November 15, 2020

PennFuture Letter to the Editor in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

U.S. Steel needs to do the right thing

In May 2019, U.S. Steel announced a $1.5 billion investment in its Mon Valley facilities — Clairton Coke Works and Edgar Thomson Steel Works in Braddock. Several weeks ago, as highlighted in the Oct. 31 article “U.S. Steel Could Cancel $1.5 Billion Investment in Mon Valley Works,” the company walked back its commitment to that investment.

When the investment originally was announced last year, U.S. Steel was in the searing gaze of the Clairton community as a result of the Christmas Eve fire just months earlier at the Coke Works. The surrounding community and safety regulators were in the dark for days that the fire incident had even occurred, all while pollution levels spiked.

U.S. Steel was also in the spotlight for its decade-long reputation as a toxic neighbor in the region. Several severely outdated batteries remain in operation at Clairton, despite U.S. Steel’s knowing the batteries to be the most polluting aspect of the Clairton operation.

At that time, residents and environmental organizations alike were in the midst of a campaign calling for U.S. Steel to replace the crumbling and dirty batteries, an investment that would have signaled the company’s commitment to job security for its workers, and to cleaner air.

Instead, surrounded by elated politicos and economic development boosters, U.S. Steel chose to deflect the community heat with the investment announcement, investments that now appear to be evaporating. U.S. Steel is not worthy of the social capital and goodwill it has enjoyed here for decades, as evidenced by this latest broken promise.

US Steel’s lack of investment continues to have a negative impact on our county’s health. Last week, over a period of at least five days, county residents were advised to stay indoors during beautiful weather because the region’s air quality was unhealthy. ​

Our call for U.S. Steel to do the right thing here for jobs and the environment remains. We have a constitutional right to clean air, and it’s well past time for U.S. Steel to stop infringing on that right.

President and CEO
The letter was also signed by Matt Mehalik, executive Director of the Breathe Project.