Fall 2017 News Briefs

Last updated: 10/3/2017

Clean air

Smell something? Say something

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center joined researchers from Carnegie Mellon University this summer to roll out new features in Smell PGH, a smartphone app that helps Pittsburgh-area residents collectively report foul odors and alert each other of suspicious smells that waft through the city’s neighborhoods and suburbs.

Since Smell PGH was launched 10 months ago, the crowdsourcing app has been downloaded more than 1,800 times and users have reported foul odors more than 4,500 times. Smell PGH users can note the nature and intensity of smells, symptoms that they may be experiencing, and can choose to receive alerts about smell reports and changes in Pittsburgh’s air quality index.

“Smell PGH is at the frontier of how citizen scientists can inform policymakers and ensure that we are protecting our health from the dangers of air pollution,” said PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center’s Stephen Riccardi.

Advocacy

Citizen Lobby Day a huge success

More than 100 PennEnvironment members traveled from all corners of Pennsylvania to the state Capitol in Harrisburg to participate in our annual Citizen Lobby Day in June.

This year’s lobby day focused on urging state legislators in the Pennsylvania General Assembly to play a leadership role in implementing policies to tackle climate change and promote clean energy solutions like wind and solar power, along with energy conservation and efficiency.

“When it comes to keeping the laws that protect our health and environment intact, we know that we can’t compete dollar for dollar with polluters and their lobbyists in this building,” noted PennEnvironment Deputy Director Adam Garber. “But we know we have the public support, so that’s why we do our Citizen Lobby Days—to bring that voice directly to decision-makers and make sure that they’re hearing from more than just lobbyists and special interests.” 

Litigation

Lawsuit filed to defend environmental safeguards

PennEnvironment and a national coalition of environmental and public health groups filed a lawsuit this summer challenging a Trump administration effort to wipe out critical protections for cleaning up pollution from coal-fired power plants.

This spring, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put an indefinite hold on a set of protections that limit the amount of contaminants—like arsenic, mercury, lead and other pollutants—that power plants are allowed to discharge into our rivers and streams.

Working with Earthjustice and attorneys at the Environmental Integrity Project, the suit asks the federal court to uphold these much-needed protections. “We all know the threat posed by arsenic, lead and mercury pollution,” stated PennEnvironment’s David Masur. “We won’t stand by while the Trump EPA attempts to let power plants discharge these toxic pollutants without limit.”