Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Reid Frazier

Reporter

Reid R. Frazier is a public radio producer and writer focused on energy. Since 2011, he has covered energy and environment for the Allegheny Front, a public radio environmental news show in Western Pennsylvania. His work has aired on NPR and Marketplace.

Trump administration coal plan could have big impact on Pennsylvania

The Elrama Power Plant near Pittsburgh was closed in 2012. Photo: Reid R. Frazier

The Elrama Power Plant near Pittsburgh was closed in 2012. Photo: Reid R. Frazier

The Trump administration’s plan to prop up money-losing coal and nuclear plants could have a big impact on how Pennsylvanians get their electricity. Federal regulators will now decide what to do with it.

The Department of Energy has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to act on its proposed “Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule.” The plan would likely help a few energy companies in the mid-Atlantic, but it would just as likely make ratepayers in the region pay more for their electricity. State utility commissions, grid operators, and the oil and gas and renewables industries have all voiced opposition.

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Pennsylvania, other states sue EPA for missing ozone deadline

Clairton Coke Works, near Pittsburgh. Photo: Reid R. Frazier

Clairton Coke Works, near Pittsburgh. Photo: Reid R. Frazier

Pennsylvania is one of more than a dozen states suing the EPA for failing to enforce on an important air pollution regulation.

In a federal lawsuit filed Monday, Pennsylvania and 13 other states, plus the District of Columbia, say the EPA blew by an October 1 deadline to designate which parts of the country are failing to meet recently tightened federal standards for ozone, or ground level smog.

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Well pad fire in Somerset County prompts evacuation of nearby residents

Berlin Fire Department and ambulance on the scene of a gaswell fire near Menhorn Farm on East Mud Pike. Photo: Michelle Ganassi / Daily American

Berlin Fire Department and ambulance on the scene of a gaswell fire near Menhorn Farm on East Mud Pike. Photo: Michelle Ganassi / Daily American

Some Somerset County residents were evacuated Thursday morning after firefighters responded to a fire on a natural gas well pad.

There were no injuries. Flames and odors of gas were first reported to authorities shortly before 9 a.m., according to a Somerset County 911 incident report.

The Tribune Review cited emergency dispatchers who said several residences were evacuated as a precaution. Continue Reading

Fire on natural gas well pad in West Virginia quickly extinguished; none hurt


A piece of equipment on a natural gas well pad in northern West Virginia caught fire Wednesday, officials said. At the time of the fire, no one was on the pad, which has produced gas for several years, and there were no injuries.

The blaze was five or six feet high when firefighters arrived, said Tom Hart, director of Emergency Management for Marshall County. The fire was put out when workers for Pittsburgh-based EQT, which operates the well, shut the gas flow.

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Buoyed by Trump, Some Miners Are Sticking with Coal

A miner training program run by GMS Mine Repair & Maintenance, a coal mining contractor, in Waynesburg, Pa. Photo: Reid R. Frazier

A miner training program run by GMS Mine Repair & Maintenance, a coal mining contractor, in Waynesburg, Pa. Photo: Reid R. Frazier

At a gymnasium in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, Trenton Phillips is looking for a job as a coal miner.

Phillips already works at a company that fixes belt lines at coal mines. He’s at a job fair in Greene County today. He passes booths for health care and trucking jobs. He stops only at a booth for a coal mine contractor. He wants to become a mine foreman or supervisor.

“I’m currently looking for something where I can advance. Maybe one day be somewhere higher up, not have to break my back and use my head a little more,” says Phillips. Continue Reading

Lycoming County Waste Water Spill Tops 63,000 Gallons

In this Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014 photo, a fracking wastewater storage facility sits just outside the city limits of Reno, Texas. With real-time monitors, scientists have linked a swarm of small earthquakes west of Fort Worth, Texas, to nearby natural gas wells and wastewater injection. In 84 days from November 2013 to January 2014, this area shook with 27 magnitude 2 or greater earthquakes.

LM Otero / AP Photo

In this Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014 photo, a fracking wastewater storage facility sits just outside the city limits of Reno, Texas. With real-time monitors, scientists have linked a swarm of small earthquakes west of Fort Worth, Texas, to nearby natural gas wells and wastewater injection. In 84 days from November 2013 to January 2014, this area shook with 27 magnitude 2 or greater earthquakes.

More than 63,000 gallons of natural gas drilling waste spilled into an unnamed tributary of the Loyalsock Creek this week from a well site in Lycoming County.

The spill occurred at a well operated by Colorado-based Inflection Energy, in Eldred Township, about 10 miles north of Williamsport.

Neil Shader, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said state investigators don’t believe the spill will threaten public drinking water supplies, even though some drilling waste did reach a small stream.

“The sampling analysis did not show any signs of the fluid in Loyalsock Creek itself, so it hadn’t reached the main channel,” Shader said. Continue Reading

Group Challenging Drilling Law in Pittsburgh Suburb 

A natural gas well behind a house in southwestern Pennsylvania.

courtesy of FracTracker Alliance

A natural gas well behind a house in southwestern Pennsylvania.

A group of residents in Westmoreland County hopes a judge will halt expansion of gas drilling in their township, and will throw out a zoning ordinance that allows drilling in most of the community.

Protect PT’s lawsuit against Penn Township’s Zoning Hearing Board is scheduled for county court in January. For now, a judge has issued a partial injunction against a drilling company. Apex Energy is allowed to build a well pad in the township, but can’t drill or frack for natural gas on it while the case works its way through the courts.

It’s the latest in a series of fracking-related battles in which a 1970s-era environmental rights constitutional amendment is playing a central role.

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Activists: Clean up Coke Plant

US Steel's Clairton Coke Works. Photo: Reid R. Frazier

US Steel's Clairton Coke Works. Photo: Reid R. Frazier

A group of activists demanded Allegheny County health officials rein in air pollution from the largest coke plant in North America. The Clairton Coke Works is one of the biggest pollution sources in Western Pennsylvania. The Allegheny County Health Department determined the plant violated the terms of its air permits 6,700 times over a 3 ½ year period.

The long record of violations drew a crowd of activists to a meeting at the health department Wednesday, where several told the agency to clean the plant up. Continue Reading

Enviro Group Hires New CEO

Jacquelyn Bonomo, CEO of PennFuture. Image: PennFuture

Jacquelyn Bonomo, CEO of PennFuture. Image: PennFuture

Pennsylvania’s biggest environmental group is getting a new CEO.

Jacquelyn Bonomo is succeeding Larry Schweiger as the leader of PennFuture. Schweiger is retiring.

Bonomo has been the organization’s executive vice president and COO for the past two years, and has spent more than three decades working in environmental advocacy.  Continue Reading

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