Clearing the air
I’m back to writing after taking a few weeks’ break due to travel and a knee injury that’s still being worked up by my fine colleagues at UPMC. To start back up, I’m coming back to a topic that had just hit the front page when I left: air pollution. More specifically, the suggestion from Dan Onorato that Allegheny County could stand to drop our air quality program and let the state’s Department of Environmental Protection take over. THe basic argument is that A) it’s slower than the state would be and B) it’s driving away business by making regulations tougher than they need to be.
As far as part A, follow-up articles suggest that the county agency is about the same speed as the state. So what about part B? Are we being too stringent? Could DEP do the job more efficiently? Well, according to one (admittedly biased) source, PA is currently among the worst states for hazardous pollutants and particulates. As of last year, Pittsburgh continues to lag behind other cities on multiple air-quality metrics. In other words, our state has a problem, *and* Pittsburgh/Allegheny County’s problem is even worse. A county-level agency with a mission to fix our air sounds like the sort of thing we should be paying more attention to, not trying to fob on off the state.