News & Events

CAT Director Receives Clean Air Award!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Emmet Doherty Clean Air Award Presented to Steve Schmitt, recognized for efforts to improve air quality in the Lehigh Valley

Easton – The Lehigh Valley/Berks County Air Quality Partnership, the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania, the Woman’s Club of Allentown and the Department of Environmental Protection presented the 39th R. Emmet Doherty Clean Air Award to Steve Schmitt, director of the Coalition for Appropriate Transportation during a ceremony Nov. 5.

“Steve has long been committed to improving air quality in the Lehigh Valley and educating residents about how they can reduce air pollution,” said Keith Williams, chairperson of the Lehigh Valley/Berks County Air Quality Partnership.

The Clean Air Award recognizes the efforts of a local business, organization or individual for improving air quality in the greater Lehigh Valley region. First presented in 1970, the award is named in honor of R. Emmet Doherty, a former director of the Lehigh Valley Pollution Control District who monitored air quality and championed air pollution reduction during his 19 years of service.

Steve Schmitt has served as the director of the Coalition for Appropriate Transportation since 1994. The Coalition works to educate the public about the benefits of bicycling, the use of public transportation and other methods to reduce the number of cars on the road. Schmitt has been “car-free” since 1986.

He helped obtain grants for bike racks in Bethlehem, Easton & Allentown and worked with the Lehigh and Northampton County Transportation Authority (LANTA) to put bike racks on all their buses. In addition, he was instrumental in establishing citizens’ traffic advisory committees in Allentown and Bethlehem.

He was a two-term member of the LANTA Board of Directors from 1998 to 2008 and is a League of American Bicyclists certified cycling instructor who educates municipal officials where to place shared-lane road markings and how to promote bicycling as transportation. Schmitt resides in South Bethlehem with Carrie Kauffman and is the father of Eric Schmitt and Robin Spilner.

The Lehigh Valley/Berks County Air Quality Partnership is a coalition of individuals, businesses, governments and community groups that educates the public about the dangers of ground-level ozone and particulate matter, and encourages people to take voluntary actions to reduce their contributions to air pollution.

The partnership, in conjunction with WFMZ-TV and other valley media, disseminates information about “Ozone Action Days,” or days when the air is expected to be unhealthy to breathe. Using DEP meteorological data, the partnership informs people about the predicted ozone levels and any precautions that need to be taken. In addition, the partnership and DEP are disseminating daily forecasts on air pollution caused by particulate matter, commonly called PM 2.5.

Ground-level ozone, a key component of smog, is formed when pollution from vehicles, industry, consumer products and power plants “bakes” in the hot, summer sun, making it difficult for some people to breathe. Particulate matter, which is airborne dust or small soot particles, can also cause health problems for children or the elderly with respiratory problems, as well as the general population.

“Steve’s personal example of how to use alternative transportation and his tireless work with the Coalition to encourage people throughout the Lehigh Valley to do the same make him a very worthy recipient of this year’s R. Emmet Doherty Clean Air Award,” said Williams.

For more information on air quality issues, visit the Partnership’s Web site or DEP’s Web site, Keyword: “Air Quality.”

Media contact: Mark Carmon, 570-826-2511
Pictured: Kevin Stewart of the American Lung Association speaks during the presentation of the R. Emmet Doherty Clean Air Award. Recipient Steve Schmitt, center, and Shirley Lentz of the Woman's Club of Allentown, a co-sponsor of the award, left, listen as Kevin praises Steve's body of work.