Teresa Heinz, Environmental Defense & Pittsburgh’s Cleanup

As reported by The Commons Blog, Teresa Heinz is claiming some credit for cleaning Pittsburgh. She says Pittsburgh is one of the cleanest cities in America.

Yet this EnvironmentalDefense report claims Pittsburgh is the nation’s 18th dirtiest city.

Teresa Heinz is on their board, and is a major backer.

Which is it, Teresa? Clean or Dirty?

To be fair, Environmental Defense’s ranking methods are wacky, so perhaps it is unfair to note Heinz apparently disagrees with the group’s conclusions, even if we fairly place part of the blame for the group’s wackiness on her shoulders. Pittsburgh is a much cleaner city than its industrial workhorse reputation leads some to expect, as it undertook a massive city cleanup known as Renassiance I from roughly the 1950s to early 1970s. So Heinz is right about the relatively clean air, although her unspecified role in the clean up must have been limited, as she did not even move to the United States until the 1960s.

But, back to the wackiness. Environmental Defense ranks cities not only according to the cleanliness of their air, but by the number of children who live there. The more kids as city has, the worse its ranking will be.

Why would such a large group do something so odd? Because it is trying to make a political point about asthma in kids. The more kids a city has, the more kids with asthma a city has, the more dirty air-related suffering is going on. That’s the group’s reasoning, anyway.

Personally, if I were doing such a ranking, I’d put the dirtiest city at the top of the list, the second dirtiest second, and so forth. But then, I lack imagination.

So whatever you do, if you are looking to move to the cleanest city in America, use some other group’s ranking system to pick your next home. If you are looking for playmates for your kids, however, Environmental Defense may have just the data you need.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.