Environment

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.

Building Infrastructure In The Age Of Climate Change

Nov 2, 2017
Charlie Neilbergall / AP

As Congress pays out more than 36 billion dollars in disaster relief, the General Accounting Office recommends that the federal government find ways to minimize the economic impacts of climate change.

Future In Limbo For Coal Ash Site

Oct 26, 2017
Google

A Greene County coal ash landfill won’t be receiving any more coal waste until December, at the earliest. Environmental groups hope the landfill may have seen its last shipment of the waste.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The fuel efficiency of new cars has improved by 10 percent in the last five years, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, but advocates at PennEnvironment fear the federal standard that required car manufacturers to make those changes could be in danger.

Pennsylvania Power Grid Operator Slams Trump Plan To Aid Coal, Nuclear

Oct 24, 2017
Evan Vucci / AP

The nation's biggest electric grid operator said a Trump administration plan to change the way electricity is priced to reward coal and nuclear power is both unworkable and potentially against the law.

PJM, which operates the grid covering 65 million people from Illinois to Washington, D.C., submitted formal comments on the plan late Monday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In a conference call with reporters, PJM's president and CEO, Andy Ott, said the plan by Energy Secretary Rick Perry is not "workable."

Climate Reality Project Head In Pittsburgh To Train Future Climate Leaders

Oct 19, 2017
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

This week in Pittsburgh, about 1300 people are in training to become climate leaders in their communities. That means convincing other people to make changes to their lives. But how? Ken Berlin is the president and CEO of The Climate Reality Project, which works to build public support for addressing climate change. He says it’s about communicating four key messages. The Allegheny Front’s Kara Holsopple asked him about them:

Revoking The Clean Power Plan Could Have A Big Impact In Pennsylvania

Oct 10, 2017
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday the EPA will formally propose to revoke the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s regulation for carbon dioxide from the electricity sector.

Charlie Nielbergall / AP

It’s no secret that the Trump administration is often at odds with scientists. His recent agency nominations continue to reflect that. Sam Clovis is Trump’s pick for Chief Scientist at the U.S.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

In an effort to reduce Pittsburgh's environmental impact and improve air quality, the city is launching a set of goals to achieve by 2030.

Outlined in the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan are the following goals:

Spicer Says Rolling Back Regulations Helping The Economy

Sep 29, 2017
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told a natural gas industry conference in Pittsburgh that oil and gas drillers had a “huge friend in the Oval Office”. That huge friend is President Donald Trump, whose administration has targeted dozens of regulations that effect oil and gas drilling, a push which Spicer said was helping grow the economy.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Maryland is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to act on a petition requiring power plants in five upwind states to reduce pollution, the state's attorney general and an official in Gov. Larry Hogan's administration said Wednesday.

Please Don't Buy Japanese Barberry. Forests Will Thank You

Sep 22, 2017
Paige Walter / Allegheny Front

With reporting by Paige Walter

It would be an understatement to say that Ryan Utz is not a fan of Japanese barberry.

Utz is a professor at Chatham University’s Falk School of Sustainability, and as we walk through some damp, forested land on the property of their Eden Hall campus, north of Pittsburgh, he can hardly contain himself.

Learning About Pollution Can Be Fun ... When You Get To Pick A Giant Nose

Aug 10, 2017
Rachel Filippini

Our region’s dirty air is a big problem. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with it, right?

A Mon River Water Filtration System In West Virginia Is Among The Nation's Best

Aug 8, 2017
Michael Virtanen / AP

A raft of garbage covers a swath of the Monongahela River in northern West Virginia, a dozen miles upstream from the drinking water intake for 100,000 people.

Old tires, damaged toys, algae, oil drums, sticks and other refuse have crowded against the dam for so long that weeds sprout from them. Stuck against the spillway, the trash spans a football field's length from one bank to the other and spreads almost 30 yards upstream.

Courtesy of Polly Shaw / Arcadia Publishing

The Lake Arthur Regatta is this weekend.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Six Pittsburgh students are spending their summer learning about the plants and animals in Frick Park and how to protect them with erosion control and managing invasive species. 

Students working in the Young Naturalist program don’t typically have access to nature. 

90.5 WESA’s Sarah Schneider spoke with Taiji Nelson, a naturalist educator with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, about teaching kids to be park stewards. 

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Kamil Kaczor / Flickr

Officials announced Tuesday that PWSA is back in compliance with federal standards for lead levels in drinking water. The next day, City Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow the authority to replace the private side of residential lead service lines when it replaces the public side.

Natural Gas Industry Wastewater Pollution May Linger For Years

Jul 21, 2017
Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A new study finds the treated wastewater from Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry may pollute rivers, lakes, streams and creeks for longer than previously thought.

Richard Shiro / AP

Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress say they’re not so sure about the science of climate change, even though the vast majority of scientists agree: we’re warming the planet and if we don’t stop, it’ll have big consequences for us.

How Cities Are Planning To Survive Climate Change

Jul 13, 2017
Magnus Larsson / Flickr

Cities all over the world are receiving funding to become more resilient. That means preparing them to handle long-term stresses, like income inequality, and short-term shocks, like a flood. In 2014, Pittsburgh became one of those cities. It’s now part of the 100 Cities program, a Rockefeller Foundation initiative designed to help promote resiliency.

Study: Some Highly Fluorinated Chemicals Are Harder To Filter From Water

Jun 29, 2017
Rajikiran Ghanta / Flickr

Researchers have found some kinds of chemicals are harder to filter from water.

These compounds belong to a family called highly fluorinated chemicals. They’re used to make carpets, clothes and cookware stain and water repellant.

They’ve also been used in firefighting foam at military bases and airports. Those chemicals from firefighting foam have contaminated drinking water around the country, including drinking water wells near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base near Oscoda.

EarthJustice

When  President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cut funding for environmental justice work at the EPA, Mustafa Ali took a stand. 

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