Eastern US cities spewing more methane into air than thought

WASHINGTON (AP) — Older U.S. east coast cities are leaking nine times as much natural gas into the air — from homes or pipes heading into houses — than the federal government had thought, a new airborne monitoring study finds.

Related: Scientist: Climate change cranking up severity of heat waves, extreme weather

It’s probably not a safety problem because what’s coming out doesn’t reach explosive concentrations, but the extra methane heading into the air is a climate change issue, said study co-author University of Michigan atmospheric scientist Eric Kort.

Scientists flew a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration airplane over New York City, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore and Providence, Rhode Island, for 1,200 hours in 2018 and found lots more methane. They couldn’t tell if the methane, a potent greenhouse gas, was leaking from inside homes or the pipes leading to homes.

“You have a very leaky system,” study co-author Colm Sweeney, a NOAA atmospheric scientist, said Monday.

The six cities spewed nearly 937,000 tons of methane (850,000 metric tons), which is more than twice what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates, according to the study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Methane comes from different places, not just natural gas, and that’s where the study found the biggest change from what the government had previously thought.

The EPA’s estimates had figured much of the methane coming out of the five cities spewed from landfills and wetlands, not natural gas for home use. But the airplane monitors, which could differentiate between landfill gas and natural gas based on other chemicals that come out, found that 88% of the methane was natural gas, except in Providence.

So scientists calculated that nine times as much natural gas was being released as EPA had estimated.

Previous studies had looked at individual cities using different methods. This study is the first to give a comprehensive look over a large area.

Cornell University’s Robert Howarth, who wasn’t part of the study, praised it, saying it “shows the problem is widespread.”

Methane traps about 30 times more heat than carbon dioxide, but doesn’t last nearly as long. By showing that leaks are a big issue, the study “represents a huge opportunity to get some early gains on controlling greenhouse gas emissions,” Sweeney said.

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Brandon Olivieri sentenced to 37 years to life for killing 2 South Philly teens

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Brandon Olivieri, who was found guilty in May for killing two South Philly teens nearly two years ago when he was a teenager, has been sentenced to 37 years to life in prison.

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Olivieri, now 18, was tried as an adult and convicted on two counts of murder: one in the first degree for the death of Salvatore DiNubile, and the other in the third degree for Caleer Miller, both 16 years old.

DiNubile and Miller were shot at 12th and Ritner streets on Oct. 24, 2017.

Olivieri and Miller were friends, but prosecutors — as well as testimony from eyewitnesses, surveillance video and text messages — concur that Olivieri went out “looking for trouble” that night. Because of a bruised ego from a previous fight, they say, Olivieri shot and killed DiNubile. They tussled over the gun, and Miller was shot in the process.

During the trial, prosecutors showed an Instagram group direct message in which Olivieri said he wanted to “pop” everyone in a picture — including DiNubile and his friends.

Outside the courthouse Monday, family members of the victims agreed with the sentence, but it doesn’t change life for them.

Caleer Miller Sr., the teen’s father, testified among a sober courtroom that he does not know if he’ll ever find closure.

“I’m somewhat happy. I mean, I’m still heartbroken,” he said, “because there were two wonderful kids that life has … taken away too early.”

The DiNubiles read a statement that said, in part, that the sun never rises for them, and it’s a struggle each day.

“There’s no closure. There’s never going to be closure,” said Salvatore DiNubile Sr. “Our lives are over. I just hope that he spends the rest of his life in jail, and I hope he doesn’t enjoy it. I hope it’s very painful. I hope he dies.”

Ciarra Bianculli was one of several who provided victim witness statements on behalf of DiNubile, her brother.

“It’s painful not having him,” she said. “He was my best friend. We did homework together. We napped together. We waited for dinner together. We did everything together.”

She said she will keep her brother’s legacy alive as she pursues a career in law.

“He wanted to go to law school,” Bianculli added, “and I hope I can carry out his dream, as best as he wanted to himself.”

Marta Olivieri testified on her son’s behalf, but cried while listening to friends and relatives of the victims. Since the shooting, she said her house has been shot at 54 times. She believes people were trying to harm and intimidate them.

She had asked more 300 people to give character witness references, but she said they were too scared to do so.

While speaking to the judge before the sentencing, Olivieri maintained his innocence.

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Cop shoots teen who crashed stolen school bus on Walt Whitman Bridge

UPDATED: 2:15 p.m.

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A 17-year-old boy suspected of stealing a $60,000 school bus was shot in a confrontation with Delaware River Port Authority officers on the Walt Whitman Bridge early Monday morning.

The teenager is in the hospital in stable condition.

Authorities say he stole the school bus in West Deptford just after 11:30 p.m. Sunday, leading police on a pursuit that ended on the bridge.

West Deptford Police Chief Sean McKenna said one of his officers saw a school bus driving erratically.

“Thought it was odd that a bus was out at this time of night. Made an erratic turn onto Mantua Grove Road. He pulled behind, noticed that it didn’t have a license plate on,” McKenna said.

He followed the bus onto I-295 and turned on his lights and siren, but the bus only sped up. At exit 25, the teen was driving so erratically that the officer cut off the pursuit and notified the New Jersey State Police and Delaware River Port Authority.

“We were notified that the DRPA confronted the individual and ended up stopping on the Walt Whitman Bridge,” McKenna said. “And the suspect confronted the officers with a knife. And at that point, the officers fired and stopped the suspect.”

In a statement released early Monday afternoon, the DRPA said its officers were faced with “an unfortunate situation” after someone crashed a stolen bus in the eastbound lanes of travel. 

The officers involved in the encounter were not injured. The Philadelphia Police Department is assisting in this investigation, and the DRPA is fully cooperating.

The resulting police investigation on the bridge threw a temporary monkey wrench in the works for morning commuters heading into New Jersey. Traffic was reduced to only the far left lane on a stretch of the eastbound side of the bridge as the police blocked all other lanes to gather evidence. The bus was towed around 8:30 a.m., and all lanes were opened thereafter. 

Holcomb Bus Services in Bellmawr, N.J., said it was in the process of buying the bus, which was stolen from the dealership.

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KYW Newsradio’s Molly Daly contributed to this report. Stay with KYW Newsradio for more on this developing story.

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Walt Whitman bridge jammed for school bus crash, police investigation

UPDATED: 10:40 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A police investigation on the Walt Whitman Bridge threw a temporary monkey wrench in the works for morning commuters heading into New Jersey on Monday morning.

Traffic was reduced to only the far left lane on an eastbound stretch of the bridge as the police blocked all other lanes as a crime scene.

A small school bus had crashed into a barrier, and there were police cars with flashing lights and out gathering evidence. Holcomb Bus Services says it was in the process of buying the bus, which was stolen from the dealership in South Jersey. Police have not disclosed what exactly happened and who was involved.

The bus was towed around 8:30 a.m., and all lanes were opened thereafter. 

Police are also not commenting on any possible connection between the crash and reports of shots fired shortly before 1 a.m.

Philadelphia Police Capt. Sekou Kinebrew has confirmed that the Delaware River Port Authority is handling the investigation, and not the Philadelphia Police Department. Mike Williams with DRPA says the agency is expecting to release more information later in theday. 

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Stay with KYW Newsradio for more on this developing story.

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State DA association push back against Krasner’s argument that death penalty should be ruled unconstitutional

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The group representing county prosecutors is pushing back against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s argument that Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court should declare the death penalty is unconstitutional. 

The Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association argues Krasner isn’t trying to say the death penalty statute as written is unconstitutional. 

Instead, in a filing last week, the PDAA claims Krasner wants the state Supreme Court to abolish the death penalty based largely on what, they argue, is a report commissioned by the Pennsylvania legislature filled with “biased policy arguments and misleading data.”

The PDAA also points out Krasner tried to make an argument of racial bias by looking at Philadelphia death penalty cases, but PDAA executive director Lindsay Vaughn says the data he relies on contradicts his argument.

Related: Philly DA wants Pa. Supreme Court to rule state’s death penalty unconstitutional

“They drew the conclusion studying 18 counties across the Commonwealth that prosecutors actually sought the death penalty at lower rates for black defendants than white defendants or Hispanic defendants,” Vaughn said. 

Bucks County DA Matt Weintraub says not every first-degree murder case carries the death penalty, as state law reserves it only for the worst of the worst.

“The district attorneys across Pennsylvania are not blood thirsty people. We apply the death penalty very judiciously, very sparingly and only when it absolutely should be applied,” Weintraub said. 

The PDAA also argues the Supreme Court doesn’t have authority to decide if the death penalty should be the law. That, they say, is up to the legislature.

Oral arguments are scheduled for Sept. 11.

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First-ever bill on regulating PFAS has passed US House

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Investigation of toxic chemicals found in firefighting foam is included in the first-ever bill passed in the U.S. House which will regulate PFAS. But environmental advocates say we are only seeing the tip of this toxic iceberg. 

A package of amendments has been added to the National Defense Authorization Act, which will require the defense department and the Environmental Protection Agency to monitor and clean up PFAS. 

Congressman Brendan Boyle has been pushing for PFAS legislation for five years.

“It would create an online health database for military personnel, because a lot of the focus so far, understandably, has been on longtime residents. But there hasn’t been as much focus on those who worked on the bases, for sometimes, decades,” Boyle said. 

Boyle says this bill is a good start, but “Some steps have been taken but they are just completely insufficient like putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.”

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“I can’t underscore how little law is on the books regards to PFAS chemicals. We don’t know about most of the contamination. We don’t know most of the sources of contamination. There are no requirements to restrict new PFAS discharges into the air and water,” said Scott Faber, who is with the Environmental Working Group, which has compiled a map of PFAS contamination across the country.

The bill had bipartisan support. 

The EWG estimates that more than 100 million Americans could be drinking PFAS contaminated tap water. 

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Kids get a chance to give their input to help redevelop recreation center

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia’s tiniest residents get a chance to give their input on the redevelopment of a neighborhood park, and the job is no small task.

The city of Philadelphia is investing $1.8 million in redeveloping the Heitzman Recreation Center in Harrowgate.

Part of that renovation includes a new playground to replace the tattered slides and play set that are currently there.

“One little boy really wants a maze, so I’m going to transfer that into an obstacle course,” said Julie Bush, principal at Ground Reconsidered, the landscape architecture company redesigning the play area.

She and her group held a workshop with kids at the center, where they got the kids’ feedback through drawings and writings on what they want in a new park. 

“They’re going to be the ones using it, and at the end of the day, we’re not going to be here. Once it’s said and done, they’re the ones who are going to have to maintain it and use it and love it,” Bush said. 

Nathan had some pretty lofty expectations for the park.

“Arcade games, water slides,” he said. 

Honesty had a more grounded approach.

“Playhouses for the little ones, dog parks for the dogs, because we have a lot of dogs come here, and swings,” she said. 

Bush says they are going to consider the ideas given to them by their tiny clients as they draw up their plans for the playground.

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Climatologist: Climate change cranking up severity of heat waves, other extreme weather events

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As much of the U.S. swelters in dangerously hot temperatures, scientists say they expect heat waves to become more frequent, and a distinguished climate scientist gave insight how a warming planet is affecting our weather.

Michael Mann, director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, said there are various types of extreme weather that are intensified by climate change.

“You warm up the planet, you’re going to get more prolonged, more intense heat. And we’re seeing that. You warm up the ground, you dry it out, you get worse droughts. You take drought, combine it with heat, you get worse wildfire,” he explained. 

And because a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, when it rains, you get larger amounts of it at a time. 

At the same time, parts of the Arctic are warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, leading to the loss of sea ice. Mann said that’s slowing the jet stream, allowing us to get stuck in extreme weather patterns. 

“Weather patterns have become more persistent, where they just stick around for longer. That’s when you see the sorts of unprecedented heat waves, the floods, and wildfires that we’ve seen over recent summers. And that’s part of why a large part of the eastern U.S. has had the rainiest 12-month period on record,” he said. 

Now that the effects of climate change on our weather are no longer subtle, Mann hopes it may prompt the public to push for the one thing that can lessen its severity – a quick transition to renewable energy.

Mann acknowledges that it’ll take a monumental effort.

“A mass mobilization of the sort that we saw in World War II, or that we saw with the Apollo project, where it just focused our effort on a key goal.”

It sounds daunting, but so did putting a man on the moon.  

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A look at the heat dome the Delaware Valley is experiencing and special protections you should take

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The hottest stretch of summer has been ripping through the Delaware Valley for the last few days, and this heat brings some unique qualities you should be aware of when you face it.

It’s no secret that the Delaware Valley, along with most of the country, is in the middle of a heat wave. But it’s a little different than what we’re used to seeing, according to CBS 3 Meteorologist Matt Peterson. 

He said this system, known as a heat dome, is something that ensures no relief from the hot temperature. 

“When we get this high pressure that’s there for a really long time, it tends to allow the same places to heat up and not really cool down. And when they don’t cool down, then you heat up even faster the following day. So you get prolonged periods of high heat and high humidity when you are underneath the heat dome,” Peterson explained. 

He said they are nothing new, but they are different from the past.

Related: It’s not your imagination. It’s exceptionally hot out there

“You always have stretches here in Philadelphia where it’s been hot, it’s been humid, and it’s been well above average. But what we’re starting to notice is the periods of the high heat and high humidity, they’re even hotter and more humid than they used to be and they’re happening more often,” he said. 

Peterson said he can’t reiterate enough the importance of staying hydrated, wearing loose clothing and staying inside under cool air as much as possible.

“If you do have to be outside, short periods of time that is the best thing, 10-15 minutes tops,” he said.

He added you need to be on alert for symptoms of heat exhaustion.

“Seeing someone that is suffering from symptoms such as being dizzy, if they faint, if you have excessive sweating, a weak and rapid pulse.” 

He said for people experiencing heat exhaustion, get them inside, get a cool compress on their head and neck and make sure they get slow sips of water.

You also run the risk of getting a heat stroke when facing a heat wave if you aren’t properly taking care of yourself.  

“You usually end up with a bad headache, you don’t sweat at all. You’ll have dry skin, you could be nauseous, and unfortunately the other symptom is falling unconscious,” he explained. 

If that happens, call 911 to get help.

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Philadelphia’s free summer sleep-away camp for kids gets funding from controversial labor leader

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — For the third year, Philadelphia will send 200 kids to sleep-away camp in the Poconos free of charge.

Camp Philly, as it’s called, is a Philadelphia Parks and Recreation program, but it’s funded with private donations from local businesses and unions. The announcement created a photo opportunity for one local union leader with legal problems.

Parks and recreation commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell led a news conference to thank Camp Philly’s lead sponsors, and she had a lot to thank Building Trades leader John Dougherty for, not just this year’s $100,000.

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“Next year, we will give you $100,000 from the Philadelphia Building Trades so that you don’t have to worry about, you can plan next year,” Dougherty said. 

Dougherty’s last public appearance was in federal court for a hearing in his bribery case, when he made no comment. 

The Camp Philly announcement gave him a chance to highlight the union’s good work and his relationship with Mayor Jim Kenney, as he reminisced about their childhood playground at Second and Jackson streets and how quickly the mayor called him after getting elected.

“I guess it was maybe week number two, and the mayor called to make sure the Philadelphia Building Trades were going to be real active in his administration and he wanted more kids from the neighborhoods into the trades, but maybe the second or third thing that we talked about was Second and Jackson,” Dougherty said.

The mayor also reminisced about their South Philly childhood, making it clear he feels no need to distance himself despite Dougherty’s indictment.  

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The theories about why the lunar landing didn’t happen

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As we mark the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing, we must not forget the conspiracies that surround that event.  

It didn’t really happen because, one, NASA realized it couldn’t be done, but too much money had been spent; two, we had to beat the Soviets in the space race; or three, it was to distract the public from the Vietnam War. 

These are a few of the conspiracy theories Derek Arnold has heard. Arnold teaches the rhetoric of conspiracy theories at Villanova. 

One of the best known theories is that NASA hired filmmaker Stanley Kubrick to stage the lunar landing. 

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“They built a special TV studio, or movie set, and he filmed the first moon landing there. And you can find things that show that he was occupied in other places during that time,” Arnold said. 

Arnold says the lure of conspiracy theories is deep rooted.

“Folks have a tendency to feel that they are separated from the inside stories, and so they find a feel a little bit lack of power, lack of control, and lack of trust in the government, especially right after Watergate when some of these conspiracies really jumped out,” he explained. 

He says the more people are involved in a conspiracy, the less chance it will remain a secret. And since NASA had thousands of workers and contractors, Arnold says it’s highly unlikely that the landing was faked.

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Police say 2 shot at ManorCare nursing home in Delaware

Wilmington, Del. (KYW Newsradio) — Authorities say two people have been shot inside the ManorCare nursing home in Wilmington, Delaware. 

State police say there is no immediate threat to the public at this time. 

The condition of the two victims is currently unknown. 

The incident, authorities day, happened around 1 p.m. 

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In West Philadelphia, many spend the day at Lancaster Jazz and Arts Festival

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Jazz and art was celebrated this weekend in West Philadelphia. 

The 13th annual Lancaster Avenue Jazz and Arts Festival took place at Saunders Park in West Philadelphia. Lou Smith, who now lives in Burlington Township, New Jersey, explained what he enjoys about this festival.

“Just the fellowship of a lot people spending a hot day listening to some cool jazz,” he said. 

Trish Downey is with the People’s Emergency Center, a social services provider that’s the main organizer behind the festival.

“We’ve got some tents out here to provide some shade, we’ve got a full stage. This particular group that’s coming up now has 17 instruments playing, so they go from like 17 instruments to like three and a vocalist, all different stuff all day long,” Downey said. 

And as the name suggests, this wasn’t just a jazz festival. Karen Christie who was selling jewelry with her daughter described some of the other vendors set up out here.

“Afrocentric clothing, artwork, a lot of eclectic things you just don’t get normally at stores,” she said. 

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It’s not your imagination. It’s exceptionally hot out there

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia may be approaching some record weather temperatures this weekend. 

Meteorologist Jonathan O’Brien with the National Weather Service in Mt. Holly confirms it’s not your imagination, it is unusually hot this weekend.

“We’re gonna be close to some records over the next couple of days here. We’re looking at high temperatures generally in the mid to upper 90s to around about 100, which is pretty high heat even for the summertime especially to get to consecutive days (of triple digit temperatures),” he said. 

And he says if records are going to be broken, most likely this is the week for that to happen.

“This current week, you know this middle of July, climatologically, is the hottest time of the year. So the records for this time of the year are among the highest we see.”

O’Brien says whether or not temperatures actually hit triple digits for consecutive days, humidity in the air will make it feel even hotter outside.

“The high temperatures, we’re expecting to be close to 100, but another concern with this particular heat wave is that it’s going to be a very humid heat wave,” he explained. 

“So it’s going to feel like it’s more like 105-115 degrees outside,” he added. 

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City extends helping hand to small businesses that might otherwise get overlooked

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The City of Philadelphia is working to make sure some of its special projects give all Philadelphians a chance to get to work.

“Rebuild” is the city’s initiative to revitalize parks, recreation centers and libraries.

“Especially in neighborhoods that haven’t had investment, sometimes for generations,” said executive director Nicole Westerman.

She says they want the work being done on those sites to reflect the city, and provide opportunities to those who need them.

“We’re looking for Rebuild to provide an opportunity for small, diverse, Philadelphia businesses to grow and become more sustainable,” she explained.

For the last 12 years, Lou Rodriguez has worked as president and CEO of his engineering and consulting firm.

Related: City to unveil long-awaited Rebuild project aimed at diversifying local unions

He says a lot of times little guys like him are relegated to subcontracting jobs, something that keeps them from getting ahead.

But Rebuild is helping them, as they work to help reshape neighborhoods.

“Rebuild is really providing what a lot of firms, like mine, are really looking for as a small business — a chance to work directly for the owner and get a chance to build a resume on capital projects,” he said.

Rodriguez says for him this project works two fold.

“We have some great park assets in Philadelphia, but they’ve certainly been neglected for years, this is a great opportunity for us to work on a project in the neighborhood that we’re in,” he said.

Officials with Rebuild say the project has a goal of 30 to 35% minority-owned business participation and 25 to 30% for professional services contracts.

For women-owned businesses those numbers are 15 to 20%.

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