Environment & Energy

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

StateImpact Pennsylvania

A bipartisan group of governors, including Pennsylvania’s Tom Wolf, is calling on federal regulators to look at unifying the nation’s power grids.

Dry Lake Inches Closer To Comeback

Nov 18, 2018
Google Maps

If it takes seven minutes to fill an 80-gallon tub with just the cold tap open and eight minutes with just the hot tap open, how long will it take to fill a 562-acre reservoir with the skies open periodically — and if nearby residents run hoses from their backyards to the lake, will that make a difference?

The Trump administration’s nominee for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission faced tough questions from lawmakers Thursday. It was over whether the longtime energy lawyer could impartially serve at the agency after helping the administration craft its coal and nuclear power plant bailout plan.

Dozens Plead With Trump Administration To Keep Air Rules

Nov 16, 2018
David Zulabowski / Ap

Dozens of people who live near oil and gas wells pleaded with the Trump administration Wednesday not to roll back rules for methane pollution, while industry representatives said the changes should go further.

The Environmental Protection Agency held a hearing in Denver on the administration's plans to loosen regulations imposed by the Obama administration in 2016. The rules require energy companies to step up the detection and elimination of methane leaks at well sites and other oil and gas facilities.

Amy Sisk / WESA

A few years after Polish scientist Marie Curie discovered radium, two Pittsburgh brothers sought to build upon her work by launching a commercial enterprise that began in Colorado with mining radioactive ore and culminated in free health clinics to market the new element.


David Zalubowski / AP

Pennsylvania utility regulators approved a new policy aimed at clarifying rules about how power is resold, in an effort to promote investment in public electric vehicle charging stations.

Sunoco Expects Hybrid Mariner East 2 To Start Operating By Year's End

Nov 8, 2018
StateImpact Pennsylvania

Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline across Pennsylvania will begin operating in the current quarter, the company’s parent, Energy Transfer, said on Thursday.

How Climate Change Hurts Kids' Health

Nov 8, 2018
Keith Srakocic / AP

The latest UN climate report caused a lot of headlines, and alarm. It warned that we have about a decade to make the changes necessary to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. 

Environmentalists Could Change Election Outcomes. They Just Need To Vote.

Nov 5, 2018

Polls show that historically, many people who place a high value on environmental issues stay away from the voting booth. In the 2014 midterms, more than 15 million environmentalists didn’t show up on Election Day. 

George Widman / AP

An apparent gas explosion leveled an empty mansion in an affluent suburb of Philadelphia on Sunday, reducing the 9,000-sq. foot home to rubble and frightening neighbors and others who felt the thunderous boom.

The explosion at the Gladwyne mansion happened just after 8 p.m., and was felt as far away as southern New Jersey.

The house was undergoing extensive renovations, authorities said, and no one was inside the home at the time of the explosion. It was reduced to a few walls and rubble, as various debris ended up strewn among nearby trees.

PJM: There Is No Grid Emergency (At Least For The Next Five Years)

Nov 2, 2018
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The grid operator for the mid-Atlantic region released a long-anticipated study about whether coal and nuclear plant retirements present a threat to its electric supply.

Investigators Suspect Methane Migration Caused Greene County Home To Explode

Nov 1, 2018
Shirl Barnhart / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A home explosion Wednesday in Greene County leveled the house and burned three people who were inside. Investigators are trying to determine whether methane migration from nearby gas or coal operations played a role.

DEP Orders ETP To Fix Revolution Pipeline Erosion Problems

Oct 31, 2018
Marcellus Air / StateImpact Pennsylvania

State regulators have ordered the owner of a pipeline that experienced a catastrophic explosion last month to fix inadequate erosion control measures in several locations along its route.

Today is the last day to submit comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the agency’s proposed Affordable Clean Energy rule.

The so-called ACE rule is the proposed replacement for the Obama administration’s signature climate regulation, the Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by encouraging states to shift electricity generation away from coal and toward natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Amy Sisk / WESA

Western Pennsylvania usually has spectacular fall colors, but this year they’re late and lackluster.

Pipeline Ruptures Bring New Scrutiny To Pennsylvania Geology

Oct 28, 2018
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The only earth movement that Jeff and Michelle Seaman have noticed is the large gash dug by excavators and pipeliners in their backyard 50 feet from the pool where Ms. Seaman likes to float.

Can Shale Gas Rebuild The Region's Manufacturing Base?

Oct 26, 2018

The Ohio Valley has long been known for coal and making steel, but the future, according to some predictions, is natural gas and plastics. Richard Regula, is a commissioner in Stark County, Ohio, and is working to expand the petrochemical industry.

Energy Sec. Perry Stumps For 'All Of The Above' Energy In Philadelphia, Camden

Oct 26, 2018
Susan Montoya Bryan / AP

Energy Secretary Rick Perry traveled to Philadelphia and South Jersey Thursday, speaking to a water conference and visiting a nuclear manufacturing plant in Camden.

EPA Head Says Rollbacks Will Keep Environment Clean, Economy Up

Oct 25, 2018
Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

At an oil and gas conference in Pittsburgh Wednesday, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler touted the Trump administration’s moves to roll back over 70 environmental regulations, telling the crowd the rollbacks will make America’s air and water cleaner while keeping the economy booming.

Emma Lee / WHYY

 A report out this month from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a pretty dire picture. By 2040, the world faces myriad crises — including food shortages, extreme weather, wildfires and a mass die-off of coral reefs — unless emissions are cut sharply.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Nearly 50 years ago, a young legislator named Franklin Kury wanted to guarantee Pennsylvanians the right to clean air and water. Working with other environmental advocates, he got Article 1, Section 27 amended to the state constitution in 1971:

For decades, the amendment was largely ignored.

But things are changing. As fracking transformed Pennsylvania’s rural landscapes, it’s unexpectedly led to a shift in the legal landscape, too.

Two recent state Supreme Court decisions dealing with natural gas drilling are breathing new life into the amendment.

Pollution Is Changing The Diet Of These Pittsburgh-Area Songbirds

Oct 18, 2018
Mike Dougherty

Legacy pollution from coal mining is changing how a native songbird eats, according to a new study published in the open access journal PeerJ by Brian Trevelline, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, and Steven Latta, Ph. D., Director of Conservation and Field Research at the National Aviary.

It’s the busiest time of year at many local farms, with hayrides, animals to pet, and apple cider to sip.

'Downstream' Documentary Looks At Pollution In Pennsylvania's Water

Oct 11, 2018

A new documentary wades into the issues around the pollution and protection of Pennsylvania’s waterways. 

Ohio Residents Sick Of Dealing With PA's Fracking Wastewater

Oct 10, 2018
Julie Grant / Allegheny Front

Much of the wastewater from Pennsylvania’s fracking industry is trucked across the border to Ohio. 

AP Images

More than half of North American bird species are threatened by climate change, according to the national Audubon Society, which links the welfare of birds to urbanization.

Paul Sancya / AP

University of Michigan researchers will use a $2 million energy department grant toward finding ways to use algae as a biofuel source for diesel engines.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A federal indictment filed this week alleges Russian hackers targeted a nuclear power company near Pittsburgh beginning in 2014, in addition to anti-doping agencies throughout the world.

Mariner East 2: What Are Natural Gas Liquids, And What Happens If They Leak?

Oct 5, 2018
Youtube / StateImpact Pennsylvania

As part of the “Mariner East 2: At what risk?” series, this StateImpact Pennsylvania video examines the natural gas liquids that flow through the pipeline and what happens if they leak — something that could be caused by:

  • Welding failures
  • Material defects
  • Corrosion
  • Shifting land exposing the pipe



Emma Lee / WHYY

After two years of legal setbacks, a federal court ruled this week that two families from Bucks and Montgomery counties can proceed with lawsuits asking the U.S. Navy to cover the costs of medical monitoring after years of drinking contaminated water.