Oliver has been recognized with local and national press awards for his coverage of environmental and health challenges in the Pittsburgh region and has co-published work with CityLab, Pittsburgh Magazine, Environmental Health News, The Allegheny Front and WESA. Before PublicSource, Oliver led The Wichita Eagle’s coverage of fracking-related earthquakes, immigration, race and criminal justice reform. One investigation led the state of Kansas to audit its wildfire fighting system. He has freelanced for publications such as The Atlantic, Education Week and City Limits. He is a graduate of Deep Springs College, the University of Oxford and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. He worked for seven years as an educator in the Arkansas Delta before embarking on his career in journalism.
Pittsburgh’s biggest challenge to meeting its climate change goals is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from its buildings. Buildings in the city produce four times as many emissions as vehicles. The city’s most substantial effort to do something about it was released last month: It made public the energy use of the city’s largest buildings. The hope is that transparency will encourage building owners to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
To that end, we are publishing a map of where these emissions are coming from to help readers understand, across the city, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, which buildings emit how much.
The biggest source of greenhouse gases by building type are the hospitals and universities that drive the city’s economy. But collectively the city’s many office buildings emit more.
Pittsburgh passed an ordinance requiring all building owners with 50,000 or more square feet to report information about their energy and water use. But it hadn’t released the information until now. The city released the information to PublicSource for 2017 and 2018 and is working on a report and dashboard that will include data from 2019.
PWSA is committed to replacing aging infrastructure, including lead service lines, to the tune of more than $1 billion over five years, a rapid increase in spending. This also means it’s begun raising rates and has proposed even more increases, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has left significant economic uncertainty in the region and required the authority to suspend water-shutoffs.
Dr. John Evankovich is an ICU doctor at UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC East and a lung researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, so his life has been consumed by COVID-19 in the past six months. He’s in the unique position of both understanding the science of the disease and having seen firsthand what treating patients has been like.
The pandemic has exacerbated the problems facing people who are trying to help people recover from opioid addictions. They say it's making it more likely that they'll use drugs, overdose and die. The providers say the pandemic has made it more challenging to reach these patients and more expensive to treat them when they can.
The aid package UPMC received was one of the largest of any business or nonprofit, in any industry. Across the country, 25 healthcare providers received more direct grant funding, and about half of those were in New York and New Jersey, which were the hardest hit by COVID-19 early on, and some of which were eligible for additional funding.
As the Pittsburgh City Council is nearing a vote on whether to start collecting a parks tax that voters approved by referendum last year, City Controller Michael Lamb said the city has no choice but to start collecting the tax. "At this point, I think council has got to move forward with this and I think they are legally required to move forward with this," Lamb said. "I don't think there is too much wiggle room in getting out of it given the wording of the referendum." PublicSource reported last month that at least two city councilors preferred not to collect the tax at all. But Lamb said at a press conference Thursday that his understanding is that the council will vote to start collecting the tax in 2021.
Many researchers at the university have already been back to work for nearly two months. And seven of those researchers told PublicSource that the university could learn some lessons from the way it reopened its labs.