MFN members and others to file suit over illegal air pollution

News released yesterday by MFN members Environmental Integrity Project and Clean Air Council 

 

Pollution from Pittsburgh-area Allegheny Ludlum Plant Far Exceeded Clean Air Act Limits, Threatening Public Health

Pittsburgh, Pa. — Four environmental organizations today provided notice that they intend to sue owners of a steel plant in Western Pennsylvania for violating the federal Clean Air Act by releasing far more pollution than a permit for the plant allows.

The Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), PennEnvironment, the Environmental Integrity Project and the Clean Air Council are taking action against the Allegheny Ludlum plant in Brackenridge, about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Capture

Check out the video from Pittsburg TV station WTAE

“Allegheny Ludlum has been breaking air pollution laws for 15 years, and we’ve all been breathing their illegal emissions,” said Rachel Filippini, Executive Director of GASP. “Our region is already struggling to attain National Ambient Air Quality Standards, so there should be no tolerance for companies that play loose with the laws and with our health.”

The steel plant has exceeded legal limits from a 2002 permit for nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, particulate matter (or soot), and carbon monoxide since installing a new pair of electric arc furnaces in 2003 and 2004.

These pollutants worsen ground-level ozone (also known as smog) and increase the risk of heart attacks, lung disease and asthma hospitalizations. Importantly, Allegheny County, where the plant is located, is out of compliance with federal standards for ozone and particulate matter.

But instead of cracking down on the pollution from the plant, the Allegheny County Health Department last year tried to let the owners of the plant off the hook by issuing a new draft permit that would significantly raise the allowable levels of pollution. The plant is owned by Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Ludlum, LLC, ATI Flat Rolled Products Holdings, LLC, and Allegheny Technologies Incorporated.

To stop the dangerous emissions, a coalition of environmental organizations objected to the county’s proposed changes to the permit last fall. And then today, the groups filed a notice of intent to sue Allegheny Ludlum for violating the terms of the 2002 air pollution control permit for the plant.

“This is about protecting the health of everyone who lives downwind from this plant,” said Patton Dycus, Senior Attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, which represents GASP and PennEnvironment in the legal action. “Illegal air pollution is not something that we should ignore, because it can literally kill–especially the elderly, young and people suffering from lung or heart diseases.”

Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director of the Clean Air Council, said: “Longstanding noncompliance with air emissions limitations is unacceptable as a matter of law and policy. The facility has imposed an unnecessary health burden on a county already suffering from considerable air pollution problems.”

“Clean air is a right, not a privilege,” said PennEnvironment’s Pittsburgh organizer Stephen Riccardi. “We owe it to the children of Pittsburgh, those who suffer from respiratory problems and future generations to do everything in our power to rein in illegal polluters who put them at risk.”

There is no doubt that the plant has been violating the terms of its 2002 air pollution control permit, because both Allegheny Ludlum and county health department officials have recently noted in public records that the plant has not met its permit limits.

Although the 2002 permit required Allegheny Ludlum to test the emissions from its electric arc furnaces in 2016, Allegheny Ludlum failed to do so, which prevented local residents and environmental organizations from obtaining more information about the continuing violations at the plant.

The Clean Air Act allows concerned citizens to sue polluters when government regulators refuse–or do not have the resources–to enforce the law. At least 60 days before such a suit is filed, citizens must provide notice of their intent to sue.

In this case, the environmental groups plan to sue Allegheny Ludlum to require the company to pay penalties and take action to come into compliance with the plant’s permit, either by installing up-to-date equipment or by improving operations to reduce pollution.

The county has yet to issue a type of Clean Air Act permit for the plant, called a “Title V” operating permit, although it was required to do so almost 15 years ago. Those permits are supposed to contain monitoring requirements that allow citizens and regulators to regularly ensure that facilities are meeting their limits. The county’s 2002 permit for the plant’s electric arc furnaces does not include the kind of monitoring requirements that would be mandated by a Title V permit, which would have brought the violations to light much earlier.

The Environmental Integrity Project is a 15-year-old nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, based in Washington, D.C., that is dedicated to the enforcement of environmental laws and holding polluters and governments accountable to protect public health.

GASP (Group Against Smog and Pollution) is a Pittsburgh-based environmental non-profit founded in 1969 and dedicated to improving air quality in southwestern Pennsylvania and surrounding regions.

Clean Air Council is a member-supported, non-profit environmental organization serving Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic Region. The Council is dedicated to protecting and defending everyone’s right to a healthy environment. For over 50 years the Council has worked through a broad array of related sustainability and public health initiatives, using public education, community action, government oversight, and enforcement of environmental laws.

PennEnvironment is a citizen-based environmental advocacy group working to promote clean air, clean water and protect our natural heritage. To find out more, visit www.PennEnvironment.org.

Save the date for the 4th International Moving Forward Network Conference – October 13-14

This is an educational conference that will provide data, insights and shared practices to create more effective policies and strategies for communities impacted by ports, rail yards, intermodal facilities, distribution centers, trucking routes and other goods movement activities.

To receive more information, sign up here.

 

MFN 4th National Conference

 

Environmental justice leader Mustafi Ali resigns from EPA

Mustafa Ali, leader of Environmental Justice at the U.S. EPA, announced his resignation on Thursday, in the face of Trump administration plans to gut the program.

“How can you have a positive role in communities if you are proposing rolling back regulations and cutting resources? These grants are important to these communities when you talk about rolling it back, it tells me these communities are not a priority and I can not be a part of that,” (Source: CNN)

Ali started with the EPA as an intern, and was one of the founding members of the EPA Environmental Justice program.  He worked with over 500 communities during his career, including many Moving Forward Network members, to secure environmental, health and economic justice. A few photos from his work with the Moving Forward Network are below.

Angelo Logan, campaign director of the Moving Forward Network said, “We deeply regret Mustafa Ali’s resignation and the conditions at EPA under Scott Pruitt that caused him to resign. With Ali’s assistance, the Moving Forward Network had moved EPA to agree to develop a working group to look for zero emissions solutions that would reduce the deadly effects of diesel exhaust on the millions of Americans living in neighborhoods near our ports, freight facilities, and truck transportation corridors.”

Ali will remain active in Environmental Justice as senior vice president of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization at the Hip Hop Caucus, a nonprofit civil and human rights group that connects the hip hop community to the civic process to build power and create positive change. For more information about Mustafa Ali, the reasons for his resignation, and his new position, see the references below.

EPA environmental justice leader resigns, amid White House plans to dismantle program, Washington Post

EPA veteran quits, says Trump admin isn’t supporting ‘vulnerable communities’, CNN

Chief Environmental Justice Official at EPA Resigns, With Plea to Pruitt to Protect Vulnerable Communities, Inside Climate News

EPA’s Environmental Justice Head Resigned After 24 Years. He Wants to Explain Why, Mother Earth News

The Hip Hop Caucus Announces Mustafa Santiago Ali as the Senior Vice President of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization, Hip Hop Caucus

New study links particulate matter air pollution to premature births

A new study adds to the weight of evidence linking premature births to particulate matter air pollution (PM) – a cautionary note for those who live near highways and other sources PM. This research, by Swedish, British, and American scientists, links almost 1 in 5 premature births to fine PM air pollution.

Research published last year by researchers from NYU and other universities estimates the costs of premature births in the U.S. linked to air pollution at over $4 billion per year, and emphasizes that “considerable health and economic benefits could be achieved through environmental regulatory interventions that reduce PM2.5 exposure in pregnancy.”

The primary sources of PM air pollution in the U.S. are traffic-related air pollution, particularly from diesel engines, burning of biomass, and coal power plants.

Economic costs of premature births

Read More

Comite Civico del Valle (CCV) – Leader in Citizen Science and Environmental Action

CCV logoInformation is power, and no community organization has done more to create power for the people than MFN member Comite Civico del Valle (CCV), headquartered in the Imperial Valley of Southern California.  Among its many accomplishments, Comite Civico, founded 30 years ago, has worked with partners to set up a sophisticated air monitoring system and a world-class online environmental reporting system that provides detailed and actionable information on environmental health hazards.

 

More importantly, these tools provide residents of the Imperial Valley the tools to take matters into their own hands – to identify, report, and document environmental problems, and to ensure that their governmental representatives take appropriate action.  For the latest news on CCV’s work, check out the excellent article in last week’s issue of Yes! Magazine, a nonprofit, independent, reader-supported publication, or the background below.

In California’s Imperial Valley, Residents Aren’t Waiting for Government to Track Pollution, Yes! Magazine

Background

Tracking asthma threats in the Imperial Valley’s hazy air, Desert Sun

“It is Up to Us”: Citizen Science in Imperial County, Sierra Club California/Nevada Desert CommitteeDesert Report

EPA to conduct goods movement pilot projects with MFN member Harambee House & others

Since its inception, the Moving Forward Network (MFN) has worked to advance environmental justice as a priority within the EPA and other agencies.  Thanks to the hard work of the network and its members to bring together community organizing, media, and science, we have seen some great advances by the EPA, including a stated intent in the EJ 2020 plan and elsewhere to reduce goods movement air pollution and improve public health in overburdened communities.

Among the initiatives in which our members are involved is a project by the EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) to develop a series of guides intended to help port communities build capacity and for ports and port communities to engage and reduce air pollution  – the Ports Primer, Community Action Roadmap, and Environmental Justice Primer.

The guides are now in draft, and the EPA has selected three organizations or partnerships with which to test and refine the guides, enhance community skills, develop action plans, and address community needs.  Among those selected is an MFN member, Harambee House, Inc. of Savannah, Georgia.  

The MFN and its members have been effective in moving the agency when we organize, and are willing to collaborate and work with the EPA when it furthers our agenda of protecting overburdened communities.

To review the draft guides and learn more about these projects, see the following, received last week from the EPA:

Read More

New research shows traffic-related air pollution may lead to dementia in older women

Image: USC School of Gerontology

Scientists at the University of Southern California published research yesterday that shows that Particulate Matter air pollution from power plants and vehicles may greatly increase the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. Their work indicates that air pollution may be responsible for over 20 percent of dementia cases.  Their study was published in the Nature journal Translational Psychiatry.

Over 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimers Disease, and it is estimated that almost 14 million people will be afflicted by 2050.  To learn more, see the video or references below.

The USC Research

The surprising link between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease, LA Times

Air pollution linked to Alzheimer’s disease, study says, Press Enterprise

Air pollution may lead to dementia in older women, USC School of Gerontology

Background

Diesel exhaust linked to magnetic particles in our brains and Alzheimer’s Disease, Moving Forward Network

Air Pollution May Be The Cause Of Alzheimer’s Disease, Innotrendz

2016 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures, Alzheimers and Dementia Journal

Agreement Protects San Diego’s Vanishing Burrowing Owls, Increases Solar Energy

Did you ever see something that looked wrong, go on your way, and later wish you had done or said something?

Jesse Marquez and friends went on a bird-watching trip and noticed that burrowing owls had been poisoned.  Jesse followed up, didn’t stop, reached out to others, and in partnership with those dedicated people and organizations achieved a great win for the burrowing owl and the American people.

Jesse is executive director of Coalition For A Safe Environment, an MFN member, and one of the most inspirational people in the EJ movement.

My lesson learned – speak up, fight for what’s right, and try to be as smart and persistent as Jesse – a tall order.

Thank you, Jesse!


CFASE Logo

SAN DIEGO – An agreement announced today between conservation and environmental justice groups and private developers will protect imperiled burrowing owls, increase renewable solar energy and conserve wildlife habitat to offset impacts from the redevelopment of San Diego’s Brown Field Municipal Airport. The airport – located near the Mexico border in Otay Mesa – will be redeveloped with new commercial and aviation facilities and include on-site solar energy to reduce energy consumption.

“This agreement provides an innovative strategy reestablishing burrowing owls throughout San Diego County and creates an effective tool to allow off-site mitigation of greenhouse gases with rooftop solar in communities most harmed by air pollution from fossil fuels,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Read More

California report finds electric and other low emissions vehicle technology accelerating faster than expecting

Just as electric vehicles can be quicker off the starting line than fossil fuel vehicles, the technology for zero and low emissions passenger vehicles is advancing faster than most thought possible.  A report just released by the California Air Resources Board finds that the California greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards currently in place for model years 2022-2025 are readily feasible at or below the costs estimated back in 2012 – when the standards were adopted with support from many automakers. Continuing on the path to meeting the 2025 standards will deliver significant clean-air and public health benefits for Californians and cost-savings for consumers.

The 667-page Midterm Review of Advanced Clean Cars Program report released this week confirms that the previously adopted package of GHG standards, technology-forcing zero-emission vehicle standards, and the most health-protective particulate matter standards in the world are appropriate. The report indicates that existing programs in California will add at least 1 million zero-emission vehicles on its roads and highways by 2025.

“The recent Detroit auto show shined a spotlight on the fact that we are fully engaged in a global transformation towards autonomous vehicles, with hybrid cars an industry norm and electric models appearing across models and platforms,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “Our standards need to recognize and keep pace with that market reality to keep California and the nation fully competitive in the global automobile marketplace. The conclusion is inescapable: California’s vehicle future is electric.”

Read More

Training resources to build community capacity on goods movement and health – webinar on MFN Library resources

On December 21, the University of Southern California held a webinar “Training resources to build community capacity on goods movement and health,” which highlighted the resources available in the Moving Forward Network library and how they can be used.  A recording of the webinar can be found here.

Speakers Carla Truax of the University of Southern California,  Eric Kirkendall of the Diesel Health Project, and Ms. Margaret Gordon of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project talked about workshops and presentation resources that organizations can use to train new members and students. They discussed their experiences developing the materials for varied audiences, and noted that the “guides and 101” documents are great for beginners, use an engaging education style, and often are available in both English and Spanish.

mfn-library-screenshotThe Moving Forward Network Library features hundreds of useful documents, including the Air Pollution 101 training course, the Curriculum Guide for Freight Transport Justice, the Goods Movement 101 three-part course, the Speakers Kit on Goods Movement, policy briefs, reference collections and infographics on health studies, and  national Environmental Justice and Global Trade Impact reports.

Topics covered in the webinar included how to locate occupational health resources, warehouse worker studies, and other useful resources, such as information on refineries, hazardous materials, and schools.  Participants commented on the importance of “Reducing Air Emissions Associated With Goods Movement: Working Towards Environmental Justice” by the EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) committee to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, also available in the MFN Library. There was also discussion about continuing the online meetings and hosting a calendar of events on the MFN Web site.

To learn more, view the recording of the webinar and check out the resources available in the MFN Library.

Moving Forward Network partners – please share your public materials in the library by emailing them to library@movingforwardnetwork.com.

Thanks to the Moving Forward Network partners and webinar host USC Environmental Health Community Engagement Team for this excellent session!

Page 1 of 10212345...102030...Last »