StateImpact Pennsylvania

More Than Half Of PA Gas Wells Used ‘Secret’ Chemicals For Fracking, Drilling: Report

Sep 14, 2018
Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Energy companies in Pennsylvania declined to identify potentially harmful chemicals used for drilling and fracking for natural gas in more than half the wells developed between 2013 and 2017, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The report from the Partnership for Policy Integrity, a Massachusetts nonprofit that does research and advocacy on energy policy, says companies withheld information about at least one chemical in 55 percent of wells drilled between 2013 and 2017.

Bringing The Forest Back After Shale Gas

Sep 11, 2018
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

In a clearing deep in Tiadaghton State Forest, Kelly Sitch stops to look at a clump of wild bergamot, a native plant whose light purple flowers resemble pom-poms.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Labor Day weekend marks the end of the summer driving season, and soon, gasoline prices are expected to drop after spending most of the summer above $3 per gallon.

“Across the country, we switch over to winter blend gasoline, demand drops off, and you start seeing some relief at the pump,” said Jim Garrity, a spokesperson for AAA East-Central, which serves Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, New York and Kentucky.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

Report: Draft Memo Points To Trump Invoking National Security In Bailing Out Coal, Nuclear

Jun 4, 2018
Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Trump administration could invoke two seldom-used laws to save faltering coal and nuclear plants, according to a Bloomberg News report. The plan would force electricity grid operators to pay more for electricity from coal and nuclear plants, which have struggled to compete in the electricity market, the report says, and would be an “unprecedented intervention into U.S. energy markets.”

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.

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.

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.

Abandoned Mines Across State To Get $55M In Cleanup Money

May 9, 2018
Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will spend $55 million on abandoned mine cleanup projects around the state. 

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.

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.

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.

Keith Srakocic / AP

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

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.

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