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12 July 2011
For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Jennifer England 412-513-9091
Pittsburgh City Council Takes First Action on Cleaning Air in Over Sixty Years
Slashing Diesel Emissions on Taxpayer Supported Construction Projects Will Start to Change Pittsburgh’s Bad Air Reputation
Landmark legislation passed today by Pittsburgh City Council ensures taxpayer supported development will have to drastically reduce diesel emissions. The bill requires a portion of the public subsidy be spent on diesel retrofits that can reduce the soot from heavy equipment by 85% or more. A unique coalition of labor, environmental, faith and community groups supported this, the third in a series of bills requiring taxpayer subsidized projects to return real benefits to the community.
The coalition, a unique group of 13 unions, environmental, faith based and community organizations known as Pittsburgh UNITED, has been encouraging Pittsburgh City Council for over two years to pass a “trifecta” of policies that in addition to the diesel emission reductions also requires taxpayer supported development projects to provide decent wages in the jobs created and drastically reduce storm-water runoff from the development sites.
Prime sponsor City Councilman William Peduto noted that ten years ago the Steelworkers and Sierra Club were on opposites sides of council yelling at each other. Now they are working together in a coalition with other labor, faith, environmental and community groups to pass legislation that raises the quality of life in Pittsburgh by fighting together for both good jobs and a clean and healthy environment.
The clean air legislation is particularly important for Pittsburgh, whose poor air quality has been the subject of numerous reports and rankings and has held back development and attempts to promote Pittsburgh as a city that is a place to raise a family. Diesel emissions from construction vehicles account for about 25% of the diesel particulate matter in the region’s air. The legislation, which affects only publicly funded projects, is expected to result in an overall reduction of construction related diesel particulate pollution as the retrofit vehicles are kept in use after the initial retrofit for other projects.
Health professionals and clean air advocates are particularly interested in measures such as this since diesel exhaust contains over 40 toxic air contaminants, carcinogens, ozone-forming elements, as well as fine particulate matter. Many consider Diesel exhaust a major public health threat as exposure to fine particles causes asthma attacks, heart attacks, lung cancer, strokes, and premature deaths.
In addition to being a public health risk, the black carbon found in diesel pollution is a potent global warming agent. Reductions in soot will also help Pittsburgh reduce its carbon footprint and make a real contribution to being a green city.
With the passage of this third bill, Pittsburgh is leading the way ensuring taxpayer funded development brings benefit back to the entire community. Pittsburgh UNITED led the successful fight for a Community Benefits Agreement with the Penguins, the City and the County around the building of the new Arena and development of the lower Hill District. Founded in 2007 Pittsburgh UNITED is an coalition of faith, labor, environmental and community groups working to ensure that publicly funded development benefits all the region’s residents, not just a few. Coalition partners include ACTION United, Clean Water Action, Group Against Smog and Pollution, Hill District Consensus Group, Mon Valley Unemployed Committee, Pittsburgh Branch NAACP, Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, SEIU, Sierra Club, and United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 23, Ironworkers Local 3, Just Harvest, United Steelworkers.
22 June 2011
Advanced Media Contact: Jennifer England 412-513-9091
Event contact: Dennis Spain 215-303-2133
ACTION United To Deliver 1000 Post Cards to Senn Pileggi Demanding Responsible Budget
Where: Sen. Pileggi District Office
415 Avenue of the States
Chester, PA 19013
When: June 22, Noon
ACTION United members delivered 1000 postcards to Sen. Pileggi demanding a responsible budget tomorrow. The cards, signed by constituents in his district note that the budget proposed by Corbett includes massive budget cuts threatening Pennsylvania’s schools health care, environmental protections and support for people who are vulnerable.
Activist from ACTION United and around the state are calling for legislators to start by closing corporate loopholes, taxing natural gas extraction and other revenue generating strategies BEFORE cutting vital services.
The post cards included a spot for constituents to fill in what their specific budgetary concerns are, such as education and food assistance programs.
The thousand post cards were signed by residents in and around Chester over a several week period as ACTION United went door to door to talk to residents about their concerns for Pennsylvania. With the budget deadline just over a week away, the Governor and Republicans still remain more committed to meeting the deadline than protecting citizens from devastating cuts. ACTION United is hoping to show Sen. Pileggi that his constituents top priority is a responsible budget, not a fast one.