Local Elected Officials ask ACHD for Tougher Action on Air Quality Rules

Thursday, April 1, 2021
PA_Clairton Coke Works

23 Mayors, County Council and local Council Members sign joint letter

(Pittsburgh) – 23 local elected officials from throughout Allegheny County signed a joint letter sent to Dr. Debra Bogen, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), asking for improvements in proposed new air quality rules currently under consideration.

One of the signatories, Mayor Chardae Jones of Braddock stated, “Cleaner air would mean a better Braddock. We can no longer accept that ‘it's not as bad as it used to be,’ as an answer. ACHD can help us breath better and we deserve tighter regulations on air quality.”

Mayor Nickole Nesby of Duquesne stated, “It is estimated that thousands of people die prematurely as a result of air pollution every year. These deaths are costing us millions of dollars in health care alone.  In these situations, it is the marginalized communities of color that are impacted the most.  I know many of the children here in Duquesne have asthma and respiratory diseases.”

Altogether, elected officials from 13 different communities were represented, including Mayors signing from Bellevue, Ben Avon, Braddock, Duquesne, Forest Hills, Pittsburgh, and Wilkinsburg. Local officials from Aspinwall, Dormont, Emsworth, Harrison, Sewickley, and Wilkins were also on the letter.

Bethany Hallam, Allegheny County Council At-Large Member stated, "As an elected Allegheny County Council member with a job that includes overseeing the quality of air that my constituents breathe, I know that changes are good for all of us. I look forward to seeing the Allegheny County Health Department do the right thing for all of us."

ACHD is currently considering two proposed air pollution regulations, one an update to the Coke Oven regulations and one that would specifically ask companies to reduce emissions during episodes of unhealthy air in the Mon Valley. Both of these rules are currently in draft form and have not come to the Board of Health for a final vote. If the Board of Health approves a new air regulation, County Council must then vote to approve or reject it.

The letter applauds ACHD for initiating a process to improve air pollution regulations, however, it then states, “[W]e are concerned that this step is not enough to provide the relief our constituents need to protect the health of their families.” The letter then details suggested areas where ACHD’s proposals could be improved to make the rules more effective in addressing air quality problems.

Myron Arnowitt, Pennsylvania Director for Clean Water Action stated, “Many residents who have concerns about air quality often feel their views are being ignored. These elected officials are showing real leadership in supporting their constituents right to clean air.”

The entire letter with list of signatories can be found here.

A coalition of residents concerned with clean air will be holding a Resident Led Town Hall on Tuesday, April 6, from 12 – 1pm over zoom. Residents will be bringing their stories about how poor air quality in Allegheny County has impacted them, and have invited elected officials to attend to listen.  More information on the April 6 Town Hall can be found here.

 

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Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. We will protect clean water in the face of attacks from a polluter friendly Administration.

 

Myron Arnowitt
412-592-1283
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