The Allegheny Front
Summary: Each week, The Allegheny Front, an award-winning public radio program hosted by Matthew Craig, explores environmental issues and the natural history of Western Pennsylvania and beyond with interviews, feature stories and commentary.
We talk with scientists who discovered that a songbird rare in Pennsylvania is now breeding in the state. Plus, we explain why experts and community groups are calling for EPA to ban vinyl chloride, the chemical that was released and burned from train cars in the East Palestine derailment. And who is a relatively new air pollution rule in Allegheny County meant to protect? News about a $5 million settlement from Shell, heat islands in Philadelphia, wildfires in Pa., and natural gas drilling.
Smoke from this year's Canadian wildfire season is likely just the beginning. We talk with a fire ecology expert about the role of climate change in wildfires and what can be done about it. Only a few states have constitutional amendments guaranteeing clean air and water. There's a movement to change that. We'll also hear about a new study that looks at radioactive materials in waterways, which could have come from wastewater treatment plants that accept landfill runoff contaminated with fracking waste. News about a study to measure methane reductions from Pennsylvania dairy farms, another sinkhole forms along the Mariner East pipeline, and discussions about a natural gas severance tax are happening once again in Harrisburg.
We head out to a summer camp that helps build confidence and an appreciation for nature. Plus, we visit a farm in Pittsburgh that teaches neighbors how to grow and cook seasonal vegetables. We then talk with another urban farmer in Pittsburgh whose new book teaches children how to grow a tomato and community. The oldest African American-owned farm in the U.S., located in Pennsylvania, received a special dedication leading up to the 250th birthday of America in 2026. News about toxic PFAS in drinking water, climate effects on teen mental health, and renewable energy projects.
Activists gathered to protest a rush of proposed drilling leases on Ohio public lands, including a beloved state park. In Pennsylvania, a program helps forest owners sustainably manage their lands and help mitigate climate change. And a project is seeking Pa. owners of former mineland for an effort to plant native trees and restore the forest. Plus, an urban farmer inspires healthy eating in Pittsburgh. News about Pa.'s program to encourage electric vehicles, Norfolk Southern's progress in removing contaminated soil from the derailment site, and how climate change is increasing the risk of Lyme disease.
Walleye fishermen Chase Cominsky and Jacob Runyan were on quite a streak. They won fishing tournament after tournament--rewarded with expensive boats and tens of thousands of dollars in cash. But last fall, it all came crashing down when they were caught cheating at a championship event on Lake Erie. What the judge found and what happened next. Then, we head out into the wilds of Pennsylvania with the people who keep an eye on the state’s bears. Plus, news about DEP's new secretary and impact fees from fracking.
National transportation officials held hearings in East Palestine, Ohio, to find answers about the Norfolk Southern train derailment. Testimony casts doubt on the decision to vent and burn vinyl chloride. Plus, wildfire smoke is pouring into the U.S. from Canada. How does that impact youth sports? The spongy moth damages Pennsylvania forests every summer. We talk with DCNR about what it's doing to prevent the worst damage. Plus, the garden of a refugee community in Pittsburgh helps sustain its own members and the neighborhood where it grows. News about a drought watch in Pennsylvania, fines for killing a bald eagle, and the closure of coal plants in Pa.
We talk with the EPA regional administrator about environmental test results for samples taken from farms near East Palestine, after the train derailment and fires there. And, we visit a Black urban farmer in Pittsburgh’s Hill District in our series, “Sowing Soil with Soul.” Plus, every part of an invasive plant now common along Pennsylvania roadsides, is poisonous. We'll tell you how to identify it.
Beaver County residents protested Shell's ethane cracker because of recent air pollution violations. Meanwhile, officials met with residents in East Palestine, Ohio, to discuss the results of health surveys taken after the train derailment and fires there. But many people affected are still wondering where to get help for their symptoms. And we talk with a Penn State researcher about a UN treaty that could end global plastic pollution, maybe. Plus, climate activists are looking to change the way investment firms do business. News about wildfire smoke, hurricane season, and the proposal by the Maryland National Guard to fly fighter jets just 100 feet off the ground in the Pennsylvania Wilds.
Some residents of the Mon Valley say money from an air pollution settlement with U.S. Steel isn't being spent on the public health and environmental projects it was supposed to fund. We'll also dig into state-led efforts to thwart ESG investment strategies that consider risks like climate change. And, teenagers who live in the shadow of a massive new petrochemical plant and nearby the East Palestine train derailment are becoming more aware of environmental threats. News about climate change predictions for Philadelphia, an EPA fine for an Allegheny County polluter, federal funds for orphaned oil and gas wells, and an effort to reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.
If you shine a black light on a southern flying squirrel, it glows pink. But why? We dive into the questions about biofluorescent animals. Plus, we'll hear about how researchers are using a program trained to identify bird species from hours of birdsong recorded in the forest. It's helping in forest and bird conservation. Plus, a $10 million fine for Shell for air pollution violations at its Beaver County ethane cracker and news about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
After a coal-fired power plant closed, people gathered at a public performance to memorialize what it meant to the community. We were there. And, we talk with the director of The Incline about a seven-newsroom collaboration that examines air pollution and misinformation in southwestern Pennsylvania. Plus, researchers are looking at how drinking water from private wells might increase the risk of illness among children. News about federal proposals to curb pollution from power plants and leaks from pipelines.
Shell's ethane cracker in Beaver County has gotten off to a rocky start, with excessive emissions, permit violations and reported odors. Now, some supporters are not questioning if Shell can be a good neighbor. And a new book looks at the opportunities and challenges of reducing our exposure to chemicals to reduce the risk of cancer. Plus, energy efficiency programs that are climate- and budget-friendly. The "Dirty Dozen" list of big climate polluters in Pennsylvania is out, and the Pittsburgh area is a big contributor.
At dusk in fields in Pennsylvania and throughout the Great Lakes region in springtime, an odd-looking bird takes to the sky for an elaborate, acrobatic display. We take you there. Three months after the derailment, we look at how people in East Palestine are working through their anxiety with few mental health resources available. Also, a developer pulls the plug on a Clinton County power plant. And invasive spotted lanternfly eggs are hatching. How to take care of these pests, even the young ones.
EPA shared the good news with East Palestine residents: testing shows no soil contamination from the train derailment. But some residents say their own tests show they’re still being exposed to toxins. We’ll also hear from investors putting their money behind startups that help fight climate change. Plus, a new study wants to find out if the aggressive, springtime behavior of a typically shy, forest-dwelling bird could be genetic. Also, why Pennsylvania may be seeing more displays of the northern lights in the coming years.
Thousands of tons of contaminated soil from the train derailment in East Palestine are going to an incinerator near the Pennsylvania border in East Liverpool, Ohio. Activists say it has a history of violating the Clean Air Act. We'll also hear why a conservation group named the Ohio River the second most endangered river in the country. Plus, Senator Casey touts federal investment for cleaning up waterways polluted by coal mining pollution. A new map highlights renewable energy projects in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.