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Emergency regulations for oil and gas were approved to meet federal deadline, secure funding

Marie Cusick
StateImpact Pennslvania

On today’s episode of The Confluence: 

State environmental regulators have approved new emissions limits for some oil and gas wells
(0:00 - 6:34)

Last week, the state’s Environmental Quality Board and Governor Tom Wolf approved emergency regulations to limit emissions from certain oil and gas wells. They were working to meet a December 16 deadline to avoid federal sanctions that would have jeopardized $500 million in highway funding.

“The [state Department of Environmental Protection] says it took so long because they needed to collect state specific data and because there was some uncertainty happening at the federal level,” says Rachel McDevitt, reporter with StateImpact Pennsylvania.

McDevitt says the new rule will apply to about 95 conventional wells, and the DEP estimates it could reduce emissions from volatile organic compounds by 9,000 tons a year, and reduce methane by up to 175,000 tons per year.

InnovatePGH is accepting applications for its second cohort of fellows to train and employ in ‘tech-adjacent’ roles
(6:39 - 14:08)

According to the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s 2022 State of the Industry report, tech employers are responsible for nearly 300,000 jobs in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

But for some, barriers to employment in those industries and companies can be difficult to overcome. To assist such applicants, InnovatePGH and Jewish Family and Community Services have piloted a new program called the Innovation District Skills Alliance. The first cohort of six people has graduated, and the alliance is soliciting applications for its second cohort.

“There is a massive misconception that in order to work in tech or in innovation, that you have to have a master's degree, years of experience,” says Lindsay Powell, director of workforce strategies at InnovatePGH. “But frankly, there are so many jobs, not just nationally but here locally, where you don't need a college degree with specific training, you could find yourself a high-paying, family-sustaining job and career.”

Powell says members of the cohort go through training that lasts between three and six weeks, and receive stipends to compensate for their time and transportation costs. The deadline to apply for the next cohort is January 6.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is again offering ‘sensory-friendly’ performances of ‘The Nutcracker’
(14:16 - 22:30)

'The Nutcracker' is a holiday-season staple: dancing snowflakes, a party-scene with dancers of all ages, and of course, the sugar plum fairy and nutcracker themselves.

This year, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is offering “sensory-friendly” performances on December 16th and on December 27th, in addition to their typical slate of shows.

“We were actually the first ballet company in the United States of America to offer a sensory-friendly program,” says Kati Gigler, acting executive director of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. We do make adjustments such as having the house lights up a little bit, about 20%. We also make some adjustments to costuming. Our Rat King has very aggressive, kind of red glowing eyes, so we turn those off for sensory-friendly performances.”

Gigler says PBT has worked with Autism Connection in Western Pennsylvania to better prepare staff and volunteers in how to be sensitive to patrons who may be on the Autism spectrum or have other sensory sensitivities.

Tickets for sensory-friendly and other shows can be purchased online at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s website.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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