Environment & Energy

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

USFWS Midwest Region / Flickr

Forty percent of Pennsylvania's birds are directly threatened by climate change, a new report from the Audubon Society finds. The sweeping paper estimates two-thirds of North American birds are at risk of extinction due to a warming planet.

This Erie Biology Professor Led A Campaign Against A Coke Plant In His Community

Oct 3, 2019
Ed Mahon / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Some of the wildflowers in the overgrown field reach Mike Campbell’s head.

He walked through them one recent day, pointing out where to watch for railroad tracks, as he got closer to Erie Coke.

It’s an industrial plant on the shore of one of the Great Lakes where workers turn coal into a key ingredient for steel manufacturing. The operation has a long history of environmental violations, and it survived a shut-down attempt by state regulators almost a decade ago.

It’s now being targeted again — in part thanks to Campbell and a group he helped start.

Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

At the top of a hillside on his 200-acre cattle farm in Greene County, southwestern Pennsylvania, George Watson peered over a well pad on his property.

Andrew Harnik / AP

On today's program: Mayor Peduto returns from the world stage on climate action; robotics and AI are helping power a local agriculture company; Pittsburgh restaurants are helping restore the Chesapeake Bay; the state Supreme Court declines to abolish capital punishment in PA; and a reporter hopes to find tangible solutions to child poverty in the region. 

Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

Jessica Lewis says shucking an oyster is like picking a lock.

Courtesy of Riverlife

On today's program: Riverlife's new CEO says development is critical to riverfront protection; how federal refugee caps are affecting Pennsylvania's immigrants; why Jewish New Year celebrations are being celebrated at a Christian sanctuary; Sen. Bob Casey says Dems can't put progressive ideas ahead of actually winning the election; and the nation's first openly transgender swimmer on what it took to compete in the NCAA.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus have been found in six Pennsylvania counties, along with one human case.

Reed Saxon / AP

The Trump administration’s new plan to repeal an Obama-era clean water regulation has been met with deeply mixed reactions in Pennsylvania, and across the country.

17 States Sue Feds Over Endangered Species Act Rules

Sep 25, 2019
National Parks Service / AP

Seventeen states sued the Trump administration Wednesday to block rules weakening the Endangered Species Act, saying the changes would make it tougher to protect wildlife even in the midst of a global extinction crisis.

Philadelphia Refinery Site Declared Under Control 3 Months After Fire, Explosion

Sep 25, 2019
Emma Lee / WHYY

The site of a refinery explosion and fire that rocked South Philadelphia last June and led to the refinery’s shutdown is now under control.

Grant Eldridge / Audubon Photography Awards

On today's program: New prison parole policies could follow in the wake of recent homicides; a deadly mosquito-born virus has moved into Pennsylvania; Open Doors Pittsburgh returns with new spaces and insider tours; and what locals can do to support disappearing migratory bird populations.

Joe Ulrich / WITF

With the Three Mile Island nuclear plant officially closed and off the power grid, nuclear advocates are turning their attention to Pennsylvania’s four other plants.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Students and adults filled the street in front of Pittsburgh’s City-County Building downtown on Friday as part of the global Climate Strike. Speakers included 18-year-old Leandra Mira of Upper St. Clair, who organized Pittsburgh’s protest and called on lawmakers to take action in fighting climate change.

Courtesy of Tree Pittsburgh

On today's program: Tree Pittsburgh looks to a giveaway to help the city's tree canopy; a philosopher tries to understand climate science deniers and change their minds; NPR's David Greene peeps the upcoming hockey season; how Pittsburgh isn’t preparing for potential climate migration; and a new immersive theatre project explores how AI affects modern life and whether humans have a say. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, or ALCOSAN, revealed its plans to reduce sewage overflows by 7 billion gallons by 2036. The announcement Thursday began with something unusual: a round of applause for the sewage treatment plant.

Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant's Shutdown Is Imminent

Sep 19, 2019
Bradley C. Bower / AP

The shutdown of Three Mile Island, site of the United States' worst commercial nuclear power accident, is imminent. 

The Philosophy Of Climate Denial

Sep 19, 2019
Natacha Pisarenko / AP

How do you change the minds of climate deniers and people who doubt the scientific process in general? We ask a philosopher of science for some answers.

Lee McIntyre is a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University and a Lecturer in Ethics at Harvard Extension School. He has written books about defending science and fighting back against “alternative facts.”

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: DNA excavated from a nearby rockshelter could tell us about humanity 19,000 years ago; how the once-lost running buffalo clover has rebounded; why Pennsylvania is suing the family behind Purdue Pharma; and Pittsburgh ranks among the most sustainable for its building practices.

Meet The Little Green Clover That Beat The Odds

Sep 12, 2019
USFWS / Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking a rare species of plant found in the Ohio Valley off of the endangered species list. Amid the Trump administration’s controversial new rules that weaken the Endangered Species Act, the Running Buffalo Clover is an example of a successful recovery.

How Did Fracking Contaminants End Up In The Mon River? A Legal Loophole May Be To Blame

Sep 11, 2019
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

About a year and a half ago, Guy Kruppa realized something was wrong with his bugs.

Fort Indiantown Gap Added To List Of PFAS Contamination Sites

Sep 9, 2019
Bastiaan Slabbers / WHYY

Fort Indiantown Gap Army National Guard base in Lebanon County has been added to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s growing list of military and industrial sites where the PFAS class of chemicals has been found.

Bastiaan Slabbers / WHYY

The tail-end of summer means the moth-like spotted lanternfly will begin laying its eggs in a few weeks. Many Pennsylvania and New Jersey residents aren’t taking the threat of the invasive species lightly, and are increasingly going out of their way to kill the critters and their larvae.

Dake Kang / AP

Five grants totaling $400,000 have been awarded to help prevent unsafe working conditions in and around U.S. mines.

The U.S. Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration announced the funding through its Brookwood-Sago grant program. The program was established in 2006 in honor of 25 miners who died in 2001 in Brookwood, Ala., at the Jim Walter Resources No. 5 mine and in 2006 in Buckhannon, W. Va., at the Sago Mine.

Beaver County Agency Says DEP Should Let It Keep Reviewing Pipeline Permits

Aug 29, 2019
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Officials from a Beaver County agency say they should keep their authority for approving erosion control permits for pipelines in the county. The comments were made at a public meeting Wednesday on a decision by the state to revoke the agency’s authority. 

Last week, the DEP pulled the Beaver County Conservation District’s authority over erosion control permits — like the kind needed by big pipelines. 

Groups Sue U.S. Steel Over Emissions Data

Aug 26, 2019
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A lawsuit filed in federal court in Pittsburgh Monday alleges U.S. Steel withheld required pollution data after a Dec. 24 fire knocked out pollution controls at the company’s Clairton coke works for more than three months. 

Wolf Tells Pipeline Activists He Won't Shut Down Mariner East

Aug 23, 2019
Jon Hurdle / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Gov. Tom Wolf told anti-pipeline activists on Thursday that he is not going to stop construction or operation of Sunoco's Mariner East pipelines.

At a rare face-to-face meeting with opponents at a pipeline construction site in East Goshen Township, Chester County, Wolf was repeatedly urged to shut down the pipeline until public safety can be assured.

But he disappointed activists by stating clearly that he would not do so.

Greg Sousa / AP

A committee of Pennsylvania Game Commission staff has recommended a statewide ban on feeding white-tailed deer. 

The agency biologists say that banning artificial feeding stations would help slow the spread of wildlife diseases. They're asking residents to voluntarily stop feeding deer.

Pennsylvania Wants To Know What You’re Throwing Away

Aug 20, 2019
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania is going dumpster diving as part of two multi-year, statewide studies of the commonwealth's trash and recycling systems.

Research Shows Thousands Could Be Saved With Better Air Quality Standards

Aug 19, 2019
Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

New research from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh shows thousands of lives could be saved each year if air quality standards were tightened.

Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Environmental activists are asking the Allegheny County Health Department to step up air quality monitoring and enforcement. Advocacy group PennEnvironment released a sweeping report Thursday looking at several decades of enforcement actions.