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UPDATED: Allegheny County Council Votes Unanimously to Approve Mon Valley Air Pollution Episodic Regulations, Fitzgerald’s Signature Makes Them Official

Note: This story was updated at 6:16 p.m. Sept. 14 to reflect information from Allegheny County Council’s meeting and again on Sept. 23 to reflect that the new rules have been signed into law by Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Allegheny County Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a long-sought Mon Valley Air Pollution Episode rules.  The vote came after Council’s Health and Human Service committee affirmatively recommended the episodic weather regulation Sept 8. The regulations were signed into law by Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald on Sept. 15.

The aim of the new regulations? To reduce particulate matter in the Mon Valley during periods of stagnant weather patterns, which are often a driver of subpar air quality and exceedances of state and federal standards.

For those who might not be familiar: The proposed reg will require facilities in the defined Mon Valley area that produce more than 6.5 tons of pm2.5 annually and/or more than 10 tons of pm10 annually to create and submit to ACHD “Mitigation Plans” for periods when poor air quality is forecast. 

ACHD anticipates the new regulation affecting 18 facilities in 32 municipalities.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • During the “Watch” phase, facilities such as U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works must conduct basic checks to ensure equipment is in good working order but also ensure they have adequate staff to take actions required under the “Warning” phase. 
  • Once a “Warning” is issued, facilities must undertake the actions listed in the mitigation plans they filed with ACHD. The particular actions will be specific to each facility and approved on a case-by-case basis.
  • The proposed change will also ban all wood-burning activities when a Mon Valley Air Pollution Watch or Warning has been issued in the defined municipalities.

GASP thanks council for its yes vote.

“As we’ve said: No, it’s not everything that we had hoped for but it’s progress and we thank council for greenlighting the regulation,” GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini said.

Editor’s Note: GASP submitted public comments in support of the regs. You can read those and others on our Public Comments page.

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