GASP’s mission is to activate Alabamians for clean air. We strive to reduce air pollution, educate the public on the health risks associated with poor air quality, and encourage community leaders to serve as role models for clean air and clean energy production.
GASP believes all Alabamians have the right to breathe clean air. We believe that people’s health should be the first priority when considering policies that affect the quality of our community’s air. In particular, the greater Birmingham community suffers from the dirtiest air in our state, ranked 7th in the nation in the number of high-ozone days by the American Lung Association.
They organized and formed G.A.S.P., short for “Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution,” and began advocating for clean air. They organized protests around the city and held a week long “Right to Live Rally” that coincided with the first Earth Day event in April 1970. Citing the Clean Air Act, the group pleaded with citizens, industrialists, and government agencies to enforce laws designed to improve air quality for the sake of public health and quality of life.
G.A.S.P. succeeded in their campaign in spite of the seemingly impenetrable establishment. Their work changed the course of Birmingham history. They helped expose the public health dangers of the poor air quality, providing an alternative perspective to the then-widely held pollution-equals-economic-growth mindset.
Due to the tremendous respect for the work of the original G.A.S.P. group, we — formerly Alabama First — adopted the name GASP with the goal of giving a rebirth to the spirit and tenacity held by that group’s founders. While Birmingham’s air quality is significantly better than it was 40 years ago, it still not good enough (being among the worst in the country for both particle pollution and ground-level ozone). The GASP name continually reminds us of our predecessors’ dedication to improving the quality of life of Birmingham’s residents. It inspires us to be a voice for the citizens of Alabama, who deserve the right to breathe clean air.
WATCH: In 2012, GASP interviewed Dr. Ben Branscomb, a pulmonologist at UAB. Dr. Branscomb discussed the roots of Birmingham’s Clean Air movement.