Pennsylvania

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Lawmaker asks Pa. attorney general to investigate pro-pipeline emails

The path to be taken by the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Huntingdon County. A state lawmaker says pipeline supporters may have used hacked email addresses in an attempt to build public support for the pipeline.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

The path to be taken by the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Huntingdon County. A state lawmaker says pipeline supporters may have used hacked email addresses in an attempt to show public support for the pipeline.

Hundreds of emails in support of the Mariner East 2 pipeline have been sent to the office of a state lawmaker in the names of individual residents, some of whom deny sending them.

State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, a Delaware County Democrat who has been an outspoken critic of the Sunoco Pipeline project, said Monday she has in the last three and a half weeks received about 400 copies of the same email which urges her to support the pipeline and to avoid any delays in its current construction.

By Monday afternoon, seven of the purported senders of the emails had told Krueger-Braneky’s staff that they have no knowledge of the messages that were sent in their names, and that they suspect their addresses were hacked.

In attempting to reply to the emails starting last Friday, Krueger-Braneky’s staff first found that 20 bounced back because the addresses were bad, and then found some of the recipients said they had never sent the emails in the first place. Continue Reading

Federal court rejects Constitution Pipeline’s lawsuit against NY

In this Thursday, Feb. 26 photo, a ribbon tied to a stake on Kernan family property marks the proposed path of the Constitution Pipeline in Harpersfield, N.Y. The developer of a 124-mile-long pipeline to bring Marcellus Shale gas from Pennsylvania to New York City and New England is using both carrot and stick to achieve its goals.

Mike Groll / AP Photo

FILE: In this Feb. 2015 photo, a ribbon tied to a stake on Kernan family property marks the proposed path of the Constitution Pipeline in Harpersfield, N.Y.

A federal appeals court ruled against the Constitution Pipeline Friday, in a challenge it brought against New York State’s denial of a water quality permit.

The decision is a major blow to the embattled project, which was planned to run 121 miles, carrying natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in northeastern Pennsylvania through New York State.

Last May the Constitution Pipeline sued to overturn the permit denial from New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, which halted the federally-approved project.

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PennEast foes say company is making false statements in bid for public support

Frenchtown residents protest the PennEast Pipeline.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Frenchtown residents protest the PennEast Pipeline. Opponents say the company is misleading the public about FERC's position.

Opponents of the proposed PennEast Pipeline are accusing its builders of making false statements about what the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has said about the project.

The PennEast website invites supporters to sign a form letter to FERC urging it to give final approval to the project on the basis that FERC has said the pipeline will deliver low-cost energy without doing significant environmental harm. The form letter also says that FERC has concluded that no other pipeline could meet projected demand.

“FERC has determined that the demand for the PennEast pipeline cannot be met by existing pipelines or other proposed pipelines,” the form letter says. Continue Reading

As pipelines alleviate natural gas glut, prices rise for producers in Northeast

Pipeline expansion projects have helped alleviate a supply glut in the Northeastern U.S.

Pipeline expansion projects have helped alleviate a supply glut in the Northeastern U.S.

The growing network of pipelines from the Marcellus and Utica Shales means natural gas producers in the region are starting to earn more money for their product, according to an analysis from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Daily natural gas spot prices at three regional hubs in the Northeast are still below the Henry Hub national benchmark price in Louisiana. At the end of last month, for example, the natural gas price at Dominion South, a trading at a hub near Pittsburgh, was at $1.85 per million British thermal units, which is about $1.00 lower than the Henry Hub price, but the difference has been narrowing, says the EIA.

The driver of the disparity has been the Northeast’s pipeline infrastructure, which has not kept pace with soaring natural gas production. The industry has long said these pipeline projects are needed alleviate the bottleneck, so gas can reach new customers within the U.S. and abroad. While the Henry Hub price serves as a national benchmark, Appalachian producers often complain they were receiving far less, due to the regional oversupply.

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PA environmental regulators to consider health limits for PFOA

In this June 15, 2016 file photo, a girl holds a sign during a news conference at the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y., calling for hearings on the state's handling of PFOA contamination in drinking water in Hoosick Falls. New York environmental regulators are looking statewide for potential sites of groundwater contamination from a cancer-causing chemical previously used to make Teflon and other products. The Department of Environmental Conservation sent formal surveys last week to more than 150 facilities that may have used PFOA. Surveys were also sent to scores of fire departments, airports and other facilities that may have used the related chemical PFOS in firefighting foam.

Mike Groll / AP Photo

In this June 15, 2016 file photo, a girl holds a sign during a news conference at the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y., calling for hearings on the state's handling of PFOA contamination in drinking water in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. Pennsylvania regulators decided to review whether the state's rules on PFOA levels in drinking water should exceed federal guidelines.

Pennsylvania’s Environmental Quality Board accepted a request to look at whether to set a health limit for the toxic chemical PFOA in drinking water, the board’s first such decision in its more than 40-year history.

The board voted unanimously on Tuesday to accept a petition by the environmental group Delaware Riverkeeper Network which asked it to set a maximum contaminant limit (MCL) for PFOA which has been linked to cancer, high cholesterol and developmental problems.

Although it’s uncertain whether the decision will lead to a formal investigation into the chemical, the Riverkeeper welcomed the vote as a historic step toward the first-ever MCL for a state that has so far adopted federal drinking water standards. Continue Reading

Trump revokes Obama order protecting infrastructure projects from climate impacts

This April 26, 2017 photo shows Jim O'Neill walking through a flooded street in front of his home in Manahawkin N.J. after a moderate storm. He lives in a low-lying area near the Jersey shore, and is often affected by back bay flooding, a type of recurring nuisance flooding that's affecting millions of Americans and which experts agree has not been as widely addressed as oceanfront flooding, in part because potential solutions are much more difficult.

Wayne Parry / AP Photo

This April 26, 2017 photo shows Jim O'Neill walking through a flooded street in front of his home in Manahawkin N.J. after a moderate storm. He lives in a low-lying area near the Jersey shore, and is often affected by back bay flooding that is expected to increas due to sea level rise. President Trump revoked rules that would have required federally funded infrastructure projects to take rising sea levels into account.

President Trump has rolled back rules aimed at protecting federal infrastructure projects from rising sea levels and dangerous storms caused by climate change. Trump announced the move on Tuesday, at a press conference touting plans to fast track the building of roads and bridges.

Just before engaging in a hostile exchange with reporters over the violence in Charlottesville, President Trump said the current environmental rules governing construction of federal infrastructure projects created delays and costs.

“This overregulated permitting process is a massive, self-inflicted wound on our country,” Trump said standing at a podium in Trump Tower in New York City. “It’s disgraceful. Denying our people much needed investments in their community.” Continue Reading

Dam removal helps American shad return after disappearing for centuries

Biologist Pat Hamilton holds a shad caught near the Warren Glen Dam on the Musconetcong River in Holland Township.

Courtesy of New Jersey Fish and Wildlife

Biologist Pat Hamilton holds a shad caught near the Warren Glen Dam on the Musconetcong River in Holland Township.The American shad is making an impressive come back to the Delaware River watershed.

For the first time in centuries, the American shad entered the Musconetcong River during its spring spawning migration upriver this year. The Musky, as it’s known to locals, is a tributary of the Delaware in Northwestern New Jersey. The Hughesville Dam, standing 18 feet tall and 150 feet wide, had blocked its way.

But with the dam demolished last September, the American shad, the largest of the herring family and an angler’s favorite, swam up the Musconetcong for the first time since colonial times.

“It tells quite a story that as soon as you remove a dam — at least on this river — the shad, the next opportunity, are right there,” said New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s principal biologist Pat Hamilton.

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Pollution buildup at dam could harm Chesapeake Bay cleanup

The Conowingo Dam

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Conowingo Dam

A decades-long effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, is showing signs of success. But scientists now say progress could be hindered by a hydroelectric dam, located on the Susquehanna River in northern Maryland.

The Conowingo Dam has been holding back pollution for nearly a century, but recent research shows it has filled up with sediment faster than expected.

“It’s now at a point where it’s essentially, effectively full,” says Bill Ball, director of the Chesapeake Research Consortium. “The capacity’s been reached.”

In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency imposed strict new pollution limits on state and local governments in the bay watershed to sharply curb nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment by 2025. It was believed the Conowingo Dam would continue trapping sediment until then.

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Environmental groups score legal win in longwall mining case

Inside a coal mine in Greene County, Pennsylvania.

Kim Paynter / Newsworks/WHYY

FILE photo: a coal mine in Greene County, Pennsylvania.

Two Pennsylvania environmental groups scored a legal victory in an ongoing challenge to the expansion of the Bailey Mine Complex, the largest underground coal mine in the U.S.

The state Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) sided with the Center for Coalfield Justice and the Pennsylvania chapter of the Sierra Club Tuesday, overturning a permit revision granted to coal company Consol by state environmental regulators in 2015.

The groups argued the state Department of Environmental Protection essentially gave Consol a pass to cause extensive damage to Polen Run, a stream flowing into Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County. The EHB agreed, and found it violated the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law and Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, known as the the environmental rights amendment.

“When the Department anticipates that the impacts from longwall mining are going to be so extensive that the only way to “fix” the anticipated damage to the stream is to essentially destroy the existing stream channel and streambanks and rebuild it from scratch, the Department’s decision … is unreasonable and contrary to the law,”Judge Steven Beckman writes. ”Polen Run as it existed prior to Consol’s longwall mining no longer exists.”

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Pipeline protesters walk out of DEP hearing, calling it a ‘sham’

Dozens of people walked out of a hearing on an air quality plan for the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Dozens of people walked out of a hearing on an air quality plan for the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline (ASP).

Dozens of people walked out of a Department of Environmental Protection hearing Monday in Lancaster County, while wearing surgical masks and accusing state regulators of failing to protect public health and safety.

The purpose of the hearing was to accept public comment on an air quality plan for the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline– a controversial interstate transmission line designed to link natural gas from northeastern Pennsylvania to markets along the eastern seaboard. The project is one of nearly a dozen major pipelines planned to move Marcellus Shale resources within the U.S. and abroad.

“We’re in a war for our clean air, our clean water, and our rights as landowners,” says Kim Kann of Conestoga. Williams, the company building the Atlantic Sunrise recently used eminent domain to condemn a portion of her property.

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