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2014

Community members in Liberty-Clairton area demanding rigorous action on air quality plan at tonight's Allegheny County Health Department hearing

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Methodologies being questioned by local environmental organizations

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) will hold a hearing tonight in Clairton, Pa. to receive input from the community on the department's plan to improve air quality in and around the Liberty-Clairton corridor. The hearing will take place in the Clairton City School District cafeteria at 6:00 p.m.

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Under the Federal Clean Air Act, the ACHD is required to issue a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to show how polluted areas will attain federal health standards that ensure persons are breathing healthy air. ACHD released a proposed SIP for particulate matter (PM) 2.5 or fine soot pollution last month. The county Board of Health (BOH) began accepting comments on January 18 and will continue to do so through March 5.

While the region's air quality has improved considerably over the past several years, there is much work to be done. Tonight's hearing offers Liberty-Clairton citizens the ideal opportunity to make their voices heard, and to advocate for the clean air that's vital to their health and for the continued economic growth of the region.

Many local environmental groups will be present and submit comments on the SIP. While groups such as Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture), Clean Air Council, and Clean Water Action are pleased that ACHD has proposed a framework for improving air quality in the Liberty-Clairton area, the groups have major concerns about serious flaws in the plan and whether it demonstrates that Liberty-Clairton citizens will realize their right to breathe clean air when the plan has been implemented.

"We have some concerns about the computer models for the air pollution," said David Presley, a staff attorney with the Clean Air Council. "For example, the model relies on wind speed and direction estimates to blow a lot of this particulate matter away from the area in order to attain compliance with federal standards. But we aren't convinced the wind speed and direction estimates are appropriate."

"Many residents of the Clairton area plan to attend the hearing to tell the Health Department that they need a good air quality plan to improve the air their families breathe," said Jeff White, a Clean Water Action Steering Committee member and resident of Elizabeth, Pa.

"Liberty-Clairton residents deserve to have the best plan in place to improve the air quality where they live," noted Tiffany Hickman, western Pennsylvania outreach coordinator for PennFuture. "If there are flaws in that plan, they need to be addressed."

The full SIP document can be viewed at the Allegheny County Health Department website, www.achd.net.

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization founded in 1998. PennFuture's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state, and federal courts; advocating and advancing legislative action on the state and federal level; public education; and assisting citizens in public advocacy.

PennFuture has staff throughout the state, in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Wilkes-Barre. The Philadelphia Inquirer called PennFuture the "state's leading environmental advocacy organization;" the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette named the organization "one of the 10 most influential groups on the issue of natural gas drilling;" and StateImpact Pennsylvania, an online collaboration of NPR stations across the state, called PennFuture "the commonwealth's main environmental advocate."

SOURCE Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture)



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