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Life (and Environmental Advocacy) is a Game of Inches – How YOU Can Help GASP Go Farther

Dear Fellow Breathers,

They say life is a game of inches. We think environmental advocacy is, too. For us, the fight for cleaner air started back in 1969 in our founder’s living room, and with your help, we’ve been growing and scrapping ever since. While the wheels of progress move more slowly than any of us would like,  it’s crucial to stop every once in a while and assess just how far all those inches have brought us. Now is one of those times. 

Over the past year, we’ve seen those wheels move just a little faster, slowly gaining momentum.  And if there’s one thing that we’ve learned over the past 53 years, it’s that momentum matters. 

Case in point: Hydrogen sulfide (or H2S for short). If you live within smelling distance of the Mon Valley, you know the tell-tale H2S stench of rotten eggs all too well. You know how it seeps into your home, how it can be so overpowering that it wakes you from sleep, how it can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat.

GASP intensified our work on H2S  over the past year, demanding that the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) get to the bottom of what was causing regular exceedances of the H2S standard in the Mon Valley as well as develop a plan to remedy the problem.

Many of you reading this joined us at public hearings and spoke up at Board of Health meetings to send the message to our county about air quality: we deserve more from our public health leaders. 

They’re starting to listen. 

The ACHD announced in March that it had conducted a comprehensive study analyzing the potential sources of H2S driving exceedances of Pennsylvania’s 24-hour average standard at its Liberty Borough air quality monitor – exactly the sort of in-depth study GASP has advocated for over the past few years. The study found – and we’re quoting directly: “Based on all available data and resources, H2S exceedances that occurred at the Liberty site during the period of 

Jan. 1, 2020, through March 1, 2022, can be attributed entirely to emissions originating at US Steel’s Clairton coking facility.”

That mic drop was followed days later by the announcement of a $1.8 million enforcement action against U.S. Steel for a spate of H2S violations at its Clairton Coke Works. A few days after, the ACHD issued yet another multi-million dollar fine against the steel-making giant for even more air quality violations at the coke facility.

Just this month came some very good news: approval of a $30,000 Clean Air Fund request to finance the development of a research study to measure the impact of hydrogen sulfide and other airborne pollutants on the health of Allegheny County residents.

To us, these actions exemplify how much can be accomplished when watchdog organizations like us team up with people like you – people who aren’t afraid to say, “We deserve better. Now we’re demanding better.”

Over the past few months, GASP has welcomed new board members and expanded the scope of our watchdog work. We’ve embarked on a new era of education and activism and hope you’ll join us for the ride. You really have been the best co-pilot.

We promise it will be worth it. Right now, there are many exciting programs in the works. This summer, we’ll begin our Air Quality Ambassador work with the ACHD, helping to educate the community about the Mon Valley Air Pollution Episode Rule and ensuring they are armed with the best information and signed up for public health alerts.

GASP will also be starting a brand new “boot camp” for local elected officials to help them understand all things air quality, and what they can do to be better public health stewards.

Given all this positive change, we thought it would be fitting to announce something else that’ll be different about GASP moving forward: our logo (check out that image above). While we loved our colorful, ‘70s-era emblem, it’s time for us to show outwardly what we’ve known to be true for quite a while; we’ve evolved. With your support, we’ll continue to evolve. 

When you make a donation, know we greatly appreciate the support and will put that money to good use. You can donate by check or via our website here. If you prefer, our member services manager Kathy Lawson can also process credit card donations over the phone – just email her at kathy@gasp-pgh.org

Let’s work together to keep the momentum and the wheels of progress moving.

Yours For Clean Air,

Patrick Campbell, Executive Director

Jonathan Nadle, President

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Group Against Smog and Pollution