Environment & Energy

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

EPA Relaxes Enforcement Because Of COVID-19, But State & Local Governments Do Most Oversight

Mar 31, 2020
Ed Mahon / PA Post

The recent announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency that it will not enforce violations if a facility’s non-compliance results from the COVID-19 pandemic created swift condemnation from environmentalists and former EPA staffers. 

Marie Cusick / WITF

The state Department of Environmental Protection canceled seven public hearings — some that were scheduled for earlier in March, and some set for the next few weeks — to help limit the spread of the new coronavirus.  

Wolf Vetoes Natural Gas Tax-Break Bill

Mar 27, 2020
Keith Srakocic / AP

Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed a bill that would offer tax breaks to companies that use Pennsylvania natural gas to produce fertilizers and other chemicals.

State Officials To PA Farmers: 'We Need Local Agriculture Now More Than Ever'

Mar 24, 2020
Courtesy of PASA

On March 16th, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf first ordered restaurants and bars, and all non-essential businesses throughout the state to close, to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. It caused a wave of concern in the food industry: which businesses were considered non-essential? 

Mariner East Construction Shut Down By Governor's Order

Mar 22, 2020
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Following a day of confusion for residents living along the Mariner East pipeline in Delaware and Chester counties, pipeline builder Energy Transfer says construction of the line will shut down due to Gov. Tom Wolf’s order closing all non-essential operations in the state because of the coronavirus pandemic. Emergency repair work will continue.

Shell Keeps Massive Construction Site In Beaver County Open Despite Coronavirus Worries

Mar 18, 2020
Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Shell says construction will go ahead at its Beaver County petrochemical plant despite the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The owners of Beaver Valley nuclear power station in Shippingport, Pa. said they are reversing a decision to shut it down next year, citing a climate policy pushed by Gov. Tom Wolf.

Akron, Ohio-based Energy Harbor Corp. said Friday it had notified PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator, that it would rescind March 2018 deactivation notices for the two power generating units at the plant, which employs 1,000. 

Those units were scheduled to permanently shut down in May and October 2021, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  

Analyst: Oil Price War Might Actually Be Good For Pennsylvania Shale Industry

Mar 13, 2020
Keith Srakocic / AP

Saudi Arabia and Russia are in the midst of a price war against one another that is also meant to hurt American oil companies, and analysts say it could hurt American shale companies that produce oil. 

U.S. Forest Service district biologist Shane Jones stands on an overlook high up on West Virginia’s Cheat Mountain. Behind him lush, red spruce trees stand like sentinels on this frozen landscape. As he looks out, small patches of green dot what is largely a view of the barren, brown trunks of leafless hardwoods.

Fight Over Natural Gas Tax Break Divides PA Democrats

Mar 10, 2020
Ed Mahon / Pa Post

Lawmakers in Harrisburg have never overridden a veto from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

Peach Bottom Nuclear Plant Gets 20-Year License Extension

Mar 9, 2020
Courtesy of Exelon

Peach Bottom nuclear power plant can operate into the middle of this century, federal regulators say.

PA Proposes To Relax Non-Residential Lead Cleanup Standards

Mar 9, 2020
Emma Lee / WHYY

Pennsylvania is proposing to relax its non-residential standard for the concentration of lead allowed in the surface soils of obsolete contaminated properties that adhere to its voluntary cleanup program.

Petrochemical Town Hall Near Pittsburgh Spotlights Pollution, Health Worries

Mar 5, 2020
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Subsidies for the petrochemical industry may bring a boost in construction jobs but could have a negative effect on Pennsylvania’s air quality and public health, according to speakers at a town hall held near Pittsburgh Wednesday. 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

At an often tense meeting of Pittsburgh City Council Wednesday, officials at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium bared their teeth over a proposed city ordinance to limit the possession of alligators and other animals.

Matt Rourke / AP

The invasive spotted lanternfly is continuing its westward march across Pennsylvania, with state agriculture officials nearly doubling the number of counties in a quarantine zone meant to limit the pest’s spread.

Democrats Could Field An Anti-Fracking Candidate In 2020. Can They Win In Pennsylvania?

Mar 3, 2020
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Standing on the side of a road that hugs the Ohio River, Jeff Nobers stared across the water at a massive construction site: towering cranes, scaffolding, a maze of pipes.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

University of Pittsburgh's Board of Trustees Friday voted to become a carbon neutral campus by 2037, the school's 250th anniversary. The meeting was disrupted by more than 50 students demanding the university pull fossil fuel stocks from the school's endowment fund.

Federal Prosecutors Investigating Pipeline Company In Connection With Beaver County Blast

Feb 27, 2020
First Energy

The Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation of a pipeline company in connection with a 2018 natural gas explosion in Beaver County.

Constitution Pipeline Project Ends As Builder Cites 'Diminished' Return On Investment

Feb 25, 2020
Jon Hurdle / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A pipeline builder has dropped a controversial project that would have routed fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale into New York.

The Constitution Pipeline got federal approval in 2014, and officials thought it would be delivering natural gas to New York as soon as the following year.

DEP Fines Landfill Near Pittsburgh For Problems Tied To Fracking Waste

Feb 19, 2020
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has fined a Westmoreland County landfill that had been passing pollution from oil and gas drilling waste into a local sewage treatment plant. 

On a recent soggy Wednesday evening, dozens of West Virginians packed a conference room inside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center to discuss the need for a “just transition” for coal-impacted communities.

As the nation grapples with climate change, the need for a fair transition for workers and communities that depend upon coal jobs and revenue has also gained traction.

Catalina Jaramillo / WHYY

The commonwealth plans to step up litter prevention efforts, following a novel study.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Some Pennsylvania environmental groups are dissatisfied with an agreement that the Allegheny County Health Department and U.S. Steel finalized earlier this week. The settlement addresses emissions violations at the manufacturing giant's Clairton Coke Works.

Mark Dixon

The Allegheny County Health Department has reached a final settlement agreement and order with U.S. Steel over air pollution violations at the Clairton Coke Works, part of the larger Mon Valley Works system. The settlement was issued in June of 2019 to address ongoing emissions problems at the plant.

Jared Murphy / 90.5 WESA

A local medical relief nonprofit has taken a step to use renewable energy in its operations. Global Links, based in Green Tree, recently installed more than 100 solar panels on its roof.

Gov. Wolf's Budget Proposes Boosting Staff At Several Of PA's Environmental Departments

Feb 5, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

Gov. Tom Wolf proposed money for additional staffing at the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and he renewed his support for a package of pipeline reforms, in his annual budget released Tuesday.

Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Since his second term began last year, there’s been a theme for Tom Wolf’s tenure as Pennsylvania’s governor: climate change. 

Rachel Gobep / 90.5 WESA

Outdoorsy Pennsylvanians can soon keep their fishing license in a pocket rather than having to attach it to an outer garment.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania state senators held a hearing Wednesday to discuss the possibility of joining a regional proposal to limit the transportation sector's greenhouse gas emissions. 

Trump Administration Rescinds Protections For Streams And Wetlands

Jan 24, 2020

The Trump administration announced it’s finalizing a rollback of a major Obama Era rule that clarified which waterways can be regulated by the Clean Water Act.