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Improving our air

| Monday, July 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of providing opening remarks to organizations and companies interested in participating in Sustainable Pittsburgh's 2013-14 Green Workplace Challenge. This friendly contest is supported by the Heinz Endowments' Breathe Project. The focus of the program is to encourage sustainable actions and achievements, including focused reduction in energy, water, waste and transportation. It engages employees directly, as well as the leadership of the participating organizations.

Likewise, the Breathe Project is a coalition of organizations working together to clean up our air for the health of our families and economy. In addition to working with member companies and organizations, the project also offers ways for individuals to participate and take action that has a real impact on our environment and our region's health. I am proud to be part of the Breathe Project leadership team and am grateful for Heinz Endowments support of this effort.

Often, the Heinz Endowments are criticized within the industrial sector for being too critical of industry. We, as a community, cannot have it both ways. It is unfair to criticize the Heinz Endowments for being too tough on industry, then impugn the organization's credibility when its work improves the environment.

I am grateful for the Heinz Endowments' involvement and interest in improving our air quality. They have been strong partners with Allegheny County in our individual and collective efforts and vocal proponents of steps — controversial and otherwise — that will improve our region's health in the short and long term. Real progress has been made in our community, much of it due to the Heinz Endowments and their leadership.

Rich Fitzgerald

The writer, a Democrat, is Allegheny County chief executive.

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