Environment & Energy

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

Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

President Donald Trump wants to make it easier for companies to transport natural gas from places like Pennsylvania to the Northeast.

Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Christmas Eve fire at Clairton Coke Works should serve as a wake up call for U.S. Steel to do better by residents, according to PennFuture president and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo.

She says other coke producing facilities across the nation have done a better job of improving air quality in their region than the U.S. Steel facility has for Western Pennsylvania.

Political Fight Begins Over Bill To Rescue Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Industry

Apr 9, 2019
Matt Rourke / AP

Members of a state House committee heard a litany of arguments for and against a bill that would provide a $500 million annual subsidy to try to keep two of Pennsylvania’s five nuclear power plants from closing early.

Fernando Llano / AP

Since 2009, the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation has promoted responsible harvesting practices and worked to reduce illegal fishing. 

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

PPG Industries Inc. is agreeing to pay $1.2 million and treat polluted water seeping into the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania from a long-closed waste site, although environmental organizations called it a "slap on the wrist."

State Senate Introduces Nuclear Bailout Bill, Similar To $500 Million House Plan

Apr 4, 2019
Matt Rourke / AP

State Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) has introduced a long-awaited bill aimed at preventing two of the state's five nuclear plants from retiring early.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The heavily fined owner of natural gas liquids pipelines across southern Pennsylvania is agreeing to another $200,000 fine and a study on risks to the Mariner East 1 pipeline.

DEP Investigating Gas Well For Water Supply Complaint In Plum

Apr 2, 2019
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

The state Department of Environmental Protection is investigating what could be the first case of water well contamination from natural gas drilling in Allegheny County since the fracking boom began in Pennsylvania.

The case began shortly after a company drilled and fracked the Midas well in Plum Borough last year. It was the first unconventional shale gas well project ever in the borough.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

The public will have a chance to weigh in on the future of Hays Woods at a community meeting Wednesday evening, as efforts are underway to turn the parcel into Pittsburgh's largest city park.

Hays Woods is about 650 acres, and runs along the Monongahela River between the South Side and Homestead. It's home to Pittsburgh's only nesting pair of bald eagles, as well as lots of trees and streams.

Poll Shows Pennsylvanians' Concerns About Climate Change Are Increasing

Apr 2, 2019
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvanians are growing increasingly concerned about climate change and want the state to do more to address it, according to a new poll conducted by Franklin & Marshall College in partnership with PA Post.

Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Allegheny County Health Department has fined U.S. Steel $700,000 for ongoing emissions problems at its coke-making plant in Clairton near Pittsburgh.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale continued his climate change public hearing tour Thursday with a stop at Point Park University in Pittsburgh.

Proposal To Drill At U.S. Steel Site Near Pittsburgh Prompts Contentious Hearing

Mar 28, 2019
Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

At hearing Wednesday night on a proposal to drill for natural gas at a U.S. Steel facility in the eastern Pittsburgh suburbs, dozens of residents and environmentalists lined up to speak out against the plan, as well as grill state officials and company representatives with questions.

40 Years After A Partial Nuclear Meltdown, A New Push To Keep Three Mile Island Open

Mar 28, 2019

Forty years ago, the most serious nuclear accident in U.S. history sparked a backlash against the industry and halted its growth for decades. Today, the remaining working reactor at Three Mile Island, Unit 1, faces new challenges, including cheaper competition in a rapidly shifting energy grid. Unit 1 at the plant, near Harrisburg, Pa., is slated to close later this year.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

According to a new report by the advocacy group PennEnvironment, schools in the commonwealth are not required to test for lead -- it's recommended, but schools can skirt around the issue by holding a public meeting on lead. If a school does test, it's not required to share those results with parents. 

State Investigating Potential Cancer Cluster In Washington County

Mar 26, 2019

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is looking into whether there is a cancer cluster in a Washington County school district.

Curbside Glass Recycling May Become A Thing Of The Past

Mar 21, 2019

In some western Pennsylvania communities, glass is no longer being collected curbside with cans and paper as part of residential recycling programs. So a statewide environmental group is offering a solution.

Joanne Cassaro / WITF

The nuclear watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert is asking federal regulators to analyze what the group calls a “potentially dangerous and risky condition” with new steam generator tubes at Exelon’s Three Mile Island power plant near Harrisburg.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The partial meltdown of one of Three Mile Island’s nuclear reactors 40 years ago this month left areas of the facility highly radioactive and inaccessible to humans.

Along came a group of young researchers with an idea to send in robots to fix the damage.

Red Whittaker led the team at Carnegie Mellon University, where from time to time he still works on robots for the nuclear industry.

Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

After U.S. Steel said repairs at Clairton Coke Works are a month ahead of schedule, the Allegheny County Health Department on Tuesday revised an order against the company that required it to significantly curb emissions from its Mon Valley Works facilities.

Jon Hurdle / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's attorney general is opening an investigation into a $2.5 billion natural gas liquids pipeline across southern Pennsylvania that's been plagued by spills of drilling fluid and improper construction methods.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said on Twitter on Tuesday that his office is taking the investigation into the Mariner East 2 pipeline on a referral from Delaware County's district attorney.

The pipeline has been operating for just over two months and is owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer.

State Reaches $7M Agreement Over 1,400 Abandoned Oil And Gas Wells

Mar 12, 2019
Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced it reached an agreement with an Alabama company over the costs of plugging 1,400 abandoned conventional oil and gas wells in the state.

Chester County Pipeline Builder Now The Target Of Grand Jury Investigation

Mar 6, 2019
Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Energy Transfer, parent company of Sunoco Logistics and builder of the Mariner East natural gas liquids pipelines, is the target of a Chester County grand jury investigation.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

State environmental officials have levied a $1.5 million fine against a natural gas pipeline company for problems at a construction site in Greene County.

U.S. Steel Appeals Order To Lower Its Sulfur Emissions

Mar 2, 2019
Reid Frazier / StateImpact PA

US Steel is appealing an order from the Allegheny County Health Department to curb sulfur dioxide emissions at several of its Pittsburgh-area facilities, after a Christmas Eve fire damaged pollution controls at its Clairton Coke Works.

Since the fire, emissions of sulfur dioxide from US Steel’s facilities in Clairton, Braddock, and West Mifflin have ballooned to five times the amount normally allowed under their county air pollution permits.

Reid R. Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Allegheny County Health Department is requiring U.S. Steel to curb sulfur dioxide emissions at several Pittsburgh-area facilities following a December fire that damaged pollution control equipment at its plant in Clairton.

Ash Loggers Race Against Time Before Beetles Get Them All

Feb 28, 2019
Michael Hill / AP

Loggers in snowy forests are cutting down ash like there's no tomorrow, seeking to stay one step ahead of a fast-spreading beetle killing the tree in dozens of states.

Energy Transfer CEO: 'We've Made Mistakes' In Building Mariner East

Feb 27, 2019
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Sunoco’s parent company admitted it made mistakes in building the Mariner East pipelines through Pennsylvania, and told investors that it will do better in future, but its assurances failed to persuade critics that the project will become any safer for the public or more protective of the environment.

UPDATE: PWSA lifted the flush and boil water advisory for the western neighborhoods on Saturday, March 2, 2019.

Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority issued a precautionary boil water advisory for parts of the Duquesne Heights, Elliott, Ridgemont, West End and Mount Washington neighborhoods. The advisory came after PWSA reported a water main break in Duquesne Heights this afternoon. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Allegheny County Health Department has been criticized in community meetings and at a state legislative policy hearing for a lack of communication in the first several days after a Christmas Eve fire at Clairton Coke Works. How can outreach improve, what’s being done to repair the plant, and how can Pittsburghers protect themselves from emissions?