University of Michigan librarian Justin Schell works on downloading scientific data as part of the Data Refuge hackathon at the University of Pennsylvania, January 14, 2017.
With every new administration, government held information disappears. Digital archivists know this. They’ve worked in the past to preserve Bush Administration data when Obama was elected. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of budget priorities. Funds no longer exist to keep up a website. But with the incoming Trump administration, some scientists worry key environmental research will go missing because of political reasons. So researchers from across the country and Canada gathered in Philadelphia last weekend to copy key data.
On Wednesday PennAg Industries and Sunoco Logistics unveiled a new online training tool designed to raise awareness about threats like the avian flu.
Pennsylvania’s natural gas pipeline building boom is happening mostly in rural areas, which is one of the reasons representatives from the oil and gas industry were at the 101st Farm Show in Harrisburg this week.
They kept a relatively low profile though, and tried connect with farmers– about issues ranging from eminent domain, to stopping the spread of the avian flu. Two forums were held, and although they took place inside the Farm Show complex, they were sparsely attended and neither appeared on the official schedule.
The idea behind the “Philadelphia energy hub” is to revive the region’s once-thriving manufacturing scene using Marcellus Shale natural gas. It’s proven to be easier said than done, and may be a plan that’s unlikely to materialize with the departure of its chief visionary.
A hydraulic fracturing site in Susquehanna County, Pa. The central missile of the fracking operation connects 16 compression generators, water, sand, and other fluids before entering the well.
The EPA says its fracking study, published this month, is the most comprehensive look so far at all the science available on whether or not fracking pollutes drinking water. Critics have pointed to a lack of data in the report, which led to limitations in the agency’s conclusion that fracking “impacts drinking water under some circumstances.” The EPA’s science advisor Tom Burke says the gaps in data represent the “state of the science.”
“The identification of data gaps is actually an important contribution to the science and not a failure,” said Burke.
“We are really just beginning to understand fracking,” he said. ”And there are not really a lot of reports about what’s going on during the fracking process. For instance, basic information about where are the wells? The location of the wells.”
Burke says that in addition to lack of information about all the shale gas wells, there is a lack of information about locations of groundwater aquifers, and the quality of the water.
Two DEP advisory committees brainstormed ways to improve public outreach Wednesday, after ignoring a question from a concerned citizen.
Under Governor Tom Wolf, the state Department of Environmental Protection pledged to renew its focus on environmental justice. The idea is to protect marginalized communities, such as minorities and people in poverty, who often bear the brunt of industrial development.
However, in a bizarre episode at a public meeting in Harrisburg Wednesday, two DEP advisory panels, including one specifically tasked with environmental justice, ignored a concerned citizen from a low-income area who had driven hundreds of miles to attend the meeting, and instead engaged in a lengthy discussion about improving public outreach.
A natural gas rig in Washington, Pa. A 2012 law created the gas impact fees to mitigate the negative consequences of drilling to communities, but state auditors say millions of dollars where spent improperly.
Pennsylvania counties and municipalities mishandled millions of dollars meant to offset the negative effects of the Marcellus Shale gas boom, according to a report published Tuesday by the state Auditor General.
In one notable example, auditors say North Strabane Township, Washington County, spent $32,602 on recreational events and parties– including $7,500 on fireworks, $1,200 for a performance by former American Idol contestant Adam Brock, and $4,250 on inflatable party rentals.
“I’m pro-people having fun at the holidays,” says state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (D), “But the impact fee was used for a bouncy house. Come on, that’s crazy.”
Moravian College dean Diane Husic (C), with Drexel University professor Franco Montalto (third from right) sit with a group of students and professors from Pennsylvania universities under a tent at the climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Nov. 17, 2016. Although all were disappointed by the election of Donald Trump, they say the conference has inspired them to work even harder on climate change issues.
The climate change conference in Morrocco ended over the weekend with an urgent message to president-elect Donald Trump – join the battle against global warming or risk contributing to catastrophe and moral failure. About 25,000 people attended the gathering aimed at keeping the earth from over-heating, and staving off the impacts like rising seas, droughts and increasingly destructive storms.
When Moravian College professor Diane Husic woke up the morning after election day in Marrakech, she headed to the United Nations climate change conference with a cloud over her head.
“We came in and it didn’t matter what country you were from,” said Husic, “this place was just in a fog. And everyone was coming up to us and saying, ‘did you vote for Donald Trump and what is that going to mean for us?’ I think most of us on Wednesday were in shock and didn’t know what to say.”
Husic is a veteran of these climate change conferences, she’s been bringing students here since 2009.
But she never expected that a man who called climate change a “Chinese hoax” and vowed to pull the U.S. out of the landmark climate agreement etched out in Paris last year, would be leading the country. Continue Reading →
Participants at the COP22 climate conference stage a public show of support for climate negotiations and Paris agreement, on the last day of the conference, in Marrakech, Morocco, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016.
A gathering of about 200 nations working to combat climate change wrapped up on Friday in Morocco with a call to U.S. president-elect Donald Trump to join the fight against global warming. Trump’s election shocked delegates and activists assembled in Marrakech for two weeks of talks. Trump has said he would pull the U.S. out of the international climate treaty negotiated in Paris last year.
The election raises questions about the staying power of the Paris Agreement, hammered out at last year’s conference. After decades of failure, the climate accord negotiated last year and ratified earlier this month, was seen as an historic achievement. Finally, the nations of the world had come together to help lessen the growing impacts of climate change – melting glaciers, rising seas, drought, and devastating storms.
With the role of the federal government in doubt, some see American cities and states serving as a place-holder for U.S. participation.
Marrakech was billed as the climate conference of action. But the election of Donald Trump turned the rock-star U-S climate delegation into lame ducks.
The U.N.'s annual climate conference began just as Republican Donald Trump was elected president. Trump said he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement.
It’s hard to find a corner of the globe where the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the U.S. presidential election aren’t reverberating. They’re certainly being felt this week in Marrakesh, Morocco, where negotiators from around the world are now gathered for the COP22 United Nations climate conference to hash out the details of the Paris Climate Agreement.
The 2015 accord, which was recently ratified by enough countries to become a binding international agreement, is the latest global effort to cut carbon emissions and stave off the worst impacts of climate change.
The Allegheny Front’s Kara Holsopple spoke to StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Susan Phillips about the post-election mood in Marrakech.
Q: Susan, has president-elect Trump’s win cast a shadow on what’s happening there because he’s said he won’t honor the Paris agreement that the U.S. signed?
A: Absolutely Kara, there’s shock and trepidation about what’s going to happen to this global climate agreement and what role the U.S. will play. Remember—this is the first U.N. climate talks where there was an actual agreement. One hundred countries signed onto this and it was ratified before anyone expected it to be, so there was a lot of optimism here. Now, a lot of folks are trying to put a positive spin on this by saying the business environment is going toward investment in renewables. If you look at the fact that coal is still a lot more expensive than natural gas and that has nothing to do with anything being negotiated at this climate change conference, that’s the result of the global situation with shale gas being so cheap. So they’re hoping that despite Trump’s reluctance to even say human-caused climate change exists, they’re still hopeful they can push for a new energy future that has less fossil fuel and more renewables.
Q: Can the U.S. back out of the Paris agreement now?
A: Officially, it would take them four years. There’s nothing really in the agreement to hold them to their pledges anyway, so Trump could easily ignore whatever Obama pledged. And he could also appoint a Supreme Court justice who could overturn the Clean Power Plan.
President-elect Donald Trump pumps his fist during an election night rally Wednesday in New York.
Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry could see more output, fewer environmental restrictions, and more pipelines to take its products to market, while its embattled coal industry may also get more help, following the stunning victory of Donald Trump in the presidential election, analysts said Wednesday.
The state’s efforts to comply with the federal Clean Power Plan on power-plant emissions may be unneeded under President Trump, who has called climate change a Chinese hoax and pledged to scrap the Obama administration’s signature environmental initiative.
And with its vast reserves of natural gas and coal, Pennsylvania could become a national testing ground for the implementation of Trump’s campaign promise to “unleash” U.S. energy reserves.