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Democratic Senate Candidates Spar Over Fracking

The Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate is heating up, and sparks are flying on a topic that’s always hot in Pennsylvania—fracking.

At a debate this week, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman and former congressman and Navy Vice Admiral Joe Sestak both tried to brand their opponent, Katie McGinty, as a friend of fracking.

They targeted McGinty’s record as former secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection under Governor Ed Rendell. She left the department in 2008, just as the fracking boom was getting started.

“We have an expert on the stage this evening on fracking because Ms. McGinty, along with Gov. Rendell, brought fracking to Pennsylvania,” Fetterman said.

LISTEN: “Your Environment Update for April 6, 2016”

McGinty defended her record of promoting clean energy and tried to fend off attempts to tie her to fracking because she received campaign donations from individuals working in the industry.

“The bottom line is I’m supported by the solar industry, the wind industry,” McGinty said. “I’m not supported by the frackers.”

Both Fetterman and Sestak have said they would support a moratorium on fracking—at least until regulation gets tighter. McGinty supports tighter regulations but not a moratorium.

The Democratic primary is April 26. The Senate seat is currently held by Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey.

Reporting by Reid Frazier


How Should Pittsburgh Be Preparing for Climate Change?

The news this week about the potential for six feet of sea level rise by 2100 has added a new sense of urgency for drafting climate change response plans in coastal cities.

It’s a topic Vivien Li has spent a lot of time thinking about. The former head of the Boston Harbor Association helped restore beaches and develop ideas for how Boston could weather climate change. And now, as head of Riverlife—a non-profit devoted to restoring and promoting Pittsburgh’s riverfronts—she’s pushing for a discussion of how the Pittsburgh region should prepare for the future.

One place to start: transportation.

“We’re thinking about how we change our transportation modes so that we’re looking at not just single-passenger automobiles, but being sure that we have a good mass-transit system,” Li says. “We’re encouraging people to walk and to bike. Those are really key because transportation is a major factor of why we have climate change and also sea level rise.”

Li says as new development takes hold along the riverfront, it’s a perfect opportunity to talk about how new developments can accommodate and encourage alternative transportation.

“When you think about Millennium Park in Chicago, they have shower facilities for cyclists who commute,” Li says. “We don’t really have places like that. And it’s sort of like, ‘why not?’ We need to ask those questions.”

Reporting by Kara Holsopple