GASP

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GASP (formerly G.A.S.P. for Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution) is an organization advocating for air quality improvements in the Birmingham area. The current executive director is Michael Hansen, who succeeded Stacie Probst in 2015.

The original G.A.S.P. was formed in 1970 to advocate for enforcement of provisions of the Clean Air Act. Founding members included Cameron McDonald, Kathy Stiles, Randy Cope and Marshall Brewer. UAB pulmonary specialists A. H. Russakoff and Ben Branscomb were also active with the group.

The original group met with community groups and organized protests, including a "Right to Live Rally" on Earth Day, in which they donned gas masks to hand out fliers outside U. S. Steel. A year later they filled an empty exhibit at the Birmingham Zoo with litter to illustrate self-destructive human behavior.

The group lobbied for stronger state legislation to control air pollution, and succeeded in getting a bill sponsored by Chriss Doss and Ben Erdreich passed. In concert with the Jefferson County Department of Health and Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley they filed numerous requests for intervention with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Baxley filed suit against thirteen plants, accusing them of constituting a public nuisance. On November 15, 1971, as particle counts spiked, Judge Sam Pointer signed an injunction against twenty-three major polluters, resulting in a two-day shut-down.

The present group, founded in 2009 by Kirsten Bryant as Alabama First, adopted the GASP moniker in late 2010, coinciding with the public release of Hunter Nichols' short documentary about the original organization, entitled "A GASP for Clean Air".

In recent years, GASP has worked to raise awareness of the impact of air pollution, particularly in North Birmingham neighborhoods like Collegeville that adjoin major particulate pollution sources. They sponsored another documentary, "Toxic City: Birmingham's Dirty Secret"

In 2014 and 2015 GASP filed complaints with the EPA alleging that the Jefferson County Department of Health violated provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it granted emissions permits to ABC Coke and Walter Energy that would "adversely and disparately" affect African-American residents of the county.

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