A Dangerous Haze

Sadly, the Pittsburgh area has some of the dirtiest air in the nation. Right now, the metropolitan area ranks 6th in the nation for year-round soot pollution and the American Lung Association graded the county with an F for its overall air quality. This is putting the health of local residents--and in some cases even their lives--at serious risk.

Just about everyone has a friend or family member who struggles with asthma and air pollution drastically increases their likelihood of an asthma attack that could send them to the hospital. Additionally, research found that Allegheny County ranks in the top 2% of counties for cancer risk from pollution.
This is unacceptable. Clean air is a right—not a privilege.

Cleaning up the Toxic Ten

Much of the industrial air pollution in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County comes from just 10 industrial facilities that are responsible for 83% of the toxic air pollution reported by industry in the region--They’re known as the Pittsburgh Toxic Ten.

For example, one of the worst offenders is the Shenango Coke Works. This polluting behemoth recently violated its Clean Air Act permits 330 times in a 432 day period—essentially 3 out of every four days.

Many communities located near or downwind from these polluting facilities have been fighting to get them to reduce their pollution and clean up their act for years. Local residents are sick and tired of having to keep their windows closed to keep the toxic odors out of their homes, and they’re fed up with worrying about the possible health impacts for their families or letting their kids go outside to play.

Our Chance for Clean Air

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) is responsible for protecting local residents, and being our advocate against the region’s worst air polluters. Instead, ACHD has turned a blind eye instead of standing up to these polluters. Despite overwhelming evidence of the heightened risks posed by air pollution throughout the county, time and again ACHD has shrugged off these threats instead of taking action to protect our health.

So PennEnvironment is working to organize and amplify the voices of concerned Pittsburghers, to make sure that the county’s elected officials and the Health Department take air pollution seriously and work quickly and aggressively to address it.

Clean Air Updates

News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

PennEnvironment Statement: Clean cars rollback by Trump administration will worsen climate crisis

PHILADELPHIA -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today finalized the rule to rewrite and dramatically weaken the federal clean car standards, which were initially set to double fuel economy and would have cut global warming pollution in half for cars sold in 2025. The weaker standards will set back climate progress and could result in more than 900 million additional metric tons of global warming pollution in our atmosphere. Transportation pollution is already the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country, and this rollback will further contribute to climate change while also worsening our air quality and threatening our health right here in Pennsylvania.

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Statement in response to the Allegheny County Health Department hiring Dr. Debra Bogen as director

PITTSBURGH -- The Allegheny County Board of Health announced on Wednesday that it is hiring Dr. Debra Bogen, formerly a pediatrician with UPMC and Pittsburgh’s Children's Hospital, as the new director of the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD).

In response to the new hiring, Zachary Barber, PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center’s Clean Air Advocate, issued the following statement:

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

New report provides roadmap for Pennsylvania to achieve carbon-free transportation

Philadelphia, PA – While poll after poll shows growing support from Pennsylvanians for tackling climate change, many concerned citizens don't realize that transportation is the second-largest source of climate pollution in the state. But a new report from PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group describes how Pennsylvania can build a zero-carbon transportation future -- all while cleaning our air and creating safer, healthier communities.

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Report | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Destination: Zero Carbon

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News Release | PennEnvironment

PENNSYLVANIA LEGISLATURE APPROVES POTENTIALLY BILLIONS IN TAX BREAKS FOR FRACKERS, SINGLE-USE PLASTICS

[Philadelphia, PA] – On the day of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s annual budget address, members of the state legislature voted to give the fracking and petrochemical industry a massive tax break that could equal up to $660 million per project in lost revenue for the Commonwealth, making it harder to fund environmental protection, education, and other important priorities for the state. 

House Bill 1100 would subsidize fracking, petrochemical, and single-use plastic production. The proposal was met with broad opposition from environmental organizations. 

Gov. Wolf has stated publicly that he will veto the proposal. 

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