Allegheny County groups announce ‘Green Agenda’ for county, city candidates

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PITTSBURGH — Several of Pittsburgh’s leading environmental nonprofit organizations released the Green Allegheny Issue & Policy Agenda on Thursday. They created this nonpartisan document to educate candidates running for local and county office in this May’s primary and November’s general elections about the top policy priorities to implement to protect the region’s natural environment. 

From the iconic Three Rivers to our beautiful county parks, Allegheny County’s natural amenities make this region a great place to live, work and visit. But environmental challenges including air pollution, climate change and water pollution hamper residents’ health and quality of life, threatening the future of the region. 

“Pittsburghers from all walks of life want clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and to protect Allegheny County’s incredible outdoor places,” said Ashleigh Deemer, Deputy Director of the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. “If implemented, the Green Allegheny Policy Agenda would put our region on the cutting edge of sustainability, and make Allegheny County a healthier place to live and work.” 

Air quality is regularly in the local news and on the minds of Allegheny County residents, for good reason. The American Lung Association’s 2022 State of the Air report gave Allegheny County “F’” grades for short-term particulate pollution and ozone pollution. 

“Residents of Allegheny County, particularly in the Monongahela Valley, continue to experience unacceptable and health-damaging levels of air pollution,” stated Matthew Mehalik, Executive Director of the Breathe Project.  “Our region’s leadership must insist upon more health protective standards, hold serial polluters accountable, and open doors for investments in cleaner industries that will employ people for the long haul. Our current path, which lacks vision and fortitude, is failing us in the short term and the long term. Justice demands a new direction.”

The Pittsburgh region is also no stranger to the worsening effects of climate change, which has caused record-setting rainfalls and other extreme weather events that push our aging infrastructure and public safety to the brink. 

“Pittsburgh and its surrounding region has many wonderful attributes, including being touted as a “climate haven” of sorts as the climate crisis intensifies. We are not immune to the effects that others have and will be experiencing and we have little time to prepare ,” notes Robin Lesko, Senior Organizer of Food & Water Watch. “We have taken major strides towards a better future with the victory of the parks bill, which will protect our county parks from the very industrial practices that are accelerating climate change. We can keep this momentum by adhering to a clear, aggressive strategy that salvages and strengthens what we have in order to maintain what makes this region so special.”

The Green Allegheny Issue & Policy Agenda will be distributed to candidates running for county executive, County Council, and City Council among others. It will also be a public education tool used to teach residents of Allegheny County about the potential for local solutions that can protect our air, water, climate, and parks. 

“We need a county executive who will work to protect the streams and rivers that provide drinking water and a source of recreation to over 1 million county residents, an executive who believes green infrastructure is critical to our future, and an executive who believes that PFAS should not contaminate our most precious resource,” added Joy Braunstein, Western PA Policy & Development Director of Clean Water Fund. 

Solutions for protecting people from toxics like lead and PFAS are also addressed in the Agenda. 

Lead (Pb) is in our housing, our water lines, and our soil,” said Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, executive director of Women for a Healthy Environment. “Children are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of lead and once exposed the health impacts are irreversible. The data shows that Black and brown children suffer from lead poisoning at greater rates across Allegheny County. The good news is exposure to lead is completely preventable. The next county executive must put primary prevention strategies to reduce lead exposure and other toxins at the forefront of decision-making, budgeting and planning.”

The Green Allegheny Agenda makes 50 policy recommendations that County and municipal leaders have the power to implement today, including levying maximum fines against illegal air polluters, powering public facilities with 100% renewable energy, and banning certain single-use plastics. 



PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. For more information, visit