Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On this week's Explainer:

Two different locals of the second-largest union in the U.S. are putting their weight behind two different Pittsburgh mayoral candidates. Government and accountability editor Chris Potter looks into why the Service Employees International Union 32BJ backed Mayor Bill Peduto, while SEIU Healthcare PA is supporting his primary challenger, state Rep. Ed Gainey.

Julie Grant / The Allegheny Front

Each well drilled using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and gas production creates tens of millions of gallons of wastewater, called produced water or brine. In Ohio, much of that wastewater is disposed of in underground injection wells, including waste from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. As the number of injection wells grows in Ohio, local communities want some control over where these wells are located.

DEP Gives OK To Public Comment On Fracking Wastewater Permits

Feb 23, 2021
Courtesy of Marcellus Air

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to allow public comment on permits at 49 fracking waste facilities. 

Gas Industry Hasn't Delivered On Its Economic Promise To Communities, Report Says

Feb 22, 2021
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Natural gas extraction has had little economic benefit in eight Pennsylvania counties where production has been most active over the last decade, according to a new report that was immediately dismissed by industry spokespeople.

Amber Deem / via Facebook

Ohio regulators are working at a gas well that started spewing what’s believed to be brine water from fracking into the environment more than a week ago. 

State Gives $2.5 Million To Pitt To Study Health Impacts Of Fracking

Dec 24, 2020
Reid F. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Wolf Administration is giving $2.5 million to the University of Pittsburgh to study possible health impacts from fracking.

Dimock Residents Worry About Planned Fracking Waste Well

Nov 30, 2020
StateImpact Pennsylvania

A fracking wastewater treatment company is exploring the possibility of constructing an underground deep injection well in Dimock, Susquehanna County. If approved, it would be the first deep injection well built to handle fracking wastewater in eastern Pennsylvania.

Fracking Project At U.S. Steel Plant Denied Local Permit Extension

Oct 23, 2020
Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

A controversial natural gas well at a US Steel Plant near Pittsburgh suffered a setback Thursday night. The East Pittsburgh Borough zoning hearing board denied an appeal by a fracking company to have a lapsed permit for the well reinstated. 

Report: Radiation Levels Higher Downwind Of Fracking Sites

Oct 16, 2020
Ralph Wilson / AP

A team of Harvard researchers found elevated levels of radioactivity on air particles measured downwind of fracking sites around the country.

Steven M. Falk / Philadelphia Inquirer

Winding through green forested hills, the road to Meadowbrook Mobile Home Park in York County is nestled with brown-paneled trailers and potholes half-filled with jagged concrete.

DEP Issues New Fines For Westmoreland County Landfill That Accepts Drilling Waste

Oct 15, 2020
Reid F. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection fined a Western Pennsylvania landfill that accepts solid fracking waste $59,000 for multiple violations over the past year. 

Trump Pounds Fracking As A Wedge Issue In PA. Will It Help?

Oct 12, 2020
Steve Ruark / AP

Pennsylvania has emerged as one of the key swing states in the presidential election. And while natural gas drilling is near the bottom of a list of concerns for the state’s voters, fracking just keeps coming up.

Natural Gas Production In Pennsylvania Hits Record High

Sep 15, 2020
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s natural gas drillers extracted the largest volume of gas on record for a single year in 2019, according to the Department of Environmental Protection’s latest annual report on the industry.

Keith Srakocic / AP

In a county where the local unemployment rate is twice the national average, Vice President Mike Pence touted the Trump administration's economic record before the pandemic at a Workers for Trump rally on Wednesday.

Keith Srakocic / AP

The Pennsylvania Department of Health says it is taking steps to learn more about the health risks of fracking following criticism from an investigative grand jury.

Republican Lawmakers Defend Shale Gas Industry Following Grand Jury Report

Jun 30, 2020
Keith Srakocic / AP

Republican state lawmakers are defending the natural gas industry following the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that found the Department of Environmental Protection failed to protect the public from the health effects of fracking.

PA Grand Jury Report On Fracking: DEP Failed To Protect Public Health

Jun 25, 2020
Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania grand jury report wo years in the making slammed the Department of Environmental Protection for failing to protect the public from the health effects of fracking.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Proposals to ban fracking have divided Democratic presidential candidates on the national stage, and the issue is already looming over a closely-watched western Pennsylvania Congressional race.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce pushed back Thursday against calls from some Democratic presidential candidates to ban fracking, saying that policy would ‘devastate’ the economies of states like Pennsylvania.

Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

A new study by Carnegie Mellon University finds that in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia region, the economic boost from shale gas drilling has been less than the cost of premature deaths caused by pollution from the industry. 

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Franklin Park is both rustic and upscale, graced with million-dollar homes, state game lands and even the occasional large flightless bird. And as Matt Ferriolo drives through the community touting its virtues — “People really, really care about keeping the forested nature of this place,” he says at one point — an ostrich trots down the driveway of a nearby farm.

Pennsylvania To Fund Research Into Fracking Health Impacts

Nov 22, 2019
Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday his administration will spend $3 million on a pair of studies to explore the potential health impacts of the natural gas industry, taking action after months of impassioned pleas by the families of pediatric cancer patients who live in the most heavily drilled region of the state.

Pennsylvania Families Demand Investigation Into Rare Cancers

Nov 18, 2019
Keith Srakocic / AP

The families of young people diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer confronted Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday over what they called his administration’s insufficient response to a health crisis they blame on pollution from the shale gas industry.


Health and environmental scientists who specialize in the potential impacts of oil and gas production will discuss their work on Tuesday at the annual Shale & Public Health conference, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania. 

Alex Brandon / AP

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey believes that presidents should not be allowed to unilaterally ban fracking -- and in the wake of Democratic promises to do just that, recently introduced a Senate resolution emphasizing that point.

Katie Meyer / WITF

Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Senator, Pat Toomey, is trying to head off some of the big environmental promises ​that a few Democratic Presidential candidates are making. 

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

President Donald Trump is set to speak at the Shale Insight Conference later this afternoon – although his presence is already being felt hours in advance. A number of protests were planned ahead of his arrival, starting with an 8:30 a.m. 

Darron Cummings / AP

President Donald Trump will travel to Pittsburgh next Wednesday to appear at an oil and gas industry event at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. He will be the keynote speaker at the annual Shale Insight conference, which is organized by the Marcellus Shale Coalition.


A long-delayed proposal to create a public registry of oil and gas leases in Allegheny County still faces hurdles after county councilors met to discuss it Tuesday. The bill would require landholders to report where they lease property for fracking and oil drilling.

Bryan Woolston / AP

Democratic Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke came to Pittsburgh Wednesday with a forceful speech that made a case for progressive values on a host of issues: gun-control, the environment, racial inequity – and the pressing need to impeach President Donald Trump.