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Limiting Carbon Emissions Could Eliminate About 90 Deaths A Year In The Region By 2030

Melinda Roeder
90.5 WESA

On today’s program: A new study found pollution-related deaths in southwestern Pennsylvania could be reduced if the Biden administration passes a plan to limit carbon emissions; how historical investigation in the Manchester neighborhood could open it up to financial funding for historical preservation of African American neighborhoods; and Carnegie Mellon University professor Swarun Kumar tells how the latest generation of wireless infrastructure is already pushing 5G networks forward.

Carbon emissions limits could lead to reduction in deaths, study finds
(0:00 - 6:00)

The Biden administration's proposed limit on carbon emissions could lead to a drop in pollution-related deaths in southwestern Pennsylvania, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by researchers at Syracuse and Harvard universities, Georgia Tech and the non-profit Resources for the Future, looked at several climate policies, including the so-called “clean electricity standard.”

"That policy uses a series of incentives to push utilities to produce an increasing amount of their electricity from zero-carbon sources," explains Reid Frazier, an energy reporter for the Allegheny Front. "It steps up pretty rapidly to 80% of sources from zero-carbon by the year 2030."

According to the study, Allegheny County would be the third largest beneficiary of the clean electricity standard, with an estimated 87 fewer deaths in 2030.

"They do these calculations by using fairly standard public health models that have been out for years," Frazier says. "You can estimate by what you know of the population: where it is, where people live, how close they are to pollution sources."

Frazier says the study found that African American residents would benefit most from the policy.

"We know that statistically, African Americans are more likely to live near large pollution sources. That's been found in Allegheny County as well as around the country," he says. "Access to healthcare and other factors actually give more negative benefits to African Americans than they would for white Americans and other groups, but the paper found that all groups would ultimately benefit."

The clean electricity standard is in the Senate's $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, which does not yet have the required support of all 50 Democratic senators.

Manchester neighborhood is researching its place in the Civil Rights Movement
(6:03 - 14:25)

The residents of the city’s Manchester neighborhood could be learning more about their history and its connection to the Civil Rights Movement.

A $17,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, matched by the City of Pittsburgh, will allow researchers to gather more historic information to see if this section of the North Side could qualify for the National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Grants.

The research will investigate “who are notable people that have lived in that neighborhood, or if there is a particularly historic event that happened in that neighborhood with regard to African American history,” explains Karamagi Rujumba, director of development and communications for the Pittsburgh History and Landmark Foundation.

The Foundation was founded in 1964 in Manchester to try to preserve it and other neighborhoods at the height of urban renewal, which threatened the original architecture of Manchester.

“Our goal has been, since then, trying to save, restore all the historic buildings that define the architectural aesthetics of a neighborhood,” says Rujumba. “Not just to save them for the sake of saving them, but to save them for the people, to save them as a way of creating economic revitalization.”

Should Manchester qualify for a NPS African American Civil Rights Grant, it could acquire more funding to further document and preserve parts of the neighborhood.

5G networks are coming to Pennsylvania
(14:27 - 22:30)

Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation at the end of June creating a statewide standard for building infrastructure to support 5G networks.

The legislation will help municipalities and companies know what to expect when installing and creating partnerships.

“No transition to a new generation of wireless happens overnight,” says Swarun Kumar, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University who researches wireless technologies.

Kumar says as the state transitions to 5G wireless connection, providers are trying to create a faster broadband connection, while also addressing scalability, so everyone who wants to use the network can.

“It’s hard to notice performance improvements when it’s been happening incrementally over the years, but if you take a step back and remember how 3G was, our internet speeds today, our cellular speeds today are much faster.”

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
Marylee is the editor/producer of The Confluence, the daily public affairs show on WESA. She got her start in journalism at The Daily Reveille and KLSU while attending Louisiana State University. She took her passion for audio journalism to UC Berkeley's graduate program and worked in public radio at WPR in Madison, WI, and WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Laura Tsutsui is a producer for The Confluence, WESA's morning news show. Previously, she reported on the San Joaquin Valley with the NPR affiliate station in her hometown of Fresno, California. She can be reached at ltsutsui@wesa.fm.
Rebecca Reese is a production assistant for The Confluence.
Eoin is a production assistant for The Confluence and a senior at NC State University studying political science. He got his start in broadcasting at WKNC, NC State's college radio station. When he's not working, he enjoys hiking, surfing, and listening to music.
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