Image via Paul Sabelman on Flickr- Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
PITTSBURGH -- PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center and sixteen other groups representing a broad cross-section of Pittsburghers submitted a letter Friday calling on the Port Authority of Allegheny County to commit to fully electrify its fleet, to commit to using energy generated 100% from renewable sources, and to create detailed plans to ensure these goals are met. The letter, sent in response to the Port Authority's draft NEXTransit 25-year plan, was accompanied by emails from 110 Allegheny County residents who support these measures.
In its current form, the NEXTransit draft plan commits to a 100% zero-emission fleet by 2045, but, contradicting itself, leaves the door open for gas-powered buses. When it comes to energy use, the plan acknowledges that the Port Authority “should reduce its carbon footprint as much as possible.”
“It’s impossible to achieve a zero-emission fleet if fossil fuel-powered vehicles are still on the table,” said Ashleigh Deemer, Deputy Director of PennEnvironment. “Given Pittsburgh’s ongoing challenges with air pollution and the increasingly worrisome local impacts of climate change, it’s time for the Port Authority to join other agencies in places such as Chicago and New York, and commit to transitioning to a 100% zero-emission electric fleet, powered by 100% renewable energy.”
Air pollution is a significant threat to health in the region. Allegheny County ranks in the worst 2 percent of U.S. counties for cancer risk from air pollution. Diesel particulate matter (DPM) pollution from buses and other diesel vehicles is associated with cancer and other chronic diseases.
Increasingly, climate change also threatens our region with extreme weather and flooding. Transportation is the No. 1 source of climate pollution in the United States, which means that we need to swiftly change our transit systems’ power sources to renewable energy to help fight climate change.
“The NEXTransit 25-year plan offers us in the Pittsburgh area a once-in-a-generation opportunity to leave fossil fuels in the dustbin of history. Instead, we can prioritize and plan for a cleaner future full of zero-emission vehicles and renewable energy, which are on their way to becoming standard in the transit industry,” said Deemer. “We look forward to working with the Port Authority to make it happen.”
You can find the full letter here, signed by the following organizations:
Pittsburghers for Public Transit
Allegheny County Transit Council
Clean Water Action
Rail Pollution Protection Pittsburgh (RP3)
Women for a Healthy Environment
Allegheny County Clean Air Now (ACCAN)
Group Against Smog and Pollution
Physicians for Social Responsibility PA
Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter
Clean Air Council
East End Neighbors
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 www.PennEnvironmentcenter.org.