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Thousands of protesters against fossil fuels—and fracking in particular—took over New York streets this week, while major businesses and investors announced divestments from fossil fuels in tandem with the United Nations Climate Summit. Still, commodities analysts gathered in Manhattan, as well as shale industry officials, continue to predict a rosy future for natural gas development.

As natural gas production continues to spread across the country, some citizens are trying to fend off drilling rigs and waste sites in their backyards. While gas companies say they already face tough state regulations, that oversight doesn’t always ease residents’ fears. As Ohio quickly becomes a go-to destination for the nation's fracking waste, some people worry about earthquakes and water contamination, and argue the state has taken away their authority to decide whether oil and gas waste should be allowed.

Mike Caplan and Terese Caldararo are walking through the rows of their garden, pointing out the different fruits, vegetables and herbs they planted this spring.

“We’ve got 25 tomato plants: Cherokee tomato, German Johnson’s, Rutgers. You name it we got it,” Caplan says. “And up front we’ve got peppers, bell peppers, and a lot of banana peppers.

“Different kinds of squash and zucchini: acorn squash, summer squash. We grew lettuce here. We had cilantro, we had parsley and rosemary.”

This isn’t in a backyard or even a community garden — it’s on patch of lawn at the U.S. Postal Service’s Processing and Distribution Center on the North Side.

Anybody who grew up in Western Pennsylvania, worked in a mill or rooted for a football team called the “Steelers” might find it hard to believe, but there are more people in Pennsylvania working in the oil and gas industry than there are in the steel industry.

There were 20,999 people employed in the oil and gas industries in Pennsylvania in 2013 while employment in iron and steel mills and ferroalloy manufacturing totaled 13,489, according to the Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, a branch of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

An amendment to the state’s Sunshine Act that would require public bodies to post agendas a day in advance of meetings gained steam Tuesday with a key House committee chairman saying it has bipartisan support and will “move forward” in the Legislature.

“I think it’s just common sense,” said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12, Cranberry Township. “You would think this is already in place.”

The MacArthur Foundation has announced that Hayes is among this year’s 2014 MacArthur Fellows, each of whom receives a $625,000 stipend.

Hayes, a native of South Carolina, is an English professor at the University of Pittsburgh who’s written five collections of poetry. He studied writing at the graduate level at Pitt and later taught at Carnegie Mellon University. He returned to Pitt last year.

A standing-room-only audience has packed the Avalon Municipal Building on a rain-soaked April evening to hear Allegheny County Health Department officials explain the latest consent decree to correct air quality violations at the coke works across the river. It’s a tough crowd.

Most live in the north boroughs near the Shenango, Inc. plant. They know the long history of enforcement actions against it that were followed by fixes that were followed by new violations. They’re aware of the health risks that air pollutants pose, and studies that suggest their rates of disease are high. They speak in voices that express concern and fear, frustration and anger.

Courtney Ehrlichman makes the commute to her Carnegie Mellon University job with her young daughter on an Xtracycle fitted with a Hooptie. That’s a bicycle designed to haul cargo with a child carrier attached. And it’s part of the changing street scene in Pittsburgh.

On his way home in recent weeks, Montrel Morgan would often drive past the house of NaGus Griggs on West King Street in York, just looking for him, making sure his teammate and friend was OK.

Just six months earlier, Morgan and Griggs – the two leading scorers on the New Hope Academy basketball team – celebrated the school's first, and only, District 3 championship.


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