The Punchlist 3-12-2021

The Punchlist is back! Each week at the end of the week, we’ll share some of our favorite sustainability, climate, local, and whatever else – related stories.

This week’s edition features more exciting local and national news about the environment!

Natural Gas Tax: Governor Wolf proposes a tax on natural gas in order to help the COVID-19 economy. Included in his $37.8 billion proposed budget is a $3 billion initiative to support workers and small businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic. This initiative will support Back to Work PA and is a 20-year bond that will be paid off by taxing the natural gas industry at a rate of 2.8%. This money will go towards reskilling programs for workers and augment the programs that are already offered through PA CareerLink.

A Greener Pittsburgh: Melissa Burnett, a PULSE Pittsburgh fellow working with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, has been working to plant more trees around Pittsburgh. In the past year, she has noticed that a lot of Black communities don’t have nearly as many trees as other parts of the city. She is working to towards getting more trees into underserved communities and educating people about trees and how to care for them.

Microplastics in PA Water: PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center tested 53 sites throughout Pennsylvania and found microplastic in all of them. Microplastics form when trash such as plastic bags and bottles break down over time. Research shows that people ingest approximately 2,000 pieces of microplastic each week, which is equal to the weight of a credit card. This comes as no surprise after the EPA found in 2018 that 35.7 million tons of plastics were generated and only 8.7% of it was recycled.

Possible Health Study Expansion: Groups representing Pennsylvania families want to expand the PA health study to include facilities that handle fracking waste. This request is in response to the number of children from Pittsburgh’s surrounding counties who have Ewing sarcoma. The study already includes activities at oil and gas well pads and compressor stations. Although fracking has been shown to cause asthma, heart problems, and pre-term and low birthweight, the groups are not optimistic that fracking activities will be added to the health study.

New Opportunities for Opportunity Zones: The R.K. Mellon Foundation and Arctaris are partnering to invest $20 million into Opportunity Zones, which are economically struggling communities. Arctaris plans to invest in 10 cities, counties or states in the next year and many think that Allegheny and Westmoreland counties would greatly benefit. This program will invest in projects that support economic development, workforce training, affordable housing and sustainable job creation.

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