Each week brings Pittsburgh another major accolade. Recent praise includes being listed by Forbes as one of America’s Best Places to Retire in 2015, Zillow naming Pittsburgh the Best Market for First-Time Home Buyers in 2015, and Zagat’s Top Food City of 2015.
World class hospitals, amazing museums and performance venues, abundant green space, and other important factors have earned us these accolades.
Unfortunately, we also come in near the top on most rankings of poor air quality. For almost two-thirds of 2015, the Pittsburgh region’s air quality was not “green” or “good,” days when the EPA considers air quality to be satisfactory.
Air pollution harms quality of life, makes people sick, and shortens lives. Having a reputation for poor air quality discourages people and companies from moving to the region, and keeps some college students from wanting to stay here after graduation.
One way GASP improves regional air quality is by educating people about the sources and effects of our air pollution, and what citizens can do to get more involved.
We’ve done a lot of educating this year: We hosted three Making the Connection events to help people understand the relationship between air pollution and our health (below left), educated members of Pitt’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, taught students about air pollution in the Wilkinsburg School District, and brought members new and old to speak with the photographers of the In the Air exhibit at Pittsburgh Filmmakers (below right).
This year, GASP staff and board members provided written or oral comment more than a dozen times to the Allegheny County Health Department, PA DEP, and federal EPA on everything from draft permits to proposed regulations. GASP legal staff increased their number of file reviews and Right-to-Know requests in 2015, thus increasing our ability to quickly respond to new sources of air pollution. By monitoring compliance data, we can identify sources that have been violating their permits and take appropriate actions to bring them into compliance.
We launched the Air Permits Clearinghouse to provide the public with a one-stop shop for learning about larger stationary sources of air pollution in southwestern Pennsylvania.
We continued our legal case against DTE Shenango Coke Works. Every quarter we checked and report on their compliance with multiple permit limitations. Shenango violated the limitations on the sulfur content of their coke oven gas, the door emissions standards, and the combustion stack opacity standards many times throughout 2015. While we recently learned that Shenango is closing soon, our important legal work continues with other facilities.
And we competed in the Green Workplace Challenge, coming in first place in our category and achieving double-digit percentage reductions in our energy use.
Another year of fighting for improved air quality is quickly coming to a close, but we’ve got lots on the horizon for next year. Your ongoing or new support will help us continue these important efforts. Please renew your membership or give an additional donation today! Donations can be made by check or at gasp-pgh.org. Membership to GASP makes a great gift as well (just let us know who the lucky recipients are).
Thank you for your support of better air quality!