This Yale Environment 360 article discusses how a fracking-driven boom renews pollution concerns in Pittsburgh. Once known as the Steel City, Pittsburgh is shedding its polluted past and embracing a rebirth built on health care, education, and technology. But the region’s surging fracking industry is attracting a $6 billion ethane plant and other petrochemical facilities, raising new pollution fears.
Progress toward a cleaner, post-industrial future is not linear, however. Although the air in Pittsburgh has dramatically improved from the days when it was one of America’s most polluted cities, it still contains high levels of hazardous pollutants, in large part because of several major steel foundries and coke works still in operation, according to the Clean Air Council. The rise of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas, now more than a decade old, has exacerbated regional air quality problems. Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, is out of compliance with federal air quality standards on fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) and sulfur dioxide. In 2018, the region barely met the federal ozone standard after falling short in years past.