Energy. Environment. Economy.


Delaware River ports fight for market share as dredging project nears completion

Bigger ships and more cargo flowing through the ports of Philadelphia and South Jersey should mean more jobs and greater economic activity when the Delaware River deepening project is completed next year, but the benefits may not be a slam-dunk for the region as expected.

Fierce competition from other East Coast ports for an expected trade bonanza resulting from the widening of the Panama Canal means that the $392 million project to dredge another five feet of mud and rock from the bottom of the river near Philadelphia does not automatically mean that more ships will call at the local ports, experts said.

What’s more, environmentalists warn that the dredging project will harm the health of the river and will likely bring saltwater closer to Philadelphia’s drinking water intakes.

Even to reap the expected benefits of the long-delayed project – now six years into the dredging project and 24 years since its first funding was appropriated by Congress – ports on both sides of the river will have to play to their strengths. Continue Reading

Seven arrested at pipeline task force meeting

Seven people were arrested after they disrupted Governor Wolf's pipeline task force meeting in Harrisburg Wednesday.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Seven protesters were arrested after they disrupted Governor Wolf's pipeline task force meeting in Harrisburg Wednesday.

Seven people were arrested for disorderly conduct after they disrupted the final meeting of Governor Tom Wolf’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force in Harrisburg Wednesday.

The protesters shouted as they were escorted out of the meeting by Capitol Police:

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A coal plant cleans up in Indiana County

The Homer City Generating Station looms like a cathedral in the landscape of Indiana County, Pennsylvania. The plant can be seen for miles near the western foothills of the Allegheny Mountains.

Four years ago, Homer City—in operation since 1969—was faced with a choice: either clean up to comply with new EPA air rules or close its doors.

A Coal Plant Cleans Up In Indiana County from The Allegheny Front on Vimeo.


Changing Spaces: Williamsport housing stock strained by gas boom

Williamsport has a long history of using its natural resources. It was once the lumber capital of the world. But changing economics and deforestation led to the industry’s decline.

More recently the city saw an economic renaissance, thanks to the Marcellus Shale boom. But the ups and downs of drilling can make it difficult to make long term plans– particularly when it comes to housing. The influx of gas workers led to strains on the region’s housing supply, especially for low-income people and seniors.

StateImpact Pennsylvania partnered with Keystone Crossroads to examine the state’s changing spaces. See our segment below, and tune in for the full show on WITF-TV Sunday, November 15 at 6:00pm.

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Tune in to see Pennsylvania’s changing spaces

Pennsylvania’s rich natural resources and attractive river system have made it a hub of industry since its founding in the 1600′s. These industries’ boom-and-bust cycles spurred rapid growth in cities, then just as quickly left those spaces behind.

The Keystone Crossroads: Changing Spaces TV special explores communities reinventing themselves, using historic legacies or tapping new resources to stay relevant in the 21st century.

StateImpact Pennsylvania partnered with Keystone Crossroads to look at how the Marcellus Shale gas industry has affected housing in Williamsport. Tune in to see the full episode on WITF-TV Thursday, November 12 at 8:00pm.

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Pipeline opponent guilty of disorderly conduct for speech at public meeting

A Lancaster County woman has been found guilty of disorderly conduct for speaking out of turn at a public meeting. She was arrested in April for failing to follow special meeting rules, which permitted people to ask questions but barred them from making statements.

54-year-old Kim Kann is a Conestoga Township resident who has been a vocal opponent of the proposed Atlantic Sunrise interstate gas pipeline. During the meeting she got up to correct what she viewed as misstatements about a ballot initiative to study home rule. Opponents had been pushing for the measure in an effort to block the pipeline.

“I’m angry and kind of dismayed,” Kann says of her arrest and guilty verdict. “I felt like it was a politically-motivated overreaction.”

The entire meeting was posted on YouTube by Conestoga Township. Kann approaches the microphone approximately 1 hour, 19 minutes into the video. She speaks for less than two minutes before the police intervene:

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2014 countdown: A fatal fire & state accused of ignoring fracking complaints

Our countdown ends with the two most popular web stories of 2014*: A gas well fire in Greene County that claimed a young man’s life, and allegations from former state health workers that Pennsylvania ignored public complaints about gas drilling.

2. Natural gas well explodes in Greene County

A Chevron natural gas well in Greene County exploded February 11th, killing one worker and injuring another. The fire burned for five days before it was extinguished, however it took more than a week to find the remains of 27-year-old Ian McKee, a contract worker with Texas-based Cameron International.

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2014 countdown: Chesapeake Energy royalties & gas company controls public roads

Our end-of-year countdown continues with the third and fourth most popular web stories.* This time, they’re both video features. In fourth place is our story about people blocked from public roads and public forests by security guards working for a gas company.

Our third most popular web story is a follow-up with landowners who say gas drilling giant Chesapeake Energy is stealing from them. The company has been accused of underpaying gas royalties from its leaseholders in Pennsylvania and other states.

4. On public land, a gas company takes private control

StateImpact Pennsylvania documents people being harassed on public roads by security guards.

Update: The retiree profiled in this story, Bob Deering, is still thinking of moving because of the disturbances he deals with from nearby gas development. However, since this story was published, he has been able to travel more freely on the road to his home. The lawsuit mentioned (from the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation) is still pending in Commonwealth Court.


3. As fraud allegations mount against Chesapeake Energy, so does frustration

Most of the company’s Pennsylvania operations are in Bradford County. It’s a rural area stretching along the New York border; it has more Marcellus shale gas wells than any other part of the state. StateImpact Pennsylvania first talked with landowners there in June 2013. A year-and-a-half later, we went back.

Landowners complain Chesapeake is still cheating them and Harrisburg has done little to stop it.

Update: Chesapeake Energy’s royalty practices are currently the subject of inquires by the U.S. Department of Justice and Pennsylvania State Attorney General’s office. A controversial bill in Harrisburg aimed at limiting oil and gas companies from withholding royalty money for processing and transporting fees went virtually nowhere. It will be reintroduced in 2015. 


*The countdown is based on web traffic statistics to the StateImpact Pennsylvania site.

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