Allegheny County announced in a press release Wednesday that $2.3 million has been awarded to fund five projects in Mon Valley communities centered on electrification of municipal vehicles and tree planting.
Funding for the five projects comes from the Clean Air Fund, a repository for fines and penalties assessed by the Health Department’s Air Quality Program against polluters.
While the project numbers might appear balanced – three electrification projects and two for trees – the funding is not: 96% of the money awarded will go to new equipment and a paltry 4% to nature’s air filtration system.
Per the release, the projects are:
$750,000 to the Steel Rivers Council of Governments, a group that provides support to 19 municipalities in the Mon Valley region, to replace its existing 2006 diesel-powered street sweeper with an electric street sweeper. The organization's current street sweeper will be decommissioned and scrapped.
$748,339 to West Mifflin Borough to replace its existing 2007 diesel-powered refuse truck with an electric rear-load garbage packer, as well as install two electric vehicle charging stations and an electrical service upgrade at the vehicle site. Installation of the new electric infrastructure will support the new truck and ensure that the planned conversion to an all-electric municipal vehicle fleet is practicable for the borough. The Borough’s current 2007 diesel-powered refuse truck will be rendered inoperable and scrapped.
$700,000 to Swissvale Borough to replace its existing 2016 trash collection truck and 2014 recycling truck with electric versions, as well as install two charging stations at the borough's Public Works Department. The Borough will disable and scrap its existing trucks.
$92,000 to Tree Pittsburgh for two separate projects. The first grant will see 75 caliper, balled, and burlap trees planted in the Woodland Hills School District. The second will support the planting of 75 caliper, balled, and burlap trees in the Steel Valley School District. Both plantings will take place as part of the organization's One Tree Per Child program designed to engage students in hands-on educational activities, including tree planting and care.
Allegheny County Health Department regulations require that Clean Air Fund projects “support activities related to the improvement of air quality within Allegheny County” or “support activities [that] will increase or improve knowledge concerning air pollution, its causes, its effects, and the control thereof.”
Reducing diesel pollution is critical to improving air quality, but call us unconvinced that scrapping two trucks fewer than 10 years old is a prudent use of the Fund.
On a related note, thanks to all who supported our efforts recently to urge better management of the Clean Air Fund.