Mayor Randall Woodfin Pledges to Transition Birmingham to 100% Sustainable Energy

Mayor Randall Woodfin Pledges to Transition Birmingham to 100% Sustainable Energy

Mayor Randall Woodfin Pledges to Transition Birmingham to 100% Sustainable Energy

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (June 7, 2018) — Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin became the first mayor of an Alabama city to sign Gasp’s “Mayors for 100% Sustainable Energy Pledge” (signed document attached). Gasp defines sustainable energy as energy generated from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power, that results in little to no emissions.

The commitment is part of the organization’s Alabama Cities for Sustainable Energy campaign, which also includes a draft resolution for town councils to use to craft their own pro-renewable energy policies. Birmingham City Council has yet to adopt such a resolution. The pledge asks mayors to affirm the following:

  • I believe sustainable energy is good for the City of [fill in the blank] and the State of Alabama because it will create economic development opportunities and job.
  • I believe sustainable energy will help the City of [fill in the blank] and the State of Alabama become a more just and equitable place to live, work, and learn.
  • I believe the overwhelming scientific consensus of anthropogenic climate change and that it is an urgent global challenge.
  • I believe that local, community-focused solutions are essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • I believe that it is important for the City of [fill in the blank] to transition away from dirty fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency, solar, wind, and pollution-free electric public transportation.

“From the governor’s mansion in Montgomery to city halls across Alabama, there has been a baffling lack of action in this state to address the human causes of climate change and to mitigate the impacts,” said Gasp Executive Director Michael Hansen.

“Climate change is the most urgent crisis facing the world today. Future generations will be harmed by our leaders’ inaction today. We are thankful that Mayor Woodfin is not only affirming that he believes the science behind climate change, but also that he is committed to taking action to ensure a just and equitable transition away from a fossil-fuel economy that disproportionately harms the poor and communities of color.”

Mayor Woodfin signed the pledge on March 14, 2018 — the day before the new mayor unveiled his transition team’s report called “The Woodfin Way.” That report included a commitment to invest in renewable energy, as well as with several other recommendations for environmental justice and sustainability projects.

Last year, the Center for Public Integrity and the Weather Channel reported that in 2015 Alabama Power’s James H. Miller Jr. Electric Generating Plant just 16 miles northwest of Birmingham was “the worst greenhouse gas polluter in America.” The plant releases more than 19 million metric tons of greenhouse gases every year.

Overall, Alabama ranks 49th in solar energy jobs per capita, yet the state ranks in the top 20 for solar potential. Alabama gets 60 percent of its electricity from fossil-fuel-based energy sources and less than .2 percent from wind and solar. The disparity becomes even wider for Alabama Power customers.

Resources

Media Contact

Michael Hansen, Executive Director
michael@gaspgroup.org or 205-701-4270

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About Gasp

Headquartered in Birmingham, Gasp is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit health advocacy organization working to reduce air pollution in Alabama through education and advocacy. Our vision is a healthy, just, and sustainable Alabama. We strive to educate the public on the health risks associated with poor air quality and to encourage community leaders to serve as role models for clean air and clean energy development. gaspgroup.org

Ambient Air Monitoring Plans up for public comment

Ambient Air Monitoring Plans up for public comment

As in previous years, Gasp is submitting comments on the State of Alabama Ambient Air Monitoring Plans. We will provide ways for you to comment and/or sign onto our comments as well. Comments are due June 21, 2018. You can find the draft plans for ADEM and JCDH below.

Alabama Department of Environmental Management 2018 Statewide Ambient Air Plan

2018 Ambient Air Plan by Gasp on Scribd

Jefferson County Department of Health 2018 Ambient Air Network Plan Draft

2018 JCDH Ambient Air Network Plan Draft (2) by Gasp on Scribd

Frank Stitt’s Secret: Eating from the Earth

Frank Stitt’s Secret: Eating from the Earth

Frank Stitt’s Secret: Eating from the Earth

Katie Rogers

Katie Rogers is a Birmingham-based writer, feng shui consultant, and filmmaker. You can watch her documentary “CarLess in LA” currently on YouTube). She was happy to attend the E.O. Wilson Lecture with Harvard alumna Gasp Board Member Karen Shepard (who happens to be a climate change expert and Huffington Post writer) and Gasp Outreach Director Kirsten Bryant. Together,  they collectively gushed over the environmental slant of Frank Stitt’s lecture (AND the olive oil cake).

When a friend asked me to be her guest at the Harvard Club’s annual E.O. Wilson Distinguished Lecture Series, where there would be a “Conversation with Chef Frank Stitt,” I was all in. After all, everyone in Birmingham knows the name Frank Stitt. He’s the head chef and owner of four of Birmingham’s most beloved restaurants: Chez Fon Fon, Bottega, Bottega Café, and the now legendary, Highlands Bar and Grill. I thought it would be fun to hear what he had to say, and of course, there was the lure of good food, wine, and an interesting crowd.

Coincidentally, just days after the invitation, Highlands Bar and Grill won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant. Highlands beat out competition in New York, San Francisco, Houston, Los Angeles, and Chicago for this prestigious honor as the best restaurant in the United States.  Score for Highlands. Score for Birmingham. Score for Alabama.

Being somewhat of foodie, I was now especially excited to hear him speak. However, the last thing I expected to hear from him is that his stance on food is actually a profound environmental message.

What I gathered from the lively dialogue between he and Catherine Sloss Jones is that his secret to great cuisine is the integrity of the ingredients. Furthermore, he suggested that where there are great ingredients, there is healthy earth.

Images: (1) Katie Rogers, Frank Stitt, Pardis Stitt, Karen Shepard and Kirsten Bryant; (2) Gasp Board Member, Karen Shepard and Outreach Director, Kirsten Bryant, discuss the connection between food and a healthy planet with Chef Frank Stitt; and (3) Strawberry and mascarpone olive oil cake made by James Beard award-winning pastry chef Dolester Miles.

He mentioned how pesticides and herbicides and other chemicals were adversely affecting the “vitality” of the soil and therefore the taste and texture of food. He mused about farming “going back to a time before the 1950s” and the importance of farmer’s markets. When asked a question about where he sees the culinary experience going in the next fifty to sixty years, he commented that he sees people eating more grains and vegetables and less protein.

To summarize: he believes in eating from the Earth. He also believes that to eat (well) from the Earth, the Earth must be not only intact, but thriving.

Delightfully, Frank Stitt’s commentary was far from preachy. In actuality, I’m not sure he would even call himself an environmentalist; his environmentalism is more a means to an end. He sincerely wants the best of the best on the table. He wants to provide a dining experience that has the potential to be a thing of “beauty.” His love of cooking is evident; his passion is food, plain and simple. One could almost feel a tear coming to his eye when he talked about the “best green bean.”

His success in the culinary world doesn’t come from science experiments or performance art in the kitchen, but can be boiled down to good, old-fashioned farming and a good, old-fashioned respect for the Earth.

What interests me in Stitt’s farm-to-table comments is that it could and should inspire foodies and environmentalists alike to the importance of taking a holistic view when it comes to considering the state of our planet. Food is plant life. And plants depend on air, water, soil, and the sun to grow and thrive. Yet the rise in the planet’s temperatures and the severity of today’s natural disasters are changing our watersheds, impacting how soil releases and traps carbon dioxide, therefore tipping the quality of our air, which of course in turn, traps more greenhouse gases so that the cycle perpetuates itself.   It’s safe to state bluntly that food – and food culture — is at the mercy of climate change and how the Earth’s systems interact with each other.

Sure, Frank Stitt is all about the ironed linens and the perfectly plated meals, but beyond that, he is really and truly interested in dirt. I wonder — could Frank Stitt’s message have the potential to reach an audience that may have turned the other cheek to the notion of climate change?

While my environmentalist self wants to shout out, “Duh, taking care of the planet means better food. Jeez!” my foodie self wants to say between mouthfuls of dessert, “Well, if caring for the environment means maintaining the awesomeness of strawberry and mascarpone olive oil cake from Dolester Miles [pastry chef at Highlands and winner of the 2018 James Beard award for most outstanding pastry chef in America], then well, yeah, please, I’m absolutely for it.”

Because, YUM.

EPA Makes Additional Designations for the 2015 Ozone Standards

EPA Makes Additional Designations for the 2015 Ozone Standards

On April 30th, EPA took the next step in the Clean Air Act process to implement the national air quality standards for ozone that were issued in 2015.  After designating most of the U.S. as meeting the standards in November 2017, the Agency is now completing nearly all remaining area designations. Alabama is listed as one of the states that meets the standards (i.e. no nonattainment areas).

We are relieved Alabama has no nonattainment areas. We are also continually grateful for the Clean Air Act, which has enabled vast improvements in air quality. However, as Dr. Ben Branscomb said: “A comparison to the past is the wrong standard for anything you are trying to  evaluate. You evaluate based on what the ideal would be and what the risk benefit ratio is for the distance we are away from the ideal.” A new study suggests that following five decades of progress in cleaning up our air, U.S. pollution gains have slowed significantly in recent years.

Furthermore, reducing outdoor concentrations of two air pollutants, ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), to levels below those set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would likely save thousands of lives each year, result in far fewer serious illnesses and dramatically reduce missed days of school and work, according to a new analysis conducted by the American Thoracic Society and the Marron Institute of Urban Management at New York University.

Gasp will continue to monitor air quality and push for stronger standards and for an ambient air monitoring network that accurately reflects the air quality issues of the entire state. Although Alabama currently is in attainment for the 2015 standard, we will encourage the EPA, state and local agencies to implement standards more protective of human health and to more dramatically reduce air pollution.

Ozone season officially began 2 days ago and you can keep track of air quality in the Metro Birmingham area by using Gasp’s air quality widget on our homepage.

You can also sign up to receive daily e-mails with real time alerts and forecasts for air quality here.

Citizens, Conservation Groups Challenge Alabama Power’s Discriminatory Charges Targeting Rooftop Solar Customers

Citizens, Conservation Groups Challenge Alabama Power’s Discriminatory Charges Targeting Rooftop Solar Customers

Citizens, Conservation Groups Challenge Alabama Power’s Discriminatory Charges Targeting Rooftop Solar Customers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:
Emily Driscoll, Southern Environmental Law Center, edriscoll@selcga.org, 678-686-848
Michael Hansen, Gasp, michael@gaspgroup.org, 205-701-4270

Montgomery, Ala. (April 27, 2018) — Alabama citizens and conservation groups are challenging Alabama Power’s unjust monthly fee imposed on customers who install and use rooftop solar systems to power some of the energy needs at their homes, businesses, and schools.

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), on behalf of Gasp, and Ragsdale LLC, on behalf of two private Alabama citizens, jointly filed a complaint late yesterday asking the Alabama Public Service Commission to determine that Alabama Power’s rate treatment of solar customers is unfair, contrary to public interest, and otherwise unlawful.

“While Alabama Power has taken incremental steps toward investing in utility-scale and commercial solar projects, it is imposing significant roadblocks on homeowners and businesses who want the same benefits from investing in solar,” said Katie Ottenweller, Senior Attorney and leader of SELC’s Solar Initiative. “This unwarranted fee is limiting Alabamians’ rights to create solar power on their own properties and reduce their electric bills.”

Based on the size of a homeowner’s solar system, the $5 per kilowatt monthly fee is added on top of other fixed and variable charges that these customers continue to pay each month to Alabama Power.

For a 5 kilowatt solar array, this charge results in an additional $300 charge per year, clawing back about half of customers’ average savings from solar.

The charge puts a huge dent in homeowners’ return-on-investment in a solar system.  The fees alone add about $9,000 over the lifetime of an average 5-kilowatt system and greatly increase the payback period for the homeowner’s investment.

“I was initially interested in installing solar panels because I wanted to reduce my energy use and monthly bills,” said Dr. Jim Bankston, a resident of Tuscaloosa and an Alabama Power customer who is now paying the charges. “But this unfair treatment is an abuse of monopoly power that infringes on the rights of all customers. You shouldn’t be punished for attempting to curb your energy use, just as you wouldn’t be punished for making your home more energy efficient.

The most egregious charge on solar customers by a regulated utility in the country, Alabama Power’s monthly fee is unlawful and continues to suppress solar progress in the state, five years after going into effect.

Similar charges have been proposed and rejected by state public service commissions across the country.  In 2013, Georgia Power withdrew a proposed charge, nearly identical to sister utility Alabama Power’s fee, as a result of public backlash surrounding the proposal.

Other Southern states are enacting policies that clear the way for homegrown clean energy investments, providing savings for homeowners and new job opportunities in solar—an industry that is growing 17 times faster than the U.S. economy. While states like North Carolina and South Carolina have seen an increase in solar rooftop investments, Alabama continues to lag far behind and miss an incredible opportunity for local job creation.

“Neighboring states with pro-solar policies have now seen the unparalleled opportunities to create new jobs, generate local, clean energy, save customers and businesses money, and reduce impacts on human health,” said Gasp Executive Director, Michael Hansen. “If solar customers were treated fairly, Alabama would have the opportunity to reap these same benefits.”

Click here to read the filed complaint

Click here to learn more about how Alabama compares to other states:Alabama Solar: Just the Facts

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About Southern Environmental Law Center
For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With over 70 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region.southernenvironment.org

About Gasp
Gasp is a nonprofit health advocacy organization based in Birmingham, Ala. Our mission is to reduce citizens’ exposure to air pollution, educate the public on the health risks associated with poor air quality, and encourage community leaders to serve as role model by advocating for clean air and clean energy. gaspgroup.org 

About Ragsdale LLC
Founded in 1991, Ragsdale LLC has been representing individuals and small businesses in civil lawsuits for 35 years. Using our experience and knowledge of law and the court system, our areas of practice include environmental and pollution claims, personal injury and death, securities fraud and class actions, fraud and contract disputes, and whistleblower claims. www.ragsdalellc.com

Report Finds Rapidly Growing “Green” Energy Industry Releases Dangerous Air Pollution in AL

Report Finds Rapidly Growing “Green” Energy Industry Releases Dangerous Air Pollution in AL

Report Finds Rapidly Growing “Green” Energy Industry Releases Dangerous Air Pollution in Alabama

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Half of Wood Pellet Plants in U.S. Violate Pollution Limits or Fail to Install Required Emissions Control Equipment

Media Contact: Tom Pelton, Environmental Integrity Project, tpelton@environmentalintegrity.org or (202) 888-2703

Washington, D.C. (April 26, 2018) — A booming new industry that cuts down forests in the U.S. South to generate electricity in Europe, under the false pretense that burning wood pellets is carbon neutral, releases vast amounts of dangerous and illegal air pollution, including in Alabama, according to a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project. Alabama has three large wood pellet plants today, but that number is expected to double.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Monday (April 23) announced a new Trump Administration policy to encourage the “forest biomass” energy industry by claiming that the burning of wood pellets is carbon neutral.

“Cutting down forests to burn to generate electricity is not in any way ‘green’ or carbon neutral – and in fact, creates a large amount of air pollution,” said Patrick Anderson, co-author of the EIP report, titled, “Dirty Deception.” “Even if the trees are replanted, not all survive – and those that do will take decades or centuries to grow to the same size, and therefore the same carbon dioxide absorbing potential of the trees that were eliminated.”

The report’s authors examined federal and state records for 21 wood pellet plants from Virginia to Texas and concluded that one third of them (7 out of 21) violated their permits in 2017 by releasing illegal amounts of air pollution, while another four had faulty permits issued by states that failed to require pollution control equipment required by the federal Clean Air Act.

Overall, more than half of the wood pellet plants (11 out of 21) either failed to keep emissions below legal limits or failed to install required pollution controls, according to the report.

The federal budget bill signed by President Trump on March 23 contains a provision that encourages more burning of wood pellets like this for electricity, with an inaccurate claim that the “biomass” industry is good for the climate.

“With the Trump Administration and Congress now encouraging this crazy notion that clearcutting forests is helpful to the environment, it’s important that we have an accurate accounting of just how much air pollution these wood pellet plants actually produce,” said Anderson, an attorney with Powell Environmental Law, which wrote the report for EIP. “The records show that the biomass industry releases not only millions of tons of greenhouse gases, but also tons of soot particles that can trigger asthma and heart attacks, as well as carcinogens and smog-forming pollutants.”

The wood pellet industry has grown almost 10-fold in the U.S. since 2009. It is being driven by a loophole in the European Union’s carbon accounting system that is based on the mistaken notion that burning wood is carbon neutral and therefore good for the climate, because replanted trees absorb carbon dioxide. In fact, replanted trees take many decades to grow enough to absorb as much carbon dioxide as the trees cut down for the industry, and not all the saplings survive.

In the midst of the industry’s fast growth, relatively little attention has been paid to the high levels of air pollution generated by wood pellet manufacturing plants, emissions that can trigger a wide array of health and environmental problems.

In Alabama, there are three wood pellet plants, the largest of which are Mohegan Renewable Energy (formerly Lee Energy Solutions) near Birmingham, and Zilkha Biomass, near Selma. Three additional new mills are proposed in the state. According to federal and state records, the three existing plants together annually release 499 tons of soot (fine particle pollution that triggers asthma and heart attacks), 999 tons of volatile organic compounds (which contribute to smog), 584 tons of nitrogen oxide air pollution (which feed low-oxygen “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico), and 649,836 tons of carbon dioxide (which contributes to global warming.) These pollution totals are expected to roughly double if the three new plants are built, as planned.

“While the wood biomass industry masquerades as ‘renewable energy,’ these plants are releasing dirty pollution into the air we breathe,” said Michael Hansen, Executive Director of a Birmingham-based nonprofit called Gasp that is devoted to fighting for clean air. “Air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk factor for premature death and disease in the world — and those hurt the most are kids, seniors, pregnant women, and people suffering from chronic diseases.”

Across the U.S., the Environmental Integrity Project investigation found that 21 U.S. wood pellet mills currently exporting to Europe emit a total of 16,000 tons of health-threatening air pollutants per year, including more than 2,500 tons of particulate matter (soot), 3,200 tons of nitrogen oxides, 2,100 tons of carbon monoxide, and 7,000 tons of volatile organic compounds. These plants also emit 3.1 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, according to the study.

Other key findings of the report:

  • Of the 15 largest operating wood pellet facilities, at least eight have had fires or explosions since 2014, including at factories in North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, and Texas that released large amounts of air pollution or injured employees.
  • A factory northeast of Houston owned by German Pellets has emitted nearly ten times its permitted limits of volatile organic compound pollution since it began operation in 2013, releasing 580 tons per year. Rather than require the facility to comply with legal limits, Texas officials are proposing to simply raise the limits to let the facility continue to emit dangerous levels of pollution.
  • At the Enviva Biomass wood pellet plant in Southampton County, Virginia, plant operators actually removed the pollution control equipment to evade upgrade requirements and switched from processing softwood to hardwood, which results in more carbon dioxide pollution and other harmful environmental impacts.

“It’s time for states to pump the brakes on an industry that has been deceiving investors, decision-makers, and communities from day one — whether it’s misleading the public about their wood sourcing, evading community input in the permitting process, or skirting clean air quality standards,” said Emily Zucchino of the Dogwood Alliance, a nonprofit that works to protect Southern forests and communities from destructive industrial logging. “State governors and agencies need to do right by communities, instead of allowing companies like Enviva to continue to grow unchecked which harms public health, forests and the climate.”

One of the most troubling trends in the wood pellet industry discussed in the report is that facilities that should face the most rigorous air permitting standards are actually the least controlled and dirtiest.

Under a Clean Air Act program called “new source review,” new or modified major sources of air pollution are required to reduce emissions to the level achievable by using the best available control technology.

Contrary to that legal requirement, states allow construction of the country’s largest wood pellet manufacturing plants without controls, or with inadequate controls, for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), an air pollutant that causes smog and respiratory problems.

This is despite the fact that extremely effective VOC controls capable of reducing emissions by 90 to 95 percent are in widespread use at similar wood pellet manufacturing plants. For instance, in North Carolina, wood dryers at two recently permitted wood pellet factories owned by Enviva Biomass emit nearly six times more VOCs and 50 to 60 times more hazardous air pollutants than comparable facilities with appropriate pollution control systems.

“This industry is creating a public health hazard that can easily be avoided – because we already have the technology available to filter and capture this air pollution,” said Keri N. Powell, co-author of the EIP report and Director of Powell Environmental Law. “The solution is for states to enforce the law and require wood pellet plants to install the best available technology.”

In other instances, states allow facilities to emit air pollution well beyond legal limits for years at a time, according to the “Dirty Deception” report. In Mississippi, Florida, and North Carolina, state permitting authorities continue to allow wood pellet manufacturing plants to emit well above a 250 ton per year threshold before facilities are required to install air pollution controls.

For example, the Drax wood pellet plant in Amite County, Mississippi, near McComb, emits more than 900 tons per year of VOCs – more than three times the amount that normally triggers a requirement for the installation of best available pollution control equipment.

The report makes several recommendations for addressing the problem, including:

  1. Requiring states to reexamine existing air permits for wood pellet plants in light of new testing that shows much higher emissions of volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants.
  2. Require that all major sources of air pollution to install the best available control technology.
  3. Require annual emissions testing for volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants from all of the major emission points at pellet mills.
  4. Reduce the risk of fires and explosions by requiring wood pellet facilities to comply with their duty under the federal Clean Air Act to design and maintain safe facilities.

For a copy of the report, visit www.environmentalintegrity.org

QUOTES FROM LOCAL RESIDENTS CONCERNED ABOUT THE INDUSTRY:

Mississippi: “It is past time for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to step up and protect the public health and safety of Mississippians from this pollution source as required by law,” said Louie Miller, State Director of the Sierra Club’s Mississippi Chapter. “Mississippi should not be known as the ‘cheap date’ for polluting industries.”

Texas: “Residents who live in Woodville, TX, near the pellet factory have grave concerns about the repeated fires at the plant, and they report health problems that went away once it closed,” said Robin Schneider, Executive Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment. “It’s time for environmental officials to take this bull by the horns and treat these issues with the seriousness that they deserve.”

Florida: “The Enviva Mill in Jackson County (near Panama City) has been violating the Clean Air Act for years by emitting hundreds of tons of unlawful and dangerous air pollution,” said Jennifer Rubiello, State Director of Environment Florida. “It’s time for Florida to step up and require Enviva to install legally-required air pollution controls, just as Georgia and Alabama have done for similar facilities. Not only are Enviva Mill’s actions against the law, but in this day and age when we have the technology to keep our air clean, there is no reason not to protect the health of all Floridians.”

Georgia: “Georgians have first-hand experience with the dangers posed by this industry,” said Vicki Weeks, Georgia State Coordinator for the Dogwood Alliance. “Their plants are typically sited in poor rural areas where communities with little access to effective health care are being hard hit by their unchecked air pollution.”

North Carolina: “The non-stop pollution, dust, noise, and truck traffic the Enviva pellet mill brings to Northampton County is a grave injustice to this community,” said Belinda Joyner founder of Concerned Citizens of Northampton County. “They have no respect for the people who live here, and they give nothing back – so we demand action.”

South Carolina: “Entire communities across the South are waking up to the damage these rapacious pellet companies are doing to our environment,” said Alectron Dorfman, chairman of Lakelands Citizens for Clean Air. “In the Lakelands area of Greenwood and Laurens Counties, the dramatic increase in production and pollution at the Enviva plant in Columbo is cause for great concern among our citizens for the quality of our air and the future of our forests.”

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

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‘It’s Time for Pruitt to Resign, or Be Removed’

‘It’s Time for Pruitt to Resign, or Be Removed’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2018

MEDIA CONTACT:
Adam Beitman, adam.beitman@sierraclub.org or 202-670-5585

NAACP, SEIU, Union of Concerned Scientists, Physicians for Social Responsibility, OCEANA & More Take out Full Page Ads in the New York Times, New York Post, and Oklahoma’s Largest Newspaper.

NEW YORK CITY (April 18, 2018)— Forty national civil rights, labor, conservation and environmental organizations representing millions of members and supporters across the United States have taken out a series of full page ads Wednesday calling for the resignation or firing of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. On Monday, the Government Accountability Office reported that some of Pruitt’s behavior violates the law.

The ads appear in the main news sections of The New York Times, the New York Post (which Donald Trump receives each day), and the largest newspaper in Pruitt’s home state of Oklahoma, The Oklahoman.

** Link to the Ad **

These new nationwide organizations calling for Pruitt’s ouster add to a growing chorus, including:

  • Editorial boards ranging from The Houston Chronicle and The Joplin Globe to The Washington Post and The LA Times
  • Over 100 Democrats in the House & Senate
  • At least three Republican members of the House
  • Increasing public pressure from other Republicans including House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy who suggested Pruitt should become ‘a monk’ if he wanted to avoid having his feelings hurt, rather than taking first class flights at taxpayer expense.

THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS ARE REPRESENTED ON THE LETTER:

National Audubon Society – NAACP – Union of Concerned Scientists – SEIU – Physicians for Social Responsibility – Oceana – Sierra Club – Earthjustice – Green For All – Natural Resources Defense Council – League of Conservation Voters – Hip Hop Caucus – GreenLatinos – Citizens’ Climate Lobby – Ocean Conservancy – The Wilderness Society – National Parks Conservation Association – Clean Water Action – Greenpeace USA – American Rivers – Defenders of Wildlife – Environment America – Moms Clean Air Force – Latino Victory Project – Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments – Oil Change International – Montana Environmental Information Center – Alliance for Climate Education – Brighter Green – Partnership for Policy Integrity – Gasp – SustainUS – Carmelite NGO – Alliance for Affordable Energy – Power Shift Network – Rhode Island Interfaith Power & Light – iMatter Youth – Elders Climate Action – Green the Church – Climate Wise Women – Friends of the Earth

SIGNATORY ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDED THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS:

SEIU, Executive Vice President Luisa Blue:

“Scott Pruitt’s extravagant spending of the public’s money makes crystal clear what we already know from his policies: he just doesn’t care about the American people. As the largest union of healthcare workers, SEIU members care for people with asthma, cancer and others who have been impacted by the environment. Pruitt’s actions to pull back environmental protections will quicken the devastating impact of climate change, putting the profits of polluting corporations ahead of the health and safety of our families. Pruitt’s actions are an attack on SEIU members and their families who live in communities that already struggle for clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.”

Union of Concerned Scientists, President Ken Kimmell:

“While Scott Pruitt clearly violated ethical standards and bilked taxpayers, he inflicted far worse injury on our children, families, and communities by sidelining science and abandoning the EPA’s public health and environmental mission.”

Latino Victory Project, President Cristóbal J. Alex:

“Scott Pruitt wasted taxpayers’ dollars on luxury travel and soundproof phone booths while cutting vital EPA programs, directly hurting Latinos across the United States. Latinos live on the front lines of the climate change crisis, with half of all U.S. Latinos living in the country’s most polluted cities and Latino children at greater risk of dying from asthma than white children. The job of the EPA Administrator is to protect our natural resources and the health of all Americans, and Pruitt is clearly not up to the task.”

Earthjustice, President Trip Van Noppen

“Beyond his mounting ethical lapses Scott Pruitt has made it his mission to dismantle the many safeguards Americans depend on for clean water, clean air and more with little respect of the law. Scott Pruitt needs to go and until then we will see him in court.”

GreenLatinos, President Mark Magana

“Instead of doing his job to protect our health and environment – especially in marginalized communities and communities of color – Scott Pruitt has wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on luxury travel and unapproved pay raises for close aides, and has become the subject of multiple independent government investigations. He has endangered our communities with reckless rollbacks and repeals of lifesaving health safeguards, making our air dirtier and our water more dangerous to drink. He’s putting families at risk, and it’s been time for him to resign.”

Ocean Conservancy, CEO Janis Searles Jones

“In the 14 months that he’s been EPA Administrator, Pruitt has intentionally and methodically dismantled protections for our ocean, clean water and clean air. Among his many misguided decisions, he’s proposed a budget that would completely eliminate essential EPA functions including keeping our beaches safe from pathogens, monitoring contaminants in the fish we eat and gutting the marine pollution program. It’s time for Scott Pruitt to go. We cannot afford an EPA administrator who actively undermines the health of our ocean.”

Clean Water Action, President Bob Wendelgass:

“When Scott Pruitt isn’t doing everything he can to try to weaken protections for clean water and public health, he’s wasting taxpayer money or flouting the rules to pad the pockets of his friends and protect the bottom lines of corporate polluters. His destructive agenda and his corrupt behavior go hand-in-hand — he thinks he can get away with both if he keeps giving special interests what they want. It’s dangerous behavior from a public official and it has to stop. Scott Pruitt needs to go.”

Physicians for Social Responsibility, Jeff Carter

“As a public official, Scott Pruitt has shown a lot more interest in whatever perks and advantages he can extract from his position than in advancing the mission of the agency he was tasked to run. He attacks environmental rules and regulations with a prosecutor’s zeal, but with a view of the law not as an instrument of justice, but as a card in a stacked deck, designed to further empower and enrich special interests at the expense of health, the environment, and the less powerful.”

Hip Hop Caucus, Rev Lennox Yearwood Jr., President & CEO

“Pruitt puts his ego and polluter profits over people. It’s outrageous that he thinks he can waste our taxpayer dollars with no consequences. What’s even more tragic is that he continues to roll the dice with our lives. His actions continue to undermine our health and the future of the planet. He needs to go now.”

National Parks Conservation Association, President & CEO Theresa Pierno:

“From day one, Scott Pruitt has demonstrated time and again that his goal is not to hold
the very polluters jeopardizing our air, waters and national parks accountable, but instead to protect them. The Environmental Protection Agency should do just that—protect the environment. The agency, and all it was created to safeguard, deserves a leader befitting of this critical work. As we feared at his confirmation, and as he has shown in the time since, Scott Pruitt is not that person.”

Sierra Club, Executive Director Michael Brune:

“Scott Pruitt is the definition of the swamp, with new ethical and abuse of power scandals breaking virtually every day for the past two weeks. Its past time for Pruitt to resign or be fired, particularly now that some of his most absurd actions are being ruled illegal. Every day Scott Pruitt stays at the EPA is another day he embarasses Donald Trump, and our entire country.”

Natural Resources Defense Council, President Rhea Suh:

“With each new investigation, Scott Pruitt’s disregard for ethics and the rule of law is becoming increasingly egregious and unacceptable. And so is his blatant hostility to the central mission of the EPA, which is to protect public health and the environment. Enough is enough. It’s time for him to go.’”

Greenpeace USA, Executive Director Annie Leonard

“Scott Pruitt’s brazen disrespect for both the environment and our democracy is beyond offensive–it’s one of the most catastrophic consequences of the Trump administration. Scott Pruitt is insulting every person in America by living a life of luxury on the taxpayer’s dime while committed to destroying our environment, our air, our water, and our climate. It’s time for Scott Pruitt to resign, or be fired, before he does any more damage to our country.”

iMatter Youth, Maddie Adkins, Core Team:

“Future generations will have to deal with the consequences of climate change. If the administrator of the EPA cannot be trusted to make decisions that will preserve the planet and protect the futures of our country’s youth, then he needs to go.”
Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Executive Director Katie Huffling

“As a public health agency, the EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment. In his tenure at the EPA, Scott Pruitt has rolled back essential public health safeguards, which are putting communities at risk for negative health impacts from climate change and exposures to dirty air and water. The communities and families nurses care for deserve an EPA Administrator who is committed to putting public health first. Pruitt is not that person.”

SustainUS, Executive Coordinator Garrett Blad:

“As a public official, Scott Pruitt is trusted to protect the common good. Instead, he is doing everything in his power to damage the lives of young people in this country by handing federal regulating over to fossil fuel executives and lobbyists, giving out bonuses to his friends, and wasting public money to play by his own rules. Scott Pruitt cannot be trusted to safeguard our health or our nation’s democratic principles and should be removed. ”

Montana Environmental Information Center, Deputy Director Anne Hedges

”Scott Pruitt is making Montana’s pollution problems worse. In places such as Colstrip, Montana there are 800 acres of leaking coal ash ponds that have polluted ground and surface waters. The passage of the federal coal ash rule by the Obama Administration was a welcome relief and promised to finally get a handle on the problem in Montana and across the nation. Now Pruitt is trying to undo that rule and put polluters in the driver’s seat – the same polluters who caused the problem in the first place. It’s unconscionable, but that seems to be Pruitt’s middle name. This is just one example of many. He is unethical, imprudent, and more concerned about protecting polluters than public health. It’s time to draw the line.”

Gasp, Executive Director Michael Hansen:

“Scott Pruitt cannot be trusted to lead the agency tasked with protecting our air, land, water, and health. Time and again, he has shown himself to be openly hostile to healthy air, clean water, and basic science. By undermining public health safeguards and undoing critical environmental protections, Scott Pruitt has put all of us at increased risk for cancers, asthma, lung disease, and other illnesses. Pruitt should never have been put in charge of the EPA, and we now have ample evidence to prove it. Scott Pruitt has to go.”

Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife:

“Wildlife rely on clean water, clean air and a balanced ecosystem for their survival. Scott Pruitt’s policies at the EPA threaten all of these. He has dismantled environmental protections and abused his position as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s time for Scott Pruitt and his policies to go.”

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RELATED: Tell your Senators and Representative that you agree, Scott Pruitt Must Go!

Alabama Legislature 2018: Monday Morning Digest

Alabama Legislature 2018: Monday Morning Digest

This is the last Monday Morning Digest for 2018 as the session wrapped up last Thursday. I hope these posts have been informative and helpful. Below is the final rundown of bills this session:

Enrolled Bills

  • HB40: Amend Ala. Code 32-9-20: extends length restrictions and allows greater weight restrictions for trucks using natural gas
  • HB53: Repeal Ala. Code 22-30B-19: Abolish the Alabama Legacy for Environmental Research Trust Fund (COMPANION BILL SB 122)
  • SB33: Amend Ala. Code 29-2-270 to 29-2-275: Permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Energy Policy: this bill would revise the membership of the committee, delete the requirement that the committee complete the Alabama Energy Plan, limit the reporting of the committee, delete authorization for the committee to create and staff a Legislative Energy Policy Office, would authorize the committee to form advisory committees as needed.
  • HB190: Transportation network companies, Public Service Commission permit required to operate, minimum requirements imposed
  • SB85: Creates the Alabama Public Transportation Trust Fund
  • SB180: Notification to State Health Officer required when changes made to fluoride levels (COMPANION BILL TO HB224)

 

 

Alabama Legislature 2018: Monday Morning Digest

Alabama Legislature 2018: Monday Morning Digest

I am doubling up this week and catching you up on the past two weeks of bills that affect health and the environment in Alabama during the 2018 legislative session.

Signed into law this week

HB53 was delivered to the Governor at 1:06 PM on March 22, 2018. Existing law requires $500,000 to be transferred annually from fees collected for the disposal of hazardous waste into the Alabama Legacy for Environmental Research Trust, to be used by public institutions of higher learning for funding environmental research and education relating to hazardous waste production and disposal. This bill abolishes the Alabama Legacy for Environmental Research Trust Fund.

SB33 was delivered to the Governor at 4:34 PM on March 21, 2018. Under existing law, the Permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Energy Policy was created to develop the Alabama Energy Plan and to make recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature to address the state’s long-term and short-term energy challenges. This bill removes the requirement that the Alabama Joint Legislative Committee on Energy Policy develop the Alabama Energy Plan and instead requires that the committee recommend courses of action to the Governor and Legislature to address Alabama’s energy challenges. The bill authorizes the committee to only receive federal grants and other funds related to energy initiatives with no funds from the state; reduces the number of committee members from 17 to 13; provides that the committee shall meet at least once every six months; and allows the committee to meet by means of telephone conference, video conference, or similar communications provided that a majority of a quorum is physically present at the meeting location presented in the notice. This bill deletes authorization for the committee to create and staff a Legislative Energy Policy Office, and would authorize the committee to form advisory subcommittees as needed, removing requirement for including members of the public.

New bills

SB395 was introduced into the Senate on March 15th and is pending its third reading. You can read more in the table below, but this is another bill that has to do with shoreline restoration.

SB370 was introduced on March 6th and hasn’t had any movement since. You can read more in the table below, but this bill would propose an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that the Forever Wild Land Trust may not acquire property in a county having a population of 20,000 or less if the property held by the trust in the county exceeds or will exceed 11,000 acres unless the purchase of the property by the Forever Wild Land Trust is approved by the county commission of the county. It would apply to the following counties which currently fit the population cutoff.

Movement on bills

SB180 passed the House on March 22nd.

Bill No.SponsorSummaryCommitteeStatus
HB5Hanes (R)

Whorton

Amending Ala. Code 40-8-140: provide income tax refund check off to state parks, Dep’t of Mental Health and MedicaidWays & Means General Fund·        2/20: passes House
HB40South (R)Amend Ala. Code 32-9-20: extends length restrictions and allows greater weight restrictions for trucks using natural gasTransportation, Utilities and Infrastructure·        3/1: delivered to the Governor

·        2/27: passes Senate

·        2/15: pending third reading

·        2/8: moves to the Senate referred to committee (Transportation and Energy)

·        2/8: passes in House

HB53Johnson ®Repeal Ala. Code  22-30B-19: Abolish the Alabama Legacy for Environmental Research Trust Fund

COMPANION BILL SB 122

Ways & Means General Fund·        3/22: delivered to the Governor

·        2/8: moves to Senate and referred to committee (Finance and Taxation General Fund)

·        2/6: passes in House

HB58Drake (R)Amend Ala. Code § 9-14-8: Create Park for Patriots Act of 2018. Adds in active, Alabama residentMilitary & Veterans Affairs·        2/22: enrolled in House

·        2/15: passes Senate

·        1/25: read for the second time and placed on the calendar

·        1/16: moves to the Senate, referred to committee (Veterans and Military Affairs)

·        1/16: passes in House

HB78Johnson ®Propose local amendment for Coosa County to additional payments from the Alabama

Trust Fund to the Forever Wild Land Trust to reimburse Coosa County for lost ad valorem tax

payments as a result of the acquisition of property

by the Forever Wild Land Trust.

Local Legislation·        1/25: third reading, carried over to Call of the Chair (voice vote adopted)
HB113Johnson (R)Amend Ala. Code 22-25C-1 and 22-25C-2: requires bond paid to be used for clean up of facility and repeals provisions for fees

COMPANION BILL SB48

Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure 
HB217Morrow (D)Amend Ala. Code 22-22A-6, to change the qualifications of that the Environmental Management Commission of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management so that a geologist may serve as a member of the commission.Boards, Agencies and Commissions 
HB224South (R)Notification to State Health Officer required when changes made to fluoride levels

COMPANTION BILL SB180

Health·        2/8: moves to Senate and referred to committee (Health & Human Services)

·        2/8: passes House

HB362Tuggle ®This bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would require the Forever Wild Land Trust to annually reimburse the amount of ad valorem tax revenue lost as a result of property previously subject to ad valorem tax being acquired by the Forever Wild Land Trust, which monies shall be paid to the county tax official in each county where the property has been acquired and distributed as other ad valorem tax proceeds unless the county opts out. The amount of reimbursement would be the amount as if the property was taxed at current use value of the property as forest property with good productivity. The bill would also provide that if funding for the Forever Wild Land Trust is not continued after September 30, 2032, the Forever Wild Land Stewardship Account would receive up to $1,000,000 from the Alabama Trust Fund annually.State Government·        3/1: lost in House

·        2/8: pending 3rd reading, state government introduced amendment

HB370Davis(R)This bill would further provide for permits for shoreline restoration, including the use of living shoreline techniques, by riparian property owners in coastal areas. The bill would authorize riparian property owners to sever and use materials in their riparian rights use area and for the purposes of shoreline restoration without fee or charge by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or the Department of Environmental Management when the source sediment is used for the construction of living shorelines in front of a property owner’s r’parian property.Agriculture and Forestry·        3/8: Committee offers first substitute
HB408Ingram (R)Amend Ala. Code sections 22-37A-2, 22-37A-3, 22-37A-4, 22-37A-5, 22-37A-6, and 22-37A-7: This bill would amend the Alabama Lead Reduction Act to add definitions, increase regulations relating to lead hazard reductions, increase the authority of the Department of Public Health to conduct lead inspections and enforce the act, and increase penalties for violations of the act.Health·        2/18: introduced in House
HB422Sessions (R)This bill would provide the procedure for

depositing of material from the dredging of the inlets of this state.

Agriculture & Forestry·        2/15: introduced in House
SB33Ward (R)Amend Ala. Code 29-2-270 to 29-2-275: Permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Energy Policy: this bill would revise the membership of the committee, delete the requirement that the committee complete the Alabama Energy Plan, limit the reporting of the committee, delete authorization for the committee to create and staff a Legislative Energy Policy Office, would authorize the committee to form advisory committees as needed.Transportation & Energy·        3/21: delivered to Governor

·        2/1: read for the second time and placed on the calendar

·        1/25: Moves to the House, read for the first time and referred to the House of Representatives committee on Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure

·        1/23: Passes Senate

SB48Pittman (R)Amend Ala. Code 22-25C-1 and 22-25C-2: requires bond paid to be used for clean up of facility and repeals provisions for fees.

COMPANION BILL HB113

Finance and Taxation General Fund·        3/1: passes House, rules committee makes an amendment

·        1/23: moves to House (referred to committee on Ways & Means General Fund)

·        1/23: passes Senate

SB75Bussman (R)®er the Sunset Law, provides for the continuance of the Surface Mining Commission until October 1, 2022

SB 134 RELATED

Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development·        2/1: passes House, assigned Act No.. 2018-74

·        1/25: read for the second time and placed on the calendar

·        1/18: moves to House (referred to committee on Boards, Agencies and Commissions)

·        1/16: passes Senate

SB122Sanford (R)Repeal Ala. Code  22-30B-19: Abolish the Alabama Legacy for Environmental Research Trust Fund

COMPANION BILL HB53

Finance and Taxation General Fund·        2/15: pending third reading in the House

·        2/6: moves to the House and referred to committee (Ways & Means General Fund)

·        2/6: passes Senate

SB134Bussman ®Remove the Surface Mining Commission from the sunset review process

RELATED TO SB75

Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development·        1/25: read for the second time and placed on the calendar

·        1/18: moves to House (referred to committee on Boards, Agencies and Commissions)

·        1/16: Passes Senate

SB180Bussman ®Notification to State Health Officer required when changes made to fluoride levels

COMPANION BILL TO HB224

Health and Human Services·        3/22: passes House

·        2/1: moves to House and referred to committee (Health)

·        2/1: passes Senate

SB268Allen (R)Amend Ala. Code 32-9-20: extends length restrictions and allows greater weight restrictions for trucks using natural gas

COMPANION BILL TO HB40

Transportation and Energy 
SB273Scofield (R)Amend Ala. Code 22-22A-6, to change the qualifications of that the Environmental Management Commission of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management so that a geologist may serve as a member of the commission.

COMPANION BILL TO HB217

Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry·        3/6: read for the first time in the House

·        3/6: Passes senate

SB289Ward (R)Amend Ala. Code 37-8-52 and 37-8-5-3: increase distance to 10 feet in which one can operate tools, machinery, or equipment, or move a building within [six feet] of a high voltage overhead conductor of electricity unless certain safeguards are in place.Transportation and Energy·        2/15: pending third reading in the Senate
SB370Chambliss (R)This bill would propose an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that the Forever Wild Land Trust may not acquire property in a county having a population of 20,000 or less if the property held by the trust in the county exceeds or will exceed 11,000 acres unless the purchase of the property by the Forever Wild Land Trust is approved by the county commission of the county. It would apply to the following counties which currently fit the population cutoffCounty and Municipal Government·        3/6: introduced in Senate
SB395Albritton (R)This bill would further provide for permits for shoreline restoration, including the use of living shoreline techniques, by riparian property owners in coastal areas. The bill would authorize riparian property owners to sever and use materials in their riparian rights use area and for the purposes of shoreline restoration without fee or charge by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or the Department of Environmental Management when the source sediment is used for the construction of living shorelines in front of a property owner’s riparian property.Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry·        3/15: introduced in Senate
Public Transportation
HB10Williams (Jack) (R)Alabama Public Transportation Act. Alabama Public Transportation Trust Fund, established, ADECA required to administer trust fund; Public Transportation Trust Fund Advisory Committee, created. ADECA must adopt rules, make annual reports, conduct a public transportation needs assessment, enter into contracts, conduct audits and award grants.Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure 
HB25Pringle (R)Amend Ala. Code 23-1-21 and 23-1-21.2: establish a State Transportation Commission (and requirements and duties thereof)Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure 
HB97Faulkner (R)Would require transportation network companies to obtain a permit from the PSC, maintain an agent for service of process, implement a nondiscrimination

policy, implement a zero tolerance intoxicating

substance policy, and maintain certain records, collect local assessment fee for each trip.

COMPANION BILL TO SB65

Commerce and Small Business 
HB190Faulkner (R)Transportation network companies, Public Service Commission permit required to operate, minimum requirements imposedCommerce and Small Business·        2/15: sent to the Governor (amendment offered)

·        2/8: pending third reading in the Senate and amendment offered

·        1/30: moves to Senate

·        1/30: amendments made by Coleman & Givan and co-sponsors (Garrett, Williams (JD), Fridy, Shiver, Faust, Ainsworth, Pettus, Mooney & Drake) and passes house

SB65Singleton (D)Would require transportation network companies to obtain a permit from the PSC, maintain an agent for service of process, implement a nondiscrimination

policy, implement a zero tolerance intoxicating

substance policy, and maintain certain records, collect local assessment fee for each trip.

COMPANION BILL TO HB97

IDENTICAL TO SB143

Transportation and EnergyNo movement on this bill since first read: but, SB143 is co-sponsored with Marsh and is identical
SB85Smitherman (D)Creates the Alabama Public Transportation Trust Fund

*isn’t noted but seems like companion bill to HB10

Transportation and Energy·        2/27: passes House and forward to the Governor

·        2/20: passes House

·        2/1: read for the second time and placed on the calendar

·        1/25: Moves to House, read for the first time and referred to the House of Representatives committee on Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure

·        1/25: Motion to Read a Third Time and Pass adopted Roll Call 148

SB143Singleton (D)Would require transportation network companies to obtain a permit from the PSC, maintain an agent for service of process, implement a nondiscrimination

policy, implement a zero tolerance intoxicating

substance policy, and maintain certain records, collect local assessment fee for each trip.

COMPANION BILL TO HB97

IDENTICAL TO SB65

Tourism and Marketing·        1/25: Passes Senate with substitute by Singleton
UAB Students Conduct Mini Air Quality Study

UAB Students Conduct Mini Air Quality Study

Hello! We are Team Leggo My Eggo 11’s, and through our Environmental Factors of Public Health class at UAB, we had the unique opportunity to work with Gasp on a service learning project. Gasp provided us with an air monitor, called an AirBeam, which allowed us to conduct mini air quality studies to determine the air quality in different parts of Birmingham. The AirBeam measures particulate matter, which is tiny particles in the air that are 30 times smaller than hair (4 times smaller than pollen). With our data, we assisted Gasp and also learned about the reality of the air quality of our environment.

Based on our knowledge that, historically, North Birmingham has poorer air quality, we wanted to compare it to an area with expected good air quality, such as a more rural area. Therefore, our hypothesis was that the air quality in North Birmingham Park (North Birmingham) would be lower than that of Ruffner Mountain (East Birmingham).

We used the AirBeam for two hours each at both locations to gather air quality data. Below are the readings for North Birmingham Park and Ruffner Mountain.

Ruffner Mountain

North Birmingham Park

The colors on the maps indicate the air quality: green is good; yellow is moderate; orange is unhealthy for sensitive groups; red is unhealthy.

The maps show a broad view of the air quality in both locations, but a more precise reading of air quality was taken at every second over the span of 2 hours by the AirBeam. This data was downloaded as an Excel sheet, and we were able to calculate the average particulate matter reading.

Site​

Average Particulate Matter Reading​

EPA Air Quality Index Rank​

Ruffner Mountain (East Birmingham)​

33.56​

Good​

North Birmingham Park (North Birmingham)​

64.50​

Moderate​

Our service learning project with Gasp allowed us to become citizen scientists—getting involved with public research and sharing our findings with others. We were able to collect data on particulate matter in North Birmingham and East Birmingham, which also allowed us to compare their particulate matter levels.

Through citizen science, we had the opportunity to do relevant research in our community, enhancing our knowledge about our environment and giving us the hope that we can improve our surroundings.

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