It's Not Too Late to Comment on Clean Air Fund Changes, County’s Role in Funding Air Quality Program
The Allegheny County Health Department - the local agency charged with enforcing and monitoring air quality standards - is projecting a budget deficit for 2023 in excess of $750,000. To address that big ole’ budget hole, ACHD proposed two changes to how it funds its Air Quality Program.
One of the changes would permit ACHD to recover costs associated with regulatory enforcement actions directly instead of including those amounts in fines paid to the Clean Air Fund - something that GASP supports. As we’ve said: It just makes good fiscal sense.
We're not too sure about the second change.
It would allow the Air Quality Program to pay for some operational expenses through a larger contribution from the account that holds fines and penalties resulting from air quality violations – known as the Clean Air Fund – from 2023 through 2026. To put it another way, ACHD is seeking more Clean Air Fund money to shore up its bottom line.
Why are we raising a bit of a stink? Because County officials appear to have taken the position that cash from the Clean Air Fund is the *only* path to a well-funded Air Quality Program. We disagree.
Tapping the Clean Air Fund might be a convenient option, but it’s not the only option, and we don’t see the need to keep that tap open through 2026.
From our perspective, one reason we have an underfunded Air Quality Program is that county leaders have not done their part to prioritize clean air – a public health issue that impacts some of our most vulnerable neighbors and one of the most significant quality of life issues for many in our area.
If you’re asking yourself what you can do to make air quality enforcement, monitoring, and outreach a priority, please submit a public comment to tell ACHD that you support a well-funded Air Quality Program, but that draining more money from the Clean Air Fund just isn’t the way to do it.
Not sure how to do that? No worries - GASP has an explainer and easy form that will route your comments straight to ACHD.