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Cuts to EPA Will Significantly Impact Southwestern PA

The Trump administration has proposed cutting the EPA’s budget by 25%, down to $6.1 billion, and to reduce its workforce by 20%, down to 12,400 employees, for the fiscal year starting October 1. Some programs will be cut by 90% or more, or even wiped out completely. Many of these programs have greatly benefited Southwestern Pennsylvania. Since we still have…

Tell EPA to Count Toxic Releases from the Oil and Gas Industry

The Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) is a one-of-a-kind resource, in which industrial facilities annually report the type and amount of toxic chemicals they release to the land, air, water, and landfills. The information is high quality, comprehensive, and posted online for free. It can be searched by various ways, such as location of facility or type of industry. Communities, regulators,…

Pittsburgh Public School Buses Get Cleaner, But More Work Is Needed

Last summer, Pittsburgh Public Schools and the bus companies that provide student transportation to them finalized their Pupil Transportation Agreement. Part of the contract included the stipulation (shown at the end of this post) that requires all school buses being used to be equipped with emission reduction technology that greatly reduces the amount of toxic diesel pollution being emitted by…

Fellow Breathers–Give the Gift of Clean Air This Season!

Dear Fellow Breather, Another year is drawing to a close, and while some environmental victories have been achieved, our nation and our region still face serious environmental challenges—from climate change exacerbating droughts in one area and flooding in another, to rivers and streams contaminated by drilling waste, to harmful pollutants entering our bodies with each breath we take. Pittsburgh ranks…

A Major Source Permit That Has Major Problems

In October, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) issued the draft Title V Operating Permit for the ATI Allegheny Ludlum steel mill in Brackenridge. This Major Source of air pollution has never had a Title V permit in the fifteen years that ACHD has had the authority to issue them. A Major Source’s Title V Operating Permit is like a…

Almost One-Third of Major Sources of Air Pollution in Southwestern PA Do Not Have a Current Operating Permit

In August 2015 and May 2016, the Allegheny County Controller’s office reported on the Allegheny County Health Department’s (“ACHD”) compliance with regulations governing the timely issuance and renewal of operating permits for sources of air pollution in Allegheny County. The 2015 report discussed five major sources in the county that had never been issued operating permits. The 2016 report highlighted…

Local Nonprofits Demand Strong Permit for McConway and Torley Steel Foundry

On September 14, at the Allegheny County Board of Health meeting, a dozen local community and environmental non-profit organizations delivered a letter calling on Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the Health Department, to issue an operating permit to the McConway & Torley plant that would prioritize community health by meaningfully reducing emissions of benzene, manganese, and other pollutants from the…

You + GASP = Cleaner Air!

Dear Fellow Breather, As we welcome in warmer temperatures, we also dread an increase in high ozone pollution days, because summer weather is more favorable to ozone formation. Ozone is created by reactions of emissions from vehicle exhaust, industrial facilities, gasoline vapors, chemical solvents, and natural sources, in the presence of sunlight. In 2015, Allegheny County had nine air quality…

Methane From Natural Gas Industry Must Be Better Controlled

Methane is the second-most prevalent greenhouse gas in the U.S., and at least a quarter of it comes from our natural gas industry. It’s more than 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year span. Methane emissions from this industry must be addressed if we are to combat climate change. Public health is at risk from climate change….

Comment on Allegheny County’s 2017 Air Monitor Plan

In Allegheny County, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) manages a network of monitors that sample various pollutants in the county’s air. Each year, ACHD publishes their plans for the network and invites the public to comment on these plans. That’s where you come in! ACHD is taking comments on their 2017 plan, but only until 5 p.m. on June…