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In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama called for a 50 percent reduction in the amount of energy wasted by our homes and buildings over the next 20 years. He proposed providing resources for the most effective state policies to cut energy waste.

 

It may not be glamorous, but it sure came as good news to all of us at the Breathe Project, as energy efficiency is a major piece of the clean air puzzle. Consuming less energy means reduced combustion of fossil fuels, which in turn, helps to improve our air quality.

 

According to the U.S. EPA, buildings accounted for 38.9 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2005. Residential buildings accounted for 53.7 percent of that total, while commercial buildings accounted for the other 46.3 percent. Buildings are expected to account for 75 percent of our electricity consumption by 2025, the EPA estimates, and the average household spends at least $2,000 each year on energy bills.

 

A good number of our coalition partners are working to reduce energy consumption themselves—or helping other businesses, organizations and households become more energy efficient; it’s a win-win for air quality and their bottom line.

 

In a free workshop on February 22, Pop City Media and Direct Energy will provide ways for nonprofits to save money by reducing energy costs. Attendees will learn smart strategies to conserve energy and resources—and also be eligible to win $2,500 from Direct Energy through its Reduce Your Use For Good campaign.

 

ReEnergize Pgh—an initiative of GTECH Strategies—is creating jobs and reducing residential energy waste by organizing teams of “ambassadors” for energy efficiency in communities throughout Allegheny County.

 

Pittsburgh Green House in East Liberty holds regular workshops and sessions on residential energy and water savings and making homes healthier. This month, they will host a home water conversation workshop (saving water helps to clean our air by reducing energy consumption) and another session on how to integrate energy upgrades into the home remodeling process.

 

And Sustainable Pittsburgh will soon launch its 2013 Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge, which calls on businesses and organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania to reduce their energy and water use through a friendly competition.

 

We’d love to hear what your organization is doing to increase its energy efficiency—and improve our air quality. Send us your stories to highlight on our website and so we can share best practices with other coalition partners. We look forward to hearing about your successes!

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events
March 16, 2015
GASP holding a public meeting to discuss air quality in Lawrenceville   The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) Air Quality Program recently announced its intent to issue an operating permit for the McConway and Torley steel foundry located on 48th street in Lawrenceville. This facility is a significant local source of … Learn More
February 11, 2015
How is air pollution is impacting your life? Want to find out about the dangers of air pollution in our area and the associated health impacts? Want to see just how bad the pollution is in your own neighborhood? Is there a possible link between pollution and your … Learn More
January 14, 2015
Moving from Climate Awareness to Climate Action   First Sustainability Pioneers Bridge Party!   Wednesday January 14, 2015, 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM   PointBreezeway 7113 Reynolds St Pittsburgh, PA 15208   Join the first Sustainability Pioneers Bridge Party  – wine & cheese, networking, live music & … Learn More
January 7, 2015
Include air quality issues in the county’s strategic plan! Local air quality groups are circulating a petition urging the Allegheny County Health Department to include air quality in the strategic plan they are adopting at the Board of Health meeting on Jan. 7. Please help move this important issue … Learn More
December 13, 2014
“Particle Falls” Lighting Up the Holiday Season for a Difference The Heinz Endowments’ Breathe Project today launches artist Andrea Polli’s Particle Falls, a captivating digital-media installation that provides a real-time visualization of air quality.   At a time of year when Downtown Pittsburgh is aglow with holiday lights that raise … Learn More
October 29, 2014
Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge 2014-2015 Kicks Off The Green Workplace Challenge is back again for another year of exciting competition! If you work for a business, nonprofit, college or university, local government, or a K-12 school in southwestern Pennsylvania, sign up today to start saving money and … Learn More
October 18, 2014
2014 Pittsburgh Solar Tour   Most Pittsburgh house tours showcase beautiful interiors, tasteful design, and the glitz and glamour of bygone eras. The 2014 Pittsburgh Solar Tour is a home tour for the new Pittsburgh.   Join PennFuture to experience raw solar power, energy … Learn More
October 7, 2014
“Sustainability Pioneers” Documentary Premiere   How can Pittsburgh be a leader in building the bridge from our fossil fuel-based economy to an economy based on renewable energy and sustainable living?   Filmmaker and journalist Kirsi Jansa asks this question–arguably the most critical challenge of our … Learn More
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  • Breathe Project

    More about the pending lawsuit from PennEnvironment against ArcelorMittal in Monessen:
    http://bit.ly/1ONCBJI

    Today at 12:10pm • 2 Comments

    #breaking: Penn Environment to sue largest steel company in the world for violations of Clean Air Act in ***Monessen***:

    READ:

    PENN ENVIRONMENT TO SUE WORLD’S LARGEST
    STEEL COMPANY OVER ILLEGAL AIR POLLUTION

    ArcelorMittal’s Pittsburgh-area Plant Commits Hundreds of Clean Air Act Violations, Raining Soot and Foul Odors on Local Residents

    [PITTSBURGH, PA] – At a news conference held in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh, representatives of the citizen-based non-profit group PennEnvironment announced they’re taking the required steps to trigger a lawsuit against the world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal, to address hundreds of ongoing violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

    The suit would address a wide variety of alleged problems at ArcelorMittal USA, Inc.’s Monessen Coke Plant, located twenty-five miles south of Pittsburgh on the banks of the Monongahela River. Local residents say the plant is fouling the air over a wide swath of southwestern Pennsylvania.

    The required pre-suit notice letter, sent on behalf of PennEnvironment and its members to ArcelorMittal, as well as to state and federal regulators, alleges that residents of numerous nearby towns surrounding the plant have been showered with soot, acidic gases, and noxious odors since the idled, decades-old facility re-started in April 2014. These include the municipalities of Monessen, Donora, Monongahela, and Carroll Township, located in both Westmoreland and Washington counties.

    “I’ve met with residents who live in towns all around this plant, and their stories about air pollution from this facility are gut-wrenching,” said David Masur, Executive Director of PennEnvironment. “Ever since the Monessen Coke Plant re-opened last year, local residents have had their quality of life diminished, have endured ongoing odors and soot, and have had to fear for their health and the health of their families. This is appalling and unacceptable.”

    "The smell that emanates from the Monessen plant is consistently foul and sometimes so suffocating that I feel like a prisoner in my own home. I only get relief from these odors and pollution when I leave the area,” said Viktoryia Maroz, a resident of Donora, PA.

    Photos of the facility can be viewed at http://bit.ly/1N5hC4l. If using photos to accompany a news story, please credit as, “Logan Tilley.”

    The Clean Air Act’s “citizen suit” provision allows private individuals and organizations to sue violators in federal court after first providing 60 days’ notice of their intent to file suit and of the violations to be addressed in the suit.

    The Monessen plant’s 56 coke battery ovens heat coal at high temperatures to produce nearly 1,000 tons per day of “coke,” a form of carbon that is added to molten iron to produce steel. Coke from the Monessen plant is shipped to ArcelorMittal’s various North American steel mills.

    The production of coke creates massive amounts of toxic, chemical-laden gases and fine particulate pollutants that, if not properly contained and treated, can cause serious environmental and public health problems when released to the surrounding environment.

    The notice letter alleges a wide range of violations at ArcelorMittal’s Monessen plant, including:

    • Operating the plant for days and weeks at a time while a key air pollution control device was out of service;
    • Approximately 200 violations of the facility’s pollution limits for hydrogen sulfide (a toxic gas with a foul odor), sulfur dioxide (a respiratory irritant and contributor to acid rain), and particulate matter (which can lodge in the lungs and exacerbate respiratory problems);
    • Failure to install a mandatory monitoring device needed to track the amount of hydrogen sulfide coming from the facility’s smokestacks.

    At times, violations have been so egregious that ArcelorMittal’s emission levels have been up to eight times higher than the legally allowable limits.

    ArcelorMittal USA, Inc., is headquartered in Chicago. Its parent company is headquartered in Luxembourg and has annual revenues of over $80 billion.

    PennEnvironment’s lawsuit will be filed by the non-profit attorneys at the National Environmental Law Center (NELC), in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, located in Pittsburgh. The lawsuit will seek a court order requiring the Monessen Coke Plant to comply with its Clean Air Act permit, and civil penalties against ArcelorMittal to punish it for past violations and to deter future violations.

    A separate class-action lawsuit (unrelated to the suit announced today by PennEnvironment) has been filed against ArcelorMittal’s Monessen Coke Plant, seeking monetary damages for residents suffering from noxious odors and soot.

    “It’s outrageous that the world’s largest steel company, which brings in $80 billion annually, can’t find a way to comply with our cornerstone environmental laws and ensure the health and safety of nearby residents,” stated Masur. “That’s anything but being a good corporate neighbor.”

    ###

    PennEnvironment is a citizen-funded, statewide environmental advocacy organization. For more information about this or other PennEnvironment campaigns, please visit our website at www.PennEnvironment.org.

    The National Environmental Law Center (NELC) is a non-profit environmental litigation group. NELC will be joined in the lawsuit by attorney David Nicholas of Newton, Massachusetts, and Pittsburgh attorney Thomas Farrell of Farrell & Reisinger, LLC.

    Today at 11:15am • No Comments

    #whatibreathe: MAJOR announcement today at 11 a.m. by PennEnvironment about a big time Pittsburgh-area polluter. Follow us live on our Twitter page, @breatheproject, for more.

    Today at 10:04am • No Comments

    President BarackObama's plan to curb power plant emissions: http://huff.to/1SBKdoU #whatibreathe #asthma #cutthispollution #climatechange

    Obama To Announce The 'Biggest, Most Important Step' So Far On Climate

    www.huffingtonpost.com

    The Obama administration will release final standards for power plants on Monday that are, in several key ways, tougher than the draft version of the plan.

    Aug 3rd 10:32am • 1 Comment

    Happy Monday, everyone! Whether in Pittsburgh or all the other places we call home, thank you for new likes, follows, and #doingallthegood.

    Aug 3rd 10:15am • No Comments

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  • The Heinz Endowments
    Megha Satyanarayana, Communications Officer
    Phone: 412-338-2616
    Email: meghas@heinz.org
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