In an unprecedented show of collaboration, 24 leaders of environmental groups in the Pittsburgh region stood together today to proclaim the importance of environmental protection for our region.

“Even after decades of working tirelessly and making progress on the problem, we’re nowhere near finished making this region cleaner, greener, and more livable for everyone,” said Scott Bricker, executive director of BikePGH. “Just as we have begun to see progress, the Trump administration is sending us back to the dark ages.”

At the press conference held at the Energy Innovation Center, the group emphasized the critical need for everyonecitizens, organizations, corporationsto work to prevent any backsliding on environmental progress in the region.

“At this very juncture, America stands to lose its balance in being a global innovator for securing environmental protection for being the basis for strong economic performance,” said Court Gould, executive director of Sustainable Pittsburgh.

“What’s coming from the White House will have a strong trickle down effect in our region,” he added. “This is not the time for complacency. This is the time for everybody to double down and take note of the issues they care strongly about.”

The core message of the group of 24 is that “while the region is positioning itself with a cleaner innovation economy, bringing the promise of increasing job growth, improving public health, and environmental justice,” it stands to lose ground in the face of new environmental threats and the new administration in Washington.

Four of the leaders present spoke at this run-up to Earth Day not just to urge the community to recognize the critical need for environmental protection, but also to take action. Their suggestions:

  • Become informed and know your facts.
  • Go beyond phone calls and letter writing and develop relationships with elected officials.
  • Join organizations like those represented “that have the infrastructure and capacity to be megaphones for your voice.”

“The stakes are too great for our families and future to just stand idly by and wait for others to act,” said Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, CEO of Women for a Healthy Environment. “We have witnessed proposed cuts at the federal level, which would directly impact the ability of state and local governments to protect our health and environment. This includes potential cuts to programs which ensure access to safe drinking water, cleanup of hazardous waste sites, and remediation of landscapes impacted by nonpoint source pollution.”

Quincy Kofi Swatson of the Door Campaign.

Quincy Kofi Swatson of the Door Campaign. Photo by Julie Kooser.

Bricker also noted that “These cuts will make the poor even poorer. Elimination of programs such as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program will hurt those among us who already suffer the most. Cuts to the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Program such as New Starts and Small Starts will pull the rug out from under public transportation projects around our region, such as the Bus Rapid Transit project, which aims to connect thousands of Pittsburghers to jobs and improve conditions for walking and biking.”

Vivien Li, President and CEO of Riverlife spoke about the importance of making sure that all residents have access to outdoor open space, clean water and clean air. “We as a community must plan for a future in which climate change will have a direct impact on every man, woman and child, regardless of income, race or residence.”

Quincy Kofi Swatson, executive director of The Door Campaign, noted that “If our elected officials do not hear from their constituents about injustices that you care deeply about, then they will be left to assume there is no interest in fighting for them. We need to remind all that risks to our region’s environment are risks to our families and future, and that we stand firm to defend them. We need your help in carrying this message on Earth Day.”

To join the community protecting our environment, visit CEOsforEarthDay.org.

The full list of organizations at the press event follows:

Air Quality Collaborative
Matthew Mehalik, Executive Director

Allegheny County Parks Foundation
Caren Glotfelty, Executive Director

Allegheny Land Trust
Chris Beichner, President & CEO

Bike Pittsburgh
Scott Bricker, Executive Director

CCI
Jeaneen A. Zappa, Executive Director

Center for Coalfield Justice
Veronica Coptis, Executive Director

Economic Development South
Greg Jones, Executive Director

Green Building Alliance
Aurora Sharrard, Executive Director

Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP)
Rachel Filippini, Executive Director

Grow Pittsburgh
Jake Seltman, Executive Director

Growth Through Energy and Community Health (GTECH) Strategies
Evaine Sing, Executive Director

Hollow Oak Land Trust
Sean Brady, Executive Director

Nine Mile Run Watershed Association
Brenda Lynn Smith, Executive Director

Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC)
Justin Stockdale, Western Regional Director

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Richard Piacentini, Executive Director

Riverlife
Vivien Li, President and CEO

Saw Mill Run Watershed Association
Lisa Werder Brown, Executive Director

Sustainable Pittsburgh
Court Gould, Executive Director

Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project
Raina Rippel, Director

The Door Campaign
Quincy Kofi Swatson, Executive Director

Three Rivers Waterkeeper
Rob Walters, Waterkeeper/Executive Director

Tree Pittsburgh
Danielle Crumrine, Executive Director

Venture Outdoors
Joey-Linn Ulrich, Executive Director

Women for a Healthy Environment
Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, Executive Director

About The Author

Founder + Publisher

The founder and publisher of NEXTpittsburgh, Tracy started the first online publication in Pittsburgh as editor and then publisher 11 years ago and left to launch NEXT in 2014. She is passionate about making positive change in Pittsburgh and connecting people to do the same.

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