University of Pittsburgh takes action and is removed from air pollution scofflaw list
PITTSBURGH--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The Breathe Easy, Stay Healthy campaign of Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) this week filed letters of intent to sue Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny County Health Department for violating Pennsylvania’s Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicle Idling Act by failing to post the legally-required signs prohibited diesel idling. PennFuture also announced today that it was removing the University of Pittsburgh from its air pollution scofflaw list, after Pitt posted the required signs.
Last year, PennFuture asked all three institutions to comply with the law requiring signs at loading docks where heavy duty diesel trucks load and unload, to help stop deadly soot pollution from being released by idling trucks.
“It is almost beyond belief that these two health care giants continue to flout the law, risking major health problems for their employees, visitors, patients, and neighbors,” said Heather Sage, PennFuture’s vice president. “The staff at Children’s sees the damage every day that our children suffer from toxic diesel pollution – crippling asthma attacks, weakened cardiac and respiratory systems, damage from the arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde and nickel found in diesel exhaust, and increased risk of cancer. Yet the hospital administrators continue to violate the law.
“And the Allegheny County Health Department is the agency that is charged with enforcing this law, so it is outrageous that the Health Department won’t comply,” continued Sage. “Even worse, after we sent the original notice to the Health Department this week, the agency’s response was to claim that it had complied – by posting photocopied pieces of paper on the office doors, not by posting the correct type of signs correctly placed, as required by state law.
“This is no small matter,” continued Sage. “Diesel pollution kills, and there is no excuse for letting diesel vehicles idle. Our region is fighting to clean up our air, but the Allegheny County Health Department and Children’s Hospital are making it worse, not better.
“We’re happy that the University of Pittsburgh took action as soon as we pointed out the problem to them,” continued Sage. “They have gone from clean air scofflaw to clean air hero quickly. We salute Pitt and urge others to follow the Panthers’ lead.”
State law prohibits the owners and drivers of any diesel-powered motor vehicle with a gross weight of 10,001 pounds or more engaged in commerce (generally, full size extended cab pickups and bigger) from idling for more than five minutes in any continuous 60-minute period, with some exceptions for extreme weather conditions and emergencies. A key portion of the law also gives responsibility to owners and operators of locations where diesel vehicles load, unload or park. An owner or operator of such a location, or where 15 or more parking spaces are provided for vehicles subject to the law, must erect and maintain at least one permanent sign to inform drivers that idling is restricted in Pennsylvania.
Copies of the letters of intent to sue, the pictures offered by the Allegheny County Health Department, and PennFuture’s response to the pictures are available on the PennFuture website.
PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization that advances policies to protect and improve the state’s environment and economy. With offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, West Chester, and Wilkes-Barre, PennFuture’s activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state and federal courts, advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level, public education and assisting citizens in public advocacy. PennFuture has experts and attorneys, outreach workers and communicators, lobbyists and educators, all working with local groups and citizens across the state to adopt and enforce great public policy. Our motto is “Every environmental victory grows the economy.” The Philadelphia Inquirer called PennFuture the state’s “leading environmental advocacy organization.”
Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future
Jeanne K. Clark, 412-258-6683 or 412-736-6092
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