The Allegheny Front

The Allegheny Front

Every week, our 29-minute podcast brings you all the environmental news and stories to keep you in the know in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania.

All Episodes

Susan Scott Peterson had been living in Pittsburgh for just a few weeks when she smelled it for the first time. The air was a little thick, a little hazy—and it smelled like a ripe porta-potty. It didn’t take long to figure out it was hydrogen sulfide, a sulfur-smelling gas emitted by U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works, about fifteen miles south of her house. The plant manufactures coke, a fuel used in steelmaking—and it’s notorious for violating local pollution regulations. But what could she do about it? This is a story about the air we breathe, the risks we live with, and what it means to become a citizen of a place. This story is adapted from an episode produced for Outside/In, a podcast by New Hampshire Public Radio.

Nov 23

29 min

The Allegheny Front and Environmental Health News investigated the mental health impacts of air and water pollution and climate change in western Pennsylvania.  We found alarming evidence that residents throughout the region are likely suffering changes to their brains due to pollution in the surrounding environment. Reporting also uncovered the growing gap in mental health care as more people are traumatized by worsening climate change. More at https://www.alleghenyfront.org/mentalhealth

Nov 19

29 min

A new collaboration hopes to get people in Central Pennsylvania talking about climate change. We also examine the mental health struggles of farmers, and how an aging farming population in Pennsylvania means that the future of small family farming is changing. 

Nov 12

29 min

Some people along the coast of New Jersey are saying no to offshore wind power. They worry about preserving the character and natural beauty of NJ beaches. We talk with the new leader of a clean air watchdog group in Pittsburgh. A professor wants to create a corridor throughout the Appalachians for elk. Our reporter escapes to the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.

Nov 5

29 min

Climate change is making it harder to hunt and fish. An advocacy group wants hunters and anglers to speak out. Pennsylvania Senate passed a resolution disapproving of the state joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Taking down dams to create a free-flowing Mahoning River is not without controversy. Consumer choices are hard when you want to do good for the environment. One expert says don't sweat the small stuff.

Oct 29

29 min

Metalico, a metal recycler on Neville Island in Allegheny County, is now the target of EPA. It has been a nuisance to the community for years. Pittsburgh has a new light pollution ordinance. An astronomer advocates for dark skies. Criminal charges against a pipeline company do little to spark action in the Pa. legislature.

Oct 23

29 min

Researchers say too many deer and invasive plants are threatening the long-term survival of Pa.'s forests. A filmmaker of a new documentary about a massive effort to clean up a Western Pa. river says it's a hopeful story. The author of a book about individual liberty and private property rights argues that signing a gas lease shouldn't be one of those rights.

Oct 15

29 min

More wind turbines in the ocean mean more renewable energy on the grid. But what's the impact on fisheries? Pennsylvania's attorney general files criminal charges for the Mariner East pipeline.  A new group is encouraging people to retire their lawnmowers and leafblowers and plant native species. 

Oct 8

29 min

Transmission lines are key to more renewable energy, but some don't want them on their land. Students take to the streets for a climate strike. We get reaction to Pa.'s new Climate Action Plan. Volunteers clean up tons of trash along Pittsburgh's hillsides.

Oct 1

29 min

Pennsylvania has a new climate action plan. Regenerative farming is part of the climate solution as is a program to help local governments. Pennsylvania has pledged to regulate toxic PFAS chemicals in drinking water. What's taking so long? New Allegheny County air regs, and a study on the health benefits of joining a regional cap-and-trade program.

Sep 25

28 min 58 sec

Protecting a pristine glacial lake in Erie County from invasive species takes painstaking work. Author Doug Tallamy wants people to plant their yards with native species that feed the ecosystem. Pittsburgh opens two new parks, one with a public art installation that makes visible the history of water and flooding. A climate change training for community and business leaders.

Sep 16

29 min

Preserving the sacred ground at the Flight 93 National Memorial and treating the water pollution that plagued the site long before the plane crashed there on 9/11. A look back as a naturalist searched for reassurance in nature on September 12. We dig into the recent decision by a federal judge to throw out a Trump rule that stripped protections for many streams and wetlands.

Sep 10

29 min

What some labor unions want in a clean energy economy. We'll also talk to the engineer the president has tasked with making sure fossil fuel communities aren't left behind. Pa. is a step closer to putting a price on carbon. Plus, a little clover makes a big move off the Endangered Species list. News about fracking waste and the Clean Water Act.

Sep 4

29 min

The wonder and peril of bird migration with author Scott Weidensaul. Teaching computer models to identify birdsong to aid in conservation. The Department of Energy listens to community perspectives on the ethane and petrochemical industries. News about Shell's Falcon pipeline and climate education in Pa. schools.

Aug 27

29 min

A vaccine blitz for raccoons to stop rabies from marching westward. How to shop smart for electricity. A short documentary features little kids tackling a big environmental problem... litter. News about a new plan for Pa.'s state parks to address climate change, a fine for spills from the Mariner East, and a roadblock for a new coal mine in Allegheny County.

Aug 21

29 min

The latest UN climate report is the most dire yet. A climate scientist breaks it down. Calls for a new Civilian Conservation Corps. We head into the woods with Pennsylvania's bear biologist to tag black bears. News about conservation funding and a fine for a pipeline company.

Aug 14

29 min

Green infrastructure uses natural systems to steer rainwater away from aging sewer systems, but it could lead to gentrification. Indigenous tribes, forcibly removed from Appalachia 200 years ago, are reconnecting with a traditional food: pawpaws. News about Pa. state parks, air quality, and a mysterious bird disease. 

Aug 6

29 min

While bald eagle populations are increasing, other birds of prey seem to be declining. Some Philadelphia residents are accusing the city of racism over permitting a new natural gas plant. How homeowners can join foresters in stopping the hemlock wooly adelgid. Plus news about air quality and fracking.

Jul 30

29 min

How tourism impacts local communities and their natural resources. Plus, an environmental group is calling for stricter regulations on how companies handle radioactive oil and gas waste. And a network of physicians, researchers, activists and cancer survivors issues a declaration on reducing pollution so fewer people get cancer. And finally, we take a trip to Pennsylvania’s very own prairie.

Jul 23

29 min

This week, we take a hike in one of the region's most unique landscapes: the Dolly Sods Wilderness. Plus, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a rule to help Pennsylvania cut carbon emissions from power generation and meet its climate goals, has cleared another hurdle. But some who represent power plant communities have questions. And, Pittsburgh's riverfront trails are where its industrial past and its future meet

Jul 17

29 min

Researchers are racing to find the cause of mysterious bird deaths being reported across the eastern US. We have answers to your questions on Biden's climate plan. Don Hopey, a longtime environmental journalist reflects on his beat in Pittsburgh. Plus news about U.S. Steel's Clairton Coke Works.

Jul 9

29 min

Despite decreasing pollution, climate change is making air quality worse. We'll hear from climate expert Michael Mann who says climate deniers have a new tactic: doom and gloom. A psychologist discusses managing our climate fears and moving towards solutions. The next energy boom in Pennsylvania: solar power.

Jul 2

29 min

Manufacturing of electric cars and batteries will take a new kind of worker. If Pennsylvania joins RGGI, a cap-and-trade program for power plants, will your electricity rates go up? An experimental treatment is helping bats fight off a deadly fungus. Pa. has the first dog in the nation to sniff out spotted lanternflies.

Jun 26

29 min

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm talks about jobs for the region in a clean energy future. A local project trains volunteers to keep an eye on bees and other pollinators. An environmental justice organizer is hopeful about young people in the movement. News about air quality in Allegheny County.

Jun 18

29 min

The EPA heard from Pittsburgh communities concerned about lead in drinking water. Good news for dragonflies on the Ohio River. Bad news for coal with closures of a coal mine and coal-fired power plant. We tag along on a bike ride that has its own soundtrack. 

Jun 11

29 min

Ohio's Steel Valley sees a future in clean energy as 'Voltage Valley.' We ask an expert what will it take to get consumers to buy electric vehicles. The Allegheny National Forest gains critical land along the Clarion River. A tick researcher has tips to stay safe in the outdoors.

Jun 4

29 min

This week, candid interviews about what a "just energy transition" means. We hear from Biden's National Climate Advisor about how the administration will help coal communities in the transition to clean energy, and from the head of the United Mine Workers who says coal workers have sacrificed enough. The push for more accountability for the gas industry in Pennsylvania. 

May 28

29 min

The landmark environmental rights amendment in Pennsylvania turns 50 this week. Central Pennsylvania is one of the best places for flyfishing but there is a need to protect these prized streams from farm pollution. A bill in the statehouse aims to help communities affected by Pennsylvania's industrial legacy.

May 21

29 min

Billions of Brood X cicadas are emerging! Learn how to go on a Cicada Safari. A local artist is creating a portal to an underground stream. How U.S. Steel's decision to nix a $2 billion upgrade will impact air quality and the economy in Allegheny County. What West Virginia's New River Gorge can expect this summer and beyond.

May 14

29 min

Branding gas as “responsibly sourced” by cutting methane leaks. A fight is brewing over another source of methane, the meat and dairy industry. Climate change report predicts more heatwaves, floods, and droughts in Pennsylvania’s future. Choosing native plants helps create more habitat for birds and bugs. 

May 7

29 min

The efforts to get farmers the mental health resources they need. Pittsburgh mayoral candidates have some similarities and many differences about the environment. Pa. GOP is trying to stop Gov. Wolf from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. U.S. Steel reneges on a promise to upgrade its polluting Mon Valley Works. How to build your own trap for invasive lanternflies.

Apr 30

29 min

The chair of Pa. House's environmental committee is a climate denier. How could this impact climate action? The author of a new book that centers on Pa.'s gas country says fracking's impacts are challenging rural values of individual liberty and private property rights. Scientists are working to reverse damage to wildlife habitat from fracking. Meet the brother-sister duo of Can Crushers.

Apr 23

29 min

President Biden’s plans to invest in clean energy could create high-paying union jobs. But not everyone's on board. New reports outline thousands of new jobs to clean up old mines and gas wells. A new project in the Laurel Highlands gives amphibians a place to breed in peace. Some local concerns over the newly designated New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.

Apr 17

29 min

Why fracking is a tricky issue for Senate candidate John Fetterman. An environmental justice leader says vacant land in communities of color is "an environmental emergency." A citizen science project for the whole family can help save frogs. Plus, syrup for your pancakes doesn't only have to come from maple trees.

Apr 10

29 min

How federal and local policies look to address aging infrastructure from stormwater pipes to bridges. Pittsburgh wants a more equitable water system. Plus, state health officials visit Shell's ethane cracker in Beaver County because of an uptick in Covid-19 cases there.

Apr 2

28 min 59 sec

Bald eagles are bringing joy to Philadelphians, while one artist shows off her love of the Delaware. Climate change is causing many plants to leaf out or bud early. This mismatch could wreak havoc on the ecosystem. Why a new air permit at the Clairton Coke Works could increase pollution emissions.

Mar 27

29 min

Why fracking wastewater injected deep underground could come back to the surface. A whistleblower claims there are safety issues with the pipeline that will supply Shell's ethane cracker.  A look at life along the Delaware River.

Mar 19

29 min

Sales of special license plates help fund research for rare species. Conservationists plant a red spruce forest for northern flying squirrels, ready in 50 years. Settlements with energy companies will pay some landowners and protect a nature preserve. And one man's love of wetlands.

Mar 12

29 min

An investigation finds fracking chemicals in the bodies of people living near gas wells in SW Pa. Fossil fuel reps say gas and coal are part of the climate solution. Some Pa. Democratic lawmakers agree. For our First Person series, we talk with a young forester about how she came to love the outdoors. News about plastic bag bans, a tax on gas, and the Revolution pipeline. 

Mar 5

29 min

Fracking is banned in the Delaware River watershed. Farmers can help reduce carbon in the atmosphere. But what's in it for them? A contentious budget hearing for the Pennsylvania DEP brings up RGGI and falsehoods. The plot to get Americans to cook with gas. We head out for some winter fun. 

Feb 26

29 min

Redlining has led to fewer green spaces in many communities across the country. We kick off a new series talking with Black leaders in environmental organizations with Grow Pittsburgh's new executive director. People in counties with drilling activity haven't seen the economic benefits of the industry. Citizen science projects you can do from your couch.   

Feb 19

29 min

Some in Ohio say frack waste injection wells are being permitted in places where they don’t belong. Activists want a permit revoked for an injection well near Pittsburgh. A local practitioner shows us his version of ski ballet. There may be snow on the ground, but we're planning for that summer garden now. 

Feb 12

28 min 58 sec

What you need to know about Allegheny County meeting federal air standards for the first time ever. Meanwhile, Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf's budget address doesn't mention climate, a gas well spews wastewater in Ohio, and New River Gorge rock climbers reckon with racist route names. 

Feb 6

29 min

Reports of illegal dumping are up in Pennsylvania. Why? A wastewater authority is promoting solar energy in Centre County. A report criticizes DEP for allowing coal mining to damage streams. Allegheny County finally meets air quality standards.

Jan 30

29 min

Fears of harms from solar panels have been disproven by scientists. The Biden administration's policies on public lands will be be very different from Trump's. We look at environmental issues in the Pennsylvania legislature in the coming year. Climate scientist Michael Mann discusses new tactics by climate deniers, and why he's so optimistic for the future.

Jan 22

28 min 59 sec

We've come to the end of our Trump on Earth podcast. After four years and 100 episodes, we take a look at the biggest rollbacks of the Trump administration, and the impacts on climate change, science and public lands. It's an episode you don't want to miss!

Jan 15

38 min 31 sec

Pennsylvania is on the cusp of a solar boom, but are some against rows of solar panels in their backyards. Efforts in Ohio to create heavier penalties for trespass of infrastructure like gas pipelines. A former Trump EPA official shares his story and concerns about the role of science at the agency.

Jan 8

29 min

A look back at environmental stories of 2020. Blaming the pandemic, some people doubt that a petrochemical boom will come to the Ohio Valley. The boom and bust of the coal industry means Appalachia needs new economic solutions to undo decades of neglect. And the massive protests against racial discrimination last year brought more attention to environmental justice. 

Jan 1

29 min

Local communities take climate action, with the help of a state program. Scientists combat an invasive insect killing hemlocks by introducing a new beetle. The sounds of nature are good for our health.  

Dec 2020

28 min 59 sec

The human costs of natural gas development: Residents say living next to the construction of a new natural gas power plant is causing distress, while neighbors of a planned liquified natural gas export terminal are worried about risks of explosions. Advocates lay out a new agenda for the Lake Erie Watershed.

Dec 2020

29 min