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 everyone—citizens, organizations, corporations—to 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.”
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
Scott Bricker, Executive Director
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
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
Vivien Li, President and CEO
Saw Mill Run Watershed Association
Lisa Werder Brown, Executive Director
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
Danielle Crumrine, Executive Director
Joey-Linn Ulrich, Executive Director
Women for a Healthy Environment
Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, Executive Director