May 9, 2021

PennFuture Letter to the Editor in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Prioritize clean air for the Mon Valley

Much has been stated about U.S. Steel’s decision to abandon investments to facilities in the Mon Valley, but hardly any of it has centered on what matters most: the people who live there (May 6, “Toomey to Look at U.S. Steel”).

Thousands of people living in places like Clairton, Glassport and Elizabeth, among many others, have suffered for more than a century from the disproportionate impacts of pollution from U.S. Steel’s Mon Valley Works.

What happens to them now that U.S. Steel has rolled back its promise of investing $1.5 billion in modernizing its operations in the Mon Valley? It will almost certainly mean the status quo or worse, which is heightened levels of asthma and other adverse health impacts associated with elevated levels of air pollution.

The energy spent on scapegoating and passing blame for a decision that is solely U.S. Steel’s to own might instead be spent crafting a plan not only to help residents in these front-line communities, but to help these workers plan for a future in which U.S. Steel does not exist in the Mon Valley. Through its announcement to withdraw its investment in the valley, U.S. Steel has forfeited its leadership in determining that future.

Residents in the Mon Valley have been overlooked and forgotten for generations. We can no longer accept these broken promises, false scapegoating and bad-faith arguments when real people are still suffering very real impacts from U.S. Steel’s pollution.

We need to do better than this, and it starts with our elected officials working on behalf of these residents, not making excuses on behalf of a corporate polluter that has shown, time and again, it doesn’t have our best interests at heart.

Clean air must be at the heart of the future of the Mon Valley, no matter what.

President and CEO