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Environment & Energy

Thousands Rally in Downtown Pittsburgh as EPA Hearings Get Underway

Deanna Garcia
90.5 WESA

As two days of hearings on the proposed EPA rules to cut carbon emissions, protesters and supporters gathered for rallies and marches outside of the Federal Building. Before the hearings got underway Thursday, downtown streets were relatively quiet. One small group had set up a stand on the corner of Liberty Avenue and Tenth Street speaking out against the proposed rules and calling for the impeachment of President Obama.

“We’re here to testify against the green policies of the EPA and the Wall Street and London bankers who are promoting an economic shutdown of the United States with this phony environmentalist global warming hoax,” said Tony Esposito, who will testify before the EPA Friday.

Before noon, numerous chartered buses started arriving at the convention center. That was the starting point for a rally and march featuring thousands of union workers from Pennsylvania and beyond.

“We’re here on a personal protest, trying to save our jobs,” said John Cole with United Mine Workers District 20 Alabama. “They [EPA rules] would take our jobs away, and we’re here to stand up for it, united we stand, divided we fall.”

A smaller rally was taking place at the August Wilson Center, that one in support of the proposed rules. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto was among the speakers. He said Pittsburgh and the U.S. needs to move forward, not backwards, and can do that by developing renewable energy sources. 

Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto addresses a crowd of supporters of the proposed EPA rules. Also at the stage, children of members of the Mom's Clean Air Force.

“And we can do it in a way that unlike in the past Pittsburgh, won’ t poison our air and won’t poison our water,” said Peduto, “and we can do it in a way that will help create jobs.”

Also at the support rally was Jim Spencer, president and CEO of EverPower Wind Holdings. He said the EPA rules would ensure a comprehensive approach to energy.

“Renewable energy will form a greater part of the energy mix, but so will natural gas, nuclear and other low carbon-emitting sources,” said Spencer. “And despite claims to the contrary, coal will still be a major component to the energy mix, about 30 percent. That’s as much as any fuel.”

The group in support of the proposed rules took the street after their rally – at the same time the coal workers and others opposed to the rules did the same. The crowds passed each other – and while there were shouts, the marches remained peaceful. Pittsburgh is one of four spots the EPA is holding the public hearings. Others took place in Atlanta, Denver and Washington, D.C.