Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

Safety concerns raised as Pa. chases hydrogen hubs

Plus, the law firm aiding DEI crackdowns in Pa. schools.

The logo of PA Post, a free daily newsletter delivering the top news from across Pennsylvania every day.

A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmasters: Colin Deppen & Tanisha Thomas

Monday, June 26, 2023
🏆 PA POP QUIZ: Did you stay on top of Pennsylvania news last week? Prove it with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: State budget battles, record-low unemployment, and the return of I-95.
Oversight concerns, ACLU lawsuit, secret guidance, detention dangers, 'erratic behavior,' capital punishment, and a political corruption podcast. 

Pennsylvania's state Senate is weighing a measure that would give state regulators, rather than federal ones, the power to decide where to place large wells used to bury pollution from the hydrogen energy industry.

But environmental advocates and some lawmakers argue the state Department of Environmental Protection won’t be able to provide adequate oversight of carbon capture and storage, and that communities will be endangered if such projects are allowed without federal oversight.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Safety, oversight concerns raised as Pa. lawmakers pursue billions for hydrogen hubs.

THE CONTEXT: So far, the federal government has received three applications to build hydrogen hubs in Pennsylvania, part of a federal and state-backed push to create new clean energy production centers.

In Pennsylvania, production would be powered by fossil fuels from the state's large Marcellus Shale natural gas reserves, with resulting greenhouse gas emissions trapped in underground wells away from the atmosphere. 

Currently, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has the primary enforcement authority when it comes to these wells. Better known as injection wells, they have been linked to earthquakes and water contamination.

Pennsylvania's proposed takeover is unusual — only two states have this level of injection well control now — and critics say potentially problematic.


"I believe every child of God deserves a shot here in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

Gov. Josh Shapiro on Fox News defending his support for private school vouchers amid pushback from fellow Democrats and powerful unions
» Most Pa. GOP members of Congress back indicted Trump, via Politico

» Senate panel amends Pa. budget, via CBS21; deal deadline is Friday

» Pa. announces new LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination rules, via Capital-Star

» State Rep. Ecker ordered to complete program after DUI, via WHTM

» Pa. Senate moves ban on all cell phone use while driving, via Patch
Investigative journalism that gets results. Spotlight PA's vital work depends on you. Donate now.

View from the window of Bordner's Cabin in Swatara State Park, via Patty S. Have a photo you'd like to share with the whole state? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A photo from inside a cabin showing a picnic table in front of a window and large boulders and trees on a wooded slope on the other side of the window.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.DENIED ENTRY: The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania is suing Berks County after Air Force veteran Damon Monyer was denied entry to a court-run treatment program for veterans because he's a medical cannabis patient, per WITF. The ACLU says the policy applying to the county's mental health and veterans treatment court violates state law. They're asking the Commonwealth Court to strike it down.
  • RELATED: New records reveal the cost of Pa.'s failure to clarify rules around addiction treatment and marijuana, via Spotlight PA
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.EMAIL EVIDENCE: Newly released emails are shedding new light on a Harrisburg-based religious law firm's role in crafting policies restricting diversity-minded learning materials and transgender athletes in Pennsylvania school districts. Democratic Central Bucks school board members said they were unaware of the extent of the Independence Law Center's involvement until Reuters showed them.
  • RELATED: Central York Supt. also contacted lawyer with Independence Law Center about controversial school issues, via YDR (paywall)
  • Emails show how religious liberties law firm has influenced Bucks and York schools, via Courier Times (paywall)
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.ON HOLD: Westmoreland County's juvenile detention center will temporarily close after incidents of self-harm by two children intiatiated an ongoing state investigation into operations and security at the 16-bed facility, TribLIVE reports. The state's Department of Human Services will determine whether staff acted properly. Two employees were removed from duty pending the outcome of the probe.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.CRISIS CALL: PennLive (paywall) reports the family of Brandon Stine contacted state police on Friday, June 16 citing "erratic behavior" that made them believe he needed to be involuntarily hospitalized for mental health care. Authorities looked for Stine but didn't find him. A day later, he ambushed troopers in Juniata County, killing one and critically wounding another before dying in a shootout himself.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.PENALTY PHASE: The penalty phase of convicted Tree of Life massacre gunman Robert Bowers' federal hate crimes trial is set to start today. TribLIVE's Paula Reed Ward explains via Twitter that the penalty phase could last another four or five weeks and has been split into two sections: an eligibility phase focused on Bowers' intent and a sentence selection phase focused on mitigating evidence.
Support vital journalism for Pennsylvania. The future of local news is in your hands. Donate now.

WABTEC STRIKE: More than 1,400 union workers at Wabtec's locomotive plant in Erie are on strike after voting to reject the company's contract offer last week, Erie News Now reports. No new talks are scheduled.

REOPENING PARTY: Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration held a ceremony to celebrate the reopening of I-95 on Friday with sports mascots dancing on top of a firetruck and an army of content creators in the closing credits.

RADIO CUTS: The owner of Pittsburgh's NPR affiliate WESA-FM and WYEP plans to offer voluntary buyouts to two reporters, citing unfavorable economic conditions, per TribLIVE. Other changes are possible.

PA POD: Lovers of crime and political podcasts look no further than PA Political Digest, a deep dive into Pennsylvania's noted history of political corruption hosted by two veteran and homegrown political journalists.

MALL SALE: Going, going, sold! The Lycoming Mall has a new owner after months of delays. FAMVEST Partners plans to revitalize the 135-acre property into a "work/live/play site," NorthCentralPa.com reports.

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.

Friday's answer: Perennial

Congrats to our weekly winner: Sean P.

Congrats to our daily winners: Kim D., Tracy S., Don H., Susan N.-Z., Becky C., Keith F., Craig W., Barbara F., Bernice H., Beth T., John W., Elaine C., Bob C., Kim C., Jane R., William Z., Stanley J., Susan D., Daniel S., David W., James B., Dennis M., Tom M., John P., Dianne K., Doug W., Dan A., Elizabeth W., Karen W., and Irene R.
Like PA Post? Share it with a friend.

Love PA Post? Support it with a tax-deductible gift.

Forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

Copyright © Spotlight PA / The Philadelphia Inquirer, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
PO Box 11728
Harrisburg, PA 17108-1728


You're receiving this email because you subscribed to PA Post, a daily newsletter by Spotlight PA.

This email was sent to: <<Email Address>>

Receiving too many emails from Spotlight PA?

To change your newsletter subscriptions and frequency, you can update your preferences.

To stop receiving fundraising messages, you can update your preferences and select "Opt out of Fundraising."

To stop receiving ALL EMAILS from Spotlight PA, including all of our investigations and newsletters, you can completely unsubscribe here.