Updated: Sep 12, 2022
Vintage photographs like these capture the way intense smog blotted out the sun on all-too-many Pittsburgh mornings.
Members of GASP (and those who follow us) have heard plenty about the ways in which regional air quality has been impacted by industrial bad actors like U.S. Steel and its Mon Valley Works facilities.
As an air quality watchdog group from way back (1969, to be exact), GASP has been witness to decades of drama between the steel-making giant and the government agencies tasked with regulating it.
We helped lead the charge against U.S. Steel and other polluters when their smokestacks belched out so much air pollution that Pittsburgh was famously referred to as “hell with the lid off.” We were there in the 1970s when a killer inversion prompted the first of what would be decades of discussion about the need to mitigate air pollution during episodic weather events.
Fast forward to 2019, and GASP was among those demanding answers in the wake of a Christmas Eve fire that ripped through U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works, knocking out air pollution-control devices for more than three months (and all the things that followed *that*).
GASP was NOT there, however, for the U.S. Steel origin story – during those first days and decades of the company’s presence here in our region. And that’s a story worth learning about and better understanding.
That’s why we’re honored to co-sponsor an event that explores the relationship between Pittsburgh, U.S. Steel, and the people and places that have figured prominently in the past 120 years of the company’s existence.
So please mark your calendars for, “Community Voices: Pittsburgh, the United States Steel Corporation, and 120 Years of Extraction” from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 7. The virtual event will feature the work of our friend Chie Togami, a University of Pittsburgh World History Center Graduate Student Assistant in Public History.
Chie will lead a virtual presentation and conversation about her three-part podcast series, “Extraction,” which explores the “world-historical connections between Pittsburgh, the U.S. Steel Corporation, and people and places around the world that have figured deeply into the legacy of this transnational corporation.”
“The roots of this project began with my own embodied experience with air quality, and my quest to understand how, in the year 2021, a corporation like U.S. Steel could continue to poison an entire region,” Chie said. “As activists, we often hear the phrase ‘all systems of oppression are connected.’ As this project shows, a major reason why air pollution is such an intractable issue is that it is inseparable from a host of historic and contemporary systems of injustice–from peonage to white supremacy, to imperialism, to capitalism.”
The event will feature a panel of local activists featured in the podcast. You can get more details and register for the Oct. 7 event.