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Pipeline Building Boom Raises Safety Concerns

A first responder walks by smoldering wood and a burning retaining wall near a home following a natural gas explosion at a pipeline complex, on Friday, April 29, 2016, in Salem Township, Pa. The explosion caused flames to shoot above nearby treetops in the largely rural area, about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh, and prompted authorities to evacuate businesses nearby.

On the morning of April 29, a natural gas transmission line exploded in a field in Salem Township in western Pennsylvania. The blast was so powerful it ripped a 12-foot crater into the landscape, burned a section of the field with a quarter-mile radius and threw a 25-foot section of the 30-inch steel pipeline 100 feet away. At the time of the explosion, a 26-year-old man was in his house, a few hundred feet away. He was badly burned, and his home destroyed. When local fire chief Bob Rosatti arrived at the scene, the flames were so hot, he had to stay in his truck. “They were massive—I would say 300 feet at the least,” Rosatti says. “That was the biggest fireball I’d ever seen in my life. Continue Reading →

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On The Hunt For Methane Leaks

The 2015 leak at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility near Los Angeles was a grim reminder of how devastating methane leaks can be. The Environmental Defense Fund estimates that the four-month leak will have the same 20-year climate impact as burning nearly a billion gallons of gasoline.

Burning natural gas for electricity is much cleaner than coal. But there's a problem - leaking methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Nearly 2 years ago Colorado implemented rules to try to limit methane leaks from natural gas infrastructure. Now the EPA is proposing to model federal rules on Colorado's. Still finding and plugging leaks remains a challenge nationwide. In Pennsylvania, where thousands of gas wells and pipelines are working the Marcellus Shale, researchers are trying to figure out how much is leaking. For our Inside Energy project, The Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier tagged along.
Continue Reading →

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The Future Of U.S. Energy, According To Donald Trump

Donald Trump speaks to a packed arena at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, ND.

With the help of a few more delegates from a handful of states, including North Dakota, Donald Trump finally gathered enough to clinch the republican nomination. And with that news, the official Republican Presidential nominee rolled into Bismarck, North Dakota on Thursday. Continue Reading →

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Getting Paid To Soak Up California Solar

On the trading floor of Arizona Public Service, all eyes are trained on the price of energy in California, especially when customer demand is low, but solar panels are producing the most power.

The people who run our electricity grids are trying to figure out what to do with solar and wind power that is generated when no one needs it. Take California – there’s enough solar there now to serve more than three million homes. But during the day, especially in the spring, demand is low and generation is high. So, that clean power has to be sent elsewhere. Right now, its going across state lines to Arizona. Continue Reading →

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“When the snow’s blowing, we go to work”: The Linemen Who Keep Your Lights On

On a blustery March morning, an Xcel lineman crew in Denver, Colorado replaces an old transformer. Photo by Brian Malone/Inside Energy

Whether your state gets its energy from coal or wind power, someone has to maintain the miles of power lines that deliver electricity to your home. One of those people is Kevin Hinrichs, a lineman with Xcel Energy in Colorado. He's repaired lines in snowstorms and heat waves -- even under gunfire. Continue Reading →

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“Senseless Exposures”: How Money and Federal Rules Endanger Oilfield Workers

Truck driver Ryan Ehlis checks his tires before heading out for a night of hauling crude oil around the Bakken oilfield. Ehlis says being exposed to petroleum gas is an unavoidable part of his job.

Every day, thousands of oilfield workers are exposed to deadly petroleum gases -- despite the fact that safer technologies exist that could protect them. Inside Energy investigates how federal regulations and financial incentives combine to put workers at risk. Continue Reading →

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