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Acting Badly

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In the tug-of-war over pollution policy, Allegheny County Council gave another hard yank Aug. 26, and the county Board of Health may be fast approaching the mud puddle. Council approved, 12-0 with one abstention and two absences, a so-called "bad-actor" ordinance (see Political Footballs: "Coughin' Corner," June 4). The ordinance bars the county Health Department from giving new pollution permits to companies that have repeatedly violated their old permits. County Executive Jim Roddey was expected to sign the bad-actor ordinance.

The quasi-independent, appointed Board of Health controls the Health Department, and has fought council's efforts to make new health policies. "Under state law," says Health Department spokesman Guillermo Cole, "the Board of Health has the authority to make health-related regulations." Lately, though, the board has been buffeted with criticism that it's not doing enough to clear the air, and a report released in late August rated the Pittsburgh region's air the sixth worst in the country.

"Our board will have to decide whether to challenge this," says Cole, "or whether our board will consider [the bad-actor] regulation." The board was scheduled to meet Sept. 3.

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