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Press Release


Friday, February 23

Contact: Prerna Jagadeesh,, 508-455-8275

Pittsburghers call for a Green New Deal for communities that are “the face of the climate crisis” alongside Summer Lee, Sara Innamorato

[Photos available upon request]


Pittsburgh, PA – In spite of the rain, 130 Pittsburghers packed into a tent at Schenley Plaza on Thursday afternoon to call for a Green New Deal for families in Pennsylvania and across the country, on the fourth stop in a multi-state Green New Deal for the People tour. The Pittsburgh event was hosted by the Green New Deal Network, Sunrise Pittsburgh, PA United, One PA, Breathe Project, Food & Water Watch, Women for a Healthy Environment, Upstream PGH, and IPAA Food Forestry Arts and Culture. Congresswoman Summer Lee spoke alongside municipal, Tribal, environmental, union, healthcare, and community leaders about how a Green New Deal is urgently needed to bring investment and jobs to industrial cities like Pittsburgh. Rally attendees enjoyed a performance by the Pittsburgh Labor Choir. 

Following a visit in Pittsburgh earlier this week from Vice President Kamala Harris in which she announced $200 million for clean water infrastructure, activists urged the Biden administration to finish the job and deliver 90% of the funding that was cut out of the Build Back Better Act and an additional $1 trillion over the next 4 years for local communities in Pennsylvania and every state across the country. Activists highlighted how increased climate funding would address local demands, including cleaning up orphaned oil & gas wells, creating a water purification infrastructure, developing urban & rural food forestry, and providing redress for health conditions including increased maternal mortality in Environmental Justice communities.

“As a climate candidate, I celebrate the climate victories that we won as a downpayment on a Green New Deal, but I recognize the urgency of finishing the job to combat the climate catastrophe being experienced by so many communities today,” said Congresswoman Summer Lee. “At the intersection of climate justice is racial justice and economic justice, which means every election cycle must be a climate election cycle, if we are determined to save our democracy and meet the scale of this moment for our future”

“As the Green New Deal tour has traveled the country, in Michigan, we heard organizers talk about young children still needing safe drinking water, in Georgia, moms spoke about the price of utilities to keep the lights on, and in Chicago, union teachers discussed the urgent need for mold remediation so that students can breathe clean air,” said Saul Levin, Legislative and Political Director at the Green New Deal Network. “The Green New Deal is the idea that it is the government’s responsibility to put federal dollars in our communities that ensures all people, no matter race, religion, or birthplace, can have access to basic human rights, and prosper,”

“The climate crisis is at our doorstep, millions of people are struggling to make ends meet as the cost of living rises. We need a Green New Deal more than ever,” said Troy Turner, Organizer at Sunrise Pittsburgh. “We’re proud to be joining Congresswoman Lee and County Executive Innamorato to talk about what a Green New Deal looks like for Pittsburgh and cities across the country. We’re building a movement in every corner of the country to build the movement muscle and political support to win a Green New Deal.”

The “Green New Deal for the People” tour previously featured Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell at a tour stop in Michigan and Reps. Jesús “Chuy” García and Delia Ramirez at a tour stop in Illinois in the fall of 2023.

“Climate change is the biggest threat to the safety of our food, water and communities.That’s why we need a REAL Green New Deal — aggressive federal legislation that includes moving to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2035, halting all new fossil fuel infrastructure, and most importantly, facilitating a fair and just transition led by impacted communities that will lead to the creation of millions of jobs to build new green infrastructure,” said Robin Lesko, Western PA Organizing Manager at Food & Water Watch.

“The Aborigine American People have long since stewarded the lands successfully through each climate change; and now it’s time our voices are raised during this crisis; listening to the wisdom of our ancestors to once again become one with our ecosystems Natural Environment,” said Chief Pomaj-chakmam-yajalaji of Grand Ynga of The Onkwehonwe Nation; IPAA Food Forestry Arts and Culture. “Gov. Shapiro, state legislators, agencies, and local municipalities must work with us to establish long term solutions to address The Health Crisis, The Built Environment, Food insecurity, Land, Air and Water Conservation issues; support our sustainable Food Forestry Ecosystem Designs based on longstanding environmental principles; producing cleaner air soil and water conservation.”

“We aspire to create a community where all workers are able to care for themselves and raise their families, sharing in the prosperity generated by economic growth and development. Amidst the buzz of the Green New Deal touring our nation, Pittsburgh stands at a crucial intersection of environmental and social justice. As a water justice organizer, I am deeply rooted in the belief that clean, accessible water is a fundamental human right,” said Gabriel Gray, Organizer at Pittsburgh United. “In our pursuit of a Green New Deal, we demand investments that extend beyond rhetoric and directly address the water crises disproportionately affecting marginalized communities. At Pittsburgh United we are working to make water safe and accessible to everybody by holding water authorities and their spaces of oversight accountable.”

Speakers at the event shared their lived experiences of Black, brown, Indigenous, working class, frontline and low-income communities being impacted the most by the climate crisis and demanded that federal spending be allocated to the communities who are most in need. 

“Pittsburgh, ‘once known as hell with the lid off,’ has paid dearly for its contribution to our nation’s industrial success. We have the nation’s 14th worst air quality for annual particle pollution which predominantly impacts environmental justice communities through worsening health, increased asthma rates, heart disease and lung cancer. We are already seeing the devastation from climate change and must act now,” said Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, Executive Director at Women for a Healthy Environment. “We need to invest in green and sustainable energy to create jobs, keep our children healthy and build climate resilience. Let’s choose the path of innovation and a thriving Pittsburgh region for generations to come.”

“Historically, this area has thrived economically in the energy sector but that has come at a tremendous cost to our health, the health of our families and our communities, and to our planet. Pennsylvania is one of the worst places in the nation regarding particle pollution. These particles are not only in our air but they also contaminate our drinking water and soil. These particles live in our bodies,” said Mike Hiller, Executive Director of UpstreamPgh. “We must take action, now, to protect the health of Pennsylvanians across the state and to push forward towards a just, equitable, and sustainable future for all. A local and state GND would demonstrate Pittsburgh’s and Pennsylvania’s commitment towards a 100% renewable economy.”

Rally attendees called for all levels of government – including federal, state, county, and municipal –  to work together to plug fracking wells, expand electric buses, retrofit energy efficient public housing, create good paying, union jobs, and pass a stronger Green New Deal for healthy communities. 

“Our goals are led by directly impacted and concerned residents so that we can dismantle the controls that put people’s health and lives at risk. Now is the time to put pressure on Gov. Shapiro, state agencies and legislators, as well as local municipalities to establish protective measures to end our reliance on dirty fossil fuels, establish rulemaking within agencies, and officially establish health as a priority. Pennsylvania must make an imminent and just transition from toxic industries to a Green New Deal,” said Tammy Murphy, Advocacy Director at Physicians for Social Responsibility PA. 

“We must move together as rapidly as possible towards just energy alternatives that protect public health, natural resources, and the climate. A Green New Deal can help our country invest in new jobs that address the negative impacts currently felt disproportionally by vulnerable communities, such as programs to plug the abundant number of abandoned wells in Pennsylvania,” said Shannon Smith, Executive Director at FracTracker Alliance.

“From Chester to Clairton and Pittsburgh to Philly, the working communities that keep the lights on across our state – and in the governor’s mansion – have little to show for their labor aside from asthma and cancer. We need a Green New Deal for Pennsylvania now,” said Kyle Turley, Political Director at One PA

“In the U.S., transportation emissions are now the number one producer of greenhouse gases leading to climate change. By investing in public transit as part of the Green New Deal, we not only save our environment, but we ensure that we have thriving communities, with accessible, affordable and reliable ways for all of us to get where we need to go,” said Laura Chu Wiens, Executive Director at Pittsburghers for Public Transit.

More than 80 % of the flora and fauna are naturally occurring from the Americas.The Aborigine American People have provided life and protections through sharing our ancestral knowledge of building echo-safe living for all, in honor of our Mississippian culture since time immemorial. Now, in the face of a changing climate, the voices of the mound builders must be heard to help mitigate the damage and health disparities, which are associated with the removal of trees, brush and vegetation, as these offset air pollution from “The Built Environment,” said Chief Mimi Olom K’ayam Kabal; Member of Council of Affairs for Naturally Occuring Auchothons (CANOA). “The topic of the efficacy of low income and subsidized housing is not a new one. Evidence has proven low income and subsidized housing projects under the “built environment” are associated with Hazardous Conditions in low Income spaces. You must work with us to establish solutions to building safe and affordable living in urban spaces and to “protect the reset of the flora and the fauna.”

“We need a Green New Deal that lays the foundation for strong, local economies. We need a Green New Deal that can help put an end to fossil fuel extraction and unnecessary plastic production. We need a Green New Deal that gives communities control over their own energy infrastructure and drastically reduces pollution. And we need a Green New Deal that empowers communities to adapt to a changing climate and restores native ecologies,” said Andrew Woomer, Advocacy Coordinator at Clean Air Council.



About the Green New Deal Network

The Green New Deal Network is the hub of the GND, bringing together frontline communities, labor organizers, and climate activists from all across the country to drive massive public investments towards a Green New Deal at all scales of government. The Green New Deal Network is a national campaign with an expansive network of member organizations and a governing table of steering committee members: Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, The Movement for Black Lives, People’s Action, Sunrise Movement, Working Families Party, and US Climate Action Network.