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Federal money supercharged well plugging in PA

Plus, state election officials want Fulton County to pay for its 2020 conduct.

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Monday, February 26, 2024
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Today: Plugging away, legal reimbursement, diversity ban, in-office initiative, pipeline problem, new candidates, and "Peace, Love, and Unity."

With the help of millions of dollars in federal funding, Pennsylvania has plugged more oil and gas wells in the last year and a half than it did in the past decade. 

Environmental advocates say this marks enormous progress for a state that has long struggled with tens of thousands of dangerous wells that leak methane — a powerful greenhouse gas that fuels climate change — into the atmosphere. 

But they also caution that the unprecedented amount of money flowing into Pennsylvania may not be going toward the worst wells, and they argue the plugging project needs better oversight.

Read Spotlight PA's full coverage: Federal money has supercharged Pa.’s plugging of dangerous wells, but critics want more oversight.


"I’m excited about it. I don’t want to forfeit any economic opportunity for Pennsylvania agriculture."

—Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding on Gov. Josh Shapiro's proposal to legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania.

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A view of the Gettysburg battlefield from the Pennsylvania State Memorial, via Cathy S. Send us photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

a view of a field with snow slightly covering it and bare trees
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.

LEGAL FEES: Pennsylvania’s election agency is seeking reimbursement from Fulton County for legal fees and litigation costs, the AP reports. The state Supreme Court previously sanctioned the county for giving a third party access to its 2020 voting machine data to help former President Donald Trump overturn his defeat. One county commissioner said he was unaware of the requested repayment to the state.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.

NO MANDATE: A Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban Pennsylvania universities from requiring undergraduate students to complete a diversity course to graduate, WTAE reports. State Rep. Stephenie Scialabba (R., Butler) cited the University of Pittsburgh as inspiration; the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences' website says students "must complete one course that is designated as a Diversity course.”

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.OFFICE SPACE: Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker wants city workers back in the office full-time. But The Inquirer (paywall) reports some question the impact of such a move on already rampant staffing vacancies. In Pittsburgh, officials are seeking $30 million in state aid to help convert empty downtown offices into homes.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
PIPELINE PROBLEMS: Mariner East II pipeline crews were working last week to contain what appeared to be a new leak of drilling clay in an ecologically sensitive Chester County state park, WHYY reports. The pipeline's builders paid millions of dollars in penalties for a similar leak at the same park in 2020. That fine is just the tip of the iceberg.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.2024 FILINGS: Primary ballot maneuvering isn't over in the race for U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. Lancaster County Republican Brandi Tomasetti and Allegheny County Democrat William Parker both filed to run late last week, following rejections of their nominating petitions. Here's a look at open petition challenges in other contests.
🤔 TAKE THE QUIZ: Were you following the news this week? You can prove it with the latest edition of our Great PA News Quiz: Penn State pushback, election exodus, and Shapiro's 'sin tax.'
NO SHOW: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown forced the cancellation of an all-ages drag show in a building it used to own. Republican Herald (paywall) says a covenant limits how the property can be used.

NO COVERAGE: A Washington County fire chief is blamed for a paperwork fiasco that cost an entire town its homeowner's insurance. Another department is taking over as a temporary fix, per KDKA-TV.

PARADE STOP: After over 30 years, the African American Heritage Day Parade will cease to exist. New Pittsburgh Courier reports that the organizers want to focus on a Juneteenth Parade and resources supporting the Black community. 

UNITY RALLY: Sunbury residents held a "Peace, Love, and Unity" rally on Saturday to condemn an earlier Neo-Nazi demonstration and say everyone is welcome.

LEGO LEGEND: That rare 14-karat gold Lego piece found at a DuBois Goodwill warehouse last week? It sold for $18,000.
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.
 H E O N R B G I

Friday's answer: Fraudulent

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