Pittsburgh – At an afternoon rally in Schenley Park, three of the state’s leading environmental advocacy organizations endorsed Councilman Bill Peduto for Mayor of Pittsburgh. Citing his long-term commitment to public health and his leadership in the passage of Pittsburgh’s Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, representatives of Clean Water Action, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania and the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter pledged support for Peduto in the May 21 primary election.
“I am pleased to receive such enthusiastic endorsements from three of the leading environmental advocacy groups,” Peduto said. “Working together with their members, we will make Pittsburgh a model city in the area of protecting and preserving the environment.”
Pittsburgh faces serious environmental challenges from past and current industrial activity. The next mayor will be forced to handle a crisis in stormwater management, while bringing the city into compliance with EPA water regulations and dealing with wastewater from gas drilling operations threatens to further pollute Pittsburgh’s water sources.
“If we are going to solve our sewage in the rivers problem in a way that brings our region the most benefits, Pittsburgh desperately needs a leader who can fight for that solution. Because he understands how a solution that catches the rain where it falls is the right choice, Bill Peduto is that leader.” Tom Hoffman, Western Pennsylvania Director Clean Water Action.”
Though the city’s daylight hours are no longer darkened by soot, Pittsburgh’s air quality and rates of pollution related diseases like asthma remain among the worst in America. Of American cities, the Pittsburgh metropolitan area ranks 7th in the nation in annual particle pollution, 3rd for 24-hour particle pollution, and 24th for ozone according to the American Lung Association. Increased hydrofracturing in the area and attempts to revisit current regulations on gasoline sales can only make the problem worse.
“Our city’s long history of air pollution requires constant attention and forward-thinking leadership,” said Angel Gober of the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter. “Bill Peduto has been at the forefront of efforts to improve our air quality and, as our mayor, will be an outstanding champion for the safe, healthy air our families deserve.”
Peduto’s opponent Jack Wagner makes no mention of the city’s environmental challenges on his website and, according to the Pittsburgh City Paper, has refused to support Pittsburgh’s ban on fracking within city limits. According to MarcellusMoney.org, a joint project of Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania and Common Cause PA, Wagner accepted $82,810 in political contributions from gas industry PACs and executives between January 2001 and July 2012. That number ranks him among the top 10 recipients of gas money in the state. On April 15, 2013, “members of the Marcellus Shale community” hosted another $1,000 per person fundraiser for his campaign.
“On May 21, voters have a choice between Bill Peduto, a candidate who has consistently fought to make Pittsburgh a cleaner, safer, more prosperous place to live, and Jack Wagner, a candidate seemingly uninterested in environmental protection and potentially indebted to the drilling industry,” said Josh McNeil of Conservation Voters of PA. “For families worried about clean air, safe water, and a sustainable future for Pittsburgh, that choice couldn’t be more clear.”