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Air Advisory Committee Approves Health Department’s $578K Clean Air Fund Request, Still No Word on GASP Attorney Filling Board Vacancy

Members of Allegheny County’s Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved making more than $578,000 from the Clean Air Fund available to the Health Department to cover normal operating expenditures in 2021.

Why that amount? Allegheny County’s air pollution regulations allow the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) to use 5 percent of the Clean Air Fund balance annually tofund the normal operating costs of the County’s Air Quality Program.

ACHD air quality staff provided a breakdown of how the department spent that 5 percent allocation in 2020, as well as a general breakdown of how it plans to utilize the money this year.

Of that $578,684, ACHD in 2021 plans to spend up to:

  • $200,000 on legal support
  • $198,750 on what was described as services/interns
  • $60,000 on lab services and
  • $45,484 on supplies

Here were two slides presented at the meeting:

Per county regulations, this request still must be approved by the Board of Health before any money is transferred out of the Clean Air Fund.

ACHD air quality staff, however, was unable to provide any further details about those planned expenditures when pressed by committee members for more information.

“GASP is hopeful that the Allegheny County Health Department will provide a more detailed explanation of those expected costs at an upcoming meeting,” GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell said. “When it comes to Clean Air Fund expenditures, transparency is imperative.”

While there was no mention of it at Tuesday’s meeting, we are also hopeful that a key vacancy on the Air Advisory Committee created by the resignation of our former executive director Rachel Filippini will soon be filled by a familiar face: GASP senior staff attorney John Baillie.

GASP has written and called Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald – who is responsible for making nominations to county boards – to request he nominate John to the Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee ASAP.

Because that correspondence went unacknowledged, we encouraged residents to join us in sending Fitzgerald the message: Please ensure GASP continues to have a seat on the Air Pollution Control Advisory Committee by nominating John Baillie.

“We can’t think of a better candidate to fill that vacancy and thank the more than 100 people who joined us so far in asking Mr. Fitzgerald to make that nomination,” Campbell said. “It’s unfortunate that the county executive continues to ignore not only GASP’s request but the will of so many of his constituents.”

Editor’s Note: It’s not too late to send Fitzgerald a message. We have sample email language and a form that will route your email directly to his office:

Tell Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald: Appoint GASP's John Baillie to the Air Advisory Committee

Join us in asking Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald to appoint GASP's John Baillie to the Air Advisory Committee
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