution and the Rover continue make headlines. But there are also thousands of miles of smaller pipelines being built in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to connect drilling well pads to the energy distribution system. These lines have far less oversight and could be having big impacts on smaller streams, and the wildlife that lives there.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Jayne Miller, the Former head of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, is joining the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy this week.

Miller will become only the second President and CEO in the history of the Pittsburgh nonprofit. She will succeed conservancy founder Meg Cheever, who will retire in March. Miller headed The Minneapolis Park System for seven years. For five of those years, it was ranked the No. 1 park system in the nation.

Neville Green

On a winter day on Neville Island, Dorothy Antonelli sits at the dining room table of her home, flipping through printed pictures. 

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.

Industry Gets A Pass On Accidental Bird Deaths

Jan 25, 2018
Dennis Schroeder / National Renewable Energy Labratory

This year, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act turns 100. It protects more than 1,000 species of birds from a host of threats, including disruption of nesting sites and illegal trade. 

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A $1.1 billion pipeline designed to bring Marcellus Shale natural gas from northeastern Pennsylvania to New Jersey has received federal approval, although the project lacks important permits in New Jersey.

PennEast Pipeline Company spokeswoman Patricia Kornick said Monday that she anticipates construction on the roughly 120-mile pipeline will begin this year and take about seven months. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave approval to the PennEast pipeline Friday over the protests of environmental groups, who say it would irreversibly damage the landscape.

Inside The EPA's Regulatory Rollback Machine

Jan 19, 2018
Evan Vucci / AP

The Trump administration has rolled back 60 environmental policies at last count. But what does this rollback mean and how it is affecting the work of the agency charged with protecting America’s environment and public health? ProPublica reporter Talia Buford dug into the story of one EPA rule that took the agency a decade to craft and the Trump administration just months to undo.

America's Freshwater Is Getting Saltier, And That's Not Good

Jan 11, 2018
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A new study finds that the freshwater we rely on for drinking water and industry is getting saltier. 

Pennsylvania Shuts Down Construction On Sunoco Gas Pipeline

Jan 3, 2018
Matt Slocum / AP

Pennsylvania environmental officials ordered Sunoco on Wednesday to halt construction of a natural gas pipeline across the southern part of the state, citing a series of spills and leaks of drilling fluid and other "egregious and willful violations" of state law that have plagued the $2.5 billion project.

Glitter Spreads More Than Holiday Cheer

Dec 22, 2017
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

Recently at Little House, Big Art, a crafting studio in Pittsburgh’s Spring Hill neighborhood, 8-year-old Imogen Nowak looks for just the right beads. She’s making a necklace, and while she’s not using any glitter today, it’s a favorite. “I add glitter to things that I’m making or things that I love,” she says. “It adds a little sparkle to life.”

In Their Quest For World Domination, Invasive Plants Can Adapt To New Climates

Dec 22, 2017
USDA Forest Service

Invasive  species tend to do well in new places, and they can push out native species. There’s an assumption that they do better in the same kind of environment as the country they came from.

Turns Out Birds Like To Eat Local, Too

Dec 21, 2017
Mark Duncan / AP

Native plants are better for birds than non-native plants.

That’s the main finding of a study on chickadees and the caterpillars they eat.

 

Desiree Narango is the lead author. She’s a research fellow at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and a PhD candidate at the University of Delaware.

“From the chickadee’s perspective, it’s as if a non-native plant isn’t even there at all because they almost never forage in them,” she says.

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.

'I Can't Just Step Away From My Grant': Scientists Grapple With EPA Head's Call To End Funding

Nov 30, 2017
Tim Evanson / Flickr

In October, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, ordered scientists who receive EPA grants to either end those grants or resign from EPA scientific advisory boards. But what about industry-backed scientists? He said they can stay.

Susan Walsh / AP

Democrats and some Republicans from the Philadelphia region are worried that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is trying to gut his agency from within.

The EPA has worked overtime to undo many Obama-era environmental regulations, while also scrubbing its website of any mention of “climate change.”

That’s triggered several red flags for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who said he and other Democrats warned the GOP not to tap Pruitt to lead the agency.

Author Uses Pittsburgh As Model For Sustainable Future

Nov 16, 2017
Jon Dawson

Pittsburgh is leading the way to a more sustainable future. That’s the argument Patricia DeMarco makes in her new book, "Pathways to Our Sustainable Future: A Global Perspective from Pittsburgh." DeMarco uses the city’s grassroots environmental successes and commitment to sustainable building and energy use to get at themes of transformation. This week, Kara Holsopple spoke with her about the book and why she chose Pittsburgh as the backdrop.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

U.S. Steel might soon be paying a fine for several violations of both county and federal environmental protections at its plant in Braddock.

When President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, he said he represented "Pittsburgh, not Paris."

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto disagreed. He traveled to Germany this week as part of an unofficial delegation of more than 100 Americans, American officials and business owners who say they are still committed to climate talks taking place in Bonn. One element of Pittsburgh's climate strategy has been encouraging innovation in a technology known as microgrids.

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