DEP to launch statewide listening tour in early 2017

By Marie Cusick

December 20, 2016

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection intends to launch a statewide listening tour early next year, focusing on environmental justice issues related to oil and gas development.

Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell says department staff plan to visit every corner of the state.

“We’re going into communities where we need to up our game on the public participation side of things,” he says. “To make sure they have information so they can meaningfully engage with us.”

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DEP unveils permit requirements to curb air pollution at gas sites

By Marie Cusick

December 8, 2016

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is taking steps to curb harmful air emissions from natural gas sites. At an advisory committee meeting Thursday, regulators unveiled new draft permit requirements.

“Shortly, we’ll be formally publishing the draft documents in the Pennsylvania Bulletin,” says Krishnan Ramamurthy, DEP’s acting Director for Air Quality. ”We’ll be opening it for a 45 day comment period for the public and industry.”

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Pa. environmental chief waiting to see what Trump administration will bring

State Impact

By Marie Cusick

December 15, 2016 

President-elect Donald Trump is solidifying his cabinet, and he appears poised to reverse of many of the Obama administration’s energy and environmental initiatives—including its signature climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan.

A lot of attention is now turning to how states and local governments will address climate change.

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Drones Take to the Skies to Screen for Methane Emissions

IEEE Spectrum

By Andrew Silver

December 14, 2016

When you think of greenhouse gas emissions, you might be thinking of carbon dioxide—but methane is another significant contributor to warming that’s on the rise. Sources include large grassfires, leaking natural gas wells, natural wetland processes, belching cows, or even farting termites. But the relative contribution of each of these sources to Africa’s methane mix has been hard to track. And that’s important data to have, because the tropics account for 40 percent of global emissions. Last month, researchers report in Geophysical Research Letters, that a drone on a remote tropical island may solve that mystery.

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Take a deep breath – here’s what 2016 revealed about the deadly dangers of air pollution

The Conversation

By Gary Haq

December 13, 2016

BeijingLondonMexico CityNew Delhi and Paris are among the cities that have drawn attention for their dangerously high air pollution levels in 2016 – but they’re not alone. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that 92% of the world’s urban population now live in cities where the air is toxic.

In India, a study found that 41 Indian cities of more than a million people faced bad air quality on nearly 60% of the total days monitored. Three cities – Gwalior, Varanasi and Allahabad – didn’t even manage one good air quality day.

Over on the African continent, dirty air was identified as the cause of 712,000 premature deaths – that’s more than unsafe water (542,000), childhood malnutrition (275,000) or unsafe sanitation (391,000).

In Europe, it was found that around 85% of the urban population are exposed to harmful fine particulate matter (PM2.5) which was responsible for an estimated 467,000 premature deaths in 41 European countries.

It’s not all bad news though: 74 major Chinese cities have seen the annual average concentrations of particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, decrease since 2014 although the Chinese government’s “war on air pollution” has received criticism.

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Trump adds ‘mother in love with fracking’ to EPA team

The Hill

By Devin Henry

December 01, 2016

A Colorado think tank chief who opposes key Obama administration energy regulations has been added to Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team. 

Trump officials named Amy Oliver Cooke, the vice president and director of the Independence Institutes’ Energy Policy Center, to his EPA landing team on Thursday. 

Cooke has spoken out against Democratic environmental polices both in Washington and Colorado. In a September op-ed in the Denver Post, she said the EPA’s landmark Clean Power Plan (CPP) rule is “backstopped by a cap-and-trade scheme,” and that Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) was “like Obama ... intent on imposing climate policies over the will of the people.” 

In a Wednesday blog post, Cooke wrote, “in 2017 the EPA will be very different under a President Trump administration. During the campaign, Mr. Trump said the Clean Power Plan is DOA.”

Read enough? We think this makes PA specific methane rules even more important. Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

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Google Street View cars to seek methane leaks in Pittsburgh

Leaking methane from natural gas pipes in Pittsburgh will be detected by sensors attached to Google’s Street View cars under an agreement announced on Tuesday.

The tech giant will be working with Carnegie Mellon University, the Environmental Defense Fund, the People’s Natural Gas utility, and the office of Governor Tom Wolf to develop a map of methane leaks in the city, officials said.

The program is the first in Pennsylvania and follows others in 10 other U.S. cities.

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Trump could roll back Obama rules on methane, a potent greenhouse gas

Across the globe, climate change activists are watching closely whether a Donald Trump administration would halt recent progress toward slowing the warming of the planet. The main focus thus far has been on the prospect that Trump would withdraw from the international Paris climate agreement and hobble the domestic Clean Power Plan.

Yet Trump is also expected to seek to reverse or undermine another set of Obama policies meant to curb climate change that focus not on carbon dioxide, the most notorious greenhouse gas, but rather methane — the second most important one. It’s the main component of natural gas, and actually causes a much larger amount of global warming than carbon dioxide does, at least over short time periods, although it does not last nearly as long in the atmosphere.

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Air pollution damages arteries of even healthy young adults, new study shows

The Independent

By Ian Johnston

October 25, 2016

Tiny particles produced by burning fossil fuels were thought to be mainly a problem for young and elderly people with medical conditions

Tiny particles of air pollution can damage the inner lining of veins and arteries in young and healthy people, putting them at greater risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, according to new research.

Air pollution is thought to cause the premature deaths of about 40,000 people a year in the UK, with children and older people with medical conditions thought to be the most at risk.

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Fracking Linked to Cancer-Causing Chemicals, Yale Study Finds

Ecowatch

By Lorraine Chow

October 26, 2016

Yet another study has determined that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, might be a major public health threat. In one of the most exhaustive reviews to date, researchers from the Yale School of Public Health have confirmed that many of the chemicals involved and released by the controversial drilling process can be linked to cancer.

"Previous studies have examined the carcinogenicity of more selective lists of chemicals," lead author Nicole Deziel, Ph.D., assistant professor explained to the school. "To our knowledge, our analysis represents the most expansive review of carcinogenicity of hydraulic fracturing-related chemicals in the published literature."

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