The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and the Westmoreland Diversity Coalition are partnering again this fall to host their Growth Through Knowledge and Understanding speaker series. This year, the speakers will focus on the topic of Environmental Justice. The series will be offered virtually and is free. Participants are asked to register in order to receive the Zoom log-in information. Each session will begin at 7 p.m. with an anticipated length of 45 minutes to 60 minutes.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines Environmental Justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” It follows that if all people are going to be treated with dignity and respect, they need to have access to healthy and sustainable environments while recognizing that official policy and procedures have not been equitable for all populations.
Beth Weinberger, director of research and policy for the Environmental Health Project (EHP), opens the series on Wednesday, Sept. 22, when she discusses “What is Environmental Justice?”
The Environmental Health Project (EHP), a non-profit organization that assists and supports residents of southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond who believe their health has been, or could be, impacted by unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD, or fracking). Bringing together a team of medical professionals, community service professionals, and public health scientists, the EHP seeks to assist individuals and communities in taking action to protect themselves from harmful exposure to UOGD emissions. It also serves as a resource center for information related to UOGD activities. The EHP, answers questions, provides guidance, and works with communities to monitor air quality, assess health impacts, and create more awareness of public health exposures and risks for those living near shale gas development.
The EHP has conducted more than 550 health evaluations and placed more than 800 air monitoring devices in communities across the United States. Their goal is to equip residents with the information they need to take immediate protective actions and to advocate for policy changes to protect their communities against the impacts of UOGD.
The following schedule has been developed for the series:
- Wednesday, September 22 -- What is Environmental Justice? presented by Beth Weinberger of the Environmental Health Project
- Wednesday, October 6 -- Accessibility/Equity in Use of Public Spaces
- Wednesday, October 20 -- Environmental Policies and Systemic Racism
- Wednesday, November 3 -- Use of Native Lands, presented by Lee Dingus of the Echoes of the Four Directions
- Wednesday, November 17 -- Consequences of Urban Planning and Climate Change and Its Effects on Minority Populations, presented by Justin Dula, of the Office of Environmental Justice, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and vice president of the American Planning Association (Pennsylvania Chapter)
“Our goal is to help our community understand the concepts of Environmental Justice,” said Carlotta Paige, founder and co-chair of the Westmoreland Diversity Coalition. “We hope this series will continue to challenge folks to think about how we can create a more equitable world which values respect and dignity for all people.” Al Thiel, director of the Student Center and Student Involvement at Pitt-Greensburg, co-chairs this event with Paige.