The Allegheny Front
Every week, our 29-minute podcast brings you all the environmental news and stories to keep you in the know in Pennsylvania and beyond.
info_outline Episode for February 16, 2024 02/16/2024
Episode for February 16, 2024 We break down all the air quality news from the last few weeks: a new soot rule, a landmark settlement with U.S. Steel over a 2018 fire, and the EPA's rejection of the company's air permit. We'll also hear about how future methane-spewing blowouts from gas storage facilities could happen because of design flaws in the wells. Plus, the search for an endangered flying squirrel in Pennsylvania. We have news about a new effort to bring in federal clean energy funds to the Pittsburgh region, outdoor recreation in Pa., funds to clean up coal mine pollution and more.
info_outline Episode for February 9, 2024 02/09/2024
Episode for February 9, 2024 Some residents of East Palestine want the EPA to test for contamination in their homes, but the EPA says it won’t. We ask why not. Our reporters discuss what they learned in our investigation into the public health and environmental response to the disaster and what they will keep their eyes on in the coming months. Plus, how worried should we be about the health impacts of toxic PFAS chemicals in our bodies? News about EPA's new air pollution rule, DEP's request that frackers disclose their chemicals, and proposed money for an energy efficiency program.
info_outline Episode for February 2, 2024 02/02/2024
Episode for February 2, 2024 After last year's train derailment in East Palestine, a local stream remains contaminated. We'll examine why residents living about the polluted water are still concerned. We talk with a Pennsylvania resident just over the Ohio border who decided not to live full-time in her home. We find out what led to her decision and how she became an activist pushing for answers. And, people in East Palestine feel like the derailment fractured their community - they disagree about politics, the environment and health impacts. Plus, a study of East Palestine residents' health and Pennsylvania's River of the Year.
info_outline Episode for January 26, 2024 01/26/2024
Episode for January 26, 2024 East Palestine, Ohio, is not the same place it was a year ago. Last February, a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials derailed there, near the Pennsylvania border, close to people's homes and businesses. Then, a few days later, 900,000 lbs of vinyl chloride was intentionally vented from 5 railcars and burned, leading to an explosion and a dark plume seen for miles around. Over the next three weeks, we'll explore what happened and what the fallout has been for residents. First, we hear from a mother who evacuated the town with her son, who was experiencing horrific symptoms, and why they haven't gone back. We examine the decision by health officials not to test residents for chemical exposure. We'll also hear from a researcher who thinks environmental regulators were too hasty in their assessment that the town was safe. And finally, we visit businesses trying to keep their shops open, some more successfully than others.
info_outline Episode for January 19, 2024 01/19/2024
Episode for January 19, 2024 Since the East Palestine train derailment, local fire companies and first responders are looking at their own resources and training, and how they can prepare for the next derailment or environmental disaster. A new study looks at whether fossil fuel workers have the right skills and live in the right places for future clean energy jobs. Plus, a new study identifies hundreds of chemicals in everday products that increase breast cancer risk. We have news about Philadelphia's renewable energy goals, Norfolk Southern's progress, Future Farmers of America and solar jobs.
info_outline Episode for January 12, 2024 01/12/2024
Episode for January 12, 2024 Sometimes a highway map or an app isn’t detailed enough for outdoor explorers. So, a State College company created a new map featuring Pennsylvania's parks, forests, and hiking trails. Also, it's the final week of voting for Pennsylvania's River of the Year. We'll learn more about the Allegheny, Youghiogheny and Lackawaxen rivers. Plus, a dance troupe in Reading, Pa. is trying to do their part to improve a riverside park that has an uncertain future. News about Pennsylvania solar energy milestone, a $2 million fine for U.S. Steel's Clairton Coke Works, clean school buses, new PFAS rules and jobs in the outdoors.
info_outline Episode for January 5, 2024 01/05/2024
Episode for January 5, 2024 New federal rules for hydrogen projects aim to ensure tax credits go to clean hydrogen production, but some Pennsylvania lawmakers aren’t happy. We’ll also hear about how railway workers and safety advocates are pushing for new solutions to prevent derailments like the one in East Palestine, Ohio. Plus, to help injured birds recover, a sanctuary is building natural habitats with plant waste from a nearby botanical garden. We have news about a Pennsylvania bill to increase the renewable energy standard, new federal methane rules, low natural gas impact fees and two tick studies.
info_outline Episode for December 29, 2023 12/29/2023
Episode for December 29, 2023 This week on The Allegheny Front, a look back at stories from 2023. We'll revisit a story about how people in East Palestine, Ohio are working through their anxiety with few mental health resources available after the Norfolk Southern train derailment. Hydrogen was a big energy transition story in 2023. After the announcement that Pennsylvania will have a part in two hydrogen hubs meant to reduce carbon emissions, we asked what's next? And in considering the energy transition, what about the people left behind in communities after fossil fuel plants shut down? We visited a community in Ohio where a coal-fired power plant closed, and people gathered to memorialize what it meant to the community.
info_outline Episode for December 22, 2023 12/22/2023
Episode for December 22, 2023 Plants can make music, with a little help from a device that captures electric impulses. This week, we'll hear some of the beautiful music they can make. We'll also learn about an urban farmer who created a children’s book about how a tomato plant grows. She worked with a group of little kids to do it. Plus, an author revisits the Youghiogheny River of his youth to find some changes for the better.
info_outline Episode for December 15, 2023 12/15/2023
Episode for December 15, 2023 For the first time, health was a focus at the UN climate conference and advocates were pleased. We'll also learn how climate-related weather like flash floods and extreme heat impact people experiencing homelessness. Plus, people who live near a proposed campground at a state park are circulating a petition to stop the plan. We have news about whitewater recreation in Clearfield County, combating a deadly insect threatening hemlocks in the Allegheny National Forest and how you can vote for Pa.'s 2024 River of the Year.
info_outline Episode for December 8, 2023 12/08/2023
Episode for December 8, 2023 As the timeline for meaningful action on reducing carbon emissions grows shorter, how is the transition to cleaner forms of energy going? And as climate change creates more intense storms, Pennsylvania wants to make it easier for more residents to buy flood insurance. Plus, a look at some state and federal actions that might finally help reduce kids’ exposure to lead in water. We also have news about the electric grid in the Mid-Atlantic, a solar project in Adams County, polluted streams in Pittsburgh and fracking in Ohio state parks.
info_outline Episode for December 1, 2023 12/01/2023
Episode for December 1, 2023 Governor Josh Shapiro is appealing a court decision that stopped Pennsylania from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. We'll find out why and what it means for climate action. As more solar projects are planned in rural areas, farmers are signing their sheep up for something called solar grazing. Plus, environmental activists from the Gulf Coast met up with anti-fracking activists in Appalachia to strategize and build solidarity. We have news about COP28 climate talks, calls for more radon testing in Pa., hydrogen, fracking and more.
info_outline Episode for November 24, 2023 11/21/2023
Episode for November 24, 2023 It's Thanksgiving week, our favorite holiday at The Allegheny Front. (Well, one of them at least). This week, we give you tips for not creating the food waste that is cooking the planet and tell you about a pilot program that hopes to bring composting to Centre County. We also visit with the foragers and farmers who help make Pennsylvania the largest mushroom producer in the United States. And, we take a trip to a glacial deposit where bears feast on wild cranberries. We have news about a bill to address lead in school water fountains and a new historical sign that marks Penn State's agricultural roots.
info_outline Episode for November 17, 2023 11/17/2023
Episode for November 17, 2023 For years, residents in Westmoreland County complained about a hazardous waste landfill. Now, federal investigators say it may be breaking several laws. Plus, despite dozens of protestors, an Ohio commission approved fracking in state parks and wildlife areas. We also revisit an interview with Tykee James, a leader in equitable access to outdoor spaces. Plus, a story about a Pennsylvania couple who visited all 124 of Pa.'s state parks. We have news about the National Climate Assessment, the one-year anniversary of Shell's cracker plant opening, federal money for environmental justice projects, and a milestone in land conservation in Pennsylvania.
info_outline Episode for November 10, 2023 11/10/2023
Episode for November 10, 2023 Environmental groups protested outside of a coal and steel conference in Pittsburgh this week. We visit the first farm in Allegheny County to take advantage of a rule change that allows small farms to be preserved. A newly renovated passive house in State College promotes sustainability, energy efficiency and affordability. We also hear about the movement among churches in Pennsylvania to help solve the climate crisis. Plus, we have advice on how to reduce carbon emissions at home. We also have news about a wildfire in the Allegheny National Forest, a liquified natural gas export facility and polluting lawn equipment.
info_outline Episode for November 3, 2023 11/03/2023
Episode for November 3, 2023 U.S. Steel unveiled two battery-powered locomotives it will use at its plants outside of Pittsburgh. It’s a small step to reduce the carbon footprint of one of the top greenhouse gas polluters in Pa. We’ll also hear about the legacy of the first lawsuit against the makers of the weedkiller Roundup, alleging it caused cancer, and why toxic pesticides are still on the market. Plus, what the auto workers’ strike and tentative agreement with American carmakers have to do with the transition to electric vehicles. News about a voluntary agreement between gas driller CNX and DEP to monitor air and other measures, a canceled offshore wind project, and a court decision that prohibits Pennsylvania from joining a carbon trading program to reduce power plant emissions.
info_outline Episode for October27, 2023 10/27/2023
Episode for October27, 2023 The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is looking to educate the public about the problems invasive plants cause to local ecosystems and why using native species in gardens and yards is so important. We talk with Fernando Treviño, DEP's head of environmental justice, who says he wants impacted communities to have "a real voice and [be] part of the process from the beginning." Plus, we talk with Sandra Steingraber, lead author on the latest edition of a compendium of peer-reviewed scientific literature and other reports that show health risks associated with fracking. We have news about new federal money to make the electric grid climate-ready, state money to convert lawns to meadows, and an agricultural fair for kids in Allentown.
info_outline Episode for October 20, 2023 10/20/2023
Episode for October 20, 2023 Insurance premiums could rise as more severe storms cause downed trees and dump water on Pennsylvania. We’ll also hear about a series of public meetings to learn about the health impacts of the February train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. Plus, we take a closer at the news that Pa. will get parts of two federally-backed hydrogen hubs. We have news about federal funds for improving the tree canopy in the Pittsburgh area, capping off old oil and gas wells and supporting green manufacturing. Plus, a amid news that Pa. is among the worst for renewable energy development.
info_outline Episode for October 13, 2023 10/12/2023
Episode for October 13, 2023 Eight months after the train derailment and toxic chemical spill, some residents of East Palestine are still living away from home because they fear for their health. We'll also hear how deer are grazing on young trees and native plants in Pittsburgh's parks. Plus, tiny freshwater jellyfish have been living in the Great Lakes for a century. So why don't we know more about them? We have news about the selection of two hydrogen hubs for Pennsylvania, an injection well in Fayette County, a new hellbender license plate and more.
info_outline Episode for October 6, 2023 10/06/2023
Episode for October 6, 2023 A group of doctors at UPMC pushed the Pittsburgh hospital system to do things like reduce waste and switch chemicals. Now the effort is gaining momentum. We’ll also talk with climatologist Michael E. Mann about his new book that looks back millions of years into Earth’s history to help us survive the climate crisis. Plus, environmentalists trawl local waterways in search of little plastic pellets that could harm wildlife. We have news about a potential lawsuit over plastic pollution in the Ohio River, EPA’s rejection of parts of U.S. Steel’s air quality permit for the Clairton Coke Works, and climate activists in Harrisburg.
info_outline Episode for September 29, 2023 09/29/2023
Episode for September 29, 2023 A second injection well to dispose of fracking waste was approved in a Pittsburgh suburb, but many residents are unhappy with the decision. Also, a new study looks at how climate change has impacted poison ivy in Pennsylvania using museum specimens that date back to the 1840s. Plus, the Biden administration announced a new jobs program to tackle climate change. It’s based on a Depression-era program that changed the landscape across the country. We talk with climate activists who are biking across Pennsylvania to demand action. News about bowhunting in Pittsburgh’s parks, Pittsburgh’s plastic bag ban and Pennsylvania’s expanded monitoring plan for PFAS in waterways.
info_outline Episode for September 22, 2023 09/22/2023
Episode for September 22, 2023 At a contentious meeting, an Ohio commission delayed a vote to approve fracking under state parks. A production about fossil fuel extraction is headed to western Pennsylvania. “Ezell, Ballad of a Land Man” delves into the complex issues of fracking and belonging. We talk with its writer and a local advocate about why it resonates with our region. Plus, we head to an orchard in Mercer County using regenerative farming techniques like spreading manure from local goats. And we stop at the first-ever Pittsburgh County Fair celebrating urban farming. We have news about an updated environmental justice policy for Pennsylvania and a new paper shows that utilities and regulators will need to consider how home energy storage systems will affect the grid.
info_outline Episode for September 15, 2023 09/15/2023
Episode for September 15, 2023 Groups say proposals to use fracked natural gas to produce hydrogen in Western Pennsylvania pose health and climate risks. An investigation in Ohio alleges that many people whose names are on public comments in favor of fracking in state parks say they did not submit them. We'll also hear from an author who revisited the Youghiogheny River of his youth to find some changes for the better. Plus, the federal government wants to put the salamander mussel on the endangered species list. We revisit a story that joins researchers surveying the Allegheny River for the mudpuppy salamander that's critical for the mussel's survival. We have news about ticks, spotted lanternfly's risk to Pennsylvania forests, and the hellbender salamander.
info_outline Episode for September 8, 2023 09/08/2023
Episode for September 8, 2023 Invasive snails have gained a foothold in Pennsylvania, crowding out native species. We join a team surveying Lake Erie for mysterysnails. We talk to people dealing with the latest summer heat wave about their thoughts on climate change. And a new documentary takes a fresh look at the life and death of coal in Appalachia. Plus, we take a look at what’s next for Hays Woods, Pittsburgh’s newest city park. We have news about PFAS, Pennsylvania’s Trail of the Year, and spotted lanternflies in Pittsburgh.
info_outline Episode for September 1, 2023 09/01/2023
Episode for September 1, 2023 A new distillery in Northwestern Pennsylvania makes alcohol from sunflowers but also has an environmental education center and the world's longest bar made from a continuous piece of wood. We head to the Boundary Waters and Canoe Area Wilderness on Minnesota's border with Canda, where researchers and Indigenous leaders are reviving an age-old tradition of using fire to manage the land. We have news about a plan to bowhunt in two Pittsburgh parks to manage deer, a vote to create a climate action plan in Allegheny County, and criticism of a request to burn tires at a waste coal plant.
info_outline Episode for August 25, 2023 08/25/2023
Episode for August 25, 2023 Many people are paying stormwater fees on their utility bills, but don't really understand the projects they fund are helping to reduce pollution and flooding from storms. And, a new video series gives tips on combatting climate change through things we can control at home. Plus, finding ways to make a wedding more sustainable can feel overwhelming, but there are afforable ways to say "I do" to a greener wedding. News about the Chesapeake Bay, new electric vehicle charging stations coming to Pa., spotted lanternflies are decreasing in parts of the state, and why one borough is suspending its climate program.
info_outline Episode for August 18, 2023 08/18/2023
Episode for August 18, 2023 A recent study found children living near gas wells had an increased risk of developing a cancer called lymphoma, while people with asthma had a four to five times greater chance of having an asthma attack. One researcher calls the results “a bombshell.” We have reactions from parents and activists at a community meeting to address the health concerns. And, after dozens of malfunctions and 15 air quality violations at Shell's Beaver County ethane cracker, a new investigation looks at how well the Pennsylvania DEP is monitoring the massive facility and how the company reports incidents to the agency. Plus, a champion stone skipper who got his start on Lake Erie talks about his technique and his world record of 88 skips.
info_outline Episode for August 11, 2023 08/11/2023
Episode for August 11, 2023 The federal government is considering the creation of a marine sanctuary in the Pennsylvania portion of Lake Erie to help preserve shipwrecks, but it won’t stop recreation on the lake. We’ll also sort the facts from fiction when it comes to the concerns over solar panel installations. Plus, we’ll hear from the author of a new book on climate resilience who hopes to offer strategies to deal with the climate crisis so no one is left behind. News about solar on farms and schools, the cost of climate adaptation for Pa. municipalities, the price tag for a year without RGGI in Pennsylvania, and why more men are being exposed to harmful chemicals in personal care products.
info_outline Episode for August 4, 2023 08/04/2023
Episode for August 4, 2023 We head to Cumberland County, where hikers who make it to the halfway point on the Appalachian Trail are taking part in a tradition and friendly competition of eating a half gallon of ice cream. Also, we talk to experts about how global heatwaves this summer are directly tied to climate change. We'll also learn why Western Pennsylvania is critical to stopping the spread of raccoon rabies. Plus, we talk with a Pennsylvania photographer who won a national prize for capturing the image of a female Baltimore oriole collecting horsehair for her nest. News about the 6-month anniversary of the East Palestine train derailment, a new study showing health improvement after a coke plant closed in Allegheny County, and a fine for Sunoco for its Mariner East pipeline.
info_outline Episode for July 28, 2023 07/28/2023
Episode for July 28, 2023 We talk with scientists who discovered that a songbird rare in Pennsylvania is now breeding in the state. Plus, we explain why experts and community groups are calling for EPA to ban vinyl chloride, the chemical that was released and burned from train cars in the East Palestine derailment. And who is a relatively new air pollution rule in Allegheny County meant to protect? News about a $5 million settlement from Shell, heat islands in Philadelphia, wildfires in Pa., and natural gas drilling.