Our story

How it all started

Alabama First was originally launched in 2009 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to address the Birmingham area’s long-standing air pollution issues. In particular, our founders sought to reduce pollution from the area’s three behemoth coal-fired power plants owned and operated by the state’s largest air polluter, Alabama Power.

Our board of directors in 2010 learned of an organization called the Greater-Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution, or G.A.S.P. That group organized in the early 1970s as Alabama industries and governments resisted complying with the new federal Clean Air Act. Dangerous air conditions created a series of public health crises in Birmingham in the late 1960s and early 1970s, motivating young activists, public health professionals, UAB professors, and elected officials to form G.A.S.P. Together, they advocated for clean air policies, organized protests, and held a week-long “Right to Live Rally” that coincided with the first Earth Day. Thanks to G.A.S.P., the first time a federal judge exercised the authority of the Act was here in Birmingham, when Judge Sam Pointer issued a restraining order forcing local industry to shut down until air pollution abated.

Birmingham’s air quality has improved since 1970, but better is not good enough. Air pollution is still a problem in Birmingham, especially if you live in a community on the fence line of large polluting facilities like coke plants, coal-fired power plants, chemical plants, steel mills, metal recyclers, etc.

Our Mission & Vision

Our mission is to advance healthy air & environmental justice in the greater-Birmingham area through education, advocacy, and collaboration. We envision a healthy, just, and sustainable Alabama for everyone who lives, works, learns, and worships here. We strive to reduce air pollution, 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. GASP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

We believe…

🌤 Every Alabamian has the right to breathe clean, healthy air.

🌤 Health should be a top priority for lawmakers, regulators, and businesses.

🌤 Clean, renewable energy is essential to a healthy, just, and sustainable Alabama.

🌤 All levels of government must be transparent and accountable to the people of Alabama.

🌤 Alabamians deserve the opportunity to live a healthy life no matter their race, ZIP code, or socioeconomic status.

🌤 Elected officials and regulators have a moral duty to protect public health and act in Alabama’s long-term best interest.

Our Principles

  • Fairness. We treat everyone with respect and dignity.
  • Justice & Equity. We put justice first, and work towards just and equitable outcomes.
  • Audacity. We are not shy about dreaming big.
  • Servant Leadership. We aim to be useful to the communities we serve.
  • Transparency. We do not hide our intentions or our objectives, and we insist on the same from others.
  • Accountability. We expect all stakeholders to hold us to our word, and we’ll do the same.
  • Friendliness. We want to be kind and helpful to those seeking our help.
  • Sustainability. We try to always walk the walk and act in ways that are regenerative.
  • Data-driven. We value information, including qualitative and quantitative data points.
  • Scientific evidence. We also value both the modern scientific method and traditional ecological knowledge.
  • Health. We put the health of our staff, board, volunteers, donors, and constituents first.

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Volunteers help us do everything from stuff envelopes to canvass fence-line communities.