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  • Writer's pictureValley Clean Air Now

Pennsylvania Action on Climate Bikers stop; Common Defense Veterans to visit September 28 @ 2:00pm

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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