Hotline, Winter 2003
by Suzanne Seppi, Executive Director
As 2003 begins, let’s take a look back at GASP’s activities over the highways and through the courtrooms, classrooms, and smokestacks of 2002.
A primary, vital and ongoing activity for GASP is acting as a watchdog on environmental proposals and regulations in western Pennsylvania.
Perhaps our most important watchdog action on the legal front was a legal action against the redesignation of this area from moderate non-attainment into attainment for the one-hour ozone standard. We are presently nearing the end of negotiations in an appeal process and will likely have the results available in the next issue of the Hotline.2002 marked the final agreement between the U.S. Justice Dept., LTV Corp. and GASP, as an Intervenor, in a legal action filed by the U.S. against LTV Steel for serious violations of air pollution laws at their LTV coke plant in Hazelwood. GASP was awarded $100,000 in the settlement to be used for community projects as designated by a local Hazelwood citizens’ group. Unfortunately in the midst of the legal action, LTV declared bankruptcy, thus making the $100,000 more monopoly money than real dollars. Nevertheless, the total fine was very large — approximately $5.9 million. This substantial amount will stand as a warning to other would-be polluters.
Walter Goldburg, former GASP President, was elected to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) Air Quality Advisory Committee. Executive Director Sue Seppi was appointed a member of the Allegheny County Environmental Strategic Planning Steering Committee. Board member Marilyn Skolnick is a member of the PA State Small Business Advisory Committee, and board member Beth Toor represents GASP as a member of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission Public Participation Panel. GASP board members also sit on the ACHD Air Quality subcommittees. Board members, volunteers, and staff participate at a variety of meetings concerning environmental issues throughout the year.
GASP’s members have the opportunity to meet GASP board members, staff and volunteers, and learn more about the work we’re doing at our public events.
This year’s Annual Meeting, entitled “Drive Cleaner, Drive Greener,” was a very special time for GASPers, as preeminent environmental advocate, U.S. Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), was our featured speaker. He was joined by the head of the Environmental Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, Professor Cliff Davidson. Both provided local and national insights on our energy future. Test rides were available in hybrid electric and natural gas vehicles.
GASP held a viewing of the movie, “Blue Vinyl,” which showed the story of polyvinyl chloride, a very common product, including its serious pollution problems. GASP provided the venue and the popcorn for a lively crowd, and Bill Smedley of Greenwatch provided an in-depth discussion of the issue after the movie.
Earth Day is an example of the many events in which GASP is a participating member. GASP was one of over 30 organizations participating in the 2002 Earth Day event at the Frick Environmental Education Center. GASP board members regularly volunteer to hand out literature and speak about our many environmental activities.
In addition to monthly board meetings, GASP held fairly regular committee meetings in 2002 in order to better organize our efforts. Committees include: Executive and Policy, Development (with subcommittees Membership and Events), Nominating, Financial, and Communications Committees. If you have interest in any of these areas and would like to join a committee, please contact the GASP office at (412) 441-6640 or email@example.com.
GASP works on important issues through many individual programs and projects. The eight listed below were our main focus in 2002. If you are especially interested in any of them, please contact the GASP office to find out how to learn more or get involved.
GASP is providing education about better, cleaner vehicle choices. The health effects of diesel emissions and alternatives for school buses is a central topic in the GASPer Air Monitor Program. Additionally, GASP is working to educate consumers about more fuel efficient, cleaner cars and new vehicle technology. This was a main theme at our recent Annual Meeting.
GASP is administering a three-year long “Smokereaders Program.” This program trains up to 10 citizen opacity readers to report their smokestack inspections and alert the ACHD Air Quality Program to excess smoke emissions. In 2002, several opacity problems were observed and reported.
GASP is targeting odor relief in Allegheny County. We sponsored several billboards in the Neville Island area that provided a phone number for the ACHD Foul Odor Hotline (412-687-ACHD). We also did a direct mailing to this area with this same information. GASP proposed to the ACHD Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee a more rigorous odor reduction plan, including purchasing new equipment. The equipment purchase has been approved by the Board of Health. We continue advocacy work within the Advisory Committee on these problems.