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Valley Clean Air Now (VCAN) members and friends met with PA Action on Climate bike tour riders on Saturday, 9-23. These environmental activists will cross our state talking with grassroot activists and hearing their local stories. Their tour will culminate at the Climate Convergence on October 1 at our state Capitol in Harrisburg.

Michael Badges-Canning, in black hat and black shorts above, talks with other PAC Bikers and VCAN members and friends at the CEDCC last Saturday morning. Left to right are PAC Biker Betsy, Bob Mitchell, Michael, June Pence, Matt Nemeth and Johnie Perryman. Tom Bailey photo.

"We'll take what we have seen to Governor Shapiro!"

The PAC bikers arrived at the Montour Bike Trail parking lot on State Street in Clairton around 9:45am. They had four riders and one member driving a truck with trailer.

  • Dave Meckel, VCAN Steering Committee member, spoke of the experience his family has endured with the excessive benzene readings at their home in Glassport.

  • Next Johnie Perryman,VCAN Steering Committee member, spoke about his experience living in Clairton. Johnie explained his health challenges and how he recommends the PA Constitution's Environmental Rights Amendment could be used to help residents of the Five Boroughs.

  • Fred Bickerton, VCAN Steering Committee treasurer, explained his experiences growing up and working in the Mon Valley with air pollution. Fred continued on to explain the science behind the current and future air monitoring systems in the Mon Valley.

  • I am the VCAN Steering Committee secretary. I passed out my drawing of the Clairton Coke Works (CCW) facilities and VCAN contact info. I then explained how coal is baked in the CCW battery ovens, quenched in the towers and shipped out as coke. Finally, I also explained that VCAN asked to meet with Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis on August 18th to discuss the "pay to pollute" history of CCW. VCAN has not received a reply to this request to meet.

VCAN members then drove the PAC bikers up to Shaw Avenue to see the CCW and the US Steel Irvin Work, including the large, visible flare fire. Everyone then drove to the CEDCC building at 282 St. Clair Avenue in Clairton for a light brunch.

Michael Badges-Canning stated the PAC bikers will remember what they saw and smelled in Clairton during their visit. They will urge Governor Shapiro & Lieutenant Governor Davis to respond to VCAN's August 18 request to meet

Who is June Pence and Common Defense?

What is the Veterans Organizing Institute?

What is planned with Common Defense this Thursday?


Who is June Pence and Common Defense?

June Spence, U.S. Army Veteran, OEF12 is a Climate Justice Organizer for Common Defense. She participated in welcoming the PAC bikers to Clairton with us on Saturday. June and her husband live in West Newton, Westmoreland County.

Common Defense is the nation's largest grassroots organization of progressive US military veterans, advocating for initiatives such as climate justice, voting rights, anti-militarism, and developing the next generation of veteran organizers and leaders. I told June we have two veterans among our Steering Committee members.

What is the Veterans Organizing Institute?

Common Defense’s family of organizations includes the Education Fund,

Civic Engagement, and Action Fund (PAC) In order to champion an equitable and representative democracy, where “liberty and justice” truly is for all.

A quote from their website includes "We vow to organize together against those who seek to divide us so they cannot rig our systems and economy for their own gain."

Another quote includes "This Fall, Veterans Organizing Institute (VOI) will convene our first climate-focused training for veterans working at the intersection of clean energy, economic equity and climate justice. This VOI will offer participants the skills to take action in support of a clean energy transition that benefits working families, and to elevate diverse veteran voices to protect our communities and our country from climate change."

June tells me their VOI will be in Pittsburgh from 9-27 to 10-1. They have between 35 to 40 veterans participating in this VOI. One of their stops will be with VCAN on Thursday.

What is planned with Common Defense this Thursday?

Our plan is similar to our plan with the PAC bikers.

We plan to meet at the Montour Bike Trail parking lot at 2 pm. If you're not familiar where the Montour Bike Trail is it is south on State Street (aka State Route 837). If you pass the sewer plant and Speedway store, you have gone too far. It is on the right side of State Street before the sewer plant.

I'm asking both our both members of our Steering Committee to attend if possible. We will address what it is like to live in the Five Boroughs. I will pass out and discuss the CCW chart and Data sheet again. I believe Fred will attend again.

We hope to go to the CEDCC once again for light refreshments and discuss what they have seen of the CCW and heard from VCAN members.

They have about one and one-half hours to visit with us. Thanks. Tom Bailey VCAN Secretary

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Updated: Aug 28

Take Action to improve the quality of life in the Five Boroughs.

Our two working groups will be meeting this week. We need help. Sorry for the short notice. Read on for more info.

VCAN Steering Committee member Dave Meckel speaks at Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) hearing in May, 2022.

Air Filter Working Group

This working group will meet in person at Community Economic Development Corporation Clairton (CEDCC) building @ 1:00 pm tomorrow. CEDCC is at 282 St. Clair Avenue, Clairton, PA 15025.

Their objective is to purchase indoor air filters and to distribute them at no cost to households in the Five Boroughs of Clairton, Glassport, Port Vue, Lincoln and Liberty. They welcome help from residents of all the Five Boroughs to accomplish this goal.

For more info about this Working Group contact Fred Bickerton at

Long time friend of VCAN, Kim Meacham speaks to May, 2022 ACHD hearing.

Health Survey Working Group

Please join us for the Health Study Working Group Meeting, Wednesday, August 30th @ 3:00 pm EST. One goal of this Working Group is to take a survey from residents of the Five Boroughs as to their current health condition. Sinan Dogan is the leader of this Working Group. Sinan says the Working Group will discuss:

-Recruitment of participants – who can be directly reached via phone or personally within the Five Boroughs

-Phone call script

-Incentive payments

-Availability of survey takers

-Possibility of getting or training more volunteers to support recruitment and survey taking

-Finances and research budget

-Timeline draft


Please feel free to bring your questions and suggestions to us at or email Sinan directly at

Sinan Dogan is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting:

Topic: VCAN - Health Study Meeting

Time: Aug 30, 2023 15:00 Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 974 8762 3102

Dial by your location

• +1 267 831 0333 US (Philadelphia)

• +1 877 853 5247 US Toll-free

Hope to see you at one of these events. * If you would rather not receive future emails like this one from VCAN, please email Tom Bailey VCAN Secretary at We certainly understand.

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  • Introductions: 5 min

  • VCAN 2023 Goals & Projects

  • EPA Coke Ovens Air Toxics Standards.

Goals of 2023 & Projects

  • Improve residents' health, quality of life, and understanding of air pollution impacts by installing portable air cleaners for 300 residents in Clairton and adjacent municipalities.

  • Conduct a community health survey to assess the prevalence of specific health outcomes in residents of the Mon Valley with a goal of 500 completed surveys.

  • To compensate and grow VCAN leaders through fair stipends, transportation, and childcare support for those who participate in leading the strategic direction of VCAN, and contribute to the working group projects.

Programs of 2023

Community Resource Working Group: Projects

EPA Air Monitoring

  • We want to hold public powers and private companies accountable for their responsibilities to uphold environmental protections. To do that, we hope to establish 12 new monitoring sites throughout the Mon Valley to collect better data on air quality and raise awareness with residents on how the reading affects them.

  • VCAN will recruit 12 new monitoring locations in Clairton or nearby communities, based on community interest and local hotspot observations.

  • VCAN will actively work to educate the community on monitoring findings, both by promoting community sessions and using its website and other communication tools.

  • By providing community air monitors VCAN members will be able to better understand air pollution impacts on their communities and will receive training in order to ensure monitoring can continue after the project is concluded.

  • VCAN will host community engagement sessions to:

  • Learning from community members where poor air quality hotspots exist in order to determine monitoring/sampling locations.

  • Learning from community members what their goals are for learning about contaminants in the air they are breathing.

  • Learning from community members what are the best methods for communicating the results of monitoring/sampling, taking into account community goals and technology access.

  • Education of community members regarding monitoring results and analysis.

Air Filter Program

  • Improve residents' health, quality of life, and understanding of air pollution impacts by installing portable air cleaners for 300 residents in Clairton and adjacent municipalities.

  • VCAN will distribute Air cleaners to residents of the Mon Valley who apply via Air Purifier Request.

  • VCAN will submit a petition to include the Air purifier program in the community benefit trust.

Community Education Working Group: Projects

Community Health Assessment

  • There is widespread concern among community members in VCAN that outdoor air pollution is contributing to poor health outcomes in residents. VCAN is working on a community health assessment pilot project to assess the prevalence of specific health outcomes in Mon Valley residents.

  • Residents who complete this Health Survey will be eligible to receive a $20 gift card.

Advocacy and Education Design for Deployment

  • VCAN will collaborate with CMU Design students to create new advocacy and design materials suitable for public engagement around air quality—not only to explain the harms of the poor air quality that we face but also to concretely suggest specific ways in which residents can respond to these harms.

EPA Coke Ovens Air Toxics Standards.

Mon Valley Residents Urge Action by EPA on Coke Ovens Air Toxics Standards.

(Clairton) – Members of Valley Clean Air Now (VCAN), a group of Mon Valley residents, have been working on a benzene monitoring project for the last 18 months to show the harmful effects of these toxins on homes throughout the Mon Valley. We have sent 4 separate letters to the EPA urging action for US Steel to install Fence Line Monitoring around its facilities. After much pressure from residents, the EPA has come out with new regulations that would require US Steel to do exactly what we have asked for.

Art Thomas, a Clairton resident, stated, “ The people of Clairton should be given the opportunity to breathe clean air, it’s time for US Steel to clean up or shut down.” Cheryl Hurt, a Clairton resident stated, “We have suffered enough and are fed up that residents' voices are overlooked.”

Valley Clean Air Now is grateful for the EPA taking action to ensure fenceline monitoring for benzene but would like to make sure residents' health is taken into consideration, which is why we are suggesting the following changes to the regulation.

Valley Clean Air Now believes that EPA should include the following actions in the new Coke Ovens Air Toxics Standards.

  • We want a 1-hour opacity standard to identify short-term periods of high opacity that are not identified from the current 24-hour measure of 15 percent opacity.

  • We want fenceline monitoring for benzene with a 3-microgram action level.

  • We want the highest MACT floor limits for 15 of the 17 unregulated hazardous air pollutants.

EPA will hold a virtual public hearing on the proposed amendments to the Coke Ovens Air Toxics Standards.

The deadline to pre-register for the hearing is August 28, 2023.EPA considers all comments equally, whether submitted in writing to the docket or given orally at a public hearing. EPA will take word on the proposal until October 2, 2023.

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