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Pollution regulations leave steel 'in the balance'
Billowing smokestacks, once signs of money being made in Allegheny County, now more likely are indicators of money being spent on expensive pollution control equipment, or, in the absence of that, cash spent on regulatory fines.
Though much progress has been made in cleaning up our air - the county touts its air-pollution-control program as one of the toughest in the country - Allegheny County still boasts the largest concentration of coke production in the country. And that makes the quest for air quality particularly complex here.
Coke, a product made from heating coal, is believed to pose a greater risk of cancer to local breathers than emissions from any other industry.
But there, too, are risks associated with tough new environmental regulations.
"The 40 percent of jobs left in the steel industry could be in the balance," says Dr. Will Steeger, who has done research on the job effects recent amendments to the Clean Air Act. "There will be job loss, less pay, less time - a slowdown in hundreds of thousands of jobs. There is no environmental free lunch."
Steeger is president of Consad Research Corp., a Pittsburgh policy-analysis firm.
Elizabeth Ackerman, environmental engineer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, contends the regulations can be achieved without significant …