For the last 10 years, a mystery has been unfolding in the Susquehanna River watershed.
Young smallmouth bass have been found with open sores and lesions. Many of the male fish that make it to adulthood have female sexual characteristics. The smallmouth bass population has dropped, threatening the state’s $3.4 billion recreational fishing industry.
What’s causing these strange symptoms? StateImpact Pennsylvania spoke with some of the detectives on the case and some people who are impatient with how long it’s taking to solve it.
Most of the noise created by natural gas development is temporary. After drilling and fracking, the workers and equipment are gone. A gas well in production is pretty quiet; it’s basically just a bunch of pipes in the ground.
But compressor stations can stay noisy for years– even decades. The facilities are necessary to process and transport gas through pipelines. When it comes to noise regulations, they’re governed by a patchwork of local, state, and federal rules.
This summer the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), which manages public forest land, is trying to get a handle on how these persistently noisy places affect both people and wildlife.
The agency launched a pilot study to analyze the components of compressor station sound. It’s aimed at figuring out which parts of the noise are the most irritating.
Note: This story is from The Allegheny Front, a public radio program covering environmental issues in Western Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held hearings today in Pittsburgh on a proposed rule to slash greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The plan is up against serious opposition from the coal industry, but environmental groups say it doesn’t go far enough.
Competing rallies for and against the EPA’s proposed carbon rules crossed paths in Downtown Pittsburgh today.
“No planet, no jobs!” shouted those who supported the EPA proposal.
“U-M-W-A!” chanted the United Mineworkers of America and their supporters.
Mark Sunyak, 54, of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, is a retired mineworker who came to protest the rule. He said it threatened his community.
“Our jobs, our security, our families,” Sunyak said when asked why he was there. “I’m a recent retiree, my benefits may be in jeopardy.”
About three-quarters of all carbon dioxide emissions in the power sector come from burning coal. The EPA is trying to cut emissions from electric power plants by 30 percent of 2005 levels by the year 2030. The EPA’s own analysis shows that under the plan, coal production in Appalachia would decline. But it said other energy sectors would grow, and the overall economy would benefit.
Inside the hearings, the voices of coal were evident. Cindy Frich, a state legislator from Morgantown, West Virginia, was one of them.
“I have to admit I feel these rules are existential threat to my state,” Frich said. “We’re already having problems with our state budget. I really see problems ahead if these rules are implemented.”