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UPDATED: GASP Rallies with Residents & Advocates Prior to Shareholder Vote Approving Sale of U.S. Steel to Nippon Steel

Photo courtesy of our friends at the Breathe Project.

The Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) on Friday afternoon joined residents and fellow environmental advocates at a rally outside the U.S. Steel building in downtown Pittsburgh in advance of a meeting where U.S. Steel shareholders voted to approve the sale of the company to Nippon Steel.

Our message was clear: Regardless of who is at the helm of the company, leadership must commit to a corporate future that prioritizes the public health of its neighbors in the Mon Valley and beyond - a future that marks an end to U.S. Steel’s legacy of pollution and community harm.

Our Executive Director Patrick Campbell was among those who spoke at the rally. Here are his comments in case you missed it:

Good afternoon. My name is Patrick Campbell, I am the executive director of the Group Against Smog and Pollution - or GASP- a nonprofit watchdog organization working to improve regional air quality since 1969.

It’s so heartening to see so many of our neighbors literally bringing their own seats to the proverbial decision-making table today.

The potential sale of the United States Steel Corporation to Japan-based Nippon Steel has been in the international spotlight for months. It’s been fodder for news outlets, trade associations, business analysts, and politicians.

But every international story has hyper local impacts. Just ask some of the folks here with us today, many of whom are our neighbors living in the shadow of U.S. Steel’s Mon Valley Works facilities.

They have worked for decades to hold the steelmaking giant accountable for the way its operations have fouled our air and marred our skyline. And that work continues today.

So far this year, our local air quality regulators have already issued more than $2 million in civil penalties to U.S. Steel for emission-related violations in the Mon Valley. And the company has - and continues to - fight those enforcement actions through its army of corporate attorneys.

It’s been well documented in court cases and media coverage that U.S. Steel has long maintained a “don’t buy, get by” mentality that favored band aid fixes at the Mon Valley Works to major operational upgrades.

At nearly every turn here in Allegheny County, U.S. Steel has fought our health department’s attempts to get the Mon Valley Works back into compliance with air quality rules. Meanwhile, U.S. Steel held themselves up as consummate good neighbors in slick public relations campaigns and through strategic partnerships.

We are here today to tell U.S. Steel and Nippon that any change in ownership needs to come with a change in company culture - one that truly prioritizes public health.

Because at the epicenter of this potential multi-billion deal is a community of people who deserve better than what U.S. Steel has given them. At the center of this deal is a community with higher-than-average cancer risk and spiking childhood asthma rates thanks to our region’s chronic air pollution problem.

At the heart of this deal are actual human beings who have suffered actual environmental harms because of U.S. Steel’s history of noncompliance with air quality rules. And we’re here today to let these shareholders know that no matter who is at the helm of the company, GASP will be watching and ready to use all our resources to hold polluters accountable. To let them know that we will continue to fight with - and for - neighborhoods in the Mon Valley and a clean air future for the region.

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